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Jackson on the defensive again

Is Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s decision to put a woman on the $10 bill as well as not remove Alexander Hamilton a slight to women?

The Women on $20s organization is choosing to interpret it as such.

What probably is the usual American political attempt to be all things to all people is not going down well.

As you might remember, back in the spring the organization began an online campaign to push Andrew Jackson off the $20 bill.

I blogged about it. I provided a link to allow readers to make up their own minds.

An online vote in which 609,000 persons participated chose Harriet Tubman as the person to go on the $20 denomination.

Lew’s decision in June followed the online vote results.

Women on $20s now has reacted, saying, “This is a time when we can’t just sit back and give up. We find it significant that the proposal of a woman for a high-volume, high-visibility note was met, quite literally, with a devaluation to a bill produced in one-quarter the numbers.”

Their action takes the form of an online petition to the White House seeking remedial action by the President.

To succeed requires 100,000 signers.

The petition currently has 47,482 who have added their names.

Perhaps inspired by the new Broadway play, supporters of first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton are also putting up a dogged resistence to his demotion and this fact is recognized in the Women on 20s petition.

“We also aimed to replace Jackson, our seventh President, known more today for his mistreatment of Native Americans, involvement in the slave trade and hatred of paper currency than for any other aspect of his legacy. The ten’s Alexander Hamilton, on the other hand, was a visionary founding father who designed our monetary system and still deserves a place of honor on one of our pocket monuments. But as a tribute to women’s accomplishments we can do better than to give 51% of the population a half a bill two years late. Where’s our good American ingenuity and resolve?”

Earlier in the petition it was noted that the goal was a new $20 bill by 2020 in time for the centennial of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Lew’s plan, the group said, would not see release of the new $10 until 2022.

Here is the link. You can read the full petition.

As a collector, it is nice to see the debate being about which bill’s design should change rather than whether any design should be changed.

Inertia has been a powerful force over the years.

Why not use this opportunity to change all of the designs, even if it is just a reshuffle of portraits among the denominations?

Add a $500 bill and a woman could be placed in our paper money pantheon in an unshared manner.

Whether she is put on the $10 or the $20, the displaced historical figure would then have a useful place to land on our 21st century money.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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