Hamilton Saved on the $10!

Today, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew made a much anticipated announcement about the future of the $10 and $20 bills.  He stated: “The front of the new $10 will continue to feature Alexander Hamilton, our nation’s first Treasury Secretary and the architect of our economic system.”  The back of the bill will now “honor the story and the heroes of the women’s suffrage movement against the backdrop of the Treasury building.” Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson as the new face of the $20 bill.

The full text of Secretary Lew’s open letter is available via Medium.

Hamil-ten No More?

Yesterday, Jack Lew announced that the $10 bill would be undergoing a complete redesign to feature a woman on the currency.

The Fact Sheet released by the Treasury Department states that: “Secretary Lew has made clear that the image of Alexander Hamilton will remain part of the $10 note.”  However, no specifics about what position Hamilton’s image would have has been released yet.

The Treasury Department website about the New Ten asks for the public to provide them with ideas and feedback and states:

In exercising the responsibility to select currency features and design, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has made clear that the public’s input is an important and valuable part of the process for the redesign of the $10 note. Treasury wants to hear from the American people and engage in a public dialogue about how we can use the new $10 note to best represent the values of our inclusive democracy. Treasury staff will also seek public comment through other forums including round tables, and open houses. Share your ideas, symbols, designs or any other feedback that can inform the Secretary as he considers options for the $10 redesign.

Chris Matthews of Fortune called Lew’s decision to redesign the $10, rather than removing Andrew Jackson from the $20 “the worst decision Jack Lew has made.”  I believe that it is a fundamental mistake for the Treasury Department to abandon its spiritual father by removing Hamilton from the $10 bill.  Without Hamilton, the Treasury Department and a national currency would not exist.

At the same time, I am fully supportive of the idea of removing Andrew Jackson from the $20 and replacing him with a woman.  Jackson spent his career fighting the idea of paper money and a central banking system.  Even the movement asking for a woman to appear on currency has been focused on putting a woman on the $20, and over 600,000 people (myself included) voted on candidates to replace Jackson on the bill at the website http://www.womenon20s.org/.

Alexander Hamilton is uniquely qualified to retain a prominent place on American currency.  Hamilton fought vigorous opposition from Jefferson and other contemporaries to establish a national bank.  He single-handedly established the economic foundations of the young nation.  Hamilton also made significant, game-changing contributions to the Revolutionary War and had a major role in establishing Constitution and the foundations of our government.

Michael Newton posted several quotes from Hamilton’s contemporaries about his role in developing the foundation of the American financial system, including Daniel Webster’s statement that Hamilton:

“…smote the rock of the national resources, and abundant streams gushed forth. He touched the dead corpse of the public credit, and it sprung to its feet. The fabled birth of Minerva from the brain of Jove was hardly more sudden or more perfect than the financial system of the United States as it burst forth from the conception of Alexander Hamilton.”

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Image from the New York Post: http://nypost.com/2015/06/17/woman-to-replace-alexander-hamilton-on-10-bill/

Secretary Lew’s statement made clear that the Treasury Department is seeking public input on the redesign.  If you are passionate about this issue, I urge you to participate in public forums, send comments and letters to Treasury, and use your social media presence to ensure that Hamilton’s image continues to be the face of the $10 bill.