. . . keeping Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill comes from Stephen L. Carter -- lawyer, novelist, essayist, and (no surprise) . . .
I'm all for getting a female face back on U.S. currency, but why demote Alexander Hamilton? Hamilton, whose image currently adorns the $10 bill, is among the most admirable of the founding generation. But because he lacks a constituency, he's an easy target. And that's too bad.
Mr. Carter's lawyerly and humane brief for Mr. Hamilton is easily readable, so read it. Go to Stephen L. Carter, "Hamilton's Place in Our Hearts and Minds (and Wallets)," bloombergview.com, June 18, 2015). A taste:
Humble beginnings . . . little if any formal education . . . one of the most influential members of Constitutional Convention . . . [possibly] the greatest secretary of the Treasury . . . a genuine war hero . . . no question of his bravery and skill . . . perspicacious [about] unleashing the forces that would turn the nation into an industrial powerhouse . . . co-founder of one of the first non-Quaker anti-slavery societies . . . urged the recruitment of black soldiers into the Continental Army . . .
On most of these points, Mr. Carter argues that Mr. Hamilton compares more than favorably with the more prominent founders---Washington, Jefferson, and Adams in particular.
Then there's this:
The widespread belief that Hamilton['s mother might have been part black] might lead to one of those unintended ironies that arise from the complexities of identity politics: the black man is shunted off the currency to make way for a woman. That hardly seems a battle the Treasury should want to fight.
(For the record, Mr. Carter describes "the widespread belief that Hamilton was black" as "juicy rumors," dismissed by most historians.)
. . . . In our era of turmoil and division, Hamilton is exactly the sort of hero we should be exalting. Here's hoping it's not too late to demote someone else.
Why do progressives so disdain Hamilton? My guess: Because he believed in fiscal rectitude and they believe in fiscal profligacy. Each transaction made by a ten-dollar-bill with Mr. Hamilton's face is a silent rebuke to the governing elite. Better to replace him with a woman -- any woman (which tells you something important about this project) -- than to honor this dead, white man.