March 3rd, 2010
01:01 PM ET
5 years ago

Lawmaker moves to put Reagan on the $50 bill

Could Reagan overtake Grant on the $50?
Could Reagan overtake Grant on the $50?

(CNN) – Should Ulysses S. Grant, the legendary Union general and 18th president of the United States, be bumped from his 96-year stint on the $50 bill?

Yes, according to one North Carolina Republican.

Rep. Patrick McHenry announced that he will introduce a measure that would replace Grant’s face with Ronald Reagan's, just in time for the 40th president's 100th birthday next February.

"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 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 president 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.

But not so fast, says Dr. John Marszalek, the executive director and managing editor of the Ulysses S. Grant Association.

Calling him a "beacon" of the 19th century, Marszalek said Grant deserves to keep his prominent spot on America's currency.

"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 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 phenomena" and is "still the biggest funeral any American has had to this day."

Grant supporters can rest easy for now though - the future of the legislation is highly in doubt. It would first have to clear the House Financial Services Committee where at least one Democrat is already expressing his opposition to the move.

"History has made its verdict," Rep. Brad Sherman of California told CNN. "Reagan's policies are controversial. Grant was in favor of winning the Civil War and keeping the Union together. The currency is not a place to score cheap political points."

It's not the first time Republican lawmakers have sought to immortalize Reagan's image on American currency. In 2004, Rep. Mark Souder introduced legislation to put Regan on the dime in place of Roosevelt. Souder dropped the move after Nancy Reagan publicly opposed the measure.

In the years since Reagan's death, GOP lawmakers have also considered, though abandoned, legislation placing Reagan on the $10 bill, in place of Alexander Hamilton, and on the $20, in place of Andrew Jackson.

Ultimately, any change to the nation's currency would require majority votes in both houses of Congress, where Democrats maintain large majorities.


Filed under: Ronald Reagan
soundoff (200 Responses)
  1. ELIZABETH

    Death has been kind to Reagan. IMO he was not all that great a president. For all his talk on physical responsibilty he sure found a way to run up the deficit. I know none of that money he spent went to the poor, because he didn't care about them, so it must have went to his rich buddies and business associates. Sounds alot like our last president, doesn't it?

    March 3, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  2. ran

    No way. RR was one of the worse Presidents we have ever had. He did more to help the wealth and hurt the middle class then any other modern day President.

    Trickle down economics and massive deregulation by RR is what has put us in the shape we are in now with massive unemployment but billions for CEOs./special interest groups like health insurance.

    Please people call/write/e-mail your elected officials and say no this.

    RR does not deserve this or be rewarded for his anti-people actions.

    March 3, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  3. AndyBlue

    The republicans want to put someone who had alzheimers through have of his presidency on the 50?

    Im not suprized. Take a good look at the real effects of the reagan years. He was detrimental to America and the middle class (majority)

    Yet our dept rose stedily under Reagan, declined during Clinton and skyrocketed under Bush. Facts are facts. Teabaggers would dissagree of course.

    March 3, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    I don't care whose face is on any bill, I never look anyway and nobody ask me while taking my money.

    March 3, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. Audrey in Georgia

    Stay focused! Does this create additional jobs? Does this lower health
    care premiums? How will it be paid for? I think you should get that clean
    sheet of paper out and start over with better ideas to help the American
    people.

    March 3, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. Jeffrey

    The only reason why the republican love Reagan is because the last Republican by Party name only that they loved was ABE....but into today's society ABE would be a extreme leftist Democrat!

    March 3, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  7. Scottyrw

    How about putting a President on the $50 bill that could balance the budget during his years in office???????

    March 3, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  8. BeverlyNC

    Oh great – let's put the President who began the worst economic policies in our history that led to unregulated banks and total financial disaster on the actual money stolen from us by failed greedy Republican economics.

    Sounds like a Republican idea.

    March 3, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. one voice

    Why would we put Reagan on the 50 when He is known mostly for "trickle down economics" which is harmful to the future of our nation? It's like putting Bush on the 100 for his "NO WMD war".

    March 3, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  10. Julia - Native American from Idaho

    Thanks to Ronald Reagan we now have at least a partial Universal health care system. Here's the law that he signed. And because the Republicans have denied health care to those who need it the most, the poor, I recommend every person without health insurance use this plan. In fact when I retire, I am going to provide transportation to all sick people that need a ride to our local Emergency department, break the system it that's what it takes to get medical care for all our citizens, after all this is a Democracy, isn't it??? The hospital will pass on the cost to the insured patients and the insurance companies will just keep raisin' their immoral rates, well you get the picture This is probably the only thing Reagan did that was a benefit to anyone.

    In 1986, Congress enacted the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA) to ensure public access to emergency services regardless of ability to pay. Section 1867 of the Social Security Act imposes specific obligations on Medicare-participating hospitals that offer emergency services to provide a medical screening examination (MSE) when a request is made for examination or treatment for an emergency medical condition (EMC), including active labor, regardless of an individual's ability to pay. Hospitals are then required to provide stabilizing treatment for patients with EMCs. If a hospital is unable to stabilize a patient within its capability, or if the patient requests, an appropriate transfer should be implemented.

    March 3, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. Richard

    Ronald Reagan's face belongs on the $3.00 bill along with Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. They were all as phony as a $3.00 bill. The last great 20th century president was William Jefferson Clinton, not Ronal Reagan.

    March 3, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  12. Jackalope

    Yawn... sounds like McHenry is just another southern white boy still fighting the Civil War.

    March 3, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. Spamlander

    Especially since he's responsible for a 30 % across-the-board reduction in its value.

    March 3, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. Dick Cheney For President In 2012

    This bill will probably not be passed in 2010. However, it will be done in 2011 when CONSERVATIVES (both Democrat and Republican) will be in the majority in both the House and Senate.

    March 3, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. Darth Vadik, CA

    Talk about Hollywood!!!

    You know, Republicans always accuse Democrats of being too Hollywood, while their greatest hero was nothing but an actual actor who could deliver a speech written by Bush Senior.

    I'm just glad that W came along and marred the Bush name for a long long time, because pappy Bush deserved it even more for what he did in the 1980's. And in a way got away with it.

    Just start at Central America and work your way around the world to see the Bush destruction...

    March 3, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. Felonious Monk

    One of American history's greatest monster!!!

    The biggest supplier of drugs in his day! This monster should be dug up and turned over!! Iran-Contra, does that ring any bells?

    Conservatives love conservatives because the truth is unimportant!!!

    Government Cheese!

    March 3, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. DallasMarine

    Hey McHenry,
    How about you worry about other issues that actually have importance, like helping this country not your credentials.

    March 3, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  18. Matt from KC

    Reaganomics ring a bill? You can attribute the 1987 S&P crash to this man, as well as a variety of international flubs and scandals, i.e. Iran-Contra Affair, Beirut, Afghanistan, Iran-Iraq. Not to mention, he single-handedly rekindled the Cold War mentality that had been dead for a decade...unnecessarily so. Though US Grant was a terrible president, his impact as a general was the reason for the honor. There are probably a dozen other people I'd put on the $50 bill before either of these two.

    March 3, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. Randy

    I'm curious! Has Rep. Patrick McHenry put forth any measures to help the economy, create jobs, or solve the health care issue? Has he put forth any measures to make us less oil-dependent on countries that don't really like us? Has he put forth any measures to help our men and women in uniform, and their families? While many of you want to focus on the idea of Ronald Reagan on the $50 bill, I want to know what Rep. Patrick McHenry has done for this country during his term in office beside put forth this incredibly silly measure? Anything??

    March 3, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    The "Great Communicator" who sometimes read from the wrong cue cards and whose ditzy wife consulted astrologists to advise her "amiable dunce" husband is unworthy of being pictured on anything other than low value postage stamps.

    March 3, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. Aaron

    This absurd and outrageous proposal should be soundly rejected and that lawmaker Patrick Henry should be removed from public office for even making such a suggestion and proposal. Ronald Reagan left the country in debt by squandering the nation's treasury on star-wars programs and military hardware most of which will be never used!! His Supply-Side economics was a total failure and disaster which resulted in mass unemployment much like George W. Bush's tax cut theories. Reagan, Like Bush Jr., bamboozled the public. The proposal to put Reagan's face on any U.S. currency is an insult to the American people and the nation. The same proposal for George W, would be even worse of an insult and outrage.

    March 3, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  22. Mark

    Leave Grant alone. Let's make a 25 or 75 dollar bill for Reagan.

    March 3, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  23. Eric in Ohio

    These are 2 of the worst presidents in U.S. History. Under Regan wages went down as the cost of living went up. His ignorant conservative theories of deregulating, and letting businesses do what they want is the reason for the collapse of the large financial institutions in 2008. His ignorant conservative theories of trade are why our jobs have been consistently moving overseas for the last 30 years. Also Reagan DID NOT beat the Soviet Union, Jimmy Carter did, and Reagan was just in the right place at the right time to enjoy the rewards. Grant was a bad president but at least he was a great general, so leave him on the $50

    March 3, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  24. Big Ed

    What!!??? What in the world is McHenry smoking?

    March 3, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  25. Matt

    What we need is a constitutional amendment forbidding anyone being put on US currency until they've been dead for at least 50 years.

    Lincoln had only been dead 45 years when he was put on the penny, but Washing and Jefferson had been dead over 100 (they were put on the quarter and nickle on their 200th birthdays).

    FDR and JFK (and Ike) should never have been put on coins so soon after their death.

    It takes awhile for history to judge. If Regan really belongs up there with Washing and Jefferson, then our grandkids will think so 100 years from now.

    March 3, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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