For the first time in more than a century, a woman will finally get space on the nation’s paper currency but she may have to share it with a man.
The $10 bill, up for a redesign in 2020, will feature a female face, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced Wednesday. He’s also considering keeping Alexander Hamilton, the current resident of the bill and the nation’s first Treasury secretary, on some of the notes.
The decision to change the ten-spot came as feminist groups have been pushing for a woman on the currency in 2020 to mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Sharing space with Hamilton who not only conceived the nation’s financial system but also served as a protagonist in the nation’s first sex scandal wasn’t exactly what they had in mind.
A nonprofit organization, Women On 20s (Slogan: “A woman’s place is on the money”), has been campaigning instead to get rid of Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president, whose face appears on the $20 bill. Jackson’s record of removing Native Americans from their land and his opposition to the central banking system made him a good candidate to be yanked, they’ve argued.
Harriet Tubman was the winner of a poll the organization conducted to determine which woman should replace Jackson.
U.S. currency has rarely undergone major redesigns, but in 2013, the $10 bill was chosen for a remake partly to beef up protections against counterfeit threats, the Treasury said.
Lew said putting a woman on a bill had been under consideration well before his tenure at Treasury began, and President Barack Obama endorsed the idea last year, when he called it a “pretty good idea” during a July speech about the economy in Kansas City.
The Obama administration will be considering nominations of prominent women in U.S. history over the coming months and expects to announce its selection at the end of the summer, the Treasury said.
Lew said it was “personally very important” to him to preserve Hamilton’s place of honor on the $10. So whether it’s by printing $10s with different faces, or with multiple portraits on a single one, the woman will have to share with Hamilton.
In fact, Hamilton shared his bed with more than one woman making him one of the first subjects of a political sex scandal.
While his wife, Elizabeth, and kids were staying with relatives, Hamilton began an affair with a young woman named Maria Reynolds in 1791. He was secretary of the Treasury at the time, and Reynolds and her husband started extorting money from Hamilton. Hamilton eventually confessed to the affair in full detail in a pamphlet that also featured letters between him and his mistress.