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Hero and a scholar: The ten dollar founding father.
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“Hamilton: The Musical” may help keep Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill

Jake Flanagin
By Jake Flanagin

Reporter

This post has been updated.

In June of 2015, treasury secretary Jack Lew announced that the United States government would be redesigning the $10 bill, which currently features founding father Alexander Hamilton. “Our thinking is to select a woman who has played a major role in our history who represents the theme of democracy,” he said.

Lew said at the time that Hamilton would still be present in some form on the $10, and now the breakout success of Hamilton, the hip-hop Broadway musical, is ensuring that he sticks to his promise.

Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda said on Wednesday (Mar. 16) that had received “multiple assurances” from Lew that admirers of Hamilton would “not be disappointed” by the new design. Miranda met with Lew on Monday, before his visit to the White House, where he and the cast performed selections from the Hamilton soundtrack for president Barack Obama and a group of schoolchildren.

Miranda is probably relieved that he doesn’t have to revise the play’s lyrics. Some of the opening lines describe Hamilton as a “hero and a scholar / The ten dollar founding father.”

Hamilton has breathed new life into a somewhat obscure historical figure. He was a key aide to president George Washington, one of the most influential authors of the Constitution, and the architect of the early US economy, as well as the founder of numerous banks and the New York Post.

In the time since the Treasury first announced its redesign, the play debuted and received rave reviews; tickets are nearly unobtainable. It’s safe to say that a record number of Americans are excited about the first US Treasury secretary.

Last year, Gerald Hassell, chairman and CEO of The Bank of New York Mellon—a bank founded by Hamilton himself—wrote in a column for Quartz:

Hamilton has no major monument for the public to remember him by. The $10 dollar bill is the only—and most fitting—memorial for everything he did to set the United States on a prosperous course.

Now it appears that Hamilton will remain on the $10, in some form at least—and that he will have a living, breathing monument in the form of a musical that is bound to be a staple of American culture for a long time to come.

A previous version of this post stated that the US Treasury Department planned to “replace” Alexander Hamilton’s likeness on the $10 bill. A spokesperson for the department assures Quartz that keeping Hamilton on the bill in some capacity has always been part of redesign plans, and we have updated the post to reflect that.

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