Another Federal Holiday? Bill Would Create “Harriet Tubman Day”

Recently introduced legislation would give federal employees another holiday in honor of Harriet Tubman.

Legislation has been introduced to establish another federal holiday in honor of Harriet Tubman.

The Harriet Tubman Day Act (H.R. 7013) was recently introduced by Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-PA). Boyle said that Tubman’s humanitarian efforts warrant the establishment of her own federal holiday. He also introduced the legislation to coincide with the bicentennial of her birthday.

“Our federal holidays must be a mirror of the American experience while at the same time reflecting our country’s history and diversity”, said Boyle. “Harriet Tubman’s brave humanitarian efforts more than a century ago continue to resonate with us today. Ms. Tubman worked day and night to battle the scourge of slavery that had infected our democracy. She saved countless lives and even contributed to several victories in the Civil War. I feel that enacting a federal holiday in her name is a fitting tribute to someone who did so much for so many.”

Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill

Boyle’s legislation is not the first efforts of the federal government to honor Harriet Tubman.

The Treasury Department announced in 2016 that Tubman will also replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. The decision was made under the Obama administration, but activity on making the change seemed to dissipate during the Trump administration. FedSmith users said at the time the decision was made that they were generally opposed to redesigning the $20 bill.

Although it may appear that the redesign of the $20 bill has been stalled, it is still set to take place, but not until 2030 according to a currency release schedule that was established in 2013.

Who Was Harriet Tubman?

Tubman was born into slavery in the early 1800s, approximately around 1822, although her exact date of birth is unknown.

She married a free black man, John Tubman, and took his name. Her maiden name was Ross.

In 1849, she successfully escaped from slavery via the Underground Railroad by heading north to Pennsylvania. She ultimately ended up becoming a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad and helped many other slaves escape to freedom. Accounts of how many people she helped vary, but it is believed she helped lead at least 70 individuals to freedom.

After the Civil War, she also worked as an advocate for the women’s suffrage movement and used her home to care for the elderly and poor. She also worked to establish the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged to help continue carrying on her work as part of her legacy.

Growing List of Holidays for Federal Employees

If it seems like there have been a lot of holidays proposed recently, it’s because there have been.

Federal employees now have 11 standard paid federal holidays. This is a listing of the federal holidays in 2022

Previously, there were 10 standard holidays, but federal employees got a new holiday in 2021 when a new law was created to establish Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

If other recent legislative proposals were to eventually become law, federal employees could have as many as 17 paid holidays in a typical year. Among the recent proposals in Congress to create new federal holidays are:

In some years, federal employees get additional paid holidays, such as for an extra day off at Christmas if a president grants one, or federal employees in the Washington, DC area get a day off for inauguration day following a presidential election. 2021 was one such year as denoted in the list of 2021 federal holidays when inauguration day was held on January 20, 2021.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.