WASHINGTON — The country will have to wait a bit longer to find out who will become the first woman on U.S. paper currency in more than a century.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had said he would announce a decision by the end of this year naming the woman who will replace Alexander Hamilton’s portrait on the $10 bill.
But late Friday, Treasury issued a statement saying the announcement was being delayed until sometime in 2016. Treasury said the delay will give the government time to “carefully review and consider a range of options” in response to an outpouring of suggestions from the public over the past six months.
Lew set off a furor in June when he announced he was replacing Hamilton’s portrait on the $10 bill with a woman. Treasury has gotten more than 1.5 million responses commenting on the change, everything from tweets to handwritten notes.
Treasury has not revealed who might be in the running to be placed on the $10 bill. Lew has said suggestions from the public have covered a wide range of women who have played important roles in American history going back to the founding of the country and ranging through the Civil War and up to the modern era.
Treasury has asked the public to comment not only about who should go on the $10 billion but also to suggest the best way to use the currency redesign to depict the theme of democracy. Lew has stressed that the redesign is about more than just the one square inch of Hamilton’s portrait.
Hamilton supporters, including former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, have urged Lew to reverse his decision to replace the portrait of the nation’s first Treasury secretary on the $10 bill. Lew has said that Hamilton will still be honoured on the $10 bill but he has not specified how that commitment will be carried out once Hamilton’s portrait is replaced.
The Treasury statement did not specify how long the announcement could be delayed, only that it would come “in the new year.”
“As a result of the tremendous amount of engagement, we have many more ideas than we had originally anticipated,” the statement said. “Therefore, we are taking additional time to carefully review and consider a range of options to honour the theme of democracy as well as the notable contributions women have made in our country.”
While the $10 bill is the first that will be redesigned, Treasury has plans to redesign the other currency denominations in coming years as part of an effort to protect against counterfeiters.
Treasury has a goal of completing the redesign of the $10 bill by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.