Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony were the names most mentioned Monday as women who should be considered for a redesigned $10 bill during a town hall meeting with U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios.
Eleanor Roosevelt and Elizabeth Cady Stanton also had support as Rios took suggestions and answered questions during the hourlong session inside the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, site of the first women’s rights convention in 1848. The chapel is now part of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park.
“This is such a historic moment for all of us,” Rios said during the latest in a series of public discussions held since June, when Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced a redesign of the $10 bill that would replace the portrait of Alexander Hamilton with one of a woman.
Afterward, Rios said several hundred names have been suggested but that no finalists have been chosen.
Christine Doolittle of Montour Falls held a sign in support of Eleanor Roosevelt, but said she would prefer the former first lady and activist go on the $20 bill in place of Andrew Jackson.
“What’s wrong with two women?” she asked.
Tubman, a conductor of the Underground Railroad, had strong support in the crowd, although several people, including a woman who identified herself as a descendant, said they, too, would prefer to see her replace Jackson. Efforts to get Tubman on the $20 bill predate the announcement that the $10 bill would be redesigned.
“We want Aunt Harriet on the 20,” Pauline Copes-Johnson, 88, who said she is a great-great-grand-niece of Tubman, said after the meeting. “She is the woman who helped change the outcome of the United States, and I’m very proud of her and her accomplishments.”
Rios said the changes to the $10 bill would be just the first in a series of redesigns to better safeguard U.S. bills against counterfeiting. The $10 is the most copied, she said.
“If it was up to me, it would be on the $100 bill,” Rios said of the placement of a woman on the first redesigned bill.
Before starting the session, Rios called everyone under age 21 to join her on the stage inside the historic brick hall where on July 19 and 20, 1848, 300 people gathered to hear the first formal demands for women’s rights.
“This is not about me. This is not about Treasury,” Rios said as the young people sat down around her. “This is about them.”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an early leader of the woman’s rights movement, was the choice of Emil Bove Jr., who spoke during the public session.
“It was Elizabeth Cady Stanton who declared for the first time that all men and women are equal,” Bove said, adding that Stanton had inspired Anthony, another key figure in the suffrage movement, and other women under consideration.
Officials plan to make a decision on the new portrait by this fall with the total redesign completed by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.
The bills would likely enter circulation a year or two after that, Rios said.