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. Andi

    I'm sure this proposal won't get held up in the Senate.

    Don't we have more important things to do?

    March 3, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. Wanda in Montana

    Yeah, that would be fitting. The man who sold out the world should have his face on money.

    March 3, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. Sgt. Flagg T. McLiberty, Superpatriot

    The man who did so much to fill the coffers of the rich and keep health care away from so many belongs on a sheet of toilet paper.

    March 3, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  4. Repugnants are Taliban

    The current picture on the $50 bill is just fine, we do not need a picture of a partisan clown on any of our currency, this is just a ploy to elevate the ailing and under attack Repugliban party and has no true merit, it is a sign opartisanship on a despicable level, let's save our currency for pictures of statesmen, not clowns like this one.

    March 3, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  5. NVa Native

    Hell NO!

    March 3, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. dan

    Please, the guy was mediocre at best. At worst he was a total joke. We can name sewer plants for him. That's about all.

    March 3, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. Michael Bram

    Congress should take Alexander Hamilton off the $10 and put John Adams on it instead.

    March 3, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. muffy

    Yes and one of the worst Presidents up until Bush. Why not put Bushie
    on a bill also, oh and I forgot Cheney too.

    March 3, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  9. MikeH

    Put Reagan on the $3.00 bill, where he belongs.

    The Reagan administration are at the roots of the economic collapse of America and the destruction of it's middle class.

    March 3, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  10. Andy

    With all the problems our nation faces right now this is what some republicans are worried about?

    March 3, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. tim indiana

    put reagan on the $3 bill

    March 3, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. Lori in Texas

    Hell No!

    March 3, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. Monkey wrench

    What about Obama, can we print a three dollar bill especially for him? Of course, it will only be worth a one by the time he and his Dem pals get done destroying our economy even further.

    March 3, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. Chuck in CSG

    "....where Democrats maintain large majorities." For now!

    March 3, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. Evil Hollywood Liberal

    ah, Republicans....totally gay for Reagan and yearning for a past that never was. More revisionist history – he wasn't THAT good of a President, folks (Iran-Contra, highest tax hike ever (1986), anyone?)

    March 3, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. sbmcd

    Put Reagan on the fifty, and I'll start paying all my bills with nickels.

    March 3, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Reagan is the republicans messiah. I remember this country being in a recession under Reagan. I remember the crack epidemic started under Reagan. Iran-Contra rings a bell as well. What has he done really to deserve to be on American currency?

    March 3, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. David

    Are we really considering this?

    Reagan was a nice guy – but ultimately a moron, and certainly in no way as important to our nation's history as U.S. Grant.

    I'm leaving for Arizona on Saturday. I will be flying out of Washington NATIONAL!!

    I wish this committee dedicated to getting his name and likeness on everything imaginable would give it a rest. It hasn't been long enough for everyone to forget his ineptitude. Perhaps they should look into producing toilet paper with his face on it. I'd buy that.

    March 3, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. Gretchen

    It's amusing and sad, but very expected,to see all the put-downs of Mrs. Palin by hypocritical liberals who equate insults with constructive criticism. Mrs. Palin is funny, interesting, and very welcome, in my opinion, to however much attention she can handle. I personally think she is one of the most courageous people in the spotlight these days. The hypocrisy from the left is pretty pathetic. Actually, Mrs. Palin and her husband have much more real life experience at being real people in a real world than the Obamas do. The media has shown its remarkable double standard in the way it has glorified the Obamas and covered up their many gaffes while trying so hard to unceasingly roast people like the Palins and George W. Bush.

    March 3, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. Chuck

    I propose Patrick McHenry get impeached for wasting tax payer dollars and valuable Congressional time with silly legislation.

    While people are out of work and health care costs are skyrocketing I say send a message.

    Arrest him for treason, stupidity and getting in the way of real work.

    March 3, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. Average American

    Seriously?!?! Is this a joke? This is what Republicans think is important, really? Unbelievable!!!!!!

    March 3, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  22. Pchapin

    Absolutely not. Why should his face go on any amount of currency when his change in how inflation is calculated has added to the country's current financial problems. It would be an absolute disgrace!

    March 3, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  23. Randi L.

    I could support putting him on the $3 bill.

    March 3, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  24. AJ

    McHenry is a moron. Reagan was a rotten human being who went out of his way to make life difficult for many. If Republican "scholars" want to make the senile old degenerate out to be a hero, thats up to them. The rest of us are just happy he's gone.

    March 3, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  25. Squigman

    Of all the problems people face on a day to day basis, no jobs, prices skyrocketing, housing, and the depletion of their retirement savings, I'd have to say that my conceern, as well as everyone elses, has been for a long time getting Reagans picture placed on the 50 dollar bill. The idiot that thought this up needs to be tared and feathered.

    I'm sure there are more pressing issues than this to pay attention to..

    March 3, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
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