The New Ten's Two-Body Problem

The New Ten's Two-Body Problem

Five years from now, on the hundredth anniversary of women’s suffrage in the U.S., an American woman of distinction will appear on the ten-dollar bill, with Alexander Hamilton retained somewhere on the note. This decision, announced last week by Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, has been met with considerable puzzlement from those who wonder why we would demote Hamilton, the founder of our financial system, instead of Andrew Jackson, who was the architect of the Trail of Tears, an opponent of central banking, and the target of the grassroots campaign to get a woman on the twenty-dollar bill, led by the group Women on 20s. As Vauhini Vara recently wrote, some asked, too, why the first woman to appear on paper currency in the United States should have to do so alongside a male chaperone, and they wondered whether the Treasury would, after holding public consultations this summer, honor Harriet Tubman, the choice of those who voted in an online poll conducted by Women on 20s. The current debate over American currency resonates with the complicated history of how and why women have been represented on money, a history that provides insight into the ways women have wielded and represented authority through the ages.

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The Prehistory of the Peeps Diorama

The Prehistory of the Peeps Diorama

In 2014, Matthew McFeeley and his friends Mary Clare Peate and Alex Baker created an intricate historical diorama depicting the 1963 March on Washington. Evoking the color palette of the photographs that document the real event, the diorama was painted in black, white, and shades of gray. Marchers are shown holding tiny, hand-painted signs that read “we demand voting rights now!” and “we march for jobs for all now!” At the center of the action, the figure of Martin Luther King, Jr., stands at a podium, poised to give his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech. At the bottom of the steps leading up to the Lincoln Memorial, the crowd of spectators is dotted with what appears to be an ocean of regularly shaped bunny ears. Though painted gray, each character in this scene is a marshmallow Peep. This diorama, “I Have a Dream: Martin Luther King Jr. Addresses the Peeple” won the 2014 Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest, chosen by the Post staff from a field of over seven hundred competitors.

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