The announcement kicked up some dust. Paper money, like paper news, appears to be less than popular with the younger set, who want to pay for things with their smartphones.
And while almost everyone knows George Washington is on the $1 bill and Abraham Lincoln on the $5, the other currency portraits are confusing for most Americans and hardly a subject for controversy.
Yet Hamiltonians are up in arms. Better to kick Andrew Jackson off the $20, they say. Jackson’s record with Native Americans and African-Americans is less than exemplary, they claim, while Hamilton’s central role in creating the U.S. economy is unquestioned.
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Let’s face it: Apart from Lincoln, the faces on our cash all have rather checkered histories, even Washington. And Hamilton is no exception: blackmailed for an affair, killed in an illegal duel by a sitting vice president. Not to mention all that crony capitalism.
Yet someone will have to step aside because it’s far past time to put a woman on our money. The question is who?
Those would be good choices. Maybe, though, it’s time to expand the field of possibilities beyond political figures to include artists, writers, scientists, teachers, inventors and other important figures of our history.
Naysayers will argue the proper place to honor those pioneers is on a stamp. Stamps, though, are more endangered than currency.
And if we want to remember our history on our money, we should keep this in mind: The past isn’t just about politicians. It’s about extraordinary people doing extraordinary things.
If Jackson leaves the $20, I’m pulling for Elvis. They were both from Tennessee and shared a certain outlook on life.