The current $10 Federal Reserve Note featuring Alexander Hamilton

The current $10 Federal Reserve Note featuring Alexander Hamilton

Secretary of the Treasury Jacob “Jack” Lew announced on Wednesday that a newly redesigned $10 Federal Reserve Note will feature the portrait of a woman. Lew will make the final decision as to who will appear on the note in accordance to 12 U.S.C. § 418.

The new note is scheduled for release in the year 2020, which coincides with the passage of the 19th Amendment that declared:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

According to the Treasury Department, the $10 note was selected to be redesigned to add Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence (ACD) based on their study of counterfeiting activity. This decision was made by the ACD Steering Committee, an inter-agency group that monitors a number of factors that go into the maintenance of U.S. currency. One of the factors includes the ongoing discussion of features that will help increase accessibility for the visually impaired as part of the court mandated Meaningful Access Program. Treasury reports that the new note “will include a tactile feature that increases accessibility for the visually impaired.”

The last time Treasury changed the portrait on U.S. currency was in 1928 when Andrew Jackson replaced Grover Cleveland on the $20 notes. Alexander Hamilton first appeared on the $10 note in 1923 when his portrait replace Andrew Jackson’s. Although the portraits have been redesigned, the same men have appeared on U.S. currency during small-sized note era (since 1928).

Series 1886 $1 Silver Certificate featuring Martha Washington (Fr #217)

Series 1886 $1 Silver Certificate featuring Martha Washington (Fr #217)

The last woman to appear on U.S. currency was Martha Washington. Our first First Lady’s portrait appeared on the $1 Silver Certificate between 1891 and 1896.

Lew is asking the public to provide suggestions as to whom should be the new face on the $10 note. She should be a woman “who was a champion for our inclusive democracy,” according to the Treasury statement. You can submit comments on their new website or make your suggestion on social media using the hashtag #TheNew10.

You can also visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Fort Worth on June 24 and meeting with United States Treasurer Rosie Rios and Bureau of Engraving and Printing Director Len Olijar to give them your ideas. A similar event will be held at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C. on July 15. You can find more information on the BEP website.

Mockup of the $20 note featuring Harriet Tubman

Mockup of the $20 note featuring Harriet Tubman

The organization Women on 20s has been lobbying to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 note. Their reason was that our seventh president was not exactly a nice guy and his treatment of Native tribes was less than humane along with other transgressions. In their online vote, Harriet Tubman was their popular selection. If Tubman was selected she would also be the first African-American to appear on U.S. paper currency (George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington were the first African-American men to appear on coins; Duke Ellington was the last appearing the District of Columbia quarter).

Politico notes:

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.

Interestingly, according to Bloomberg news, “The $10 bill is the third least-circulated among the seven major denominations, accounting for 5.2 percent of 36.4 billion notes in use at the end of last year.” The $100 note is the most circulated of all U.S. currency notes.

Image of the current $10 note courtesy of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Image of the Series 1886 $1 Silver Certificate courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Mockup of Harriet Tubman on the $20 note courtesy of Women on 20s

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