While most of the internet has been trying to decide which woman should take Alexander Hamilton’s spot on the $10 bill, former US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has been compiling a list of reasons why Hamilton should stay. And who should go instead.
“I must admit I was appalled to hear of treasury secretary Jack Lew’s decision last week to demote Alexander Hamilton from his featured position on the ten dollar bill,” Bernanke wrote on his blog Monday.
A better solution would be to dump Andrew Jackson off the $20, according to Bernanke. Jackson, reviled by many for his brutal treatment of Native Americans, hated paper money.
In his 571-word defense of Hamilton, Bernanke points out that Hamilton was America’s first secretary of the treasury, helped achieve American independence, helper create the US constitution, founded first major bank in the US – the bank of New York – and was “without doubt the best and most foresighted economic policy maker in US history”.
Considering all these reason for why Hamilton should stay on the $10 bill, the treasury should put a woman on the $20 bill instead, argued Bernanke. Hamilton has graced the $10 bill since 1929.
“Hamilton’s demotion is intended to make room to honor a deserving woman on the face of our currency. That’s a fine idea, but it shouldn’t come at Hamilton’s expense,” he wrote.
“As many have pointed out, a better solution is available: Replace Andrew Jackson, a man of many unattractive qualities and a poor president, on the twenty dollar bill. Given his views on central banking, Jackson would probably be fine with having his image dropped from a Federal Reserve note.”
There is yet another, less appealing option: make two versions of a $10 bill, one featuring Hamilton and one featuring a woman.
Bernanke can rest easy. According to Lew, the new bills are likely to continue feature Hamilton in some way.
“It was personally very important to me to make sure that as we make this decision we continue to honor Alexander Hamilton who played such a formative role in the creation our country, the establishment of democracy as we know it and the principle of the soundness of our currency,” Lew told reporters on 17 June.
Lew’s announcement that Hamilton was going to be replaced by a woman came after a high-profile petition organized by the Women on 20s campaign called on Barack Obama to choose African American slavery abolitionist Harriet Tubman for the bill.
It’s a while yet before a woman makes it onto US currency. According to Lew, the new bills won’t be in circulation until 2020.
This article was written by Jana Kasperkevic in New York, for theguardian.com on Monday 22nd June 2015 20.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010