June 10, 2004
Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., wants Americans to remember Ronald Reagan’s worth.
On Wednesday, Hayworth proposed a bill before Congress to put the former president’s face on all $10 bills minted after Dec. 31.
He would replace Alexander Hamilton, the Federalist who founded the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Hayworth is not the only congressman to make such a proposal. Almost as soon as Reagan died Saturday, congressional Republicans began recommending the addition of Reagan’s likeness to money as the best way to memorialize the man some consider the greatest president of the 20th century.
No one can agree, however, on which denomination to change.
Should he grace the $20 bill, as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., proposed before the House on Monday? Should it stand out on the 50 cent piece, as Rep. Jeff Miller, RFla., proposed the same day?
Hayworth said his own suggestion is in a very Hamiltonian spirit.
"It just seemed reflexively that the $10 bill would be appropriate," he said. "Even in the Federalist Papers Hamilton wrote of leaders to come, and I think that that kind of forward thinking resonates with Ronald Reagan."
If his plan succeeds, Hayworth said, "Every time you pick up a $10 bill you’ll be reminded of Ronald Reagan."
He cited the "resounding groundswell of the grass roots" as the impetus for his move, which he called "altogether fitting for the heart and head."
"This is a tribute to a great man, not hardball politics," Hayworth said. "This is something I hope would not become a partisan issue."
Some Arizona Republicans, such as Rep. Jeff Flake, support the move.
"The idea of placing President Reagan’s likeness on the $10 bill has been around for a number of years, but it’s an idea whose time has come," Flake said. "I think it is just one of many appropriate ways to honor one of America’s greatest leaders."
Money aside, a variety of Reagan tributes have taken place around the country since his death.
The Jelly Belly Candy Co. in Fairfield, Calif., has draped its jelly-bean mosaic portraits of the former California governor in black ribbons.
The company supplied Reagan with jelly beans while in office to help him quit smoking while he was governor.
In the East Valley, the Arizona Republican Party plans to open its office at 3501 N. 24th St. to the public Friday to watch the televised Reagan funeral. It will be gathering signatures for the next two weeks on a series of sympathy banners to be sent to Reagan’s widow, Nancy, said Colin McCracken, state party communications director.
Hayworth’s proposal has raised the ire of Hamilton admirers such as Lawrence Hamilton, president of the Hamilton National Genealogical Society in Oak Grove, Mo.
"It’s totally unnecessary," said Hamilton, who is not related to Alexander Hamilton. "Alexander Hamilton was the first treasurer of the United States of America, and he should be so honored for the rest of time.
"I’m not just saying this because he’s a Hamilton. They can do anything they want with all the others, but leave Hamilton alone."
- By Adam Wallin, Special to the Tribune