The Cable

Thank ‘Hamilton’ for Keeping Alexander Hamilton on the $10 Bill

Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.


Apparently, a Pulitzer Prize-winning musical is enough to keep Alexander Hamilton on the front of the $10 bill.

After the runaway success of the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” which is about the life of the founding father best known as one of the originators of the U.S. financial system, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is expected to announce Wednesday that Hamilton will keep his place on the $10 note. It doesn’t hurt that Hamilton was the first U.S. treasury secretary.

President Andrew Jackson wasn’t as lucky. He’s being booted from the $20 bill and will be replaced by Harriet Tubman, an African-American abolitionist who shepherded thousands of slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad. She’ll be the first woman on the face of a U.S. banknote. A Treasury Department official confirmed the changes to the $20 bill.

Jackson, the seventh U.S. president, has long been condemned for owning slaves and kicking Native Americans off their land. He’ll keep some presence on the back of the bill, but it’s not yet clear what that would look like.

It remains to be seen whether Lew’s move will placate critics. The treasury secretary has been under fire by women’s groups for reneging on his June 2015 promise to put a woman on the 10-spot.

Other depictions of civil rights leaders and women will also be part of new currency plans, though it’s not yet known who will be represented. The new designs are set to be unveiled in 2020, marking the centennial of women’s suffrage and the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The bills won’t be in circulation until years later.

“Government sources … reveal that we won’t be seeing that $20 with a female portrait in circulation until 2030 or beyond. Yes, that’s more than 14 years. As usual, women are being asked to wait, and wait,” Susan Ades Stone, the executive director of Women on 20s, and Barbara Ortiz Howard, the organization’s founder, wrote in an April 18 commentary for CNN.

Some on social media Wednesday also urged Treasury to move more quickly to get the new $20 into the banking system.

In a statement Wednesday, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), who introduced the “Put a Woman on the Twenty Act” last year, said, “Sure, it is only symbolic, but U.S. money is just about as powerful a symbol as there is in this world.”

Lew’s decision speaks to the wild popularity of “Hamilton,” the play: The cheapest tickets available for the Wednesday afternoon matinee are $422 on Ticketmaster. Its star and creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, personally lobbied Lew to keep his play’s namesake on the $10 note.

This didn’t go over well with a number of women, including political commentator Cokie Roberts. In Wednesday’s New York Times, she wrote, “It’s yet another ‘wait your turn’ moment for American women.”

Photo credit: THEO WARGO/Getty Images

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola