Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman: Frontrunners for the Face of the $10 Bill

By The Harris Poll, Special for  USDR

With the U.S. Treasury Department’s recent announcement that a woman will be featured on the $10 bill starting in 2020 (while it will also continue producing bills featuring Alexander Hamilton), a popular question of late – even asked of the presidential candidates in last night’s Republican debate – is who should be the first woman to be featured on a U.S.  bill.

Among U.S. adults, abolitionist Harriet Tubman and civil rights activist Rosa Parks are the top suggestions, followed by First LadyEleanor Roosevelt. Betsy Ross, credited with making the first American flag, is fourth on the list, with women’s suffrage activist Susan B. Anthony rounding out the top  five.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,273 U.S. adults surveyed online between July 15 and 20, 2015. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found  here.

How did the candidates’ responses compare? Of Americans’ top five, Rosa Parks was the most oft-heard name at the debate, brought up by Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz (though he suggested she be put on the $20 bill, not the $10) and Donald Trump (after first recommending his daughter, Ivanka). The only other figure from Americans’ top five who was also recommended by a candidate wasSusan B. Anthony, suggested by Rand  Paul.

Next up among U.S. adults is pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart, followed by the first First Lady, Martha Washington (in the sixth and seventh spots on the list, respectively). Scott Walker’s recommendation, American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, is eighth on Americans’ list. Finishing out the top ten are Native American historical figure Pocahontas and deaf-blind author and activist Helen  Keller.

Other suggestions heard during the debate didn’t make the list, including Mike Huckabee’s wife and Ben Carson’s mother, late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, suggested by Jeb Bush; Albanian-Indian missionary Mother Theresa, suggested by John Kasich; and America’s second First Lady, Abigail Adams, suggested by Chris  Christie.

Leading  ladies

Americans’ top choices vary depending on who you  ask:

  • The top suggestion among women is Rosa Parks, while men are most likely to recommend Harriet Tubman.
  • Tubman is also the top suggestion among those in the Eastern, Midwestern and Western regions, while Parks is at the top of the list among Americans in the South.
  • Millennials and Gen Xers point to Tubman as well, while Baby Boomers’ and Matures’ top choice is Eleanor Roosevelt.
  • For Republicans the top choice is Betsy Ross, while Democrats are most likely to suggest Rosa Parks and Independents most strongly favor Harriet Tubman.

Americans are divided on whether a woman’s first appearance on paper currency in the U.S. should be a costarring role, with half (50%) agreeing that a woman should not have to share a bill while half (50%) disagree with this  statement.

And while many – including Ted Cruz – have suggested that the $20 bill’s Andrew Jackson should be singled out for replacement instead of the $10 bill’s Alexander Hamilton, this sentiment doesn’t appear to be at critical mass. While four in ten Americans (40%) feel a different bill should have been selected for sharing, six in ten (60%) disagree with this sentiment. Calling out Jackson more explicitly produces even less support, with 31% agreeing that Andrew Jackson should be replaced on the $20 bill while 69%  disagree.

Majorities feel that having both a woman’s face (62%) and a minority’s face (56%) on paper money is long  overdue.

  • Millennials are especially likely to agree on both these points (to the tune of 73% and 69%, respectively), while matures are least likely to do so (47% and 35%).
  • Women (66%) are more likely than men (58%) to agree specifically that having a woman’s face on paper money is long overdue in the U.S., though majorities of each do support this statement.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between July 15 and 20, 2015 among 2,273 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be  online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this  ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be  calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public  Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris  Poll.

The Harris Poll® #55, September 17,  2015
By Larry Shannon-Missal, Managing Editor, The Harris  Poll

About The Harris  Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world.  The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public.  New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly.  For more information, or to see other recent polls, visit us at

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