Put Frances Perkins on the Ten-Dollar Bill


Wonkblog informs me that the Treasury Department really, really wants me to vote on which woman should replace Alexander Hamilton on the ten-dollar bill. OK. So how do I do that?

Apparently I can use Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to submit my vote with the hashtag #TheNew10. So that takes care of all the people who are on social media. What about everyone else? Well, the Treasury still wants to hear from you! That’s not immediately obvious, mind you, but it turns out that if you click here, provide your name and your email address, and then answer a question to prove you’re a human, you can tell them your thoughts.

FWIW, my choice is Frances Perkins. I feel like it’s a good idea to keep up the tradition of having people on our currency who have been in government service (mostly presidents, but also cabinet members like Hamilton or key members of the constitutional convention like Benjamin Franklin). It also, for obvious reasons, ought to be somebody whose fame was gained at least 50 years ago. Perkins fits all those requirements. She was the first woman to serve in the cabinet, and more than that, her fame doesn’t come merely from being first. She was also an unusually effective Secretary of Labor during a period when the labor movement was a tremendous and growing power in American politics. Add to that her authorship of the Social Security Act and her key role in a wide variety of other New Deal legislation, and she’s not just the most influential Secretary of Labor of all time, but arguably one of the four or five most influential cabinet members ever.

Sadly, the whole New Deal thing will probably make her too politicized to win. She’s my choice, but my prediction is Rosa Parks. We’ll find out next year.

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