Ronald Reagan on the $50 Bill?

Charles Bryant

Every so often a Republican lawmaker makes a push to get President Ronald Reagan on some kind of U.S. currency. A hero to conservatives, Reagan has been tossed out there to take the place of Hamilton, Jackson and Roosevelt on the $10 and $20 bills and the dime, respectively. None of those efforts made the cut. In fact, the dime proposal was quashed largely because Nancy Reagan publicly opposed the measure.

Things are heating up again with a push led by Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina. This time they have the $50 bill in their sights, and with it the legendary Union Army General and 18th President, Ulysses S. Grant. Part of McHenry's argument hinges on a 2005 Wall St. Journal survey of scholars that ranked Reagan as No. 6 on the list of best presidents, compared to Grant at No. 29.

Grant is remembered in different lights, depending on who you talk to. Some might point to the nearly dozen scandals his administration endured. Others, like the director of the Ulysses S. Grant Association, thinks that scandal aside, Grant was a "beacon of the 19th century" who battled inflation and worked for the rights of freed slaves and Native Americans.

Reagan is what you could call a polarizing president. Conservatives worship the guy for his economic policies. Liberals will point to an administration that was rife with scandal, including:

  • Iran/Contra Affair
  • HUD grant rigging
  • Lobbying scandal
  • EPA scandal
  • Inslaw Affair
  • Savings & Loan Crisis

So there you have it, folks. What do you think? Every presidency has scandals. Are Reagan's too extreme or too recent to warrant such opposition? Should we just leave well enough alone and not make our currency the place to send political messages?

Let's hear from you in the comments.