Why the Treasury Is Bumping Alexander Hamilton from the $10 Rather than Replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20

by Patrick Brennan

With the news that a woman will be added to the $10 bill — not to the exclusion of founding father Alexander Hamilton, as originally feared, but in addition to him — plenty of people have wondered why the $20 bill wasn’t the one that came in for revision instead. Hamilton, as an author of the Federalist papers, the first Treasury secretary, and essentially the father of the American currency system, seems like he deserves his own bill. Meanwhile there were calls for a woman to replace Andrew Jackson, who may be a member of President Obama’s party but is a rather controversial figure these days, and was not an especially well-regarded president in the first place. (His signal accomplishments were making America more populist, democratic, and focused on the western frontier — all questionable moves in a way, really.) So why is the ten getting changed?

The answer: Government is kinda slow.

Joseph Lawler of the Washington Examiner reports that Treasury secretary Jack Lew said the $10 bill was simply the next bill up for a major redesign, a process that takes years because of the anti-counterfeiting technology involved, so it’s the only one that can have a woman added soon. Well, relatively soon: The new $10 bills will come out in 2020, which will be the 100th anniversary of national woman’s suffrage. The redesign process has, Lew said, been in the works since before he took office in 2013.

Given the symbolic importance of who’s on our currency, it’s not the most satisfying explanation, but at least it’s an answer.

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