By MARY DEIBEL
Scripps Howard News Service
September 29, 2005
The revamped note, highlighted by images of the Statue of Liberty's torch and the Constitution's first words, "We the People," also has new security features for people to make sure their walking-around money is the real thing.
"The enhanced security features built into this new $10 note design - and into the $20 and $50 notes that preceded it in the new series - will help maintain global confidence in our currency going forward," Treasury Secretary John Snow said Wednesday in unveiling the new $10 on Ellis Island with Miss Liberty as his backdrop.
Like with the $20 and $50 bills, redesigned in 2003 and 2004, respectively, the new 10-spot has color-shifting ink, a security thread and a distinctive watermark that are visible by tilting the bill or holding it up to the light.
With the new $10, the numeral 10 in the lower right-hand corner on the note's face changes from copper to green, the security thread repeats "USA TEN" in tiny print and the watermark of Alexander Hamilton appears to the right of Hamilton's portrait.
And no, the $10 didn't get the facelift some wanted with Hamilton's portrait replaced by Ronald Reagan's. Republican activist Grover Norquist led the campaign to get Reagan on the $10 as a way to memorialize the 40th president besides naming airports, schools, highways and mountains for him in every county in each of the 50 states.
Reagan Legacy Project founder Norquist settled on the $10 in hopes it would be easier to bump a non-president off the money after Nancy Reagan nixed kicking Franklin Roosevelt off the dime. But despite Norquist's close ties to the Bush White House, he met his match in congressional fans of Hamilton. The law lets treasury secretaries change coinage, but requires an act of Congress to change paper currency.
The Nevis-born Hamilton, the sole Founding Father to come from outside the colonies, was George Washington's aide de camp during the Revolution and went on to fight for the Constitution through "The Federalist Papers" he co-authored.
At 34, Hamilton became President Washington's first treasury secretary, a role in which he set the stage for U.S. commercial might by creating the nation's first tax system, first budget system, first Customs Service, first Coast Guard and first central bank.
Hamilton died in an 1804 duel with former Vice President Aaron Burr, whom he helped defeat for New York governor that year and for president in 1800 by throwing his support to Thomas Jefferson.
Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow, who found himself dragged into the debate over Hamilton's place on the money, said he wasn't against Reagan but for Hamilton, calling him "the prophet of the capitalist system" Reagan admired.
The new $10 bills, with Hamilton's portrait enlarged and freed from the traditional oval, should show up early next year, with the $100 note next to be redesigned in 2007.
Thomas Ferguson, head of Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing, said plans call for redesigning paper currency in denominations of $10 and more every decade to keep ahead of counterfeit technology.
There are no plans to redo the $1 and $5 notes.
Meantime, Norquist and the Reagan Legacy Project have thrown their support behind a bill that Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., introduced to put Reagan on the $50 bill.
Benjamin Franklin, the man on the next-up $100 note and no former president, either, apparently has too many friends still in high places, but fans of President Ulysses S. Grant, now on the $50, haven't mobilized so far.
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