Why people are arguing the US should change the $20 bill instead of the $10 bill

Andrew jackson

The plan to put the face of a womanon US currency has not come without controversy.

The issue that many take, however, isn’t whether or not a bill should feature a woman — but which man should she replace?

On Wednesday, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing announced that Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, would share the front of the $US10 bill with a yet to be decided woman. The new $US10 will go into circulation in 2020 to mark the 100-year anniversary of women’s suffrage.

The US Department of Treasury has invited people to share their thoughts on which woman should grace the $US10 bill on Twitter with the hashtag #TheNewTen.

That’s where the controversy is most apparent:

.@USTreasury Hamilton created federal money, Jackson tanked it. REPLACE JACKSON! #TheNew10 #womenon20s
— Eleanor Burgess (@eleanorjburgess) June 18, 2015

.@USTreasury Hamilton created federal money, Jackson tanked it. REPLACE JACKSON! #TheNew10 #womenon20s
— Eleanor Burgess (@eleanorjburgess) June 18, 2015

All for getting a woman her rightful spot, but why move Hammy to do it? Jackson’s got to go: http://t.co/OXblADop4j @nytpolitics #TheNew10
— Peter Chawaga (@PeterChawaga) June 18, 2015

Many feel forcing Hamilton, rather than Andrew Jackson on the $US20, to share the spotlight is a curious decision.

Like many American figures, Jackson, our seventh US President, has a deeply flawed history. He owned hundreds of slaves, executed American soldiers for desertion, and is responsible for the forcible relocation of some 45,000 Native Americans during the “Trail of Tears,” resulting in the deaths of 4,000 Cherokee alone. 

Max d stanley trail of tears
‘The Trail of Tears,’ historical oil painting by Max D. Standley Google Commons

A recent biography of the politician called “Jacksonland” by Steve Inskeep portrays Jackson as a ruthless businessman and military general who profited from the illegal sale of Native American lands to white settlers.

Jackson “managed national security affairs in a way that matched his interest in land development,” Inskeep writes.

Hamilton, on the other hand, was a founding father of the United States and the first Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton was also the architect of the early American financial system and established a national bank, a system of tariffs, and friendly trade relations with Britain.

For its part, the Treasury explained in an FAQ on its website why the department has chosen to alter the $US10 and not the $US20 — to stay ahead of counterfeiting. 

Still, that might not be enough to satisfy some groups, such as Woman on 20s, which has petitioned to have Harriet Tubman featured on the $US20 bill.

Harriet Tubman, Women on 20s
A rendering of Harriet Tubman on the $US20 Women on 20s

“This is a way to literally pay respect to women that is long overdue and can be seen as a step in the right direction toward greater gains in gender and racial equality,” Women on 20s executive director Susan Ades Stone told Business Insider in May

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