Why is it so hard to get a woman on the front of U.S. currency? After at least a year of seemingly successful campaigning to put a woman on the $10 bill, it now looks like she'll actually be relegated to the back—and to make this all the more ridiculous, it's probably because of a Broadway musical.
Until very recently, a woman was supposed to appear on the $10 bill starting in 2020—the 100th anniversary of women earning the right to vote in America—replacing founding father Alexander Hamilton. A nationwide poll took place to help determine which woman would get the honor.
But those efforts seem to have been delayed and possibly derailed after a strong reaction from members of the public as well as the popularity of the musical Hamilton. According to CBS News:
The smashing success of Hamilton brought newfound fans of the founding father rallying around the first treasury secretary-turned-pop icon. Now people familiar with the process tell CBS News that Lew is expected to announce Hamilton will remain on the front of the $10 note, and a scene of women throughout history will be added to the back.
CNNMoney reported that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will likely announce this week that Hamilton will stay on the $10 bill and a woman will appear, instead, on the front of the $20, replacing Andrew Jackson. But it appears that wouldn't happen until 2030, when the Treasury Department is planning its next bill redesign. (The last and only time a woman appeared on paper money in America, by the way, was in 1896 and 1901, when Martha Washington fronted the $1 silver certificate.)
So that would mean a woman wouldn't appear on the front of U.S. currency for another 14 years. No offense to Hamilton—or the now Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about him—but the setback is severe.
Here's the thing: The hype around Hamilton will eventually ease. It might take years, but in 2025, we'll all be scratching our heads over why a musical—yes, even a groundbreaking, genre-defying musical—forced the U.S. to wait more than a decade for a woman on our money.
A number of people are equally flabbergasted at this turn of events. A petition on WhiteHouse.gov was started to ensure women are not pushed to the back of the $10:
We are committed to creating visibility for women and believe it's fundamental to achieving equality for all. Featuring a woman on the back of the bill does not represent equality for women today, nor does it honor the courageous women who have shaped our nation. We stand for fairness, opportunity and equality, including equal representation for equal contributions. The time is now for female visibility-- on the front of our $10 bill.
They've also begun airing their opinions on Twitter using the hashtag #notgoingback, and urging people to sign the petition on WhiteHouse.gov:
So here's a proposal: Put a woman on the front of the $10 bill. Make it hers and hers alone. When 2030 rolls around, kick Jackson off the $20 and replace him with Hamilton. You never know—it could even coincide with the revival of Hamilton the musical.
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