$10 Worth of Controversy | Los Angeles Public Library
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$10 Worth of Controversy

Tamara Holub, Librarian, Business Department,

In June 2015, US Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, introduced The New 10 Campaign in which a woman will be featured on the newly redesigned $10 bill in the year 2020.  The circulation of the new $10 bill will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.  The redesigned $10 will also include symbols of democracy.  Issues up for debate are what woman will be featured on the bill and the choice of democratic symbols.  Anyone can provide feedback on these questions on the Treasury’s social media sites, https://thenew10.treasury.gov/

New 10
Image from U.S. Department of Treasury

It’s been over 100 years since a woman has been featured on US paper currency.  First Lady Martha Washington was illustrated on the $1 silver certificate in the late 1800s.  Pocahontas was illustrated on the $20 bill from 1865-1869.

Some of the most popular choices for the new $10 bill in the news and social media are Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks.  Senator Barbara Mikulski has recently introduced legislation to feature Harriet Tubman on the $10 bill in recognition of her work for in the abolitionist movement, the Underground Railroad, and women’s rights.

Harriet Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt
 Harriet Tubman; wikimedia.org                        Eleanor Roosevelt; wikipedia.org

This campaign has stirred a significant amount of excitement as well as controversy.  Some critics argue that Alexander Hamilton should remain on the $10 bill because he created America’s financial system and saved the United States from economic collapse.  Hamilton also played a fundamental role in the creation and promotion of the U.S. Constitution and was the first Secretary of the Treasury.

Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton; wikipedia.org

Other critics argue that a woman should be on the $20 bill instead of the $10 bill.  A grassroots group called Women on 20s has petitioned President Obama to encourage Treasurer Lew to represent a woman on paper currency.  Currently, Andrew Jackson is featured on the $20 bill.  Woman on 20s argues that a notable American woman should be represented on the $20 instead of Jackson because of his mistreatment of Native Americans and his opposition to the central banking system.  Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton has also recently voiced support for the representation of a woman on a $20 bill.

The Treasury has stated that Hamilton will somehow remain on the bill, but it’s not yet clear what that means.  It’s possible that there will be two versions of the redesigned $10.  By the end of this year, the Treasury will announce which woman was selected to be represented on the new bill.


Archer, Sarah.  The New Ten’s Two-Body Problem.  The New Yorker, June 29, 2015.  http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/the-new-tens-two-body-problem

Bollinger, Josh.  Mikulski Works to Put Tubman on $10 Bill.  The Star Democrat, July 16, 2015. http://www.stardem.com/news/local_news/article_c26a5f8b-995a-50c7-9aa7-648c3b7f8b4b.html

Donnan, Shawn.  New $10 Bill to be First US Banknote Featuring Woman in 100 Years.  Financial Times, June 18, 2015.  http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/72f7e99e-156b-11e5-9509-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3gYMbfdHh

Forbes, Steve.  Why Erasing Hamilton from the $10 is Erasing our History.  Forbes, June 20, 2015. http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveforbes/2015/06/20/why-erasing-hamilton-from-the-10-bill-is-erasing-our-history/

Masunaga, Samantha.  “Plan for Woman on $10 Bill Lauded.”  Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2015.