'Hamilton' has thrown the plans to put a woman on American money into disarray

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Last June, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced a plan to put a woman on the $10 bill, marking the first time a piece of American paper money would feature a female face.

But fate put a spanner in that plan, because a little Broadway show called "Hamilton" started turning lots of people into fans of the man currently sitting on the bill.

Now, the Treasury appears to be signalling that its plans are changing, as the New York Times reported Friday:

Mr. Lew is leaning toward keeping Hamilton at the center of the $10 note and placing a vignette of female historical figures on the flip side.

But, in keeping with his announcement last June, Mr. Lew is expected to simultaneously announce that a woman will be front and center on the more numerous $20 notes — displacing the (currently) less popular Andrew Jackson — and that one or more women will be on the $5 bill as well. Mr. Lew’s own public hints in recent weeks have pointed in this direction.


Lew hasn't helped matters by making cryptic statements in interviews like this one with CNBC:

We're not just talking about one bill. We're talking about the $5, the $10, and the $20. We're not just talking about one picture on one bill. We're talking about using the front and the back of the bill to tell an exciting set of stories.

Uh, OK then!

Andrew Jackson hated central banking and paper money nearly as much as he loved slaughtering Native Americans, so, ever since Lew's initial announcement, people have been wondering  why he wasn't a candidate for removal in the first place. (The Wall Street Journal reported that it was an issue of timing, since the $10 bill happens to be first in line for a series of projected redesigns.)


Even so, the growing signs that Lew is backtracking on his plans about the $10 bill have provoked a renewed flurry of alarm from some women's groups, as Bloomberg wrote:

Women on 20s, the group that has led the charge to feature a woman on U.S. currency, sent a letter to Lew and U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios on Monday asking that they fulfill the promise to put a woman on the $10 bill, Susan Ades Stone, the group’s executive director, said.

“Unless they’re saying, ‘We’re going to keep Hamilton on the $10 and we’re going to put a woman on the $20 and we’ll issue them both at the same time,’ that’s not good enough,” Ades Stone said. “It’s anybody’s guess how long they’d take to issue the $20.”


Now it's up to Lew to come up with a plan that can make all of these disparate interests happy.

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