Federal officials were taken “by surprise” at the widespread interest in the redesign of the $10 bill after Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced last year the rebooted currency would feature the image of a woman. Lew wanted to “make a statement about who we are and what we stand for,” but stirred up an intense national conversation that included many people complaining, after a group that had been advocating for a woman to be featured on the $20 bill, that the decision to make the change to the ten implied women were worth less than men. “I think it took us all by surprise just how much interest there really was,” U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios, the official who engineered the idea to put a woman on the ten, told The New York Times. The complaint about the $20 bill has, by far, been the most frequent about the campaign thus far, but the decision won’t be changed for a host of reasons. Largely because the Obama administration was keen on making a social statement about women and equality before the president’s term is up, and because the $10 was slated for redesign anyway over counterfeiting concerns, the plan is going forward.
But debate over the issue is raging, as many see former President Andrew Jackson as the appropriate figure to be vanquished from paper money, not Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first treasury secretary. That’s a position espoused by former Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke, among many others. Last week, U.S. Senator James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, sponsored a resolution that argues Jackson should be replaced by a woman due to Jackson’s “policies that forced thousands of American Indians off their ancestral homelands.” Nine percent of Lankford’s constituency is Native American. And a group has launched a social media campaign using the hashtag #SaveHamilton to stop him from being demoted. The group pushing for a woman on the $20 bill has even offered a compromise that would keep Hamilton on the front of the ten and feature a composite image of several women on the back, and then when the $20 bill is up for redesign, a woman’s image would replace Jackson. The government, despite some delays, is undeterred and pushing forth with redesigning $10 bill. And then there’s still the quandary of which woman’s image to put on the new bank note, a decision on which could be coming “in the near future.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.