Jack Lew nears decision to keep Hamilton on front of $10 bill, put a woman on the $20 by Kevin Liptak and
Antoine Sanfuentes | April 16, 2016: 6:59 PM ET
Jack Lew is expected to announce this week that Alexander
Hamilton's face will remain on the front of the $10 bill
and a woman will replace Andrew Jackson on the face of the
$20 bill, a senior government source told CNN on Saturday.
Lew announced last summer
that he was considering redesigning the $10 bill to include
the portrait of a woman. The decision to make the historic
change at the expense of Hamilton drew angry rebukes from
fans of the former Treasury Secretary. The pro-Hamilton
movement gained steam after the smash success of the hip-hop
Broadway musical about his life this year.
Those pressures led Lew to determine that
Hamilton should remain on the front of the bill. Instead,
a mural-style depiction of the women's suffrage movement
-- including images of leaders such as Susan B. Anthony
-- will be featured on the back of the bill.
A Treasury spokesman declined to comment
on the pending changes. But Lew hinted that a decision could
come this week.
"When we started this conversation
not quite a year ago, it wasn't clear to me that millions
of Americans were going to weigh in with their ideas,"
he told CNBC. "We're not just talking about one bill.
We're talking about the $5, the $10, and the $20. We're
not just talking about one picture on one bill. We're talking
about using the front and the back of the bill to tell an
exciting set of stories."
Along those lines, Lew also plans to announce
this week that Andrew Jackson -- a less beloved former president
whose face graces the front of the $20 bill -- will be removed
in favor of a female representing the struggle for racial
equality, according to the government source.
That decision would place a female on one
of the most widely circulated bills in the world. But the
historic change placing a female on the front of the $20
note won't come for more than a decade, the source said,
since the process for changing the design of that note is
still in the early stages.
"The soonest that a new $20 note will
be issued is 2030," the source said, citing a lengthy
process convened by the Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence
steering committee, which includes representatives from
the U.S. Secret Service, the Treasury, and the Federal Reserve.
That process isn't likely to be sped up
by the Federal Reserve, which issues the currency, given
the work that goes into designing secure technology to thwart
"The blue security ribbon on the $100
note took over 15 years to develop," the source said.
"This level of technology is why our counterfeiting
remains at less than .01% of currency in circulation. We
should not expedite the issuance of any currency for political
Future Treasury Secretaries -- of which
there will be several -- could reverse or alter the decision
regarding the $20, making Lew's announcement far less of
a clear-cut victory for the movement pushing to place a
woman on American currency.
The $5 bill will retain Abraham Lincoln
on the front, with plans to change the back to include a
mural of prominent activities that have taken place at the
Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
The idea of including women in a mural on
the back of a bill has been called into question.
"It will take a microscope to see who
those individuals are, and we'll be left with another decade
or more of woefully inadequate representation of women and
their worth," wrote the group Women on 20s in an open
letter to Lew, published by Time.
"Nobody looks at the back of the bill,
and that's not likely to change," the group wrote.
"A vignette without a woman's portrait on the front
of the bill (even if she must share with Hamilton) will
be seen as a token gesture and an affront to Americans of
all ages who are expecting you to reveal your choice of
a singular woman based on their input. As a friend of ours
put it, relegating women to the back of the bill is akin
to sending them to the back of the bus. The Rosa Parks analogies