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Hamilton, Jackson, and the Currency Controversy

Down with Hamilton and Jackson?

Why Our Currency May Be Changing

Overview The faces on our $10 and $20 bills may soon change, but what and who have pushed these changes? In 2015, a group called Women on Twenties called on the U.S. Treasury to replace Andrew Jackson’s portrait on the $20 bill. The group has argued that there is a lack of women represented in American currency. Furthermore, the group suggests that President Jackson’s decision to forcibly relocate several American Indian tribes of the Southeast to present-day Oklahoma makes him a figure unworthy of national respect. On top of this, Jackson opposed the use of paper currency, making his image on the $20 bill very ironic. Instead, Women on Twenties proposed a list of female alternatives. Among the choices were Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Margaret Sanger, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In an online poll hosted by Women on Twenties, supporters voted for Harriet Tubman to replace President Jackson. Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury announced it would redesign the $10 bill, and Alexander Hamilton may get the boot. A Founder, soldier, and aide to George Washington, Hamilton served as the first Secretary of the Treasury. In 2015, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew announced a woman would be featured on the new $10 bill, but that Hamilton would still be honored. Learn more about the differences behind the proposed changes to the $10 and $20 bills!


Discussion Questions

  • Why does the group Women on Twenties want to replace President Jackson on the $20 bill?
  • Using the included resources, what are some of the primary achievements of Andrew Jackson? Describe some of his controversial decisions and actions.
  • Why did Jackson and Congress believe it was okay to remove Native Americans from their homes?
  • Do you think Jackson should be kept on the $20 bill? Why or why not?
  • Using the Women on Twenties website, look through their list of proposed women to be featured on the bill. If you believe Jackson should be replaced, who do you believe should replace him? Why? Is there someone not on their list that you believe should be considered?
  • If Jackson is to be replaced, it does not necessarily need to be a woman. If you could pick anyone, who would you pick?
  • Why do you think nations feature individual people on their currency? Research who is featured on other nations’ currency. Canada and the United Kingdom have interesting banknotes.
  • According to the current Secretary of the Treasury, why is the $10 bill being redesigned?
  • Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew has expressed some opinions about Alexander Hamilton’s achievements. What did he say?
  • Do you think Hamilton should be removed from the bill? Why or why not? If you believe he should, who would you select to replace him?
  • What is Hamilton best known for? Do you think it is appropriate to remove the first Secretary of the Treasury from being featured on the nation’s currency?