Treasury Secretary delays their $10 bill update announcement
In June, the Treasury Department announced plans to replace Alexander Hamilton’s mug on the $10 bill with a gal. Feminists applauded the move, the news instigated an awkward question to Republican candidates in a GOP presidential primary debate, and the rest of us who know American history were less than impressed.
Treasury Secretary Lew claimed plans to change the $10 bill were not due to social concerns, but the bill’s security.
At that time I wrote:
When it comes to having a woman’s face on the cash I use to buy shoes, books, and americanos, I’m indifferent. It all spends the same.
If anything, I loathe the idea that because I’m a woman I’m supposed to applaud or champion all women firsts a la “it’s time a woman _____!” Being a woman and doing something a man did years before is not in itself an accomplishment. Likewise, slapping a woman’s face on a $10 bill isn’t a cause to celebrate.
Of the available jackasses printed on our cash (read: Andrew Jackson, though he knew how to throw a killer party), why replace Alexander Hamilton?! If there’s anything insulting about the latest attempt to feminize American cash, it’s that Hamilton is getting booted for a yet to be determined chick just so America can say we have a chick on our currency.
Not only was Hamilton the first Treasury Secretary, he was ardently anti-slavery, and arguably one of the nation’s most crucial founding fathers. “An online petition earlier this year urged the administration to replace Jackson with abolitionist Harriet Tubman by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote,” wrote USA Today. That would’ve been a noble cause — replacing a pro-slavery wild man with a female abolitionist.
But scrapping Alexander Hamilton? That’s simply poor taste.
Even Ben Bernanke was “appalled” by Secretary Lew’s decision. In June he blogged his disgust:
I must admit I was appalled to hear of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s decision last week to demote Alexander Hamilton from his featured position on the ten dollar bill…
…Hamilton’s demotion is intended to make room to honor a deserving woman on the face of our currency. That’s a fine idea, but it shouldn’t come at Hamilton’s expense. As many have pointed out, a better solution is available: Replace Andrew Jackson, a man of many unattractive qualities and a poor president, on the twenty dollar bill. Given his views on central banking, Jackson would probably be fine with having his image dropped from a Federal Reserve note. Another, less attractive, possibility is to circulate two versions of the ten dollar bill, one of which continues to feature Hamilton.
I was in government long enough to know that decisions like this have considerable bureaucratic inertia and are accordingly hard to reverse. But the Treasury Department should do everything within its power to defend the honor of Jack Lew’s most illustrious predecessor.
Fast forward six months. Enormous public backlash to the June announcement prompted the Treasury Department to delay any decision on the $10 bill until next year.
Politico reported Friday:
The decision to select the woman who would take Alexander Hamilton’s spot on the $10 bill will be postponed until next year, a Treasury spokesperson announced Friday.
The delay was spurred by a slew of public comments about who should inherit the spot currently held by the first treasury secretary, who adopted the post in 1789. Treasury officials initially announced in June that the decision would be reached by the end of 2015.
Despite the push back, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the public’s opinion would weigh heavily in his decision. A spokesperson added that the Treasury Department had a surplus of ideas prompted by outsiders.
“As a result of the tremendous amount of engagement, we have many more ideas than we had originally anticipated. Therefore, we are taking additional time to carefully review and consider a range of options to honor the theme of democracy as well as the notable contributions women have made to our country,” she told CBS News.
The $10 bill in its updated form is set to be released in 2020, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women legal voting status.
I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to commemorate the 19th Amendment’s centennial that don’t include muddying the memory of a man who played a vital role in creating our country.
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