H.L. Mencken once observed that it would have been worth losing the Civil War in order not to have Ulysses S. Grant as president. The reputation of Grant’s presidency, 1869-77, has improved since Mencken’s day, but apparently not enough.
Now there’s a bill introduced in Congress to replace his picture on the $50 bill, a fixture since 1913, with a portrait of Ronald Reagan.
The proposal comes from Patrick T. McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, who said that “President Reagan is indisputably one of the most transformative presidents of the 20th century,” and that in polls of presidential scholars, Reagan consistently outranks Grant, so “President Reagan deserves a place of honor on our nation’s currency.”
And Reagan will get on a coin. In 2007, the U.S. Mint began the “Presidential Dollar Coin Program,” starting with George Washington. After a three-month run, it was John Adams, and so on through the presidents at four per year. Reagan’s turn comes in 2016,
That’s not enough for some boosters, though, especially since the centennial of Reagan’s birth (Feb. 6. 1911) is imminent. We should expect to hear a lot more from Grover Norquist and his Reagan Legacy Project, which wants every state, and indeed every American county, to name a “significant public landmark” after Reagan.
For my county, whose economy was devastated during the Reagan years as it lost population, I proposed re-naming an old limestone quarry — it curtailed production during Reagan’s tenure, with the loss of a couple of dozen good union jobs — as “the Reagan Pit.”
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