If you thought our Treasury Department was focused singularly on fixing America’s stagnant economy, which contracted earlier this year, or on our staggering national debt, which will have nearly doubled during Barack Obama’s tenure, you would be wrong. Instead, the Department announced yesterday it will replace Alexander Hamilton as the main image on the ten dollar bill in favor of a yet-to-be-determined woman.
The idea isn’t just another nod to political correctness; it’s part of a calculated and largely effective effort to pervert the identity of our nation.
Alexander Hamilton was unique among the Founding Fathers. He was born abroad in austere circumstances and orphaned at a young age. Largely self-taught as a boy, he exhibited enough promise to be sent to colonial North America for an education. He was an early Patriot, became chief of staff to Gen. George Washington during the American Revolution, and was later an operational commander himself.
After our first postwar government under the Articles of Confederation proved disastrous, Hamilton, by leading publication of the pro-Constitution Federalist Papers, did more than any other Founder to create the political impetus for the United States as we have known it since 1789. Hamilton then served as President Washington’s Secretary of Treasury, effectively becoming the creator of our financial system and laying the bedrock of our prosperity. (He failed to kill Vice President Aaron Burr in the famous duel, but no one is perfect.)
Hamilton’s vision was also unique — and prescient. While Founders like Thomas Jefferson — somewhat America’s first limousine liberal — sought a bucolic, genteel backwater tended by gentlemen farmers and their slaves, Hamilton, an abolitionist, dreamed of thriving, prosperous America that was actively engaged with the world in trade.
What does this remarkable image and mark upon history stand for in the America of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton? Not much apparently.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew justified his decision to bump his predecessor by 2020 as a “signal of how important it is to recognize the role that women have played in our national life.” Liberal Senator Jeanne Shaheen also cheered the decision, saying that “Young girls across this country will soon be able to see an inspiring woman on the ten dollar bill who helped shape our country into what is today and know that they too can grow up and do something great for their country.”
Shouldn’t young girls (and boys) be taught to see past someone’s gender to grasp his real accomplishments — and how those accomplishments in this case helped to create our great land of freedom, prosperity, and equality?
The candidates to replace Hamilton reportedly include Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, and a Cherokee Nation chief named Wilma Mankiller. There is nothing wrong with marking these women’s roles in history, but it is irrefutable that their particular accomplishments and contributions pale next to Hamilton’s.
But that doesn’t matter to those who have had such great success in hijacking our national identity these past years. Barak Obama swept in to office amid great heralding of a “post-racial America.” Seven years later, we are a nation obsessed with race and gender more than at any time in decades. In all walks of life, liberals have little difficultly arranging for anyone to be presumed guilty of racism and sexism unless he proves his innocence.
A fundamental part of this effort has involved perverting the self-image of America. Our great nation, which John Winthrop foresaw as a “city upon a hill,” and which Abraham Lincoln sought to save as it was “the last best hope of earth,” is now supposedly corrupt, racist, sexist, oppressive, and dangerous. Identity politics and perceived grievance trump personal accomplishment, and of those accomplishments, our president is apt to say, “You didn’t build that.” Meanwhile the 2016 presidential election already seems saturated with the identity issues of gender and skin color.
Now, Hamilton’s image has been caught in the path of those working to smash America into the mold of postmodernity — the most politically correct ever made. They will continue their so-far successful efforts right up to the point where we stop them. Killing Treasury’s plan could be a start — and a far more American symbol than what the liberals have in mind.
Christian Whiton is the president of the Hamilton Foundation and was a State Department senior advisor during the George W. Bush administration. He is the author of Smart Power: Between Diplomacy and War, and was the 1996 winner of the Sidney Beyer Prize for Excellence in American History.