Harriet Tubman will appear on U.S. currency in 2024. It’s not the $20 bill.
With the redesigned $20 bill bearing Harriet Tubman’s visage likely still years away, the U.S. Mint will feature the Maryland native on three commemorative coins this year.
The coins recognize the bicentennial of Tubman’s birth and her life work as an abolitionist. Tubman was born into slavery in Dorchester County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She liberated herself in 1849 by following the North Star out of the state. Tubman faced incredible risk when she returned later to guide more African Americans to freedom.
These days, visitors can retrace the famed abolitionist’s steps along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, which includes dozens of sites in Maryland as well as stops in Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Federal authorities have floated plans since 2016 to put Tubman on the $20 bill, replacing President Andrew Jackson, a slaveholder who expelled thousands of Native Americans from their land. Paper money in the U.S. has long exclusively featured portraits of white men. Federal authorities have signaled the Harriet Tubman redesign for the $20 bill will come in 2030.
In the meantime, the U.S. Mint’s new commemorative $5 gold coin, $1 silver coin and half dollar clad coin each depict a different era of Tubman’s life.
The front of the silver dollar features a statuesque Tubman extending her hand. On the back of the coin, silhouettes cross a bridge formed by clasping hands beneath the Little Dipper constellation. Tubman notably found her way to freedom by following the North Star and eventually liberated others as a conductor for the Underground Railroad.
The half dollar coin depicts a different chapter of Tubman’s life during the Civil War when she served as a scout and spy for the Union Army. On one side of the coin, she clasps a spyglass. The other side shows her at the forefront of two boats, a nod to the Combahee River Raid when she became the first woman to lead an expedition, the U.S. Mint catalog states. During the raid, Tubman and 150 African American soldiers rescued more than 700 enslaved people.
The gold coin bearing Tubman’s face was designed to represent her life after the war. The reverse side features two weathered hands grasp another, which the catalog describes as “a testament to Tubman’s unwavering altruism.”
Surcharges from the sale of the coins will benefit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Ohio and the Harriet Tubman Home in New York. The coins area available for preorder on the U.S. Mint website.