The PJ Tatler

Treasury to Go All Aaron Burr on the $10 Bill, Bump Off Hamilton

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is about to become the 21st century Aaron Burr by booting Alexander Hamilton off the $10 bill.

Treasury was teasing a big announcement from its engraving office at midnight, until Nancy Lindborg, the president of the U.S. Institute of Peace, broke the embargo by praising Lew’s decision in a tweet.

“Sec Lew announced 2day historic decision to feature a woman on new 10 dollar bill. About time! Share ideas on who to feature ,” Lindborg tweeted.

There had been a long-running campaign to put a woman on U.S. currency — but backers were lobbying for Andrew Jackson to be booted off the $20 bill.

“Andrew Jackson was celebrated for his military prowess, for founding the Democratic party and for his simpatico with the common man. But as the seventh president of the United States, he also helped gain Congressional passage of the ‘Indian Removal Act of 1830’ that drove Native American tribes of the Southeastern United States off their resource-rich land and into Oklahoma to make room for white European settlers. Commonly known as the Trail of Tears, the mass relocation of Indians resulted in the deaths of thousands from exposure, disease and starvation during the westward migration. Not okay,” explained the Women on 20s campaign.

“Some argue that because Jackson was a fierce opponent of the central banking system and favored gold and silver coin or ‘hard money’ over paper currency, he is an ironic choice for immortalization on our money,” their reasoning continues.

Hamilton, meanwhile, was the first secretary of the Treasury, along with being the founding Federalist and one of our most influential Founding Fathers.

UPDATE 11:30 p.m. EST: The Treasury Department issued some answers on the Hamilton bump.

“While the design process is complex and much work remains to be done, Secretary Lew has made clear that the image of Alexander Hamilton will remain part of the $10 note. There are many options for continuing to honor Hamilton,” a statement said. “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.”

Yes, they’re saying the reason they picked the $10 and not the $20 is national security.

“Currency is primarily redesigned as necessary to address current and potential security threats to currency notes. When recommending a note for redesign, the Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence (ACD) Steering Committee considers these primary goals: that U.S. currency utilizes unique and technologically advanced security features to deter counterfeiting, that it facilitates the public’s use and authentication, provides accessibility and usability, and maintains public confidence. Based on analysis of these criteria, in June 2013, the Committee recommended that the $10 note should be the next note to be redesigned, assuming no other counterfeit threats emerge.” The bill was last redesigned in 2006. Hamilton remained on the bill.

The last time changes in the selection of people to be honored on bills was made occurred between 1914 and 1928.

“Democracy is the theme for the next redesigned series and the Secretary will select a woman recognized by the public who was a champion for democracy in the United States,” Treasury said, stressing that even though they’ll have public input forum the final selection will not be a democratic one. “While the Secretary of the Treasury is responsible for final decision on all design features, he will receive regular updates on the public feedback as he considers new design aspects and the portrait selection for the $10 note.”