Twenty dollars
(United States)
Value$20
Width156 mm
Height66.3 mm
Weightc. 1.0[1] g
Security featuresSecurity fibers, watermark, security thread, color shifting ink, micro printing, raised printing, EURion constellation
Material used75% cotton
25% linen
Years of printing1861–present
Obverse
US $20 Series 2006 Obverse.jpg
DesignAndrew Jackson
Design date2003
Reverse
US $20 Series 2006 Reverse.jpg
DesignWhite House
Design date2003

The United States twenty-dollar bill ($20) is a denomination of U.S. currency. A portrait of Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. president (1829–1837), has been featured on the obverse of the bill since 1928; the White House is featured on the reverse.

As of December 2018, the average life of a $20 bill in circulation is 7.8 years before it is replaced due to wear.[2] About 11% of all notes printed in 2009 were $20 bills.[3] Twenty-dollar bills are delivered by Federal Reserve Banks in violet straps.

History

Large-sized notes

1863 $20 Legal Tender note
1880 $20 Legal Tender depicting Alexander Hamilton
Series 1905 $20 gold certificate
1914 $20 Federal Reserve Note
  • 1861: A demand note with the Goddess of Liberty holding a sword and shield on the front, and an abstract design on the back. The back is printed green.
  • 1862: A note that is very similar, the first $20 United States note. The back is different, with several small variations extant.
  • 1863: A gold certificate $20 note with an Eagle vignette on the face. The reverse has a $20 gold coin and various abstract elements. The back is orange.
  • 1865: A national bank note with "The Battle of Lexington" and Pocahontas's marriage to John Rolfe in black, and a green border.
  • 1869: A new United States note design, with Alexander Hamilton on the left side of the front and Victory holding a shield and sword. The back design is green.
  • 1875: As above, except with a different reverse.
  • 1878: A silver certificate $20 note with a portrait of Stephen Decatur on the right side of the face. The back design is black.
  • 1882: A new gold certificate, with a portrait of James Garfield on the right of the face. The back is orange and features an eagle.
  • 1882: A new national bank note. The front is similar, but the back is different and printed in brown.
  • 1886: A new silver certificate $20 note, with Daniel Manning on the center of the face.
  • 1890: A treasury (coin) note with John Marshall on the left of the face. Two different backs exist both with abstract designs.
  • 1902: A new national bank note. The front features Hugh McCulloch, and the back has a vignette of an allegorical America.
  • 1905: A new gold certificate $20 note, with George Washington on the center of the face. The back design is orange.
  • 1914: A Federal Reserve Note.

Small size notes

Series 1928 $20 small-size Federal Reserve Note.
Series 1929 $20 National Currency note issued by the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank.
Series 1995 $20 Federal Reserve Note; basically unchanged since Series 1950
Series 1996 $20 Federal Reserve Note.
The security strip in a twenty-dollar bill glows green under a blacklight.

Andrew Jackson first appeared on the $20 bill in 1928. Although 1928 coincides with the 100th anniversary of Jackson's election as president, it is not clear why the portrait on the bill was switched from Grover Cleveland to Jackson. (Cleveland's portrait was moved to the new $1000 bill the same year). According to the U.S. Treasury, "Treasury Department records do not reveal the reason that portraits of these particular statesmen were chosen in preference to those of other persons of equal importance and prominence."[4]

The placement of Jackson on the $20 bill may be a historical irony; as president, he vehemently opposed both the National Bank and paper money and made the goal of his administration the destruction of the National Bank.[5][6] In his farewell address to the nation, he cautioned the public about paper money.[7]

  • 1914: Began as a large-sized note, a portrait of Grover Cleveland on the face, and, on the back, a steam locomotive and an automobile approaching from the left, and a steamship approaching from the right.
  • 1918: A federal reserve banknote with Grover Cleveland on the front, and a back design similar to the 1914 Federal Reserve Note.
  • 1928: Switched to a small-sized note with a portrait of Andrew Jackson on the face and the south view of the White House on the reverse. The banknote is redeemable in gold or silver (at the bearer's discretion) at any Federal Reserve Bank.
  • 1933: With the U.S. having abandoned the gold standard, the bill is no longer redeemable in gold, but rather in "lawful money", meaning silver.
  • 1942: A special emergency series, with brown serial numbers and "HAWAII" overprinted on both the front and the back, is issued. These notes are designed to circulate on the islands and be deemed invalid in the event of a Japanese invasion.
  • 1948: The White House picture was updated to reflect renovations to the building itself, including the addition of the Truman Balcony, as well as the passage of time. Most notably, the trees are larger. The change occurred during production of Series 1934C.
  • 1950: Design elements like the serial numbers are reduced in size and moved around subtly, presumably for aesthetic reasons.
  • 1963: "Will Pay To The Bearer On Demand" is removed from the front of the bill below the portrait, and the legal tender designation is shortened to "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private" (eliminating "and is redeemable in lawful money at the United States Treasury, or at any Federal Reserve Bank.") Also, "In God We Trust" is added above the White House on the reverse. These two acts (one taking U.S. currency off the silver backing, and the other authorizing the national motto) are coincidental, even if their combined result is implemented in one redesign. Also, several design elements are rearranged, less perceptibly than the change in 1950, mostly to make room for the slightly rearranged obligations.
  • 1969: The new treasury seal appears on all denominations, including the $20.
  • 1977: A new type of serial-number press results in a slightly different font. The old presses are gradually retired, and old-style serial numbers appear as late as 1981 for this denomination.
  • 1992: Anti-counterfeiting features are added: microprinting around the portrait, and a plastic strip embedded in the paper. Even though the bills read Series 1990, the first bills were printed in April 1992.[8]
  • 1994: The first notes at the Western Currency Facility are printed in January late during production of Series 1990.
  • September 24, 1998: The Series 1996 $20 note was completely redesigned for the first time since 1929 to further deter counterfeiting; the picture of the White House was changed from the south side to the north side view. A larger, off-center portrait of Jackson was used on the front, and several anti-counterfeiting features were added, including color-shifting ink, microprinting, and a watermark. The plastic strip now reads "USA 20" and glows green under a black light.[9] The bills were first printed in June 1998.[10]
  • October 9, 2003:

    Small size

    Type Series Register Treasurer Seal
    National Bank Note Types 1 & 2 1929 Jones Woods Brown
    Federal Reserve Bank Note 1928A Jones Woods Brown
    Type Series Treasurer Secretary Seal
    Gold Certificate 1928 Woods Mellon Gold
    Federal Reserve Note 1928 Tate Mellon Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1928A Woods Mellon Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1928B Woods Mellon Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1928C Woods Mills Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1934 Julian Morgenthau Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1934 Hawaii Julian Morgenthau Brown
    Federal Reserve Note 1934A Julian Morgenthau Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1934A Hawaii Julian Morgenthau Brown
    Federal Reserve Note 1934B Julian Vinson Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1934C Julian Snyder Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1934D Clark Snyder Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1950 Clark Snyder Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1950A Priest Humphrey Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1950B Priest Anderson Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1950C Smith Dillon Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1950D Granahan Dillon Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1950E Granahan Fowler Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1963 Granahan Dillon Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1963A Granahan Fowler Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1969 Elston Kennedy Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1969A Kabis Connally Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1969B Bañuelos Connally Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1969C Bañuelos Shultz Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1974 Neff Simon Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1977 Morton Blumenthal Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1981 Buchanan Regan Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1981A Ortega Regan Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1985 Ortega Baker Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1988A Villalpando Brady Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1990 Villalpando Brady Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1993 Withrow Bentsen Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1995 Withrow Rubin Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1996 Withrow Rubin Green
    Federal Reserve Note 1999 Withrow Summers Green
    Federal Reserve Note 2001 Marin O'Neill Green
    Federal Reserve Note 2004 Marin Snow Green
    Federal Reserve Note 2004A Cabral Snow Green
    Federal Reserve Note 2006 Cabral Paulson Green
    Federal Reserve Note 2009 Rios Geithner Green
    Federal Reserve Note 2013 Rios Lew Green
    Federal Reserve Note 2017 Carranza Mnuchin Green
    Federal Reserve Note 2017A Carranza Mnuchin Green

Proposal for a woman's portrait

In a campaign called "Women on 20s", selected voters were asked to choose three of 15 female candidates to have a portrait on the $20 bill. The goal was to have a woman on the $20 bill by 2020, the centennial of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote.[13] Among the candidates on the petition were Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, and Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation.[14]

On May 12, 2015, Tubman was announced as the winning candidate of that "grassroots" poll with more than 600,000 people surveyed and more than 118,000 choosing Tubman, followed by Roosevelt, Parks and Mankiller.[15]

Image of $20 bill with Tubman's face
Official $20 bill prototype prepared by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in 2016[16]

On June 17, 2015, then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that a woman's portrait would be featured on a redesigned $10 bill by 2020, replacing Alexander Hamilton.[17] However, that decision was reversed, at least in part due to Hamilton's surging popularity following the hit Broadway musical Hamilton.[18]

On April 20, 2016, Lew officially announced that Alexander Hamilton would remain on the $10 bill, while Andrew Jackson would be replaced by Tubman on the front of the $20 bill, with Jackson appearing on the reverse.[19][20] Lew simultaneously announced that the five- and ten-dollar bills would also be redesigned in the coming years and put into production in the next decade.[19][20]

Trump administration

While campaigning for president, Donald Trump reacted to the announcement that Tubman would replace Jackson on the twenty-dollar bill. The day following the announcement Trump called Tubman "fantastic", but stated that he would oppose replacing Jackson with Tubman, calling the replacement "pure political correctness", and suggested that Tubman could perhaps be put on another denomination instead.[21]

On August 31, 2017, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he would not commit to putting Tubman on the twenty-dollar bill, explaining "People have been on the bills for a long period of time. This is something we’ll consider; right now we have a lot more important issues to focus on."[22] According to a Bureau of Engraving and Printing spokesperson, the next redesigned bill will be the ten-dollar bill, not set to be released into circulation until at least 2026.[23][24]

In May 2019, Mnuchin stated that no new imagery will be unveiled until 2026, and that a new bill will not go into circulation until 2028.[25] In making the announcement, Mnuchin blamed the delay on technical reasons. However, an employee within the Bureau of Engraving and Printing told the New York Times that at the time of the announcement "the design appeared to be far along in the process." Democratic members of the House of Representatives asked Mnuchin to provide more specific reasons for the delay.[26] In June, the Treasury Department's acting inspector general, Rich Delmar, announced his office would conduct an investigation into what caused the delay in production of the new bill featuring Tubman.[27]

Biden administration

In January 2021, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden will accelerate the Tubman redesign.[28]

See also