Women on US banknotes?

US President Obama created somewhat of a stir last week when he answered in reply to a question from a young girl why there aren't any women on US banknotes that it would be "a pretty good idea". The Obama administration does have the power to make this happen. An 1862 act of Congress gives the secretary of the Treasury near-complete authority over the design and printing of paper currency, while Congress retains the power of coinage under the Constitution.

To have a woman on a greenback would mean that either a new denomination would have to be created (which the Treasury has no intention of doing) or replace one of the men on the dollar bills. With the exception of George Washington that is: under the 2001 Legal Tender Modernization Act, the Treasury is prohibited from changing the design of the 1 dollar note. Under the law, there are only two other requirements the secretary of the Treasury must follow in designing paper money: the bills must contain the inscription "In God We Trust" in an appropriate place, and only portraits of dead people may appear.

The chances of this really happening are very remote in my opinion. The main reasoin for this is the fact that the dollar is de de facto world currency and must have a very recognizable (i.e. conservative) design. This probably means that Martha Washington will remain the last American woman to appear on an American banknote as can be seen in this 1 dollar silver certificate from 1896:

Steven Wednesday 06 August 2014 at 09:25 am | | news
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