While Presidents’ Day began as a way for Americans to honor the first President of the United States, George Washington, this holiday has morphed into a celebration of all of our nation’s presidential leaders. Past presidents are honored with memorials, museums, and libraries, but one of the biggest tributes is the one that is often overlooked: our presidential currency.
Whether it’s coins or bills, some of our nation’s finest leaders have earned a place on our U.S. currency. President Ulysses S. Grant, a Civil War hero that led the Union Armies, is enshrined on the $50 bill. And William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, is featured on the $500 bill.
Listed below are a few more presidential currency examples.
- George Washington. George Washington was a much beloved public figure and a fearsome leader in the American Revolution. In recognition of our nation’s hero, George Washington’s likeness was printed on the $1 bill and minted on the quarter. The first quarters were made in 1796 and featured Lady Liberty and an eagle, but on 1932, the Washington quarter was created in honor of the 200th anniversary of his birth.
- Abraham Lincoln. Our 16th president is forever immortalized for his Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves within the Confederacy. His likeness is enshrined on the $5 bill and the penny. The Lincoln penny was first released in 1909 to mark the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (this was the first time a portrait coin was regularly in circulation). The penny is unique among the U.S. coins. It is known for its copper appearance, although the coins produced today are 97.6 percent zinc and 2.4 percent copper.
- Thomas Jefferson. Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, was a Founding Father, an instrumental author of the Declaration of Independence, and the leader of the Louisiana Purchase. For his great contributions, this president is featured on both the nickel and the $2 bill. You don’t see a lot of $2 bills nowadays, but as of April 2007, there is over $1.5 billion worth still in circulation worldwide.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt. The only president to be elected four times, Franklin D. Roosevelt was our 32nd president who led the country through both the Great Depression and World War II. In 1946, a new dime was struck in his honor. The dime, the smallest and thinnest coin in use today, originally featured a portrait of Lady Liberty (just like the quarter), but on January 30, 1946, new coins were released in honor of deceased Roosevelt’s birthday.