The Corner

Is the Hamilton Announcement Merely a Ruse?

Ben Bernanke has joined the call to keep Hamilton on the $10 bill and put a woman on the $20 bill instead, replacing Jackson. I’m probably reading too much into this, but it reinforces my suspicion that the announcement of Hamilton’s demotion is part of a ruse designed to dampen opposition to the real goal of replacing Jackson.

Think about it. The push to remove Jackson from the $20 has been building for a while, but such a decision would have met with opposition from those of a patriotic and conservative temperament (despite Jackson’s “many unattractive qualities,” as Benanke put it, one of which was that he founded the modern Democratic Party). He did win the Battle of New Orleans, after all, and while in the White House he slapped down South Carolina secessionists in the Nullification Crisis and paid off the national debt, which is why historians rank him among the top 10 presidents. And the whole effort to demote Jackson from the $20 bill has a Soviet stench to it, like he’s going to be photoshopped out of the panorama of American history.

But removing Hamilton from the $10 bill is so ridiculous, so obviously absurd, that removing Jackson now seems like a good alternative. Perhaps Quin Hilyer and Mona Charen, to name only those writing here at National Review, would have backed removing Jackson had the question arisen on its own. But it seems obvious that if (when?) Treasury relents and announces that Harriet Tubman will be featured on the $20 bill instead, the decision will be met with approval far more widespread than if the announcement had come without the ground first having been prepared by the Hamilton feint.

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