Hamilton stays, Tubman replaces $20 Jackson

By Don Rajael, CCNN Writer

Hamilton Treasury
A statue of Alexander Hamilton in Washington, D.C. stands in front of the USA’s Treasury Building.

Anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman will replace the 7th USA president Andrew Jackson on $20 bills, which means Alexander Hamilton gets to stay on the $10 bill!

See, last summer it was announced that Hamilton, the Founding Father who created our economic system and saved the USA from crushing debt after the American Revolution, would be replaced by a woman on the upcoming $10 bill makeover. The decision sparked controversy among the public and historians, because while most of them support the inclusion of a woman on an American bill, many thought Hamilton was not the right person to demote.

After all, as the creator of the very same Treasury Department that was seeking to remove his face, Hamilton was critical in preventing America from financially collapsing after it won independence from Britain. He founded the Bank of New York, became one of the top cabinet members in the newly established government under President George Washington, and successfully argued his “nationalist” views to form a strong central government.

As the first Secretary of the Treasury, he was also one of the earliest interpreters of the Constitution, the highest law in the land. He used his position and influence to become the main architect of the USA’s profit-driven capitalism.

Hamilton also overcame tremendous disadvantages early in life, since he was an orphaned Caribbean immigrant who rose up to the greatest heights of political power through hard work and brilliance. Because of this, he was very feisty when people questioned his honor, often challenging critics to pistol duels. In fact, he died as a result of being mortally wounded by sitting Vice President Aaron Burr on July 11, 1804, during a dramatic gun duel.

Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the candidates for the new $10 bill. She was the longest-serving First Lady as the wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president who served an unprecedented four terms from 1933 to 1945. She was known as a savvy diplomat and human rights champion.

His face has been on the $10 bill since 1928, and for a while there, the current Treasury secretary Jack Lew was seeking public input on which candidate would become the first woman in 119 years to grace a bill. Thanks in part to the popularity of the rap musical Hamilton, the public persuaded Lew to keep him on the $10.

Why is the Treasury redesigning bills in the first place? Well, there is a growing problem with counterfeiting, which involves people creating fake currency.

As technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, more secure bills are needed to separate authentic money from false versions. In 2013, the Benjamin Franklin $100 bill got its mega high-security makeover, but the ingenious inventor and fellow Founding Father didn’t get replaced.

While women like Martha Washington and Pocahontas have made brief cameos on new paper currencies, a woman hasn’t been featured on new bills since the late 1800s, and certainly never an African-American.

Tubman was an abolitionist (anti-slavery advocate) who rescued slaves during the Civil War and served as a Union spy for the northern forces of President Abraham Lincoln.

Other popular choices included First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and civil rights activist Rosa Parks, who refused to move to the back of the bus.


Featured image courtesy of Department of the Treasury.  Image of Hamilton statue courtesy of Billy Hathorn on Wikipedia.