Gerald Hassell, the CEO of Bank of New York Mellon, is not happy about the coming reduced role of Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill.
And with good reason: Hamilton founded the bank.
Writing for Quartz on Thursday, Hassell argues:
In my company's day-to-day operations, and across the land, Hamilton's fingerprints are everywhere. He is the architect of our country's financial system. He was the principal writer of the Federalist papers, which ensured ratification of the Constitution. He created the US Coast Guard. He was George Washington's most trusted aid during the Revolutionary War. He established the national mint and our official currency — he is the last person who should be stripped off of it ... The $10 bill is the only — and most fitting — memorial for everything he did to set the United States on a prosperous course.
Now, again, not a total shock that Hassell is firmly in the pro-Hamilton camp, given that descendants of Hamilton still have their money with BNY Mellon, created by Hamilton as Bank of New York in 1784.
But it puts Hassell in some good company, as former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke recently came out strongly against the plan to remove Hamilton from or at least limit his prominence on the $10 bill.
Both Hassell and Bernanke, it should be noted, support the move to add a woman's image to the currency, with Hassell adding that the US has long been overdue to overhaul its exclusively male paper-currency faces.
But both Hassell and Bernanke thought the US would be better served taking someone else off its currency: Andrew Jackson.
Andrew Jackson was a slave-owner; Hamilton was a life-long abolitionist. Hamilton erected the first national bank; Jackson extinguished it with a veto. Jackson killed a man in a duel; Hamilton was killed in one. Not to mention, there are over four times more $20 bills in circulation than $10s. It would be an even more powerful place for a woman to finally appear.
Bernanke simply calls Jackson "a man of many unattractive qualities and a poor president, on the $20 bill." He added, "Given his views on central banking, Jackson would probably be fine with having his image dropped from a Federal Reserve note."
In his post, Bernanke, a long-time public servant, notes that by the time treasury secretary Jack Lew announces the plans, it is unlikely the process involving the $10 bill can be reversed.
But the louder the anti-Jackson, pro-Hamilton crowd gets, maybe (?) there's a chance it will change before its planned implementation in 2020.
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