Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spot me a ronnie

I heard somewhere that there is a Republican proposal to replace Ulysses S. Grant with Ronald Reagan on the American 50 dollar bill. This made me wonder: if you really wanted to piss off Civil War buffs and get rid of Grant, shouldn't you replace him with James Madison, who, after all, wrote the constitution? But apparently Madison already had a bill: the $5000 bill, which according to Wikipedia, when adjusted from 1929 dollars when it was still being printed, would be worth over $63,000 in 2010 dollars.

There was even a $100,000 bill featuring Woodrow Wilson, worth over $1.6 million in today's dollars. I'm not completely clear on how the money supply actually works, but I don't imagine that even pre-computer, it was ever necessary to account for every dollar in bill form. I can't imagine what the point of printing bills that big was.

In any case, I don't think the Reagan proposal is taken very seriously, but I do find the "culture war" angle of it to be interesting. Why replace Grant rather than, say, Hamilton on the $10 bill, or Jackson on the 20? You could even go after Franklin on the 100 who, like Hamilton but unlike Grant, wasn't even a president.

Grant won the Civil War for the north. Reagan scored a victory in the Culture War for the south. It's that eternal struggle: Neil Young vs. Lynyrd Skynyrd:

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