Recent comments by creator of Hamilton: The Musical Lin-Manuel Miranda have suggested that Alexander Hamilton will continue to be a featured aspect of the US $10 bill.
In June 2015, treasury secretary Jack Lew announced, somewhat controversially, that founding father Alexander Hamilton would be replaced on the ten dollar bill to make room for a woman on the currency. HSPS applicants may be aware of arguments that occurred as a result of this proposed change – namely that removing Alexander Hamilton would be a disservice to the first Treasury secretary’s contribution to the US financial system, and conversely, that putting a woman on the ten dollar bill rather than the twenty was a pandering, less significant move.
Anthropology applicants should consider the significance of currency to nationalist movements. Michael Billig referred to the use of money as ‘banal nationalism’; nationalism that is forged over time through tacit transactions such as using the money of a nation, listening to the music of a nation, eating the food of a nation and so on. All of these seemingly insignificant ways consolidate a national sentiment, and anthropologists should consider how the normalcy of a woman on currency would impact national attitudes towards women.
Hamilton: The Musical’s impact on currency discussions should be considered carefully by English and History applicants – it is significant throughout history how political movements are mirrored and even informed by the art that emerges alongside it.
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