Don't Mess with Alex
Sec Treas: Hamilton Is Safe

The drive to get a woman on U.S. currency will not deprive Alexander Hamilton of his one major monument, Politico reports:

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Friday pushed back at critics, — including former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke — who’ve attacked his plan to replace Alexander Hamilton with a woman on the $10 bill.

“There are a number of options of how we can resolve this,” Lew told POLITICO’s Ben White at a Morning Money event in New York Friday morning. “We’re not taking Alexander Hamilton off our currency.”

Despite Lew’s blustery denials, that is indeed more or less what was proposed before the criticism came in—Hamilton would be at best moved to the background of the new $10 to make room for an as-of-yet-undetermined woman. Aggravatingly, Hamilton seems to have been chosen more or less at random: the $10 was simply the next bill up for redesign.

At the time this news broke, Walter Russell Mead noted that:

Hamilton should keep the ten dollar bill. Not only was he our first and greatest Secretary of the Treasury, and the founder of the system of capital markets and government finance that enabled the United States to become the greatest power in the history of the world, he was of all the Founding Fathers the one who speaks most clearly to American society today. He was an immigrant who became a pillar of the American establishment, a penniless kid whose talent brought him to the top. He believed in an open society. He was the most abolitionist of the Founders, supporting New York’s society to abolish slavery in that state—even if that cost him support in other parts of the country.

If we want to make room for new figures, whether a woman or for any other consideration, there are better options.

Well, it appears America’s sense of gratitude is not exhausted yet. Protests poured in from both sides of the political spectrum and from figures from plumbers to pundits (this tribute by Michael Pettis is particularly good) seem to have made themselves heard. As Lew walks back the earlier plan, the details of the rethought redesign—if any exist—are yet to be unveiled. But it seems that, for now, Alex is safe.

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