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Treasury delays decision after being flooded with ideas for woman on $10

The sheer volume of public feedback on which woman should grace the $10 has delayed the Treasury's decision.
An uncut sheet of the $10 bill is seen. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty)
An uncut sheet of the $10 bill is seen.

Americans eager to find out which woman will be featured on their $10 bills will have to wait until next year, according to a Treasury spokesperson who spoke with CBS News.

The Treasury Department's initial call for public feedback on who should hold the place of honor was cast as a summer-long collection period with a decision expected as early as the fall of 2015. As recently as Dec. 1, U.S. Treasurer Rosie Gumataotao Rios had said that the announcement would come "in the very near future." But it's now clear that "very near future" will not be at least until 2016.

The Treasury's explanation for what is holding up this particular phase of the bill's design is the sheer volume of public feedback. Even with the guidance that the bill's theme is meant to honor the value of democracy, the response has been so overwhelming that more time than was initially expected is being taken for consideration.

RELATED: Take Andrew Jackson off the $20 bill

"As a result of the tremendous amount of engagement, we have many more ideas than we had originally anticipated. Therefore, we are taking additional time to carefully review and consider a range of options to honor the theme of democracy as well as the notable contributions women have made to our country," the Treasury spokesperson explained.

A look at the activity on the #TheNew10 hashtag suggested by the Treasury as one means of public feedback finds that ideas are still being actively submitted, and even being incorporated into school lesson plans. A count a little more than a month after the announcement found more than a million opinions already registered on the matter.

"As the Secretary has said, this process is about more than just one square inch on a bill, and we look forward to sharing the Secretary's decision on currency redesign in the new year," a Treasury spokesperson said.

Even once a woman is selected, the actual design of the bill will likely not be known for several years. While campaigns to put a woman on U.S. currency existed before the Treasury's announcement in June, the impetus for the overhaul of the $10 dollar note has to do with security and counterfeiting, and the Treasury explained that the design and technical components of that objective will take a lot more time. 

"The new 10, which has been years in the making, is set to be unveiled by 2020 — the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote," Treasury Secretary Jack Lew explained in his original announcement.

Alexander Hamilton was put on the $10 note in 1928 over objections that the honor of appearing on U.S. currency should be reserved for former presidents, and though assurances have been made that he will not be removed from the 10 in the new design, the announcement of the change was met with some controversy.

Perhaps most notably, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke wrote of his concern. "Hamilton's demotion is intended to make room to honor a deserving woman on the face of our currency. That's a fine idea, but it shouldn't come at Hamilton's expense," Benanke wrote.

RELATED: Coming soon: A woman's face on the $10 bill

Many activists prefer the idea of putting a woman on the $20 bill, both for the elevation of a woman to a more valuable currency than the $10, but also because former President Andrew Jackson, the bill's current resident big head, does not enjoy the reverence of Hamilton. Jackson is notorious for his implementation of the Indian Removal Act, which led to what is commonly known in American history as the Trail of Tears. 

But the Treasury has made clear that the process is not about suddenly deciding to change faces. The task at hand is to overhaul the $10.

When Treasuerer Rios asked in 2008 why there hadn’t been a woman on a U.S. bill in more than a hundred years, she was told it simply hadn't come up before. The $10 bill's scheduled redesign has been a fruitful opportunity to change that.