There’s been a lot of commotion and excitement lately about the prospect of a woman being on the ten-dollar bill. Similarly, there are a lot of scholars, historians, and former Federal Reserve Chairmenscratching their heads as to why the current treasury secretary Jack Lew is proposing to remove Alexander Hamilton from our paper currency. Hamilton had perhaps the most important role, out of any founding father, in creating our monetary system. He founded the first national bank: The Bank of New York. He oversaw the creation of the First Bank of the United States. He was the nation’s first Treasury Secretary.
Andrew Jackson, on the other hand, hated paper currency and vetoed legislation in 1836 that would have re-chartered the Second Bank of the United States thus helping create the Panic of 1837, a recession that lasted eight years.
The fact that Andrew Jackson is on our currency is laughable if you believe that positions on our currency should be reserved for only the most accomplished and important leaders in our history. He’s far less deserving than Harriet Tubman or Susan B. Anthony, which is why there was an initial campaign started to replace him, not Hamilton!
Hypothetically then, if we were to redo all of our dollars, which faces would be on them? Who is most deserving? For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume that the most important historical figure goes on the $100 bill and the least important historical figure goes on the one-dollar bill.
Widely considered the best president in United States history, Abraham Lincoln should rightfully be place on the $100 bill because he is the most important historical figure. He kept the country together in the Civil War eventually abolishing slavery with the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. He also established the US National Banking System, which created a national currency and still remains almost completely intact 150 years later.
$50-Martin Luther King Jr.
The fact that this man is not on one of our bills right now is absurd. Martin Luther King Jr. is the most famous and most effective civil rights leader in American history. His practice of nonviolent civil disobedience brought light to the rampant discrimination that blacks in America had to endure. He was imprisoned 29 times over the course of his life for speaking his mind and protesting injustice. He is the youngest man to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize and he is the only non-presidential figure in the US to have a national holiday in his honor. He has rightfully earned his place on the $50 bill as the second most important man in US history.
The most instrumental founding father of our country can’t be any lower than the third most important figure in our history. Washington was the commander of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War leading the Americans to victory over the British. As president, Washington reestablished peaceful relationships with Great Britain and was instrumental in bringing forth first ten amendments to the Constitution, otherwise known as the Bill of Rights.
The man at center of the current discussion comes at number 4, meaning he’s perfect right where he belongs at the moment. As I mentioned earlier, Hamilton was the first Treasury Secretary and helped create the first National Bank. He also authored 51 of the famous Federalist Papers and signed the Declaration of Independence.
The third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence comes at number 5 on the list and that earns him a place on the five-dollar bill. He was the first Secretary of State in the United States. As president, Jefferson doubled the size of the country with Louisiana Purchase and authorized the expedition of Lewis & Clerk. He also founded the University of Virginia.
$1-Susan B. Anthony
She already has her own coin, but that’s not enough. She should also be the face of the one-dollar bill. Susan B. Anthony was the ultimate crusader in the women’s suffrage movement and is largely credited with the passage of Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed women the right to vote. (Even though it happened twelve years after her death) Susan B. Anthony was also very vocal proponent of the abolitionist movement.
$2-Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Although the two-dollar bill is higher in value, I consider it to a step below the one-dollar bill because of how few of them are in circulation. But the final person I would select to be placed on our currency is FDR. One of the most important presidents in United States’ history, Franklin Roosevelt navigated the country out of the Great Depression and created Social Security, the FDIC, and the SEC: three of the most important institutions in our contemporary society. He is also the only president to be elected to four consecutive terms.
What About the Coins?
These are the seven people who I believe are most worthy of having their faces printed on our currency. I would put Ulysses S. Grant and Benjamin Franklin on coins as well as John Adams and Harriet Tubman. One thing is certain though: Andrew Jackson wouldn’t make the cut.
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