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. KLK

    May RR rest in peace. That being said, I don't want to see his face ANYWHERE.

    March 3, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. Dean

    How about we put his face at the bottom of every urinal that way he will be remembered for his trickle down economics.

    March 3, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  3. john in binghamton NY

    Republicans have an unhealthy obsession for Reagan. Kind makes you wonder about them. If Reagan were in office to day he would be called a RINO. Even his own kid says Reagan couldn't make it in today's republican party.

    March 3, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  4. Lee Marcus

    Now, here's a revolting development. I know some people would like to canonize Reagan, but what he represents to me is handing the reins of our democracy over to corporations. He's the anti-government poster boy, anti OUR government, elected by the people. He stood against every good and kind and noble thing our nation stood for. Was also anti-science, anti-intelliectual, anti-women, anti-gay. Used racist propaganda to win elections. I can't think of one thing about Reagan that qualifies him for a spot on the penny, let alone a $50 bill.

    March 3, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  5. Rlg

    The money is just fine the way it is. No changes are necessary.

    March 3, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. Bed time for Raygun

    It should be Nancys face,she ran the show into the ground along with the working men and women of our country.

    March 3, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  7. hayden zeke

    I don't want his hair dye getting on my hands.

    March 3, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. mar

    I don't know what is this fascination with president Reagan. He really did not do much for our country.

    March 3, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. if I was crazy, I'd be a conservative too

    Ron should be on the $1 trillion note, as that was close to the debt he left, and "W" should be on the $5 trillion note for his debt.

    March 3, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  10. National Airport

    Are you kidding me?

    Sorry, the nation doesn't want this for the President that spoke out of both sides of his mouth on deficit reduction.

    We let the Republicans attempt to deify Ronald Reagan over the past 8 years. No More

    Oh ... and it's National Airport folks ... always will be ... it is not Reagan Airport ....

    March 3, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  11. Ben in Texas

    Oh, you've got to be kidding me. Reagan remains one of the most hated presidents of all time. He began the fiscal mess we now have and is famous for spending without paying for it, all the while whining hypocritically for a balanced budget amendment. He was involved in numerous scandals, including Iran/Contra. He topped every president up to that time for increasing the national debt. He slept through much of his presidency, which mattered very little, since he hadn't a clue how to be an actual president. I can't tell you how much I personally loathed the man.

    Grant was a drunk and a disgrace. Reagan was a disaster and a massive disgrace. Why not put Nixon on the $1 bill and W on the $5 bill? That would be about as insulting to the American people as Reagan on any piece of money.

    Put his face on a roll of toilet paper instead.

    March 3, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. The Other Michael in Houston

    Heck no. Reagan is the reason why the Taliban gained power, how Sadaam gained power, why greed replaced common sense in American. Heck, Clinton was a way better President than Reagan and I don't think his face should be on any currency. Besides, how much would that cost??? I thought you Republicans believed in spend what you have, well according you, the country is broke (thanks to Reagans policies that his administration created). And Reagan did not end the cold war, the USSR went broke and could no longer afford to play the arms games. To the people of North Carolina, vote this moron out and put somebody in his seat that will actually go to Washinton D.C. and concentrate on his/her job! No matter is that person is Republican or Democrat

    March 3, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. Emma

    Our Congress members get $174,000 per year for this non-priority piece
    of nonsense? Actually Reagan contributed to the mess we are in today.

    March 3, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. john

    I am sorry but this is just stupid. Ended the cold war? that took two countries. Cant have a clean environment as well as a sound free market economy. i cant understand it at all. the air traffic controllers giving us one god awful decade finacially , and shut up wi thcater this went on for years. just ludicirus absolutely awful. i can remember nort even being able to afford a Christmas tree for three yeas and my first morgage of 15% I think they need to just stick it!

    March 3, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  15. jp,michigan

    This has got to be a joke! LOL Next they will want to put Obama on a Dollar bill, because of all the spending he has done while in the oval office , it will only be worth 5 cents.

    March 3, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. Everette Carnes

    Not everyone admired the presidency of Ronald Reagan. He left problems which are still coming to light. I'm not quite old enough to remember President Grant but I assume history has revealed all there is about him. History is still in the process of disclosing the wisdom or lack of wisdom of President Reagan. Let's not rush in!

    March 3, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  17. Emile Zola

    I disagree and I voted for him twice. The people honored this way have to be the best of society during the eras that they were elected officials. According to the media, Ronald Reagan is the most fiscally irresponsible of all times, ergo, he should be in the hall of shame, not on our currency. It's already too devalued to add salt to injury.

    March 3, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. Obama Victim

    american patriot........Franklin in on the $100......you idiot

    March 3, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. Jeff in Houston

    Oh yes. Reagen. The man that started the entire right wing extremeist movement. I don't need a picture of him on the fifty dollar bill to remember him. All I have to do is look around me, watch the news, and observe the world to know I will never, ever forgive this man. His administration signaled the end to anything resembling reason-based, intellectual leadership.

    March 3, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. Obama Victim

    perhaps Obama on the $3 bill........as in phony???

    March 3, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. MARKPAIN

    Maybe this will get people to look at the Reagan`s policies a little closer. I think Bush 41 said something about "voodoo economics"

    March 3, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  22. sara

    Techically the one Who Ruined America! On our currency? You got to be kidding!

    March 3, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. Russ, Benton, AR

    Rep, McHenry must be just about as senile as Reagan was while in office.

    March 3, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  24. sir magneto

    get rid of the guy on the 10 dollar bill instead. Hamilton? who is that guy anyway? put barack on the 1 trillion dollar bill while your at it.

    March 3, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  25. Michael G.

    A note of history to another politician from NC. Mr. Reagan did not defeat the Soviet Union. They went BANKRUPT after 9 years in Afganistan fighting a no win war to secure a buffer zone. Also look at the national debt prior to 1983 and when he left office. Does anyone out there ever read a history book or remember the past. It's all hype and a belief in white lies.

    March 3, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8