Maryland Legislature Last Day

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at a news conference in Annapolis, Md., Monday, April 8, 2019, the final day of the state's 2019 legislative session. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is urging President Donald Trump's administration to reconsider its decision to delay the release of a redesigned $20 bill that would feature civil rights icon Harriet Tubman's likeness. 

Hogan, a Republican, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and expressed disappointment that the redesign has been delayed. Mnuchin testified at a congressional hearing in May and revealed that the new $20 bill won't be released until 2028. 

On the question of whether Tubman should appear on the redesigned note, Mnuchin deferred to his successor. He said security features, not who will appear on the money, are his priority. 

Hogan highlighted Tubman's role in American and Maryland history. She was born into slavery on Maryland's Eastern Shore. After escaping from slavery, she returned to the state to free slaves. 

"Harriet Tubman's countless contributions to our nation transcend race, gender, nationality and religion," Hogan wrote. "She dedicated her life in selfless service to others and to the cause of freedom. Her unbelievable acts of heroism, courage and sacrifice have more than earned her rightful place among our nation's most pivotal leaders. She deserves this honor." 

In 2017, Maryland opened the Harriet Tubman State Park in Dorchester County. The site is part of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, one of two national parks established to honor the abolitionist. The other is in Auburn, where Tubman resided during the latter part of her life. 

There has been bipartisan criticism of Mnuchin and the Trump administration for the decision to delay the new $20 bill's release. 

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U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a Massachusetts Democrat who questioned Mnuchin about Tubman's place on the $20 bill at the House Financial Services Committee hearing last month, said U.S. paper money "does not reflect the diversity of individuals that have contributed to our great American history."

U.S. Rep. John Katko, a Republican who represents Cayuga County in Congress, reintroduced a bill that would require the Treasury Department to put Tubman on the $20 bill by 2020. 

Katko met with Mnuchin in February and discussed the status of the $20 bill's redesign. After Mnuchin's testimony in May, he said he was disappointed with the treasury secretary's comments. 

"This inaction is a missed opportunity to celebrate the achievements of a remarkable woman who dedicated her life to fighting for equality," he said. 

Jacob Lew, the former treasury secretary under President Barack Obama, announced in 2016 that Tubman's likeness would appear on the redesigned $20 bill. Lew said at the time that other bills would be redesigned to include images of other American icons, such as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. 

However, Mnuchin hasn't committed to those changes since he became treasury secretary in 2017. 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.


Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.