Women to be Honored on US Paper Currency

Harriet Tubman will be the first woman to be honored on paper currency since Martha Washington graced the $1 silver certificate in the late 19th century.At our recent Shred Event, we were seated enjoying our lunch, when one of our most devoted theater loving clients, asked me if I’ve heard of the new show Hamilton.  Well yes, I have heard of it, and will have access to tickets in Fall, 2017.  Our client was happy to hear of the tickets in my future, but she willingly shared a terrific link of a Sunday Morning episode, featuring a story about the show Hamilton.  I include the link here, because it was so much fun to watch: Hamilton on Sunday Morning

Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist who helped rescue slaves, in the late 1800s. Credit H. B. Lindsley, via Library of Congress
Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist who helped rescue slaves, in the late 1800s. Credit H. B. Lindsley, via Library of Congress

Little did I know, Hamilton the show, is creating a whole new fan base for Alexander Hamilton, the man.  As you know, his portrait graces the back of our beloved $10 bill.  In an effort to include women on our currency, the Federal Reserve surveyed various constituent groups to see who should appear on our currency.  Surprising to hear, so many people did not want to see a change in the $10 bill because of their new awareness of Alexander Hamilton!  According to the New York Times, there is a fan base “swollen with enthusiasm over a Broadway rap musical based on the life of the first Treasury secretary!”

So, even though the Treasury originally planned to make a woman the face of the $10 bill, last month Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced his proposal to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman, the former slave and abolitionist. Tubman will be the first woman so honored on paper currency since Martha Washington graced the $1 silver certificate in the late 19th century.

While Hamilton will remain on the $10, and Abraham Lincoln on the $5, images on the back of both the $5 and $10 will be pictures of women who had an impact in our country. The $10 bill will depict a 1913 march in support of women’s right to vote.  The $5 bill will remain the Lincoln Memorial, but as the backdrop for Marian Anderson, the African American classical singer, who was barred from singing at the segregated Constitution Hall nearby.

What remains interesting is the heated public commentary that began soon after our Treasury secretary invited public comment.  Women’s groups insisted that a woman be honored on the more common $20 note.  The $10 was next in line for re-design with female corporate leaders calling for a woman on the $10 bill, not wanting to wait years for the $20 bill redesign.  But nothing moved the debate as much as the musical “Hamilton.”  Theater patrons and teenagers rapping to the musical soundtrack, as well as the show’s creator and star, all weighed in on leaving Hamilton on the $10 bill.

Final redesigns will be unveiled in 2020.  We’ve come a long way baby!

Laurie Dubchansky
Guest Post by Laurie Dubchansky

“My own life-changing transition inspired me to start Inspired Financial so that I could help other women and their families navigate their difficult life transitions and emerge confident, financially secure and empowered to deal with future life events.”

Leave A Comment