Getting a woman on the $10 was a victory, but an underwhelming one

The World
Updated on
Harriet Tubman

They wanted to oust Jackson, but they got Hamilton instead.

The US Treasury Department has announced it will put a woman on a newly designed $10 bill, replacing Alexander Hamilton. The design of the new bill is due by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

On it’s face, this might seem like a win for women, especially for an organization called Women on 20s, which has been working to bust the monopoly of men on money. But instead of raucous celebration, the news has only seen a relatively tepid response.

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Barbara Ortiz Howard, the founder of Women on 20s, has previously said that her organization intentionally chose the $20 bill because of Andrew Jackson’s problematic history, which includes the violent removal of Native Americans through the Indian Removal Act. He was also a good target because of his disdain for central banking.

“The bank is trying to kill me, but I will kill it!” Jackson once famously said.

And he succeeded. In 1836, Jackson successfully blocked a bill that would have renewed the charter to the central bank, leaving the US without a central bank until Federal Reserve was formed in 1913. 

However, according to the Treasury’s website the decision to replace the Hamilton rather than Jackson was because the $10 bill was becoming too easy to counterfeit. It was last updated in 2006.

To add on to the disappointment, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said that Hamilton wouldn’t be completely gone on the new bills. 

“There are many options for continuing to honor Hamilton,” the site reads. “While one option is producing two bills, we are exploring a variety of possibilities. However, security requirements are the driving consideration behind any new design.” 

This means first woman to appear on US paper currency since Martha Washington’s five-year stint on the $5 bill over a century ago will have to share it.

For now, the Treasury hasn’t decided whose portrait will be on the new bill, and they are taking suggestions. Nominations range from Leslie Knope to Rosa Parks to Harriet Tubman, who was the most popular candidate in a election held by Women on 20s. Hopefully supporters won't be disappointed with that choice as well.

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