Lincoln and Harriet Tubman

You have doubtless heard by now that Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the face of the newly-designed $20 bill.  The decision to replace Jackson, the principled but cantankerous last hero of the war of 1812 and staunch opponent of the Bank of the U.S., is one that reveals the temper of our times, and our continuing efforts to reflect in our public images the truly diverse society we’ve always been.  What you may not know, in light of my essay last week on Abraham Lincoln, is that Tubman had the opportunity to meet Lincoln, but chose not to do so.  She regretted that decision profoundly, having misunderstood Lincoln’s good will toward the colored race.  I note, however, that her dislike of him had a sound basis:  the first black troops to go forth from Massachusetts were paid merely half of what their white counterparts were getting.

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