So long, Alexander Hamilton; a woman to be main feature on $10 bill

By Danielle Haynes  |  Updated June 18, 2015 at 12:17 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 17 (UPI) -- A woman will be featured on U.S. paper currency for the first time in more than a century, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced Wednesday.

Starting in 2020 -- the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote -- a historic female figure will grace the $10 bill.

Lew announced Alexander Hamilton, the founder of the nation's financial system and first Treasury secretary, will be joined on the bill by a woman who is seen as a "champion for our inclusive democracy," a news release from the department said. The subject of the newly redesigned $10 has yet to be announced.

Lew told reporters it was "personally very important" for him that Hamilton still be included on the bill. This will be accomplished by either including multiple portraits on the bill or by printing more than one version of currency.

"America's currency is a way for our nation to make a statement about who we are and what we stand for," Lew said. "Our paper bills -- and the images of great American leaders and symbols they depict -- have long been a way for us to honor our past and express our values.

"We have only made changes to the faces on our currency a few times since bills were first put into circulation, and I'm proud that the new 10 will be the first bill in more than a century to feature the portrait of a woman."

The subject of the first female historic figure to be featured on paper currency in more than a decade has been the cause for much speculation recently, thanks to the "Women on 20s" campaign.

The petition seeks to have former U.S. President Andrew Jackson replaced on the $20 bill by African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Organizers of the campaign picked Jackson for replacement because of his role in Native American relocation policies and opposition to the central banking system.

A 10-week-long poll was held to choose a prominent woman to be featured on the bill.

It's unclear who Lew will choose for the $10 bill, but other women in the "Women on 20s" poll included Alice Paul, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Rachel Carson, Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordan, Margaret Sanger, Patsy Mink, Clara Barton, Frances Perkins, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., the author of the Women on the Twenty Act, praised the Treasury Department's move.

"Today, those voices all across the country calling for the contributions of women to be honored on our paper currency were heard and now change is happening," she said. "This announcement follows a tremendous grassroots movement that spread through the power of social media and good old fashioned word-of-mouth.

"While it might not be the twenty dollar bill, make no mistake, this is a historic announcement and a big step forward. Young girls across this country will soon be able to see an inspiring woman on the ten dollar bill who helped shape our country into what it is today and know that they too can grow up and do something great for their country."

Lew will announce his selection later this year.

Anthony has already been on a $1 coin, which was later replaced with coin featuring Shoshone Indian guide Sacagawea. The only woman to appear on paper currency in the United States, other than Lady Liberty, was first lady Martha Washington, who was on a $1 silver certificate in 1886 and 1891.

Lew said the Treasury Department is seeking public input on symbols and designs for the new $10 bill. Americans can submit their ideas at thenew10.treasury.gov or by using the hashtag #TheNew10 on social media.

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