In 2016, the United States Treasury Department announced that the face of its $20 bill would change from that of President Andrew Jackson to former slave, civil rights activist, and the “conductor” of the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman. Although it’s taking a while for Tubman to appear on the bill, it’s still in the works and she will be making her appearance at some point. But what does it mean to have your face on money? The decision to make Tubman the face of the $20 bill says a lot. Not only will she be the first woman to appear on a US note, but she’ll also be recognized by the US as an extremely important person—someone who helped shaped the country into what it is today.
Last week, the Bank of England (the official bank of the country of England), announced that Alan Turing will be the face of its £50 note by the end of 2021.
He was a mathematician, computer scientist, and war hero who helped crack Germany’s Enigma code (a code that helped the Nazis send messages securely to each other). Turing is credited with helping World War II end two years earlier because of his and his team’s efforts in deciphering Nazi messages. Despite his heroic work, however, he was later convicted of having a relationship with a man and as a part of his punishment, he was no longer allowed to work at Bletchley Park, Britain’s Government Code and Cypher School where he helped crack the Enigma code.
After thousands of people signed a petition, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized for Turing’s treatment by the justice system in the 1950s and the Queen issued Turing a royal pardon in 2014. Now, England will honor Turing’s contributions by making him the face of the £50 note. In addition to a picture of his face, the note will also have one of Turing’s famous quotes on it as well: “This is only a forecast of what is to come and only the shadow of what is going to be.” The note will also be decorated with binary code and the “British Bombe,” the machine that helped crack the Enigma code.
Who would you like to see on money?