Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?


Victoria Arguelles, Life Editor

After generations of dissatisfaction with the lack of female representation on American currency, Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew announced in February 2015 that a new icon for the $10 bill would be chosen: a woman.

“It’s ridiculous that women make up half of the population, but zero percent of the dollar bills,” senior Gabriela Aklepi said. “If we make up half of the population, we should be on half of the dollar bills.”

The removal of Alexander Hamilton from the dollar bill, however, stirred controversy among the public, most of whom had a newfound appreciation for America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, thanks to “Hamilton”, a rap-musical that tells the story of the “founding father without a father.” Through upbeat rap-battles, and harmonious ballads that tell his story, audiences sitting in nightly, sold out shows have fallen in love with Alexander.

Now, rather than putting a woman on the front of $10 bill, Lew has decided to keep Hamilton and feature several women to the back of the bill, in addition to fully replacing Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill with a woman.

Fans of the musical (Hamiltonians) and the writer of the musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda, pressured Lew not to remove Hamilton from the bill. Miranda, who plays Hamilton in the musical, tweeted that amidst the controversy he and Hamiltonians alike would be “very happy.” One can only assume that by this Miranda and Lew meant that Hamilton was to stay the face of the ten dollar.

The new female face or faces of whichever dollar bills remains indeterminate. Updating currency could take years, and requires input from representatives from the Treasury Department, the Secret Service, the Federal Reserve and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

“Hamilton” continues to make history today. Not only has the musical kept the founding father on currency, but it holds the record for most Tony Award nominations, with 16.

“By transforming history [and puttng it on] stage, Lin-Manuel Miranda allows his audience to understand why Hamilton was and still is everything that represents democracy in our nation today,” junior Ethan Paikowsky said. “Although it may be time we rethink who appears on our currency, discontinuing Hamilton from the ten dollar bill would be like discontinuing America’s legacy.”