The cover of “Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad” by Ann Petry.

Unless you’ve been hunting for the past week, you’ve likely heard that Harriet Tubman, the Civil War nurse, cook, spy, and scout will replace President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill.

What you may not know is that Tubman was a pretty hardcore badass, conducting secret missions to free groups of slaves on the Underground Railroad, during which she carried a small pistol along with a small ivory-handled sword. In fact she was often known to, and was depicted, carrying firearms.



“Harriet Tubman carried a small pistol with her on her rescue missions, mostly for protection from slave catchers, but also to encourage weak-hearted runaways from turning back and risking the safety of the rest of the group. Tubman carried a sharpshooter’s rifle during the Civil War.”

According to this story from, Tubman’s pistol and saber are on display at the Florida A&M University Black Archives in Tallahassee, Florida.

In fact, in the midst of all the proud and outraged posts regarding the change to the $20 bill, some proponents are arguing on social media that Tubman should be portrayed on the bill with her often-present firearms.

Twitter user Brandon Morse even went ahead and posted a version of his own:


This story from the Washington Times says that conservatives are hailing the decision, partly because of Tubman’s history and her history of using firearms while conducting slaves on the Underground Railroad, but also because she’s replacing Jackson, the man who founded the Democratic party.

But Tubman was more than all that.

“Acknowledging Harriet Tubman’s place in history does more than honor Tubman herself, it honors the great spiritual struggle for freedom and equality that this country fought with itself in the middle of the 19th century, which is right and proper to do,” wrote Leon H. Wolf, according to the story.

Harriet Tubman’s pistol and ivory-handled sword on display.