March 3rd, 2010
01:01 PM ET
4 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. mike

    Ridiculous – Leave our $50 Bill alone! This is what folks are focused on??? Trying to remove Ulysses S. Grant off our $50 Bill. Heck no! Focus on jobs and the economy.

    March 3, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Ronald Reagan, often praised as an icon of conservatism, signed massive spending bills that made his the biggest-spending administration (as a percentage of GDP) since World War II.
    He claimed to be for smaller Government but he did the opposite.

    March 3, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  3. jay in denver

    Through both his domestic and international policies he ran up the largest deficit in the country's history, sponsored illegal wars in Central America, sold weapons to Iran, supplied weapons to Saddam, and watched from the sidelines as Mikail Gorbachev dismantled the Soviet Union. Reagan has been mythologized by the right, but the facts of his presidency don't support the myth.

    March 3, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  4. Adam

    Nice work, Congressman, Great use of your time. While we're at it, shouldn't all currency have Ronald Reagan's face? Just rename the dollar itself?

    If we stop naming things after Reagan, we might forget about him. No?

    March 3, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  5. Sandy

    Will it have red ink?

    March 3, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  6. GREGOIRE

    My goodness you liberals are great at trying to rewrite history! To the dimwit who suggested the Soviet Union collapsed because of a failed economy... have you ever stopped to ask yourself WHY the economy failed? TWO REASON... Reagan was an incredible actor... he did spend more than we had, but he did it in areas of military and space technology... and the ruskies had to spend like heck to keep up our of sheer terror! He scared them... plain and simple. And why wasn't their economy able to keep up with the massive spending they plunked into their own military and space technology? because they were SOCIALISTS and it's been proven time and time again... a socialist economy CAN NOT LAST!!!!! And yet you idiots are soooo happy to try it here?

    March 3, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. Fair is Fair

    "Sorry, but Benjamin Franklin did more for this country. It would be a shame to replace Franklin– a renaissance man and one of the founders– for this empty suit."

    Methinks you mean Grant... not Franklin.

    March 3, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  8. joel palmer

    Why not Hoover? he did almost as much damage as Reagan.

    March 3, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. ClintonFan

    Wouldn't it be more appropriate to put his face on the packets of ketchup that they hand out in school cafeterias?

    March 3, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. Wisconsonite - End the Anti-Trust Exemption for Insurance Companies!

    Why? So the Republicans can feel good about themselves???

    March 3, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. qpq

    Might as well put the same clown on the money that started the financial crash and crippled civil rights.

    March 3, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. Jim In Miami

    I think Reagan should go onto the Two-Dollar bill

    March 3, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. Dean

    American Patriot March 3rd, 2010 1:28 pm ET

    Sorry, but Benjamin Franklin did more for this country. It would be a shame to replace Franklin– a renaissance man and one of the founders– for this empty suit.

    I love it how all the liberals in here can't even read the article and get it correct..........Grant is on the $50 not Franklin. I guess the hate over powers facts.

    March 3, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    How nice. Let's REVIEW history:

    Iran-Contra, selling of weapons to two rouge nations.

    Twin Recessions of 1981 & 1982

    Followed by ........ 10% .......UNemployment in 1983!

    Trickle down economics........ awful.

    The Cons like to give Reagan credit for "taking down that wall!" But no...... the People of Eastern Europe and the Russian People did it ..... themselves!

    Go ahead and put Reagan on the $50 bill, that wont change my opinion of the Reagan years......... how many posting were adults back then????

    March 3, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  15. Rich

    NO way, Reagan does not deserve to be on a bill. He was one of more worst Presidents, but the Republicans always praise him

    March 3, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Debi

    The first recession (almost depression) after the "great depression" happened at the end of Reagan's second term.
    That fact in itself should tell you why his face should never be on any American money.
    Maybe the Chinese can honor him. That is where he sent all our jobs.

    March 3, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. Great Northwest

    Regans favorite line. "I don't remember"
    Better idea is stamped on toilet tissue but then who wants to be reminded of him with every swipe.
    Butflushing him down the drain would be the highlight of the day.

    March 3, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. Steve (the real one)

    why would he be placed on any bill? he was a terrible president. his philosophy of borrow and spend is why this country is in the gutter now.
    -------------–
    Philosophy of tax and spend? Reagan was a closet liberal? Talk about learning sometihing new!

    March 3, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. haren

    No way, He was not fan of Government, no need to put his face on government currency.

    March 3, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. Dennis

    I say put him on something more substantial, like Mount Rushmore.

    March 3, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. Doug,lib jersey

    America's best president, the first Carter ruined this country and the new Carter is doing the same. I hope we can find another Reagan to save our nation from these narcissist socialist Chicago thug mobsters.

    Funny how Sarah Palin brought her children out during the convention the same way Obama brought out his kids. Yet, the libs think Sarah gave them a reason to unleash the most evil attack on Palin's family, yet not one American is allowed to utter a single negative word about Obama's family. Truth is the right has too much decency to do that, while almost every lib in America wishes for Palin's family to be killed. Yeah, quite the pacifists!

    March 3, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. Doug,lib jersey

    Obviously every Democrat wants Stalin, Marx or Obama to be on our currency, they'd settle for Wright or Ayers too.

    March 3, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  23. qpq

    Ronald Mc Donald deserves it so much more than this ronald clown reagan.

    March 3, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  24. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    what a totally stupid waste of time and money....

    Reagan was a figurehead with alzheimers

    March 3, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  25. Millie

    With all that's going on in the US, Ecomony, war, unemployement, taxes, a congress without feelings for the people who elected them, JIm Bunning, republician party killing us every day, people needing food and basic care. Our money going overseas, and can't even find a good car today. Is that all Patrick McHenry is concerned about, putting ronald reagan on a fifty dollar bill. Open your eyes man!! that is the least of our concerns. Look at all of this country's problem and you will have less time to think about unimportant things.

    March 3, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
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