Plan for woman on $10 bill lauded

De­spite praise for the move, Alexan­der Hamil­ton, the cur­rent oc­cu­pant, has back­ers.

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By Sa­man­tha Ma­sunaga sa­man­tha.ma­sunaga@latimes.com

News that a woman will ap­pear on the $10 bill in 2020 prompted an ex­plo­sion of can­di­date sug­ges­tions and cel­e­bra­tion, tem­pered by crit­i­cism of how the change will be car­ried out.

Some peo­ple took to so­cial media to ex­press ela­tion over the de­ci­sion to fea­ture a woman on pa­per cur­rency — for only the third time in U.S. history and the first in more than a cen­tury. In the late 1800s, First Lady Martha Washington graced the $1 sil­ver cer­tifi­cate, and Poc­a­hon­tas was fea­tured on the $20 bill from 1865 to 1869.

Speak­ing at the Na­tional Ar­chives in Washington on Thurs­day, Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Ja­cob J. Lew said that “given the vi­tal role women played to build this na­tion, it’s only right that our cur­rency ref lect their con­tri­bu­tion.”

Lisa Moore, a pro­fes­sor of English, gen­der and women’s stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Texas at Austin, said pa­per notes can be seen as a kind of “na­tional por­trait gallery.”

“These are the im­ages of Amer­i­can lead­ers that cir­cu­late most widely,” she said. “I think it’s long past the time that all of the lead­ers of Amer­i­can democ­racy are rep­re­sented.”

Along with the praise, there has been plenty of crit­i­cism.

Alexan­der Hamil­ton will still ap­pear on the note even af­ter the yet-to-be-se­lected woman makes her de­but. The Trea­sury ei­ther will de­sign two bills or Hamil­ton and the woman will share the same bill.

This news, cou­pled with the fact that a grass-roots cam­paign called Women on 20s ad­vo­cated for a woman to re­place An­drew Jack­son on the higher de­nom­i­na­tion $20 bill, has di­luted some of the ex­cite­ment.

“That cer­tainly weak­ens the sym­bolic value of the ges­ture,” Moore said. “It seems to be say­ing that women are worth less ... and that sends an un­for­tu­nate mes­sage of in­equal­ity.”

But Hamil­ton has plenty of sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing Richard Sylla, pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics and fi­nan­cial history at New York Univer­sity, who says his role as the na­tion’s first Trea­sury sec­re­tary should guar­an­tee his place. Sylla cited the va­ri­ety of Hamil­ton’s ac­com­plish­ments, such as writ­ing a ma­jor­ity of the Fed­er­al­ist Pa­pers, serv­ing as a found­ing fa­ther and com­mand­ing the U.S. Army in prepa­ra­tion for a war with France in the late 1790s.

“He’s the per­son that set up the fi­nan­cial sys­tem,” Sylla said. “He may have been the most im­por­tant fig­ure in terms of set­ting up this coun­try.”

As an al­ter­na­tive, many have sug­gested that Jack­son should be the one to go.

Women on 20s called for Jack­son to be re­placed be­cause of his role in forc­ing Na­tive Amer­i­cans on the “Trail of Tears.” Sylla said it’s ironic that the pres­i­dent who in 1832 abol­ished the sec­ond U.S. cen­tral bank is fea­tured on a pa­per note.

“If you look un­der Jack­son’s rock, you find a lot of things that aren’t so nice,” he said. “I per­ceive that Jack­son’s star is fall­ing.”

First Lady Eleanor Roo­sevelt, civil rights ac­tivist Rosa Parks and abo­li­tion­ist and Un­der­ground Rail­road “con­duc­tor” Har­riet Tub­man are among the most pop­u­lar sug­ges­tions on Twit­ter. In May, Tub­man won the Women on 20s online con­test with more than 118,000 votes.

To sub­mit sug­ges­tions for the new bill, visit TheNew10.Trea­sury.gov or use the hash­tag #TheNew10 on Twit­ter. Lew will an­nounce his se­lec­tion at the end of the year.

‘It’s long past the time that all of the lead­ers of Amer­i­can democ­racy are rep­re­sented’ on U.S. cur­rency. —Lisa Moore, women’s stud­ies pro­fes­sor

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