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A mock-up of the redesigned $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman leaked - after it was delayed by the Trump administration

Business Insider | Jun 15, 2019, 08.07AM IST

harriet tubman

National Park Service

Harriet Tubman.

  • The New York Times published a leaked preliminary mock-up of a $20 bill featuring former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman, despite the Trump administration announcing a delay of the bill.
  • US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the design of the $20 bill would be unveiled in 2026, and circulation would likely be postponed until 2028.
  • The delays were caused by the development of anti-counterfeiting security features, according to Mnuchin.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A leaked preliminary mock-up of a $20 bill featuring former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman was published by the New York Times on Friday, following a delay in its release by the Trump administration.

According to the report, the design of the bill was completed in 2016. Last month, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said plans to unveil the new $20 bill would be pushed back until at least 2026, and the it would likely not be in circulation until 2028. It's unclear if Tubman would still be featured.

Changing the face of the $20 bill was an Obama administration initiative. Tubman would have been the first African-American on a bill, and per the Obama administration's deadline, the design would have been unveiled in 2020, the centennial of the ratification of the 19th amendment, a capstone event in women's rights.

President Donald Trump criticized the change during his run as a candidate in 2016, according to the New York Times report.

New York Times reporter Alan Rappeport tweeted a photo of the redesigned bill.

 

During a congressional hearing, Mnuchin said his primary objective was to enhance security features of US currency to prevent counterfeit, specifically with the $10 and $50 bills. According to Reuters, the $20 bill is the most frequently counterfeited note in the United States.

"It is my responsibility now to focus on what is the issue of counterfeiting and the security features," Mnuchin said. "The ultimate decision on the redesign will most likely be another secretary down the road."

Read more: $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman won't happen until after Trump has left office, Treasury Secretary says

In his testimony before Congress, Mnuchin said the development of new security features would make the 2020 deadline for the new design unfeasible.

Lydia Washington, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, said preliminary designs for the $20 bill were created after Jacob J. Lew, President Barack Obama's final Treasury secretary, proposed the idea. A current BEP employee told The Times that the design appeared to be far along in the process after personally viewing a metal engraving plate and a digital image of the Tubman note back as early as May 2018.

Amid speculation that political interference could be involved in postponing the $20 note, Mnuchin said in an interview with The Times that the reasons for the delays were only technical.

Earlier this week, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, wrote a letter to Mnuchin urging him to speed up the process of putting Tubman on the $20 bill. Tubman, a native of Maryland, was born into slavery. After her escape, she became a conductor on the "Underground Railroad" leading hundreds of slaves to freedom. Tubman also played a key role in the Civil War working as a nurse and spy for the Union army.

Hogan wrote, "She deserves this honor."

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