Did the musical 'Hamilton' save the Hamilton $10 bill?

In the wake of the smash hit musical about the first treasury secretary's life, Alexander Hamilton's face will stay on the $10 bill in some capacity. 

Charles Sykes/Invision/AP/File
Leslie Odom Jr., from left, Phillipa Soo, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Christopher Jackson appear at the curtain call following the opening night performance of "Hamilton" at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York (Aug. 6, 2015).

The musical "Hamilton" has brought fresh relevance to the legacy of the nation's first Treasury secretary. And fans will also be glad to know that Hamilton's likeness will stay on the $10 bill - which was the plan all along. 

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of the smash hit, Grammy-winning Broadway musical tweeted on Wednesday suggesting that Alexander Hamilton’s likeness will stay on the $10 bill. Mr. Miranda visited with US Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew and spoke with him about the redesign during the production's visit to Washington earlier this week.

“On Monday, Secretary Lew welcomed Lin-Manuel Miranda to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The Secretary and Miranda talked about the enduring mark Alexander Hamilton left on our nation’s history,” a Treasury spokeswoman told The New York Times. “The Secretary thanked Miranda for the ingenious way in which he has been able to tell Hamilton’s story and ignite a renewed interest in one of our nation’s founding fathers. Secretary Lew also reiterated his commitment to continue to honor Alexander Hamilton on the 10 dollar bill.”

The Department of the Treasury first floated the idea of redesigning the $10 bill in 2013. In June of last year, the Treasury announced that a woman would be included alongside Hamilton on the bill, and invited the public to weigh in on the ultimate choice.

"Alexander Hamilton has left an enduring mark on our nation's history," Secretary Lew said in June. "That is why we will make sure that his image will remain a part of the $10 note. We are exploring a range of options to make sure that he continues to be honored on the 10."

An August poll declared Eleanor Roosevelt the most popular option for which woman should grace the $10 note, ahead of Harriet Tubman, Sacagawea, Rosa Parks, and Susan B. Anthony. 

The Treasury regularly redesigns currency in order to stay ahead of counterfeiters and also to promote public confidence in its circulated bills, among other issues. The newly designed $10 bill is set to be released in 2020 to mark the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

Not everyone was happy about the suggested redesign. Several people responded to the Treasury Department in polls and on social media questioning why the $20 bill was not chosen for a redesign instead. Many felt that Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president, should be removed from the $20 bill for his role in authorizing the deadly forced relocation of the Cherokee Nation known as the Trail of Tears. 

The $20 bill was last redesigned in 2003, while the $10 bill was last redesigned in 2006. The Treasury recently has reiterated its position that Alexander Hamilton’s face will stay on the $10 bill in some capacity. One option the Treasury is considering is producing two bills, one with Hamilton’s face on it and a new one with a woman’s image on it. However, the Department emphasizes that security requirements will also play an important role in the new design of the bill. The last time a significant portrait change on US currency occurred was between 1914 and 1928, when gradual shifts were made on the $10, $20, $500, and $1000 bills.

[Editor's note: The article was revised to clarify the Treasury Department's position on the currency redesign.]

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