The U.S. Treasury Department has announced that an upcoming redesign of the $10 bill, which features the likeness of Alexander Hamilton, former Secretary of the Treasury, should include the image of a woman. In a statement, the Treasury said it should specifically feature one “who was a champion for our inclusive democracy.” The note would be unveiled in 2020, a century after women were given the right to vote. But in the mean time, the Treasury is asking Americans to voice their opinions about the change on social media.
This won’t be the first time the Treasury decided it would be a good time to make the nation’s currency a little less male. As TIME reported in 1978:
The Treasury’s official suggestion, meanwhile, steered away from historical women. The Statue of Liberty was their pick. (Which didn’t go over well: “We have real birds and real buffalo on our coins; it’s time we had a real woman,” said Patricia Schroeder, a Colorado congresswoman.) It was expected that the chosen face would be one that Americans would get very used to seeing. The new coin worked in vending machines! It didn’t fall apart! If you kept it in your pocket in the laundry, no big deal! Plus, its unique shape would be a help for the vision-impaired.
A year later, however, it was clear that those hopes were misplaced. More than 750 million of the coins had been minted, but only about a third were in circulation. Congress had acted to make sure that introducing the coin didn’t mean phasing out bills, and the public didn’t seem interested in making the switch voluntarily, especially because many felt that the coin was too easily confused for a quarter.
It wasn’t in production for very long—minting was “postponed” in August of 1980—but it did go through a brief resurgence in 1999, when it was reissued for a little while in order to meet demand as vending-machine change in the time between depletion of reserves and the issuance the following year of the Sacagawea coin, which has stuck around but similarly failed to inspire the nation to put away their notes.
Now, however, it looks ever like those who want to see a woman on currency won’t have to ditch their billfolds.
Read all about the 1979 decision to put Anthony on the dollar coin, here in the TIME Vault: Numismatic Ms.
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