It is possible that only a numismatist (a person who studies or collects money) would be willing to walk down the history of American Currency and the many notable people who have been portrayed on them.
In April of 1792, the United States dollar was issued for use as the nation’s primary unit of money. The general population has taken an interest, in light of the fact that the country is always changing, in the individuals whom they would like to have depicted on their money. The designs of U.S. coins and paper notes are now being rethought in order to incorporate a greater variety of significant historical characters and people that have had a role in defining America.
Other potential changes to the nation’s currency include the introduction of gold and silver coins depicting the American bald eagle, as well as images of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Marian Anderson’s 1939 opera concert, and a portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt on the reverse side of the new $5 bill.
The decision regarding the new face of the $20 bill will not be made until 2028. In the meantime, a portrait of Harriet Tubman will replace the current one In addition, the Treasury Department stated that suffragists Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, and Susan B. Anthony will likely be included on the back side of the new ten dollar note.
We have compiled a list of the persons and distinctive traits that symbolize our United States money as of 2019 — from the penny to the hundred dollar note — regardless of whether any or all of these proposed changes are implemented.
Penny – Abraham Lincoln
In 1909, production of the Lincoln penny began so that it could be distributed worldwide in celebration of the 100th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth. It was the first currency to display a picture, and it was also the first issue to carry the phrase “In God We Trust.” The design of the coin was done by Victor David Brenner. On the other side of the coin, the denomination and the words “United States of America” are separated by two wheat heads. The Latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum,” which literally translates to “One out of many,” is located on top of the wheat heads. On coins, the picture of Abraham Lincoln is the only one of the presidents to be oriented to the right, but there is no special explanation for this.
Nickel – Thomas Jefferson
The United States Mint ran a contest in which participants had to design a coin to replace the Buffalo Nickel. The winning entry was created by Felix Schlag, and the Jefferson Nickel was first minted in 1938. From the moment it was first struck, right up until the present day, it has been one of the most widely used coins in circulation. The obverse side of the coin features a portrait of Thomas Jefferson along with the inscriptions “In God We Trust” and “Liberty.” The reverse side of the coin features a portrait of Jefferson’s Monticello plantation along with the inscriptions “E Pluribus Unum,” “United States of America,” and “Monticello,” among other distinguishing characteristics.
Dime – Franklin D. Roosevelt
With the demise of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1945, the Mercury dime, which had been in circulation since 1916, was promptly replaced with the Roosevelt dime, which was quickly secured and produced the next year. But despite the fact that Roosevelt guided the country through the Great Depression and the majority of World War II, the Roosevelt dime was actually issued in his honor in order to raise awareness and funds for the fight against polio. Roosevelt was diagnosed with the disease in 1921, which was the same year that the March of Dimes was established. For the Roosevelt dime, which Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock was responsible for designing, the president’s picture was placed to the left of the term “Liberty,” while “In God, We Trust” was placed below the portrait. On the opposite side, there is an image of a torch representing independence that is flanked by olive and oak branches, which represent peace and triumph, respectively. The motto “E Pluribus Unum” may be seen on the back of this.
Quarter – George Washington
In honor of the first President of the United States, who would have turned 200 years old that year, the Washington quarter dollar was struck in 1932. The bicentennial committee’s initial plan was to have a temporary Washington half-dollar issued in place of the Walking Liberty half-dollar. However, once Congress became involved, the bicentennial committee abandoned those plans in favor of requesting that the Washington quarter permanently replace the Standing Liberty quarter. Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon was finally successful in getting his way and selecting the design of sculptor John Flanagan for Washington’s portrait, despite the fact that the committee favored the design created by sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser.
The phrase “United States of America” is displayed over George Washington’s picture on the reverse side of the coin, while the value is indicated below the portrait. The phrase “Liberty” may be seen to the left of the eagle, while “In God, We Trust” can be found to the right. The America the Beautiful Quarters series has been displayed on the reverse side of U.S. quarters since 1999. This series honors each of the 50 states, as well as National Park locations and other U.S. authorities.
$1 Coin – Sacagawea
The Sacagawea dollar coin, which first went into circulation in 2000 and was designed by Glenna Goodacre, depicts the Native American woman carrying her baby son, Jean Baptiste, and was issued by the United States. The image of a soaring American bald eagle may be found on the reverse side of the coin, which was created by Thomas D. Rogers, Sr. In spite of the fact that it was coined as a “Golden Dollar,” the dollar coin does not really have any of the precious metal in its composition.
$1 Bill – George Washington
Currency in the United States did not become standardized for the sake of the nation’s economic security until 1913 when the Federal Reserve Act was passed. By that point, the majority of the design elements of the $1 note, including its color, borders, and phraseology, were already established, since they had been in use for a considerable amount of time. On the obverse of the United States dollar bill, which is one of the oldest designs of United States currency that is still in use today, there is a portrait of George Washington that is based on Gilbert Stuart’s Athenaeum Portrait. On the reverse, there is a depiction of the Great Seal of the United States. The design of the former was first shown in 1963, but the latter dates all the way back to 1935 and was utilized largely for the purpose of protecting against counterfeits. While the $1 note was transitioning from being produced as a Silver Certificate to an official Federal Reserve Note, this front and back design was the one that was utilized.
$5 Bill – Abraham Lincoln
Before Abraham Lincoln’s picture made its initial appearance on the $5 note for the first time in 1914, seven different figures, ranging from Alexander Hamilton and Chief Onepapa to James Garfield, had previously gained a temporary seat on the currency. From the year 1928, Abraham Lincoln has been shown on the obverse of the bill, while the Lincoln Monument has been featured on the reverse. The most recent illustration of Abraham Lincoln on the note is modeled off a picture of the president painted by Mathew Brady in 1864. The redesigned, high-tech version of the five-dollar note was introduced in 2008. The redesigned front has a band of stars, the color purple, an imprint of The Great Seal of the United States to the right of Abraham Lincoln’s visage, and an impression of The Great Seal of the United States. The most noticeable of its security measures may be seen on the reverse side, where there is a large, strong “5” watermark in the bottom right corner. There is also a scattering of yellow 5s in the top right corner.
$10 Bill – Alexander Hamilton
Before the renowned face of Alexander Hamilton was placed on the ten-dollar note, a number of other important personalities had previously been featured on the currency. These figures include the statesman Daniel Webster, the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, and President Andrew Jackson. But, beginning in 1929, Alexander Hamilton began to be seen as the ideal politician. The imprinted portrait of Hamilton that is commonly seen today is modeled from a painting that John Trumbull completed in 1805. Hamilton, who served as the nation’s first Treasury Secretary, is one of only two non-presidents to have their portraits printed on United States paper currency (the other is Benjamin Franklin).
One side of the coin contains a picture of Alexander Hamilton, while the other side features the United States Treasury Building. Even though a great deal of new technology, such as watermarks and color-shifting ink, has been added to the $10 bill, the most significant announcement came in 2015, when it was announced that a female figure would replace Hamilton as the new face of the denomination in 2020. This change is expected to take place. In spite of this, the government changed its mind and decided to keep Hamilton on the bill because of how successful the show Hamilton has been on Broadway.
$20 Bill – Andrew Jackson
In light of the fact that President Andrew Jackson advocated for the elimination of paper currency, the fact that his image appears on the twenty dollar note (or any bill, for that matter) would have struck him as extremely comical. While his image is featured on the front of the currency, which also features watermarks and colors of green and peach, the White House is shown on the reverse side of the bill. It was reported in 2016 that Harriet Tubman will replace Jackson as the new face of the $20 note beginning in the year 2020. However, in 2018, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin indicated that the decision would be deferred until the year 2028 due to concerns over security. The Biden administration made a statement in January 2021 stating that it is “exploring methods to speed up” the delivery of the Tubman $20 bill.
$50 Bill – Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant, a hero of the American Civil War and the 18th President of the United States, has been on the fifty-dollar note since 1913. Although many people are curious about why Grant was selected to appear on this specific denomination of currency, no one actually knows the answer to this question.
The United States Capitol is depicted on the reverse side of the picture of Ulysses S. Grant. Earlier versions of the photograph had views of Panama, a merchant ship, and a warship. Blue and red hues have been added to both sides of the note, and there are microprinted inscriptions such as “Fifty” and “USA” that surround Grant’s visage on both sides of the dollar. There is also a watermark of the American flag to the right of Grant.
$100 Bill – Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was a founding father, inventor, and diplomat; nevertheless, he did not serve in the role of president of the United States of America. Even yet, Franklin, along with Hamilton, was able to adorn one of the most coveted faiths despite never having reached the highest office in the land, and this began in 1914. Following extensive remodeling in 2009, the portrait of Benjamin Franklin may now be found to the left of an inkwell, quill pen, and a copy of the Declaration of Independence. Furthermore, holographic watermarks and black-light technologies have been included. On the other side of the coin is a picture of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, which is notable for being the first structure located outside of Washington, DC to appear on any denomination of currency.