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Proposal: Don't Shoot Down Alexander Hamilton a Second Time

This is a mock proposal - part of our tutorial.

Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton dead in a duel. Now Treasury Secretary Lew is trying to kill off our first Treasury Secretary from the $10 bill.

If you value your Hamiltons AND want to see a superstar woman on our currency, then explore this proposal.

The Issue

Problem Defined

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will redesign the $10 bill, replacing the image of Alexander Hamilton with a woman in 2020. It's standard practice to redesign our currency every 7-10 years to deter counterfeiting and enhance security. But featuring a woman is not. The Secretary wants to honor a woman in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, granting women the right to vote in 1920. Honoring a woman is long overdue, but killing Hamilton again is not the answer.

Expand all bullets
1. Treasury Secretary Lew asks for public input to decide which woman should appear on new $10 billMORE
2. Requirements for being featured on US currency are simple MORE

3. Out of 92 individuals featured on US banknotes and coins, only 5 have been womenMORE

4. Alexander Hamilton was a superstar for economic and democratic prosperityMORE

Alexander Hamilton rose from being the "the bastard brat of a Scottish peddler" (as described by John Adams) to the first US Secretary of the Treasury. 

Hamilton was senior aide to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. He was one of the most influential interpreters and promoters of our Constitution and founder of the nation's financial system. 

As Secretary of the Treasury, he was the primary author of George Washington's economic policies. Hamilton took the lead in the funding of the states' debts by the Federal government and establishing a national bank, a system of tariffs and friendly trade relations with Britain. 

Broadway celebrates the legacy of this Founding Father's contributions with the debut of Hamilton in August 2015:  Written by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda; based on the book by Ron Chernow.

5. Not everyone on our currency is as admirable as HamiltonMORE

6. Andrew Jackson was the 12th person featured on the $20 bill; Lady Liberty was the firstMORE

7. There are many inspiring women in history who deserve to have a place on our currencyMORE
  • Women On 20s, a non-profit, grassroots organization, held an online election earlier this year to let the public choose a nominee from among 15 inspiring women in history to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. More than 600,000 people cast votes and Harriet Tubman, the African-American abolitionist who led hundreds of slaves to freedom, emerged as the winner. Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest-serving first lady and human rights advocate, was close behind, followed by Rosa Parks, the African-American Civil Rights activist whose refusal to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus was one of the pivotal moments of the Civil Rights movement.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt was the front-runner in an August 2015 poll by McClatchy-Marist, followed by Harriet Tubman. Other women with significant support in the poll included Sacagawea, the American-Indian woman who served as a translator and guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition, Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and Susan B. Anthony, the suffragist whose efforts led to women's right to vote.
8. Harriet Tubman was a rock star of 19th century freedom and democracyMORE

Boy, was she fierce.

Born into slavery as Araminta Harriet Ross in Maryland in 1822, Harriet Tubman escaped to Philadelphia in 1849. She endured severe beatings and head injuries which would torment her for life. But she would become one of our greatest abolitionists and humanitarians. 

Harriet Tubman led hundreds of slaves to freedom as the most famous "conductor" on the Underground Railroad. Some called her "Moses."

During the Civil War, she was a Union nurse, cook, armed scout and spy. She helped John Brown recruit men to raid Harper's Ferry, earning the name "General Tubman." As the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the Combahee River Raid, liberating 700 slaves.

A devout Christian, she fought for women's suffrage, opened an old age home for African-Americans, and took care of her parents until their deaths.

Harriet Tubman died in 1913, seven years before the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote. Now, we honor her and take on her mantle of freedom, democracy, and courage.

As noted above, Tubman was the winner in Women on 20s' campaign to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. In July, US Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., introduced the Harriet Tubman Currency Tribute Act of 2015, new legislation that directs the Secretary of the Treasury to ensure that all newly issued $10 Federal Reserve Notes bear Tubman's likeness by 2021.

Detail from the painting The Underground Railroad by Paul Collins

Go deeper
The New 10

US Department of the Treasury - Official website (2015)


The New 10 is an official website of the US Government; its mission is to explain process for redesigning the $10 bill and to collect suggestions from the public.

US Department of the Treasury

US Department of the Treasury - Official website (2015)


The US Department of the Treasury's mission is to maintain a strong economy and create economic and job opportunities, strengthen national security, and manage the US Government’s finances and resources effectively.

Expert Authors

The Ghost of Benjamin Franklin wrote this with a little help from his friends -- a band of citizens, aka More Perfect Union's Chisel team. Chisel wishes to honor our worthy forefathers while also honoring our worthy foremothers. 

Deborah Devedjian
Founder & Chief Citizens' Officer - TheChisel / More Perfect Union, Inc.
Born in Philadelphia, Deborah Devedjian has been a leader in the global Education and Training industry and an expert in corporate governance—creating, building, investing in, and transforming organizations. Long committed to education and inquiry as the basis for democracy, she weaves together more than 20 years of experiences in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors to maximize learning, collaborative decision-making, and stakeholder value. 

She’s served in founding or leadership positions with Copernicus Learning Ventures, Warburg Pincus, RoundTable Partners, European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, and The Boston Consulting Group. Deborah has chaired or served on the executive committee of 20+ not-for-profit boards, including Polytechnic University; Marlboro College; Elwyn, Inc. (for the developmentally challenged); French-American Foundation; Pennsylvania-Russia Business Council; Commission of Independent Colleges and Universities; Harvard Business School Club of New York; and Yale Reunions.

She attended public schools, has a BA from Yale and MBA from Harvard, but her father still hopes she’ll go to med school. Fluent in French and Armenian. Amusing in German and Italian. Deborah’s day is not complete without a dose of the Rolling Stones, Beethoven, and Coltrane. Deborah is an independent (small "i"). Her patron saint is Ben Franklin. She excels at “herding cats,” according to one business school dean.
Benjamin Franklin
Chief Inspiration Officer - TheChisel / More Perfect Union, Inc.

Benjamin Franklin, TheChisel's Chief Inspiration Officer, was born in Boston in 1706. He moved to Philadelphia at age 17.

Ben was known for being, well, take your pick: typesetter, inventor, scientist, entrepreneur, international statesman, writer, editor, publisher, home brewer, Founding Father, Francophile. Master of public-private ventures.

His was the only signature on all four of our country's founding documents: Declaration of Independence, Alliance Treaty with France, Peace Treaty with England, and US Constitution. 

Totally cool dude. Oh, and politically, he was an Independent.

Self-taught, self-made, and answering to his highest ideals, Ben Franklin was a master problem solver. He identified commonalities and built bridges to forge more prosperous,  equitable, and secure realities for America and the world.

Lisa Goldman Forgang
Chief Policy Officer - TheChisel / More Perfect Union

Lisa Goldman Forgang was born in Boston, grew up in Washington, DC, and has lived in both Northern and Southern California and Zurich, Switzerland. 

She has an extensive background in statistics and analytics. Lisa has held executive roles in marketing, membership, and loyalty programs at The Walt Disney Company, Citi Cards, and Barnes and Noble. She received both her BA and MA from Stanford and her MBA from Harvard (HBS).

Lisa is a board member of the HBS Women’s Association of New York and was Vice President of the HBS Club of New York for eight years. She has been a lay leader with UJA-Federation for ten years and serves on the Leadership Committee of HBS Community Partners which provides pro bono consulting to non-for-profits. 

Lisa lives in New York with her attorney husband Chuck. She has two adorable pre-teen nephews and two adult step-daughters. Lisa loves cruises and won't eat blue M&M's.

Othman Lanizi
Front End Developer - TheChisel

Born and reared in Montpellier, in the South of France, Othman first became interested in computer programming when, at the age of 12, he started to handle and tweak private servers, build websites using PHP and MySQL, and develop video games in Lua. His passion for programming never faltered and he has since continued to work on side projects while dedicating his studies to understanding the mechanics of the corporate world.

Othman Lanizi received his BA in Business Administration from La Trobe University in Australia and his MBA from Montpellier Business School in France. His expertise lies in digital marketing, and how to interact and customize user interfaces to positively affect customers’ behavior. 

As a Front-End Developer at TheChisel, Othman combines his marketing knowledge with his programming skills to address issues in a creative way. Othman is an avid learner and his self-taught repertoire of technologies includes the latest stacks. 

Othman’s mother is French, and his father is Moroccan; he speaks French and basic Arabic and Japanese. He has chaired a French chapter of a youth mentoring program and during his free time he enjoys playing tennis and biking.

Bruno Thiery
News and Photo Editor - Chisel by More Perfect Union

Bruno celebrated his rebirth on July 20, 2015 when he became a US citizen.  Born in Vendée, France, Bruno has lived and worked in Los Angeles and New York since 2002.

He was most recently Photo Editor for Vocativ, an international citizens journalism site. He was Photography and Digital Editor of News Corp’s founding team for The Daily, the first news journal created with Steve Jobs for the iPad. Previously for 8 years, he headed the US operations of the French political and entertainment photo services agency Abaca in Los Angeles and New York. 

For the first 10 years of his career, Bruno was a print journalist covering war in the Middle East and Formula 1 racing. 

He holds a Diplome from Institut Pratique de Journalisme, the world’s first journalism school. 

Bruno has been a political junkie and journalist since childhood. His family called him Tintin, Belgian's most famous cartoon character-- a reporter who travels the world looking for great stories. As a teenager, Bruno read Le Canard enchaîné (the French equivalent of The Onion meets The Economist) instead of doing homework. He promises that one day he will stop smoking.

The Solution

Proposed Actions
Expand all bullets
1. Keep Alexander Hamilton on the $10 billMORE

From illegitimate son and orphan child to Founding Father. General Washington's wartime Chief of Staff. First Treasury Secretary. Founder of the Federalist Party and co-author of the Federalist Papers with James Madison and John Jay. Promoter of the US Constitution. Founder of our financial system. Creator of a national bank.

Let's continue acknowledging all Hamilton contributed to our US democracy, freedoms, and economy.

2. Drop Andrew Jackson from the $20 billMORE

Get a taste of Jackson from the 2010 Broadway rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson:

3. Put Harriet Tubman on the $20 billMORE

In 1861, the first year of the Civil War, the US issued its first $20-denominated legal tender. It was a demand note featuring Lady Liberty holding a sword and shield.

Harriet Tubman saved hundreds of slaves by leading them to freedom via the Underground Railroad. In doing so, she risked her life and that of her family. 

Harriet Tubman was a true Lady Liberty.

Expected Results
Expand all bullets
1. We'd creep ever so slightly toward gender equalityMORE
2. We'd further demonstrate our commitment to inclusive democracyMORE
3. We'd acknowledge the will of the people AND the wisdom of crowdsMORE
Budget Impact

No change. Currency redesign occurs regularly. Cycles of currency changes and production have remained stable for decades.

Net Present Value


The Conversation

a year ago
Instead of creating more debt by using our money to change who is on the currency get over it and make this country more stable financially first; once the country has taken care of its debt, the homeless, our veterans, getting people off of welfare, etc. then we can start talking about changing currency
a year ago
I'm tired of the liberals wanting to change everything. Statutes, Constitutional rights, illegal immigrants, and now something as silly as changing who is on the currency. Grow up and if you're so bored that this issue is on your agenda, find something else to do. Perhaps, fix Obamacare, create good paying jobs, crack down on criminal activity or maybe work on getting rid of the rampant fraud occurring in every department in the Federal, State, County and local governments.
George Schramm
Outreach Marketing
2 years ago
How do the experts that first drafted this proposal feel about the action being made in the government to now put Tubman on American currency? Do you think that it was a fair compromise?
Claire Kopsky
College Student
2 years ago
Since it is normal practice for the currency to change the face of the bills, why would we not take the opportunity to highlight another stand-out in American history? If they're curious, it's an opportunity for USD users to learn about another person who helped build the America we know today.
2 years ago
Not to be a party pooper : ) , but this discussion is akin to arguing about what color to paint the Titanic as it is sinking. Remember, we are talking about Federal Reserve Notes, which are not issued by our government but by a bank that is by all indications insolvent. Since the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, the 'dollar' has lost over 90% of its value. ZIRP has punished savers, created legions of debtors and left about 94 million people out of the workforce. What can we do about that?
2 years ago
Since you asked "What can we do about that", I will venture some thoughts of solution.
Erase the Federal Reserve from Our Government. Legislate a law, or some laws, that prevent any further intrusion of such a debt money institution, again. Place the full responsibility of the production of Our National Currency, on a as needed basis, with Our Treasury Department. Establish Congressional and Citizen watchfulness of the Treasury Department's work, in this regard.

A positive side outcome of this correction in Our Government and Economy, would be the elimination of all taxes. The Treasury Department will produce all the currency We will need to pay off all national and public debt. Investment in new business developments in Our Economy can also be generated.
To augment all this, strict controls of prices and inflation should be undertaken.
Deborah Devedjian
Founder & Chief Citizens' Officer
2 years ago
The employment problem is one of the most critical, if not the most critical, in the country. We're working on a proposal to address long-term unemployment, underemployment, and the transitioning workforce and industry in America. Thanks for your comment!
a year ago
well i think if there was more jobs we wouldn't have to be on unemployment and also stuff needs to be built so there was more jobs
3 years ago
Yo people! Think out of the box. Why should there only be one face associated with a particular bill? In Europe, the Euro coins have different faces on the same denomination. For example, you can have King Juan Carlos from Spain on a Euro, or Eleftherios Venezelos from Greece on another and so on. The back side of the coin has the number denomination and is always the same. Now, the Europeans only do this with coinage. But, there's no reason that this should be the case. Anyway, this discussion only exists because we think there's limited "real estate" on a bill. That's not the case. It's infinite. This being said, there are cost implications in that machines might need to be adjusted or re-tooled for different production runs. Still, would the cost be worth the ability to better reflect America in its diversity? Wouldn't it be worth opening up space for future leaders while preserving the past? You bet!
Deborah Devedjian
Founder & Chief Citizens' Officer
3 years ago
Interesting idea, Richard. We've done so already with the 50 State Quarters Program enacted in 1997--with each of the 50 states having its own minted coin from 1999-2008. Then, beginning in 1999, the Treasury began minting coins for DC and the US territories. If moo dot com can do it for business cards, perhaps we can do it with our paper currency, too!

And, looking to the future when all payments go electronic, we could presumably pay tribute to a different individual each day or hour!
3 years ago
I agree we should keep Hamilton and replace Jackson. But do we have to reach far back in time to find an historical figure -- or does that just make it a safe choice because the mythology surrounding the figure might make her shinier than the person was, in fact. Nothing against Harriet Tubman or her contribution, but perhaps someone from the modern era -- say, Barbara Jordan -- would inspire more conversation and possibly emulation?
3 years ago
A few thoughts:
1) I'm not sure where it is said that being on a form of currency is a lifetime commitment like being a Supreme Court judge. If that has been the practice I'm not sure it has to be the rule. (Food for thought, I didn't research this...any takers?)
2) Having said this, though, removing Hamilton to make room for Tubman is like Currency Affirmative Action. Tubman has made significant contributions and we can find a significant way to honor her that doesn't have to be by removing another significant contributor.
Deborah Devedjian
Founder & Chief Citizens' Officer
3 years ago
Felice, interesting analogy to the lifetime commitment of a Supreme Court Justice!

Just to clarify, we're suggesting that we keep Hamilton on the $10 bill as he's such a significant contributor to our country and that we drop Andrew Jackson for Harriet Tubman from the $20 bill as he's a considerably lesser contributor.
Why are we removing leaders from our currency who are instrumental to our country's development?
3 years ago
If you think about all people that make it on to some denomination of our currency, they are established leaders. Hamilton, though never president, is part of that very special club. Removing Jackson from the club isn't an answer either, though I realize that cases can be made for or against keeping him. There have been presidents far less worthy on currency before, though we have stopped using those denominations since.

To stir the pot a bit... There are a few instances where we have the same leaders on 2 forms of currency:

Jefferson ( $2 bill and Nickel)
Lincoln ( Penny and 5$ bill)
Washington( quarter and 1$ bill) (blasphemy!)

Taking the father of the banking system off the 10$bill isn't the answer nor is moving jackson out of his place in that special club.
I like the idea of honoring a woman WHO ALSO HAPPENS TO BE AFRICAN-AMERICAN. You go, girl!
Sarah Carter
3 years ago
I like the idea of honoring a woman WHO ALSO HAPPENS TO BE AFRICAN-AMERICAN. You go, girl!
Troy Williams
3 years ago
It's also interesting to note that Harriet Tubman adopted a daughter. That's another indication of her generosity and kindnesses in addition to her ferocious spirit! Go Harriet!
Alexander Hamilton deserves to stay on the US currency!
Stacy Horowitz
General Counsel
3 years ago
If the treasury wants to change the face of the $10 bill, then move Alexander onto another bill, and kick someone else off the island!
Harriet Tubman Currency Tribute Act of 2015.
3 years ago
Did you consider that Senators Barbara Mikulski and Jeanne Shaheen on July 9th introduced the Harriet Tubman Currency Tribute Act of 2015, new legislation that will direct the Secretary of the Treasury to ensure that all newly issued $10 Federal Reserve Notes bear Tubman's likeness by 2021?
Deborah Devedjian
Founder & Chief Citizens' Officer
3 years ago
Very interesting observation. Thanks for the update! But they could have killed two birds with one stone!

While the the Senators' measure addresses one aspect of the challenge, this determination is typical of Congress' short-term, in-the-box thinking. Congress needs to look at problems more holistically and out of the box. Part of its problem is that it does not define our problems well enough and comprehensively enough. Otherwise, we'd have a "richer" democracy -- in all the areas that are important to us -- basic freedoms, equal opportunities, economic, health, education, and national security.
When I emigrated to the US years ago, I believed that America was based on meritocracy.
Charlie Fort
Senior Vice President of Production
3 years ago
The opportunities gap between men and women is still unacceptable. I want my 10-year old daughter to grow up in a society where there are also strong female role models.
Jack Lew shouldn't be the final decision-maker.
3 years ago
Any decision should involve the public until the very end of the process.
2 years ago
I like the "Direct Democracy" tone of this reply.
If Harriet doesn't get the nod, how about honoring Clara Barton and all the suffragettes?
Stephanie Luster
Lead Architect
3 years ago
If Harriet doesn't get the nod, how about honoring Clara Barton and all the suffragettes?
Shouldn't Treasury establish a comprehensive plan to honor women instead of just piecemeal throwing of crumbs to placate women?
Maria Anderson
Executive Director
3 years ago
Shouldn't Treasury establish a comprehensive plan to honor women instead of just piecemeal throwing of crumbs to placate women?
How is Jack Lew actually going to choose?
3 years ago
How is Jack Lew actually going to choose?
Is the circulation of this new $10 bill enough of a step towards acknowledging the role of women in US history?
3 years ago
Is the circulation of this new $10 bill enough of a step towards acknowledging the role of women in US history?
What was the Treasury Department's rationale for choosing to drop Hamilton and not someone else?
3 years ago
What was the Treasury Department's rationale for choosing to drop Hamilton and not someone else?
2 years ago
Good question. I wonder if the idea was influenced by Alexander Hamiliton's alleged involvement with the Rothschilds?
Who or what authority gives Treasury the right to make this decision?
Toby Trichter
3 years ago
Who or what authority gives Treasury the right to make this decision?
2 years ago
Another good question. Since just about all of Our Departments and Bureaus have the Congressional authority to develop their own rules and operational elements in keeping with their Public Service, I think this trend developed within the Treasury Department itself. Though it may have been influenced by outside opinions.
I grew up admiring the achievements of our founding fathers, especially Hamilton, without ever questioning their presence on the US currency.
3 years ago
In my opinion, it would be nothing but an insult to remove those who have so greatly contributed to the country. This decision is not a fashion statement. It's about the future of a nation, and the message we want to convey to the future generation about who we are and what we value as a democracy.
What type of message would eliminating a founding father send to our future generations?
3 years ago
What type of message would eliminating a founding father send to our future generations?
2 years ago
I would think a "Truth Message" that none of Us are perfect and that We all make mistakes. But I don't see why We should eliminate even Alexander Hamilton, from where he is on Our Currency.
Claire Kopsky
College Student
2 years ago
Since it is procedure to change out the faces on currency, doesn’t that justify someone new taking his place?

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