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Who Are On American Money Of All Time. Photo vnfinance

The presence of money for hundreds of years is a measure of talent, the difference in class of people in capitalist society. People use money as a tool to measure people's achievements and abilities in a hierarchical society. Printing faces on coins and notes can be considered the greatest honor given to outstanding figures. US presidents, financial experts and other famous people are those featured on American money of all time.

History of American money

The history of U.S. currency and the many distinguished individuals that have been featured on them is a long and winding road that perhaps only a numismatist (a person who studies or collects currency) would be willing to travel down.

The United States dollar was created as the official U.S. currency in April 1792. With the country ever-evolving, the general public has taken interest on the people they'd like to see represented on their money. New designs are being considered for U.S. coins and paper bills to represent a wider breadth of historical symbols and figures that have helped define America.

Who Decides the Faces On Every US Bill?

The person with the final say over whose faces are on every U.S. bill is the secretary of the Department of Treasury. But the exact criteria for deciding who appears on our paper currency, save for one glaring detail, are unclear. The Treasury Department says only that it considers "persons whose places in history the American people know well."

The faces on our U.S. bills fit those criteria, mostly. One figure might seem obscure—Salmon P. Chase—but so, too, is the denomination on which he appears: the out-of-print $10,000 bill.

Chase was actually the first person responsible for the design of the nation's paper currency. He was also the father of Kate Chase Sprague, a well-known socialite during Lincoln's presidency who later became embroiled in scandal.

No Living Person's Face Is Allowed

Federal law prohibits any living person's face from appearing on currency. States the Treasury Department: "The law prohibits portraits of living persons from appearing on Government Securities."​

Over the years, rumors spread by email and social media have claimed living former presidents, including Barack Obama, were being considered for inclusion on U.S. bills.

Who are on US bills?

$1: George Washington, first president

Photo qdnd
Photo qdnd

George Washington certainly fits the bill as being among the "persons whose places in history the American people know well," the Treasury department's only known criteria for deciding whose face goes on a U.S. bill.

Washington is the first president of the United States. His face appears on the front of the $1 bill, and there are no plans to change the design. The $1 bill dates back to 1862, and at first, it didn't have Washington on it. Instead, it was Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase whose face appeared on the bill. Washington's face first appeared on the $1 bill in 1869.

READ MORE: Who Was The First President of America: George Washington's Biography, Personal Life, Fun Facts

$2: Thomas Jefferson, third president, drafted the Declaration of Independence

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Photo wallpaper flare

President Thomas Jefferson's face is used on the front of the $2 bill, but that wasn't always the case. The nation's first Treasury secretary, Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, was the first person to appear on the bill, which was first issued by the government in 1862. Jefferson's face was swapped in 1869 and has appeared on the front of the $2 bill since then.

Are $2 Bills Rare?

While not as used as $1 or $5 bills, the $2 bill remained in production through 2017. As of 2020, the Federal Reserve estimated that there were around 1.4 billion $2 bills worth $2.8 billion.

$5: Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president, saved the union

Photo Allnumis
Photo Allnumis

President Abraham Lincoln's face appears on the front of the $5 bill. The bill dates back to 1914 and has always featured the 16th president of the United States, despite being redesigned several times.

$10: Alexander Hamilton, not a president, died in a duel with Aaron Burr

Photo alamy
Photo alamy

Founding Father and former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton's face is on the $10 bill. The first $10 bill issued by the Federal Reserve in 1914 had President Andrew Jackson's face. Hamilton's face was swapped in 1929, and Jackson moved to the $20 bill.

The printing of the $10 bill and larger denominations followed the passage of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, which created the nation’s central bank and authorized the circulation of Federal Reserve Bank Notes as a form of currency in the early 20th century. The Fed's board of governors later issued new notes called Federal Reserve notes, our form of paper currency.

$20: Andrew Jackson, seventh president, old hickory

Photo History
Photo History

Tubman was born Araminta "Minty" Ross in the early 1820s in Dorchester County, Maryland. She was enslaved at a young age and began working the field harvesting flax at age 13.

She escaped when she was around 27 years old, and she returned to Maryland about 13 times to rescue as many as 70 enslaved people through the Underground Railroad, a network of escape routes and safe houses organized by Black and white abolitionists. Abolitionists were those who sought to abolish the institution of slavery, through petitions, boycotts, speeches, literature and some advocated violent means.

Tubman claimed she never lost a passenger.

If she had been caught, she would've faced physical punishment and been sold back into slavery in the Deep South due to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law.

$50: Ulysses S. Grant, eighteenth president, civil war general

Photo wikipedia
Photo wikipedia

According to our friends at the U.S. Currency Education program, the $50 bill has the second longest lifespan out of all the USD denominations; a runner up to the $100.

The US dollar happens to have a very interesting Easter egg on it. When you flip it over, you’ll notice the US Capitol Building, which to anyone not reading this article might seem to be a standard piece of art for our country’s currency.

However, few know the Capitol Building happens to have a monument of Ulysses S. Grant at the base of Capitol Hill. Which, if you stand where this monument is located, you can get a perfect view of the Capitol Building that is identical to the image on the back of the $50.

Most expensive currency

Here we introduce another superlative for our US currency. Where the US $20 won most counterfeited, the US $50 wins the most expensive currency. By this we mean it’s the most expensive currency to create; costing 19.4 cents to have it made. Meanwhile, the $100 only costs 15.5 cents per note. Go figure!

$100: Benjamin Franklin, not a president, flew kites

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Photo biography

Benjamin Franklin's head is featured on the hundred dollar bill, celebrating some of his most important contributions to American history. As of 1969, the $100 bill with Benjamin Franklin is the largest denomination banknote issued in the United States.

Benjamin Franklin's image appears on the largest value bill in circulation in the US today: the $100 bill. Some of the reasons why he is commemorated on the bill include the following.

A Founding Father

Franklin was one of the – if not the – most important founding father in our nation. His work in forging the Declaration of Independence is considered pivotal in the forming of the nation, so it is well-fitting that his likeness be on this important bill.

The $100 bill is not the only currency Benjamin Franklin has appeared on. He appeared on the half dollar between 1948 and 1963. He was also featured on a Civil War token with the famous phrase associated with him, "a penny saved is a penny earned," on the reverse. $500: William McKinley, 25th president, assassinated.

President William McKinley's face appears on the $500 bill, which is no longer in circulation. The $500 bill dates to 1918 when ​Chief Justice John Marshall's face initially appeared on the denomination. The Fed and Treasury discontinued the $500 bill in 1969 for lack of use. It was last printed in 1945, but the Treasury says Americans continue to hold the notes.

McKinley is noteworthy because he is among the few presidents who were assassinated. He died after being shot in 1901.

$1,000: Grover Cleveland, 22nd president

Photo US history
Photo US history

President Grover Cleveland's face appears on the $1,000 bill, which like the $500 bill dates to 1918. Hamilton's face initially appeared on the denomination. The Fed and Treasury discontinued the $1,000 bill in 1969. It was last printed in 1945, but the Treasury says Americans continue to hold the notes.

$5,000: James Madison, fourth president, helped write Federalist Papers

Photo alamy
Photo alamy

James Madison was the fourth U.S. president and is often referred to as the “Father of the Constitution” because of his role in writing America’s founding documents. His portrait has been featured on the 5,000 dollar denominations of multiple series of U.S. notes.

$10,000: Salmon P. Chase, not a president, Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury

Photo aliexpress
Photo aliexpress

Salmon P. Chase, a onetime Treasury secretary, appears on the $10,000 bill, which was first printed in 1918. The Fed and Treasury discontinued the $10,000 bill in 1969. It was last printed in 1945, but the Treasury says Americans continue to hold the notes.

Chase, who served in the Lincoln administration, is perhaps the least known of the faces on U.S. bills. He was politically ambitious, having served as a U.S. senator and governor of Ohio and set his sights on the presidency in 1860. He unsuccessfully sought the Republican Party's nomination that year; Lincoln won and, upon election, tapped his former rival to be Treasury secretary.

$100,000: Woodrow Wilson, 28th president, served during WWI

Photo americanhistory
Photo americanhistory

The $100,000 bill is the highest denomination ever issued by the U.S. Federal Government. Printed in 1934, it was not intended for general use, but instead was used as an accounting device between branches of the Federal Reserve. It is illegal for a private individual to own this banknote.

Who Are On American Coins?

Photo Knohl
Photo Knohl


Currency Name


Obverse Image

Reverse Image (2017)




Abraham Lincoln

Union Shield




Thomas Jefferson





Franklin D. Roosevelt

Torch, oak branch, olive branch




George Washington

America the Beautiful Quarters


Half dollar


John F. Kennedy

Seal of the President of the United States


One dollar coin


Each deceased President

Statue of Liberty

Abraham Lincoln on the Penny

The profile view of Abraham Lincoln first showed up on the front of the one-cent piece in 1909—nearly 120 years after the first U.S. penny was minted, and 44 years after he was assassinated. Lincoln served as our 16th president during the Civil War. He oversaw Union efforts to defeat the Confederacy, and he subsequently pushed for the abolition of slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation.

The first Lincoln penny came out 100 years after he was born. (While Lincoln didn’t live long enough to see his portrait on the penny, he did live long enough to see Congress’s passing of the 13th Amendment, which formally abolished slavery in the United States, on January 31, 1985.)

“A strong feeling had prevailed against using portraits on our coins, but public sentiment stemming from the 100th-anniversary celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birth proved stronger than the long-standing prejudice,” the U.S. Treasury Department notes.

President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned sculptor Victor David Brenner to redesign the penny with Lincoln’s likeness on it. The coin was released to the public in August 1909.

Thomas Jefferson on the Nickel

The likeness of Thomas Jefferson, our third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, debuted on the country’s five-cent coin in 1938. This five-cent coin replaced the Buffalo nickel. The U.S. Mint issued the Jefferson nickel five years before the bicentennial of his birth.

The Treasury Department chose artist Felix Schlag to design the coin. According to, Schlag based his left-facing profile of Jefferson in a period coat and wig on a marble bust sculpted by France’s Jean-Antoine Houdon. The back of the coin initially featured Jefferson’s Virginia home, Monticello.

As noted by the Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia, the 1938 coin was not the first depiction of Jefferson on U.S. currency. In 1869, his likeness appeared on the $2 bill.

Franklin D. Roosevelt on the Dime

The likeness of Franklin D. Roosevelt, our 32nd president, replaced the image of Lady Liberty on the 10-cent coin in 1946. That was a year after FDR died.

FDR served the U.S. during two of our toughest times, the Great Depression and World War II. Accomplishments during his tenure include the New Deal, a series of government reforms designed to help pull the U.S. out of the Great Depression. A key component of the New Deal was the Social Security program.

The artist responsible for the image of FDR on the front of the dime remains a source of controversy. Some credit John Sinnock, the U.S. Mint’s chief engraver from 1925 to 1947. Others credit sculptor Selma Burke.

George Washington on the Quarter-Dollar

A portrait of George Washington, our first president, graces the front of the U.S. 25-cent coin. The U.S. Mint first produced the Washington quarter in 1932 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his birth. According to CoinWeek, sculptor John Flanagan designed the iconic image of Washington.

Washington became president in 1789 after commanding the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and presiding over the Constitutional Convention. The website for Mount Vernon, which was Washington’s Virginia estate, notes that the two-term president “played an essential part in shaping the role and function” of the presidency.

John F. Kennedy on the Half-Dollar

A coin representing John F. Kennedy, the 35th U.S. president, was conceived the day of his assassination, according to the National Museum of American History. JFK was shot to death on Nov. 22, 1963, while riding in a motorcade in Dallas.

Within hours of the assassination, Mint Director Eva Adams spoke with Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts about depicting Kennedy on a coin, the museum reports. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy chose the half-dollar for the denomination of the commemorative coin. Roberts designed the front of the coin, and Assistant Engraver Frank Gasparro designed the back.

The design change required Congress’s authorization, since law did not allow coinage designs to be changed more often than 25 years (and the current half-dollar was only 15 years old).

What U.S. Coins Are No Longer in Circulation?

In addition to discontinued dollar bills, the U.S. mint has also stopped producing certain coins over time as they have lost value or usability. These include:

-half-cent coins, minted from 1793-1857

-two-cent coins (1864-1872)

-three-cent coins (1851-1889)

-half-dimes (1792-1873) [later replaced by nickels]

-twenty-cent coins (1875-1878)

Dollar coins:

-Gold dollar coins (1849-1889)

-Eisenhower dollar (1971-1978)

-Susan B. Anthony dollar (1979-1981)

Presidents dominate the design of paper currency and coins of the United States. Looking at faces on US bills and coins, we can understand the US long history with lots of ups and downs.

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