Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Replacing Grant?

Rep. Patrick McHenry is planning to introduce a bill to replace Grant on the fifty with Reagan in time for Reagan's 100th birthday. McHenry's reasoning for this change are:

"President Reagan was a modern day statesman, whose presidency transformed our nation's political and economic thinking," McHenry said in a statement. "Through both his domestic and international policies he renewed America's self confidence, defeated the Soviets and taught us that each generation must provide opportunity for the next."

McHenry says it's only logical for Reagan to replace Grant on the $50 bill because several historians have ranked Reagan as a much better president than Grant. McHenry specifically cites a 2005 Wall Street Journal survey of scholars who placed Reagan at No. 6 and Grant at No. 29.

"Every generation needs its own heroes," McHenry also said. "One decade into the 21st century, it's time to honor the last great prseident of the 20th and give President Reagan a place beside Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy."

Franklin Roosevelt's face currently appears on the dime while John F. Kennedy's image is on the half-dollar.

Of course, Grant supporters are quick to defend his place on the bill:

"His work in battling against inflation and getting the currency on stable footing opened the way for the economy boom of the late 19th century, Marszalek [executive director and managing editor of the Ulysses S. Grant Association] told CNN. "I don't know why he wouldn't be included, except people forget. It's been a long time."

Marszalek also named a host of other Grant accomplishments, including efforts to promote the rights of freed slaves and native Americans, as well as his post-presidency, two-year tour of the world during which he negotiated the settlement of a dispute between Japan and China.

But the Grant administration was also beset by major scandals -- close to a dozen in all -- which is a primary reason that Grant had difficulty working with Congress and why many modern historians continue to rank the 18th president relatively low.

Still, Marszalek says Grant's death in 1885 was a "national phenomenon" and is "still the biggest funeral any American has had to this day."

This is not the first time that lawmakers have tried to put Reagan on currency. In 2004, legistlation was introduced to replace Roosvelt with Reagan on the dime, but due to Nancy Reagan's opposition it was dropped. Placing him on the $10 and $20 have also been considered by lawmakers since Reagan's death.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the placement of Grant on the $50 is more of an honor of his place as one of the great saviors of the American nation, due to his generalship during the Civil War. Though he wasn't much of a president later, that's a story that needs to be remembered and told. I don't want to see Grant 86'd.

At the same time, Reagan deserves to be honored. I like the idea of perhaps honoring Reagan on the currency during his centennial year in 2011, and then reverting to the Grant bill afterwards. It would draw more attention to the achievements of both presidents; a good thing for historical awareness.