February 7, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD-7) and U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) today reintroduced The Harriet Tubman Tribute Act, bipartisan legislation that directs the Secretary of the Treasury to place the likeness of Harriet Tubman on $20 Federal Reserve notes printed after December 31, 2020.

“Too often, our nation does not do enough to honor the contributions of women in American history, especially women of color.  Placing Harriet Tubman on our U.S. currency would be a fitting tribute to a woman who fought to make the values enshrined in our Constitution a reality for all Americans,” Rep. Cummings said.  “Harriet Tubman was called the Moses of her people, because after she escaped slavery, she courageously made 19 trips to the South to free more than 300 enslaved African Americans.  Her courage, conviction, and commitment to equality represent the best of America and it is long past time we recognize her place in history.  I am proud to reintroduce this bill with Rep. Katko to honor Harriet Tubman’s role in making America a more free and more equal society.”


“Harriet Tubman is an American icon, who represents our values of freedom and opportunity. She fought the evils of slavery and strived to create equality for all people, regardless of their race or gender,” said Rep. Katko. “I am proud Harriet Tubman settled in Central New York and her influence is still present in our community today. The Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn honors her life’s work and is a tremendous boost to our region’s tourism-based economy. I’m proud to once again champion this bipartisan measure with Rep. Cummings to honor Harriet Tubman’s legacy.”


Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in Dorchester County, Maryland, as Araminta Ross, around 1820. She was enslaved by several families throughout her childhood.  Abused and beaten, she suffered a serious head injury that would affect her for the rest of her life.  In 1844, she married John Tubman and took the first name of her mother, Harriet.


In 1849, Harriet Tubman escaped to Philadelphia.  She launched her work as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad soon after, making several trips back for family members and friends.  Tubman continued to risk capture for more than a decade, delivering enslaved people from bondage to freedom in New England and Canada.  Referred to as “Moses” because of her courage and sacrifice, she personally led more than a dozen expeditions, helping slaves escape. 


In 1859, Harriet Tubman purchased a home for her family in Auburn, New York.  While there, she continued her role as an abolitionist, making several trips to Boston to speak alongside Frederick Douglass and others. 


When the Civil War erupted in 1861, Tubman volunteered.  She worked for the Union Army as a nurse, scout, spy, and recruiter, and became the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, resulting in the liberation of hundreds of slaves.  Traveling through Maryland, South Carolina, and Virginia, Harriet Tubman risked disease, capture, and physical injury to support the Union Army.


After the war, Harriet Tubman returned to Auburn.  She became active in the women’s suffrage movement and worked alongside Susan B. Anthony and Emily Howland.  She continued to fight for human dignity, human rights, and equal justice throughout her lifetime. She died of pneumonia on March 10, 1913 surrounded by family and friends.  In recognition of her service to this country, she was buried with military honors at the Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn.