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Posted: 2015-07-05 04:00:00

There is no question that the United States should put a woman on its paper currency. But the Treasury Department’s plan to put one on the $10 bill, which currently has the image of Alexander Hamilton, is the wrong way to do it.

Treasury is proposing to put a woman’s portrait alongside Hamilton’s on the $10 bill, which is due for a redesign for anti-counterfeiting purposes. Jacob Lew, the Treasury secretary, is looking for a woman who “was a champion for our inclusive democracy” and the department will be taking suggestions on a website for the redesign. It is also holding public meetings, including one on July 15 in Washington. The new $10 is supposed to go into circulation in 2020.

There is good reason to keep Hamilton on the $10 bill. After all, he was the first Treasury secretary and the creator of the foundations of the American financial system. But there’s no reason to add another portrait to that bill.

A better idea is to remove Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill and replace him with a distinguished woman from American history. Jackson was a slave owner whose decisions annihilated American Indian tribes of the Southeast. He also hated paper currency and vetoed the reauthorization of the Second Bank of the United States, a predecessor of the Federal Reserve. Jackson is in the history books, but there’s no reason to keep him in our wallets.

Treasury officials say that the $20 bill, which was last redesigned in 2003, might not be due for another revision for years. But it has not clearly explained why it can’t simply replace Jackson’s portrait without making any other change to that bill.

Here are a few suggestions for women who would fit the bill: Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist; Ida B. Wells, the suffragist; Rosa Parks, the civil rights hero; Eleanor Roosevelt, the activist first lady and diplomat; and Frances Perkins, the first woman appointed to the presidential cabinet and an advocate for worker rights.

Here is another proposal: Have the nation’s schoolchildren nominate and vote on Jackson’s replacement. Why not give them another reason to learn about women who altered history and make some history themselves by changing American currency?

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