Alexander Hamilton on the $10 Bill

In mid-June, the U.S. Treasury Department announced a scheme by which it will either displace or demote Alexander Hamilton’s image on the $10 bill, in favor of a yet-to-be named woman chosen by some unspecified democratic poll. The woman will be named later this year, but the final change is scheduled for 2020, to mark the centennial of American women getting the right to vote in U.S. elections (via the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution). The Treasury claims that the $10 bill is due for a security upgrade anyway (to deter counterfeiting), so apparently it feels this is as good a time as any to jettison the nation’s first and greatest Treasury secretary.1

This is an injustice to Alexander Hamilton, a derogation of the U.S. founding, and yet another example of “identity politics.”

Hamilton is arguably the greatest of all the great Founding Fathers of the United States, the most morally exceptional nation in human history—that is, the most individualist, freedom-loving, and rights-respecting nation. Pushers of “identity politics” disdain such values and principles, and insist that people be judged not by the content of their character, the solidity of their logic, or the liberty in their politics (things over which they have control) but instead by their race, ethnicity, or gender (things about which they lack choice).

I regard Hamilton objectively as the greatest of the Founders because he alone contributed in each of the five phases necessary to create the United States of America: the moral-ideological case for political independence (1774–1775), the formal declaration of independence (1776), the Revolutionary War (1775–1783), the creation and ratification of the Constitution (1787–1788), and the practical implementation and administration of the new federal government under President Washington’s two terms (1789–1799). Other Founders were important in some of these five phases but not in all of them.

Having left a tumultuous Caribbean upbringing in search of a better life in America, a brilliant and ambitious young Hamilton enrolled at Kings College (now Columbia University) at age fifteen, in 1772. Revolutionary spirit and action were growing, with the Boston Massacre (1770), Boston Tea Party (1773), and the battle at Lexington-Concord (1775). At age seventeen, Hamilton addressed a crowd in the Fields (now City Hall Park) and called for a principled revolution. . . .

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