A women's group asked for a female to be placed on the new $20 bill. Instead, they are getting a female on the $10 bill. And she won't be alone.
After months of promoting the idea that an historic woman’s visage should be on the $20 bill, the U.S. Treasury has agreed … sort of.
Coming in the near future, the U.S. $10 bill will feature the face of a woman of note from U.S. history as well as its current occupant, the face of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton.
Also, the U.S. Treasury is not going to agree with the initial recommendations to put former slave Harriet Tubman on the $10 bill. Necessarily.
First, the recent history:
A group named Women On 20s conducted an online survey of American citizens asking them to vote on one of about 20 nominees to replace former U.S. president Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. They conducted this survey without any assurances from the U.S. Treasury that it would take its final nominee into consideration.
They hoped to be able to complete the process by 2020, which would be the 100th anniversary of the year women received the right to vote in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
The women’s group targeted Jackson, the nation’s seventh president, because he was responsible for the expulsion of thousands of native Americans from their homelands by signing the Indian Removal Act of 1830, and also fought against a central U.S. bank, with a preference for metal coins of gold and silver over paper currency.
Eventually, former slave-turned abolitionist and Union army spy Harriett Tubman edged out former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in the vote. The final decision came in April of 2015.
Then, in mid-June, current U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that the $10 bill would be redesigned with the face of a woman on it. That face would not replace Alexander Hamilton, but would be put on in addition, either side by side with Hamilton on the front, or with a redesign with one face on the front and one on the back.
In a press conference, Lew stated that the $10 note was the next note due for an upgrade due to counterfeiting protection requirements, and was already in the process of a redesign. He said because the $10 bill is produced in less number than the $20, the transition would be quicker and smoother.
Lew announced that the U.S. Treasury would conduct its own poll of the citizenry about what woman should appear on the $10 bill, and created a website for that poll, thenewten.treasury.gov. There was one caveat, that the woman chosen had to be deceased.
And that is when the reaction began, from all sides, including those defending Alexander Hamilton right to have his own bill.
Reaction on the Women on 20s social media pages ranged in disgust that Jackson would remain representative of the country, to disapproval of the decision to make a woman share a note with a man. “Placing a woman on a bill with Alexander Hamilton makes the same sexist statement that our currency has made all along, that a woman cannot be independent or important without a man,’’ said one response.
Then there came the defense of Hamilton, whom some historians believe should be allowed to remain alone on the $10, with the idea of going ahead with the idea of replacing Jackson, who has fewer defenders. Hamilton, it was said, was one of the leaders of the anti-slavery movement in America as far back as when the Constitution was being drafted. He was also the First Treasury Secretary, making him worthy of maintaining his own currency note alone.
The people memorialized on United States paper money has not been changed since the 1920s. No woman has been on a U.S. paper bill since Martha Washington appeared on the dollar silver certificate from 1891 to 1896.
Pocahontas once appeared on paper money for five years in the mid-1800s. Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea are both on current dollar coins.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.