NEWS: For the first time in over a century, U.S. paper currency will feature the face of a woman.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has announced that a newly redesigned $10 bill to be unveiled in the year 2020 will feature “a woman who has contributed to and represents the values of American democracy.” Lew did not specify who that woman might be.
The release of the new $10 bill will be timed to coincide with the hundredth anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed all American women the right to vote.
The Treasury Department will collect public input on who and what should be depicted on the bill via town hall meetings and the social media hashtag #TheNew10, with the final decision on the design being up to the Treasury Secretary.
Lew announced to reporters via a conference call that:
Our paper bills and the images of great American leaders and landmarks that they depict have long been a way for us to honor our past and discuss our values. This decision of putting a woman on the $10 bill reflects our aspirations for the future as much as the reflections of the past.
We’re not just a U.S. currency; we’re the world’s reserve currency. And I’m excited that using the technology that’s available to us, we can hear from the public.
Lew’s announcement came on the heels of a popular Internet campaign, “Women on 20s,” advocating the replacement of Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with a historically significant American woman, such as Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Rosa Parks.
Lew maintained that plans to update the $10 bill actually began in 2013, well before the “Women on 20s” campaign, driven by a desire to implement additional security measures along with a tactile feature to improve accessibility for the visually impaired: He noted that Alexander Hamilton, who is currently featured on the current $10 bill, will remain on the note in some way.
American currency has not featured women since the 19th century, when Martha Washington appeared on the $1 silver certificate starting in 1891, and Pocahontas appeared as part of a group image on the $20 bill first issued in 1865. A dollar coin honoring 19th century feminist Susan B. Anthony was minted from 1979 to 1981 (and again in 1999), and a similar coin featuring the Shoshone guide Sacagawea (who assisted the 1804 North American exploratory expedition of Lewis and Clark) was produced starting in 2000, but both were discontinued due to poor public reception and low business demand for dollar coins.