July 11th 2015

America has found a new voice after what seems like a gazillion years of trade and fiscal rendering, but in reality it is a measly 200 years(ish) of federal barter and legal tender. America announces, we want the faces or specifically the  one face of an American woman to be on our currency.  There is a long list of the who’s who of American women that should grace the American notes and coins. But where do we start? There are 7 denominations of bills, the $1.00, the $2.00, the $5.00, the $10.00, the $20.00, the $50.00, and the $100.00. There is the honourable mention of a $500.00 and a whisper of a  $1000.00 bill a scintilla of a $5000.00 and a diamonds are forever $10,000.00 note . Please note that it’s just 1, US Bill that will be feminized by this prestige, however it’s serendipitous if we explore the full potential. What may be a change for a $10.00  bill could introduce a change for all.

The more than 200 year old history of the US dollar refers to the Continental Congress of the United States authorizing the issuance of the US dollar in September 8, 1786.The dollar was approved by Congress to be released in a variety of denominated coins and currency bills.

Every year the Federal Reserve Board places an order with the Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which produces U.S. currency.  Minting new money is an expensive process and costs the US treasury a whopping $717.9 million. Now those dollar values are for currency already in circulation. As of July 2013, currency in circulation—that is, U.S. coins and paper currency in the hands of the public totaled about $1.2 trillion dollars.  Put new faces to be printed and redesigned on notes the costs are astronomical. Other factors that play in are the age and longevity of bills.

of Bill
$1 5.9
$5 4.9
$10 4.2
$20 7.7
$50 3.7
$100 15


The impetus to examine the feminization of the American greenback is based on U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew stating a woman will be featured on a redesigned $10 bill in 2020 on the 100th anniversary of the Constitution’s 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The last woman to grace U.S. paper currency was Martha Washington with the $1 Silver Certificate (1891-1896) as the esteemed currency that bore her likeness.

Lew, is asking the public for help and this is where we come in. Indistinct Chatter is launching its own campaign to assist in this worthy pursuit.

What’s Lew’s criteria? Lew wants the next generation of U.S. currency to underscore the theme of American democracy. The portrait must also by law be of someone who is no longer living.  Input over social media with the hashtag #TheNew10 makes the task of gathering the choices easier.

 Hamilton, has been on the $10 bill since 1929 and was America’s first treasury secretary. He replaced the 7th President Andrew Jackson, who was moved to the $20 bill. The $20 was at the center of a recent campaign to put a woman on U.S. currency. But Treasury chose the $10 as the prime candidate.

 In Britain, Queen Elizabeth, who is very much alive graces one side of the £10 note. Jane Austen will replace the theoretically debunked Charles Darwin by 2017. It is interesting to note that America only grants this honour posthumously while Britain, America’s alma mater errs to the vivid.

Indistinct chatter begins with an interesting segue by examining not the $10.00 but rather the $20.00.The United States twenty-dollar bill ($20) is often called a “Jackson,” or a “double-sawbuck because it is twice the value of a $10.00 bill (x), nicknamed a “sawbuck” as it resembled (X) the legs of the sawbuck. In December 2012, the average circulation life of a $20 bill was 7.7 years before it is replaced due to wear. 11% of all notes printed in 2009 were $20 bills.  

The personage that Indistinct Chatter nominated is a woman very much alive, though by the time the treasury gets around to the new face of the $20.00 things could change.

That person is Michelle LaVaughn Robinson now Obama, a lawyer, a Chicago city administrator and community outreach worker, as well as the wife of U.S. President Barack Obama and the 44th first lady. This is a controversial position one worth exploring as Michelle Obama is probably going to be the First African American- First Lady for at least another century. So why wait to give her this award posthumously? As if death will prove her longevity. So Jackson move over, your successor has been chosen. A name that also bears scrutiny for this honor as a ‘First Lady’ and worthy as the face of the $20.00 is Rosa Parks, whose actions moved a nation to Selma, Alabama.

But let’s start at the beginning, its easy as 1, 2, 5, as in $. Indistinct Chatter nominates for the $1.00 note a worthy candidate. Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)  Truth was a United States abolitionist and feminist who was freed from slavery and became a leading advocate of the abolition of slavery and for the rights of women. Simultaneously we also nominate Harriet Tubman (1820-1913). A United States abolitionist born a slave on a plantation in Maryland and became a famous conductor on the Underground Railroad leading other slaves to freedom in the North. Lest we forget there are many currency values that can use a fresh perspective. Though the $10.00 is the front runner for change, consider all possibilities. There are coins that could be updated and why not make a Tubman a quarter. Many a numismatic would jump for fiscal joy as this 25 cents would be worth a Million bucks.

For the $2.00 bill toss out Thomas Jefferson and replace him with Amelia Earhart . Earhart (1928) was the first woman aviator to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic or Sally Ride the 1st and youngest U.S. woman in space in June of 1983. We should celebrate the pioneering spirit of American women that took to the skies and outer space.

Honest Abe, made the $5.00 bill but we nominate Helen Keller. The blind and deaf educator and author who overcame her own disabilities and worked to help others who shared her disability.

As for the Bespoke Alexander Hamilton and the Old face of the appointed $10.00 change maker we officially nominate Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906). Anthony stood for women’s suffrage, the right to vote and can be considered a shoe in, for this momentous change. Though as she was already coined, it could be a toss up.All names are in the ring and we know what a posy that can be.

Ulysses S Grant is on the $50.00 but it can be Elizabeth Blackwell. Grant may have broken ground but Blackwell (1821-1910), was a woman’s rights activist who was also the first woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S.

Franklin is the name to beat for $100.00 but what about a Stanton. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a member of the women’s right’s movement in 1840. A mother of seven who shocked feminists by advocating suffrage for women in Seneca, New York in 1848. Stanton read a “Declaration of Sentiments” which declared “all men and women are created equal.”

 So while America, ponders and polls the populace for ideas, Indistinct Chatter has simplified the process by enlightening the masses to the choices. If anything, ask Oprah or Ellen, the doyennes of chatter that will definitely celebrate this list.

For Indistinct Chatter and The Book of 25, I am Cristoph De Caermichael.


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