Opinion piece by Rebecca Moore
The exciting news that the U.S. Treasury will be putting Harriet Tubman on front of the $20 bill came out a few days ago, as well as the decision to keep Secretary Treasury Alexander Hamilton on the $10, with a collage of women on the back.
The Treasury has made some major changes to our money in the past, and I’m sure they will in the future, assuming we’re not all using Bitcoin by then. Who we decide to put on our currency is important, and I don’t see why we don’t reevaluate it all from top to bottom.
It should be noted that there is a larger conversation about putting certain historical figures on the money of a capitalist society, which is fair and valid, but for the purposes of this article, these suggestions are purely about representation, and I’ve set that issue aside.
Let’s start with the coins and work our way up.
The penny and the nickel should have the most drastic makeover in that I believe they should be removed. They are impractical, not often used, and cost more than they are worth to make. In 2014, the U.S. Mint announced that it costs 1.7 cents and 8.09 cents to make the penny and nickel, respectively. We are literally spending money to make money. Both gotta go.
For the Dime, I would recommend switching out FDR with his wife, Eleanor. She was a defining First Lady, as she actually contributed to policy and not just party planning. She continued to have a distinguished political career even after her husband's time in office, working to secure human rights worldwide. She served as the first chair on the UN Commission on Human Rights, as well as chairing the Kennedy Administration's Presidential Commission on the Status of Women.
The quarter currently holds Washington, whom I have no major issue with being on money, He’s THE Founding Father, so he can stay on something. And that something is the quarter, because moving to the next denomination…
The dollar should have Sacajawea. Yes, she’s already on her own dollar coin, but who uses that? She should be on money we actually use. The back could feature her, or other Native Americans, such as Chief Powhatan or Tecumseh. Of course, speaking with actual Native American leaders about this should be the first step.
The $5 bill bears Lincoln's face right now, which is another president I’m ok with sticking around. However, perhaps someone like Frederick Douglas could share the bill with him. The back could also highlight the Massachusetts 54th battalion from the civil war, which was made up of all black soldiers.
The next two, the $10 and $20 have already been decided, but I just have to say this: why is Jackson still on our money? Why was he ever? Besides the fact that he was a slave owner that started multiple wars and signed the massive forced exodus of Native Americans known as the “Trail of Tears,” he also caused a huge economic depression! This man should not be on our money, for a myriad of reasons. Give Harriet the whole bill. Or at least something that is not Jackson on the back.
Moving on to the $50, we should honoring American advances in science. I think Sally Ride should get this one. She was the first American woman in space, and also an advocate for STEM education for children, and a professor of Physics at the University of California. The back of the bill can feature other notable American scientists, such as George Washington Carver, Marie Maynard Daly, and Benjamin Franklin, who, by the way, I’m kicking off the $100.
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. should occupy the $100. The bill can be shared with Rosa Parks, of whom many expressed interest in occupying the $10, back when there was discussion of which woman should be placed on our currency.
There are of course many other options, but I think this list better represents America as a whole, looking at a greater diversity of people, but also events and types of contributions to the country. We are a land of many people, and the faces we see and touch every day should remind us of that.
(Image via Business Insider)