Newspaper article International New York Times

New Hamilton for the $10 Bill

Newspaper article International New York Times

New Hamilton for the $10 Bill

Article excerpt

Elizabeth would be better than her cheating, selfish husband, Alexander.

Is it really possible that Alexander Hamilton, of all people, is about to relegate a woman to the back of the $10 bill, just 10 months after the Treasury Department promised to feature a woman on the new version of the note?

With Hamilton, a philandering liar who was the first secretary of the Treasury, having a star turn on Broadway, his successor Jacob J. Lew has apparently decided to keep him on the front of the bill. According to reports, Secretary Lew will place a woman (or perhaps several women) on the back.

It's yet another "wait your turn" moment for American women. When formerly enslaved men got the right to vote in 1870, women demanding their own suffrage were told to wait; their turn would come. It took a half-century, and a heroic struggle, before they achieved the vote in 1920.

The updated $10 bill, scheduled to enter circulation in 2020, was supposed to celebrate the centennial of that achievement. Now it will be more like a footnote. That is more than a broken promise; it's a blatant and insulting statement of women's second-class status.

After the decision to change the bill was announced last June, newly minted Hamilton supporters emerged in force, insisting that they didn't object to having a woman on the currency but just didn't want to see their man replaced. Put a woman on the new $20, they argued -- get rid of that bully Andrew Jackson!

Fine. I'll be happy to see a woman on that bill, too, when it comes off the printing press -- in 2030, if we're lucky. But if we wait until then, another cohort of girls will grow up with the clear message that they belong in back.

It's curious that Alexander Hamilton, who so aspired to join the establishment, is arousing such a passionate defense in these populist times. All he ever wanted was to be "in." And he found the perfect way -- through his wife. He joined two of the most revered families of Dutch New York when he wed Elizabeth Schuyler, whose mother was a Van Rensselaer.

And it was Elizabeth who saved Hamilton's political career after he admitted to his two-year affair with Maria Reynolds. …

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