April 1, 2010 by EVE · Comments Off
Published on April 1, 2010 in the News Democrat:
Local historic preservation groups and a few government officials are speaking out against a recent proposal by North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry to replace Grant’s face with Reagan’s image on the $50.
“Every generation needs its heroes,” McHenry said in a public news release announcing the proposed legislation. “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.”
President Franklin Roosevelt’s face appears on the 10 cent piece and President John F. Kennedy’s image is on the half-dollar coin.
In Grant’s early stomping grounds across southern Ohio, however, supporters of the Union General and 18th president think the $50 is fine just the way it is. The Brown County Commissioners have approved a resolution opposing the change and Commissioners in Clermont County, where Grant was born, are expected to do the same this week. A Joint resolution requesting that Grant remain on the $50 will be sent on behalf of both counties to lawmakers, according to Commissioner Margery Paeltz.
“I just don’t know why they would want to (replace Grant’s image),” said Commissioner Margery Paeltz.
Stan Purdy, with the U.S. Grant Homestead Association, thinks the proposition to remove grant is silly, particularly at a time when the country is facing so many more-pressing issues.
“I don’t know why anybody would want to bring that up when we have so many more important things going on,” Purdy said.
Anyway, Purdy and many other supporters of Grant think the $50 is fine just as it is. After all, Purdy said Grant was one of the earliest presidents to champion civil rights and, through his work during the Reconstruction, helped to fulfil promises made by Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
Historians cannot dispute that Grant was an important political figure in the history of the United States of America. He led Union troops in the Civil War and accepted Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Va. in 1865, effectively ending the four-year conflict.
Grant was later served two terms as President, from 1869 to 1877.
Even though Reagan was a “fine President,” Purdy said that in many ways Grant is considered to have been as important to the nation’s development as George Washington or Lincoln, Purdy said.
One positive aspect of the debate over the $50 is that is provides more opportunities for people to learn about the life and actions of Grant, Purdy said.
Several major news outlets, from the New York Times to CNN, have reported on the legislation proposal.
Several historic sites throughout Southern Ohio commemorate Grant’s contributions to American history, including his birthplace in Point Pleasant and Grant’s boyhood home and one of his early school buildings in Georgetown.
The US Grant Celebration is held annually in Georgetown on the fourth week of April, featuring interactive historical exhibits and reenactments of Civil War-related events and customs.
McHenry, however, believes that Reagan is deserving of recognition on U.S. currency as well.
“President Reagan was a modern day statesman, whose presidency transformed our nation’s political and economic thinking,” McHenry said. “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 also stated that Reagan consistently outranks Grant is polls of Presidential scholars.
Reagan, who would have turned 99 this year, served two terms as President from 1981 to 1989. He had previously served as Governor of California and was a well-known actor and spokesman for General Electric.
Both Reagan and Grant were Republicans, as is McHenry.