We Don’t Deserve Alexander Hamilton On Our Currency

We Don’t Deserve Alexander Hamilton On Our Currency

We've rejected our founders' views on self-government, why have them on our money?
Mollie Hemingway
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Two weeks ago, the Office of Personnel Management announced a massive breach of data on more than 4 million employees and an untold number of background investigations. China was fingered. This includes information that could compromise these employees’ credit and secrets they had to disclose for security clearances. It’s a hostile foreign government’s ultimate dream cache.

Sean Gallagher of Ars Technica reported yesterday the shocking news of the lax the security protecting the data:

A consultant who did some work with a company contracted by OPM to manage personnel records for a number of agencies told Ars that he found the Unix systems administrator for the project “was in Argentina and his co-worker was physically located in the [People’s Republic of China]. Both had direct access to every row of data in every database: they were root. Another team that worked with these databases had at its head two team members with PRC passports.

The data is being brokered on the black market. One retired senior intelligence community official called the breach an “absolute calamity.” And yet “Obama continues to have confidence in OPM director.”

Some in the media are doing wonderful work interrogating the seriousness of the breach. But when it comes to many others, they seem curiously incurious about the severity of the problem. On the front page of the Washington Post site as I write this, there is not a single word about this “calamity.” Instead, there’s this:

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Yes, as the world burns from Ukraine to Iraq to the South China Sea, as we face a catastrophic seizure of data on all of our military and federal personnel, as the country faces real civil unrest and discord, the Obama administration has decided to turn its focus on the “problem” of a great immigrant Founding Father’s presence on our currency.

This simply has to be the most irrelevant societal cause of them all. It clearly springs from a progressive feminist campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill. That campaign pushed candidates such as — and I need to emphasize that I am in no way joking or exaggerating here — Betty Friedan and Margaret Sanger.

This campaign is the archetype of the meaningless and empty gestural politicking that constitute feminism and the left these days. I mean, they want to put a woman on the $20 dollar bill at the historical moment that the cashless society is dawning upon us. Instead of the $20 bill, though, the feminist media campaign will have to settle for the $10 bill. I don’t know if the Obama administration chose the latter over the former because Andrew Jackson, who valiantly won the Battle of New Orleans among other things, is such a popular figure in Democratic circles (local Democratic organizations annually host Jackson Day dinners), or that a redesign of the $10 was supposedly already in the works.

The feminist campaign had chosen Harriet Tubman, who was, unlike their other choices Friedan and Sanger, unquestionably a great American and a moral beacon. She was a devout Christian whose faith informed her belief that all humans, regardless of color, creed, or age, had a right to life and the freedom to live it as they chose. That Christian faith formed the foundation of the abolition movement of which she was a significant part. She believed in the Second Amendment and the right to defend oneself with force, if necessary.

Jack Lew announces in this video that who we put on our currency has “long been a way to honor our past, express our values and capture the prevailing sentiment of the time.” Further, the “new $10 bill will be first bill in more than a century to feature a portrait of a woman.” The fact that Hamilton is getting kicked off and will be replaced by “a woman” sounds like it was written by Silicon Valley’s Mike Judge. Seriously. You have to watch this clip, which I can’t embed. A brief mention of the point is here:

People are upset to see Hamilton sidelined. He is the only immigrant on our currency and he couldn’t be more important to the founding of the country or, as it happens, our entire financial system. His story should be learned by all patriotic Americans. But if Lew is right that our currency is supposed to express our values and capture the spirit of our age, a man as good as Hamilton has absolutely no business being on the currency. George Washington definitely doesn’t. Heck, we should replace them all.

Here are just a few ideas of who should go on our currency to replace all these dead white men who advocated self-government by virtuous people.

$1: George Washington

We have several options here. While George Washington was the first president of the United States of America, Woodrow Wilson was the first president of our progressive nation which rejected self-government for the administrative state. He has every right to replace Washington. Or maybe it should be Bill Clinton. You know he’s the kinda guy who always makes sure to have enough singles…

$2: Thomas Jefferson

There’s an argument to be made for replacing Thomas Jefferson with Chairman Mao. Not only does this homage to China pay tribute to China owning most of our debt and all of our online personal data, but Mao was also terrible on religious freedom. Now that we’ve rejected Jefferson’s bold defense of religious freedom, we should replace him with someone more attuned to our belief that religion is an enemy of the state’s goals.

$5: Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents. He emancipated the slaves and fought a bloody war to save the republic. More than 150 years have passed since he was shot by political opponents. Perhaps a better representative of the current state of race relations and what we’re doing to improve them is embodied by Al Sharpton, a significant advisor to the White House on race relations.

$10: Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton put America’s financial and monetary system on a sound footing, so his replacement should be the man who changed that most fundamentally: Richard Nixon, who permanently broke the link between the dollar and gold, setting us up for our current system of funny money.

$20: Andrew Jackson

Jackson was always an odd choice because he vetoed the central bank. Should he really be on the central bank’s currency, even if we want to honor him for winning the Battle of New Orleans? As my colleague Robert Tracinski notes, “The reason he opposed the central bank is because he viewed it as a mechanism for giving special favors to political connected financiers–basically, as crony capitalism. And for all his faults, that was what Jackson stood for: no special favors for the elites. So the obvious replacement is Hillary Clinton, who perfected the art of turning the federal government into an engine for personal enrichment and the advancement of her friends and hangers-on.”

$50: U.S. Grant

Grant gets bad marks for the corruption he oversaw as president, as well as the highly politicized way he ran reconstruction. But whether he was waging war or politics, he was quite effective. Our current hero of effective political organizing is Saul Alinsky, whose Rules for Radicals inspired a generation of progressives (including journeyman presidential candidate Hillary Clinton!) and helped take out conservative opposition.

$100: Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin is one of the few non-presidents on our currency. We celebrate him for his ingenuity. He was a diplomat and statesman, a civic activist, an inventor, a political theorist and even a postmaster. When we think of inventions, we think of Franklin. When we think of reinventions and people who embody courage, diplomacy, strength, and communication skills, I think we can all agree that Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner is the woman to replace Ben.

$500: William McKinley

We need more women on these bills. How about Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and noted eugenicist. McKinley was shot by an anarchist. Sanger helped create Planned Parenthood, which now kills hundreds of thousands of unborn children each year.

$1,000: Grover Cleveland

Cleveland opposed subsidies and fought unions. To pay respect to the importance of how American union leaders took the idea of employee organization and somehow turned it into corrupt politicking for union leaders’ gain at the expense of the lives of blue collar Americans, it’s time for Jimmy Hoffa to get some respect.

$5,000: James Madison

We have multiple good options to take out the father of the Bill of Rights. What about the stepmother of Abortion Rights, eugenicist and abortion rights advocate Ruth Bader Ginsburg? If cismen are allowed for this bill, Oliver Wendell Holmes’ rejection of natural rights and introduction of pragmatism into the law makes him a strong contender. More than any president other than Wilson, though, we need to make space for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who took Wilson’s message and entrenched it. His threats to pack the Supreme Court helped break the last of SCOTUS’s resistance to unlimited government.

$10,000: Salmon P. Chase

Treasury Secretary Chase was known as the attorney general to fugitive slaves. He introduced paper currency and is why we have “In God We Trust” on our currency. But now our currency is, if we’re honest, booties. And we trust in reality television and celebrity status. Kim Kardashian has earned the right not just to break the internet but replace Chase on this bill.

$100,000: Woodrow Wilson

Wilson should replace Washington, as our first president of the progressive administrative state that now has its tentacles in pretty much every aspect of our lives. But he should also stay on the $100,000 bill. Why? Tracinski argues, “He’s the man who presided over the creation of the Federal Reserve and the modern monetary system. And we will know that this system has reached its full realization when Wilson’s bill enters into circulation for common, everyday use.”

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Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter at @mzhemingway

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