Leave Alexander Hamilton On The $10 Dollar Bill

June 22, 2015 0 Comments

It has come to my attention as of late that Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew, has decided to remove founding father Alexander Hamilton from the $10 dollar bill and replace him in favor of a woman. The redesigned has been years in the making, and scheduled to be unveiled in the year 2020, in commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which effectively gave women the right to vote.

The blogosphere went in a tizzy in an attempt to guess what woman would be featured on the new bill, ranging from historical figures such as Harriet Tubman to Susan B. Anthony. While everyone will say how great this is that we’re having someone other than the “same white guys,” I would say that Alexander Hamilton has a special place on our money. Aside from being the first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton was one of the greatest founding fathers, along with the best economic policy makers in U.S. history.

Hamilton had the central role in the decision to assume the debts of the former colonies in the newly independent United States. Among this, he provided one of the blueprints in developing a strong monetary system, which was one of the stepping stones in establishing the United States as a creditworthy nation.

Hamilton also had a leading role in the founding of the first major bank, the Bank of New York. He also chartered the First Bank of the United States, which was basically the precursor for the Federal Reserve System we know today. One of the overall measures of this bank were to resolve the issues of the fiat currency, issued by the Continental Congress and used before and during the American Revolution. Hamilton failed to renew the Charter of the First Bank of the United States, due mostly to populist opposition.

Now I’m not going to argue whether or not these banks were necessary, and I’m not going to debate their importance. It is often argued that the Second Bank of the United States could have lessened the financial impact of banking panics that rocked the century. There is no possible way to know for sure; however, Hamilton was certainly ahead of his time when it came to his ideas on Central Banking and government financing.

He advocated selling of western land to pay off US debt to European nations for the War and in order to rebuild credit. However, he argued that the debt to US creditors must be maintained as perpetual debt. While creditworthiness was very poor abroad, he argued that if the US could continue to pay interest on domestic debt, it would maintain a good credit standing. This would mean that creditors would be willing to accept US denominated debt as a secure investment. This tactic laid the groundwork for the nation becoming the most creditworthy nation on the planet, regardless of what level of debt the nation may incur.

Although, Hamilton wasn’t without questionable views. He opposed Free Trade, which was favored by the British, in favor of protectionism. His views led to a polarizing debate between strict and loose ‘constructionist,’ which ranged from many ideological needs between the North and the South. The industrial North supported Hamilton’s causes, supporting measures to improve credit and increase investment. The South, which was more agricultural, didn’t see a need for the Government to maintain power for those needs.

Considering that Hamilton has laid the groundwork in developing the United Staes as the financial Superpower it is today, I can’t imagine why Jack Lew is considering demoting Hamilton from the $10 dollar bill. This is especially confusing when there is a least favorable person occupying the $20 dollar bill: President Andrew Jackson.

Given Andrew Jackson’s relationship with the Native American population during his tenure, and his views on Central Banking, I’m sure Jackson (and the American people) would be fine if his image was dropped from fiat money. There are also plenty of fine women who can be featured on a Federal Reserve note; however, it shouldn’t be put at Hamilton’s expense.

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