By: Carlos Rodriguez
Secretary of Treasury, Jack Lew, has brought many changes to American currency, during his time in this position. Just recently, various new details were added to Ben Franklin’s bill, in order to avoid the circulation of fake bills. Most notably, is the blue stripe added to the $100 bill.
Most recently, Lew named Harriet Tubman as the new face of the 20 dollar bill for 2020, causing huge lauds from gender and race groups. This will end the reign of Andrew Jackson on the 20 dollar currency, which many thought should have been replaced a long time ago. However, Jackson wasn’t the only one considered to be replaced by Tubman.
Lew’s initial plan was to remove Alexander Hamilton from the $10 bill and place a woman as his replacement. However, this plan was greatly rejected by the American people who argued that it would be counter-intuitive to remove the creator the National Bank and structure of American economics from a piece of “his” currency.
Hamilton came to the US as an immigrant from the Caribbean and settled in New York where he became a critical piece in the American Revolution. The first of his major actions was to attend King’s College (now Columbia University) where he gained much of his political knowledge. After that, Hamilton fought in the Revolutionary War serving as a soldier and George Washington’s right hand man.
After independence was gained, Hamilton became the first Secretary of Treasury and George Washington’s right hand man. It is also known that Hamilton was strongly against slavery. According to Hamilton supporters, these accomplishments portray a great image of the American Dream and democracy.
Another major driving force in this “Ham4Ham” movement is Lin Manuel Miranda’s national hit Hamilton: The Broadway Musical. This Grammy award winning musical accurately details Alexander Hamilton’s life with rap music and diverse cast of actors/singers. The work soon became a phenomenon and the nation fell in love with the ten dollar man.
The success of Hamilton lies mostly in the portrayal of Hamilton’s personal life. One
example is Alexander’s marriage with Elizabeth Schuyler and how they eventually form a family. Despite growing up an orphan (Hamilton’s dad left him at an early age and his mother passed away), Hamilton promises his daughter kids he will be there for them whenever they may need him.
Later, the play details the more tainted parts of Hamilton’s life which include infidelity, tragedies, and a national scandal.
With such powerful events in this play, it is hard to remember that the entire play is based on true events and people. Such attachment explains why it is common for audience members to leave the theater with large tears in their eyes.
When asked about the “Ham4Ham” movement, Miguel Sandoval, US History teacher, said he was not surprised. He has actually listened to some of Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton and said that it has had a “huge impact on pop culture.”
Government and Economy teacher, Joel Snyder, also believes that this play played a major role in preserving Alexander’s spot on the ten dollar bill. “I haven’t seen the play, but I’m really excited for it,” Snyder stated. When reflecting how a Broadway musical could have such a big effect, Snyder responded, “It’s pretty amazing.”
In retrospect, it is practically impossible to argue that Lin Manuel Miranda’s work play did not save Hamilton. Thus, the play succeeded not only in popularizing this Founding Father, but also in saving him from his most prized spotlight: the money he so tirelessly fought to create.