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List of people on United States banknotes

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Dec 17, 2021

Individual portraits of 53 people central to the history of the United States are depicted on the country’s banknotes[1][nb 1] including presidents, cabinet members, members of Congress, Founding Fathers, jurists, and military leaders. The Secretary of the Treasury was given broad latitude by Congress in 1862 to supervise the design, printing, and issue of banknotes.[nb 2][4] The Secretary, with input from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, has final approval over the design of banknotes.[nb 3]

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The redesign of U.S. banknotes in 1922 prompted the Treasury Department to review the portraits on banknotes and conclude that “portraits of Presidents of the United States have a more permanent familiarity in the minds of the public than any others.”[6] Exceptions were made for Alexander Hamilton, Salmon Chase, and Benjamin Franklin. There have been no changes in the people depicted on currency intended for the general public since 1928; when Woodrow Wilson was depicted on the 1934 $100,000 gold certificate, the note was only for internal Treasury and Federal Reserve Bank use.

Five people have been depicted on U.S. currency during their lifetime, with each of those depictions occurring during the American Civil War. Abraham Lincoln was portrayed on the 1861 $10 Demand Note; Salmon Chase, Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury, approved his own portrait for the 1862 $1 Legal Tender Note; Winfield Scott was depicted on Interest Bearing Notes during the early 1860s; and Francis Spinner and Spencer Clark both approved the use of their own image on fractional currency. In 1873, driven in large part by the actions of Spinner and Clark, Congress prohibited the use of portraits of living people on any U.S. bond, security, note, or fractional or postal currency.[7]

. . . List of people on United States banknotes . . .

Many of the 53 individuals were depicted on more than one note of a series or denomination. In the description of the banknotes, the date in parentheses indicates the individual’s first appearance on a given note type and denomination. When multiple banknotes are listed, the order, though seeming random, is in accordance with the Friedberg Number,[1] in ascending Friedberg order.[nb 4][nb 5] The engraved portraits are from a virtual exhibit of bank notes[9] which are part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.

Key to banknote type abbreviations
Abbr Note type Note size
DN Demand Note Large
LT Legal Tender Large
CITN Compound Interest Treasury Note Exception
IBN Interest Bearing Note Exception
RC Refunding Certificate Exception
SC Silver Certificate Large
TN Treasury Note Large
NBN National Bank Note Large
FRBN Federal Reserve Bank Note Large
FRN Federal Reserve Note Large
GC Gold Certificate Large
SSN Small Size Banknote Small

. . . List of people on United States banknotes . . .

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. . . List of people on United States banknotes . . .