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Monday, August 17, 2015

The New (upcoming) $10.00 Bill and Esther Hobart Morris. What about Nellie Tayloe Ross

The new $10.00 bill, design yet to be announced, will feature the image of a woman on it for the first time since 1896.  If you've seen this reported, you've probably seen it stated that this will be the first time a woman has been featured on U.S. paper money, or even "U.S. currency", but that's wholly incorrect.  Martha Washington was on the $1.00 silver certificate briefly in the early 1890s, and allegorical women have been on bank notes of various kinds as well, perhaps even after that.  Susan B. Anthony was on the unpopular $1.00 coin from 1979 to 1981, and Sacajawea  has been in the $1.00 coin since 2000, so putting a woman on the $10.00 bill is not quite as novel as some apparently believe.

At any rate, there's a move afoot to have Esther Hobart Morris appear on the $10.00 bill.  Hobart, of course, appears here on several different entries:
February 17
1870  Esther Hobart Morris officially appointed Justice of the Peace. As noted, she was approved for this position several days prior.


 Ester Hobart Morris statute on the Wyoming State Capitol Grounds.
Putting Mrs. Morris on the $10.00 bill would certainly given a serious sober look to our $10.00 bill, given her stern visage, but it's not going to happen.  Not that her 1870 territorial appointment as the first female Justice of the Peace in the United States wasn't a significant event, it was, but her eight difficult months in that role (she wasn't universally accepted by any means) just don't measure up enough in terms of a national presence to merit that sort of memorial, and it won't be happening.  Indeed, it's a bit odd that Wyoming would back this when we consider that the appointment was a very local one, and a Territorial one, as opposed to one that we did as a state.  For a Territorial figure to merit a presence on a $10.00 bill, she'd have to have real national renown.

Which Sacajawea does.  

I've always been a fan of the Sacagawea coin and, heck, maybe I'm just a fan of Sacajawea. But the Shoshone teenager was as tough as nails and representative, I think, of a lot of the things Wyomingites admire. She basically overcame kidnapping, involuntary servitude and the natural environment to rise to a a known figure in our nation.  And she undoubtedly has living relatives in the state to this day. She'd be my choice.

But the best choice would be Nellie Tayloe Ross.


For one thing, Ross has a real chance.  Morris doesn't have a ghost of a chance.

But moreover, Ross is the more significant figure, and we should be proud of her.

Morris is a real figure, and an admirable one, but as noted she was a Territorial figure.  She became Justice of the Peace in Sweetwater County when she applied for it, a Territorial District Court judge approved her application, and it was further approved by the Sweetwater County Commission by the vote of 2 to 1.  All good stuff, to be sure.

But Ross became Governor in 1925 when we elected her to that position. That is, the voters of the state did so.  That's a bigger deal.

And after her term in office was over (she was not re-elected, but then she supported Prohibition and she didn't campaign in either of her Gubernatorial races, and shoot Morris was only JP for eight months at that), she became Director of the United States Mint from 1933 to 1953.  Twenty years.  In other worlds she occupied that position, which is of course associated with currency, throughout the entire Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman administrations.  Her being on the $10.00 bill would not only honor the state, but makes sense.

So, while a shout out to Morris is no doubt merited, how about backing somebody who makes more sense?  Nellie Tayloe Ross

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