Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Harriet Tubman ... A Letter From Her Friend Frederick Douglass

A Letter from Frederick Douglass to Harriet Tubman written in 1869 says this to and about the lady whose image will soon appear on the $20 bill:

"From Sarah Hopkins Bradford’s “Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman” (1869), a letter dated August 29, 1868, from Frederick Douglass to Tubman, the abolitionist whose image will replace Andrew Jackson’s on the $20 bill, the Treasury Department announced Wednesday:

Dear Harriet: I am glad to know that the story of your eventful life has been written by a kind lady, and that the same is soon to be published. You ask for what you do not need when you call upon me for a word of commendation. I need such words from you far more than you can need them from me, especially where your superior labors and devotion to the cause of the lately enslaved of our land are known as I know them. The difference between us is very marked. Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way. You on the other hand have labored in a private way. I have wrought in the day—you in the night. I have had the applause of the crowd and the satisfaction that comes of being approved by the multitude, while the most that you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scarred, and foot-sore bondmen and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage, and whose heartfelt “God bless you” has been your only reward. The midnight sky and the silent stars have been the witnesses of your devotion to freedom and of your heroism. Excepting John Brown—of sacred memory—I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than you have. Much that you have done would seem improbable to those who do not know you as I know you. It is to me a great pleasure and a great privilege to bear testimony to your character and your works, and to say to those to whom you may come, that I regard you in every way truthful and trustworthy.

Your friend,

Frederick Douglass"

See also Change for a $20: Tubman Ousts Jackson which reads in part as follows:

"Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew on Wednesday announced the most sweeping and historically symbolic makeover of American currency in a century, proposing to replace the slaveholding Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman, the former slave and abolitionist, and to add women and civil rights leaders to the $5 and $10 notes.

Mr. Lew may have reneged on a commitment he made last year to make a woman the face of the $10 bill, opting instead to keep Alexander Hamilton, to the delight of a fan base swollen with enthusiasm over a Broadway rap musical named after and based on the life of the first Treasury secretary.

But the broader remaking of the nation’s paper currency, which President Obama welcomed on Wednesday, may well have captured a historical moment for a multicultural, multiethnic and multiracial nation moving contentiously through the early years of a new century.

From left, Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Elizabeth Cady Stanton will be featured on the back of the new $10 bill. Credit From left: Hulton Archive, via Getty Images; via Library of Congress: via Library of Congress; Hulton Archive, via Getty Images; Associated Press

Tubman, an African-American and a Union spy during the Civil War, would bump Jackson — a white man known as much for his persecution of Native Americans as for his war heroics and advocacy for the common man — to the back of the $20, in some reduced image along with the White House. Tubman would be the first woman so honored on paper currency since Martha Washington’s portrait briefly graced the $1 silver certificate in the late 19th century.

While Hamilton would remain on the $10, and Abraham Lincoln on the $5s, images of women would be added to the back of both — in keeping with Mr. Lew’s intent “to bring to life” the national monuments depicted there.

The picture of the Treasury building on the back of the $10 bill would be replaced with a depiction of a 1913 march in support of women’s right to vote that ended at the building, along with portraits of five suffrage leaders: Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony, who in more recent years was on an unpopular $1 coin until minting ceased.

On the flip side of the $5 bill, the Lincoln Memorial would remain, but as the backdrop for the 1939 performance there of Marian Anderson, the African-American classical singer, after she was barred from singing at the segregated Constitution Hall nearby. Sharing space on the rear would be images of Eleanor Roosevelt, who arranged Anderson’s Lincoln Memorial performance, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who in 1963 delivered his “I have a dream” speech from its steps.

The Treasury Department announced new designs for several bills that will incorporate women, including Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony and Eleanor Roosevelt.

The final redesigns will be unveiled in 2020, the centennial of the 19th Amendment establishing women’s suffrage, and will not go into wide circulation until later in the decade, starting with the new $10 note."

Summing Up

All's well that ends well.

Thanks. Bob.

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