Fact Check

Man Commits Suicide Over Harriet Tubman Replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 Bill

A fake news item reported that a man killed himself over the Treasury's decision to add an African-American abolitionist's portrait to the $20 bill.

Published Apr 21, 2016

A man killed himself over the Treasury's decision to add an African-American abolitionist's portrait to the $20 bill.

On 21 April 2016, the web site Empire Herald published an article reporting that a 61-year-old ("caucasian") man from North Carolina had killed himself upon learning that a portrait of 19th century African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman was to replace that of Andrew Jackson on the front of the U.S. $20 bill, writing in his suicide note that he hoped Donald Trump would be elected to "make America white again":

Gary-Jo Henderson, 61, of Charlotte was known by friends and family as a hardcore American currency collector. His wife, Martha Henderson is a collector of Civil War memorabilia. Both traveled acrossed the country to buy and auction off their historical collections. According to reports, Mrs. Henderson arrived at their residence at approximately 6:15 P.M. when she discovered her husband, unresponsive in his home office. Mrs. Henderson immediately called 911 while attempting to resuscitate her husband.

According to Mrs. Henderson, "After I found my husband slumped over in his chair, I ran over to him to see if he was okay. When he did not respond to me, I checked to see if he was sleeping and that is when I saw that he was not breathing. I called 911 and I tried to give him CPR until the ambulance arrived. After a few attempts, I notice an empty bottle of Percocets on his desk. I then saw a note near the bottle which read'Make American White Again'. When I opened the letter, that is when I found out he committed suicide. ... Reportedly, part of the letter read, 'It's a shame that one of our founding fathers is being replaced by a N**GER. I never thought I would live to see a spade in the White House and now one of them will be on the money we spend each day. I'm tired of seeing N**GERS taking over our great nation. I refuse to live in a world overrun by Blacks. I hope Trump wins so we can make America White Again!"

This story was just another clickbait fabricated report from the Empire Herald fake news site, and as is often the case, the Empire Herald simply appropriated an extant, unrelated crime scene photograph and attached it to their fictional story. In this instance, the image dated to January 2014 and involved a man who was shot by a deputy whom he had attempted to run over in a stolen car.

Empire Herald carries no disclaimer warning readers that its content consists solely of fake news items. Previous hoaxes advanced by that site include claims about a dog meat restaurant and another about a serial killer who purportedly carved "Black Lives Matter" into his victims' skin.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.