Put Reagan on the Dime?

Roundup: Talking About History

Bill Adair, in the St. Petersburg Times (June 14, 2004):

After a week of tributes and eulogies to President Ronald Reagan, his admirers plan to move quickly with a proposal to put his face on coins or currency.

Putting Reagan on the $10 or $20 bill has the strongest backing right now. But that could prompt an unusual battle pitting Reaganites against supporters of Andrew Jackson, the populist president on the $20, or against the fans of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father on the $10 who has had a resurgence in popularity.

On Capitol Hill last week, there were discussions of dollar-bill musical chairs: Reagan to the $10, Hamilton to the $50, while Ulysses Grant, the face on the $50, would be eliminated. That approach is based on the belief that Grant doesn't have as much lobbying clout in the nation's capital as Jackson or Hamilton.

Others would like Reagan on a coin.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Chumuckla, introduced a bill to put him on the half-dollar, although Reagan would displace John F. Kennedy, a move that might prompt an outcry from Democrats.

And then there's a compromise approach: put Reagan on half the dimes, leaving Franklin Roosevelt on the other half.

No matter what strategy congressional leaders choose, it's likely they will move quickly to take advantage of the warm feelings about Reagan prompted by last week's funerals and televised tributes.

"There's a lot of momentum to do something like this," said Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Melbourne, a co-sponsor of one of the dime proposals.

Supporters say Reagan deserves the honor because of his accomplishments battling communism and keeping peace in the world.

Miller said Reagan "won the Cold War without (firing) a shot" and "was truly the original compassionate conservative."

Grover Norquist, the chairman of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, which promotes tributes and memorials to Reagan, calls him "the greatest president of the 20th century."

But some people balk at the idea of honoring him so quickly and say there already are many buildings and roads honoring him.

"I think it's premature, this rush to put his face on everything," said historian Robert Dallek. "I think you really need to allow 25 or 50 or even 100 years go by."...

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