Hamilton Rates a Ten

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Many of us have secret obsessions. One of mine is with ten dollar bills. For years, dating back to when I read Ron Chernow's outstanding biography of Alexander Hamilton, I've been a tens hoarder.

Maybe I somehow intuited that Hamilton's handsome face was at risk there in my wallet, and now Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has proved me right. Lew reasonably wants to have a woman somewhere on the currency, but has made the unreasonable choice to replace Hamilton.

This cannot stand. We cannot as a nation afford to dishonor the memory of our most complex and compelling founder, and here is why:

Alexander Hamilton, alone among the founders, represents a true rags to riches success story. The immigrant child of a single mom, Hamilton rose by dint of brilliance, courage and constant work to unprecedented success as a soldier, intellectual, and builder of American institutions.

Alexander Hamilton, unlike most of the other major founders, was a war hero. General Washington took notice of the boyish-looking but exceptionally energetic and courageous young artillery officer during the early, perilous months of the war, and quickly promoted him to a position of de facto chief of staff.


Alexander Hamilton stood out among the most intellectually gifted group of founders any nation has ever seen as the most prodigious and passionate writer of the bunch. Justly famous for his role in penning the Federalist Papers, Hamilton throughout his career exhibited an almost shocking capacity for fast, detailed, often incendiary writing.

Alexander Hamilton, perhaps unique among revolutionaries the world over, was a gifted economic administrator. Without Hamilton's leadership, the democratic experiment in America may very likely have disintegrated in acrimony over paying off the foreigners who bankrolled the revolution.  

Secretary Lew, who works under a life-sized portrait of Hamilton at Treasury and professes to be a fan, has promised that Hamilton won't disappear from our currency. He hasn't said how. For my sake, I'm hoping he doesn't come up with a $10 coin. My pockets couldn't handle them all.

With a Perspective, this is Matt Mitchell

Matt Mitchell is a middle school math teacher who lives in Sacramento.