Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Fresh Off the Presses!

$10 Bill with Hamilton
It must have occurred to many of you as well that the popularity of the Broadway Musical "Hamilton" might have an impact on Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew's decision to replace the image of Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill with the image of a woman.  We weren't the only ones to regard that was a possibility, and a headline in the April 15, 2016 New York Times read:  "Success of 'Hamilton' May Have Saved Hamilton on the $10 Bill."  The article by Jackie Calmes referred to the careful avoidance by Lew during an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS about whether "...a woman's portrait would be at the center of the $10 bill."

Secretary Lew had set December of 2015 as the deadline for selecting the image for the bill, and the fact that the deadline had come and gone indicated Lew might be having second thoughts.  Lew and his wife attended a performance of "Hamilton" and spoke with Lin-Manuel Miranda, who tweeted afterward that Lew had hinted that "Hamilton" fans would be happy with the ultimate decision.  That might leave some outspoken groups advocating the image of a woman for the $10 bill very unhappy.  See "You Can't Please Everybody," 7-9-2015 in the Blog Archives to read what was behind the initial decision to change the image.

A $20 Bill with Jackson

A rumor started that Alexander Hamilton would remain on the $10 bill, and Andrew Jackson would be replaced on the $20 with the image of a woman.  As far back as June 18, 2015, Washington Post writer Steven Mufson had written an article headlined:  "Why the U.S. government needs to remove Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill."  After listing Hamilton's virtues, such as being a founding father, co-authoring the Federalist Papers, serving as a Revolutionary War staff aide to George Washington, serving as the first Treasury Secretary, establishing the first national bank, and advocating a national currency rather than the currencies of the various states, Mufson continued by describing all the reasons why Andrew Jackson should never have appeared on the $20 bill in the first place.  He included the enumeration of Jackson's "disastrous economic policies," including his dismantling of the second Bank of the United States, his restrictions on the use of paper money which contributed to the severe economic Panic of 1837, and his responsibility for appointing Treasury Secretary Roger B. Taney to the Supreme Court (from which position Taney wrote the majority opinion in the Dred Scott case that haunted American race relations for decades).  See "Earliest Currency," 7-3-2015 in the blog archives to read more about this early period.

Harriet Tubman
Many people assumed there was widespread support for a woman's image on our paper currency.  That did not seem to be true when I asked my blog followers to weigh in on the issue.  Perhaps it is because those who read this blog appreciate knowledge of and respect for history, or perhaps it is because most people are concerned about wasteful government spending, but the followers of this blog who responded were not among those eager to see a woman on the $10 bill!  See "Survey Results for $10 Bill Image," 7-16-2015 and "More Money Comments," 7-23-2015 in the blog archives to read some the those reactions.

As of April 20, 2016 we learned Secretary Lew's decision.  Hamilton is safe!  As rumored, Andrew Jackson is the one to be displaced by a woman, and the woman selected is Harriet Tubman.  The choice of Tubman seems particularly appropriate, as Jackson has received harsh criticism in more recent times for his brutal relocation of Native Americans and his support for slavery.

Fewer rumors about other changes had leaked.  In fact, while Lincoln and Hamilton remain on the $5 bill and the $10 bill respectively, the reverse of those bills will change.  The Lincoln Memorial on the reverse of the $5 bill will remain, but images of Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be added.  On the reverse side of the $10 bill the Treasury building will be replaced and a depiction of the 1913 March in Support of Women's Right to Vote will appear, with portraits of suffrage leaders Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth.

Don't expect to see these changes any time soon.  The redesigns are not scheduled for unveiling until 2020!  

1 comment:

GPPNewsWire said...

Your article was insightful history for adults as well. Thanks