US currency has a long history of having famous faces emblazoned on it. People who have made a difference to the nation and who have influenced and affected the world in some kind of way. Of course, you have all the usual suspects on there, such as George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln.
These Faces Might Surprise You
But, there are also more surprising additions, people you would not necessarily expect to find on US banknotes. The United States has such a rich and varied history, and there are so many people who have helped to shape the New World. These are some of the more surprising ones you might not necessarily have thought of.
David Glasgow Farragut
Heard of this guy? Nope, us neither. But he must have been an important character for his face to make it onto the 1890 $100 Treasury Note. So, who is David Glasgow Farragut, and what did he do that was so impressive? Well, he is best remembered as being a flag officer in the US Navy.
He is known for his victory at the Battle of Mobile Bay and is considered something of an icon in the Navy world. He is one of the only US naval officers in history to have the honor of appearing on a postage stamp, as well as, of course, the famed $100 Treasury Note
Thomas Hart Benton
Benton was a Democrat who served in the Senate for an unprecedented five terms. He was a vocal and staunch advocate of the expansion of the continental United States, especially in a Westerly direction. He was nicknamed Old Bullion due to his being a strong advocate for what’s known as hard money.
In many ways, though lesser known, Benton was one of the chief driving forces behind the growth of the US in the 1800s. He was only denied a sixth term in Senate due to new legislation. His legacy has lived on, and he was commemorated with his face on a $100 Gold Certificate, just 12 years after his death
Susan B. Anthony
We know that only two women ever appeared on US paper currency, but other women have made appearances on coins. One of these women was Susan B. Anthony, a woman best known for being a fierce women’s rights activist. She founded the American Equal Rights Association in 1866.
Susan campaigned to abolish slavery and to try to win the right for women to vote. This finally happened nearly a decade and a half after her death. In 1979 she was honored by Congress when her face was included on a new one dollar coin. We think Susan would have been reasonably happy with that.
John Jay Knox, Jr.
John Jay Knox, Jr. was a financier from New York who had a pretty big impact on the banking world. He worked in the Treasury Department and eventually made the position of Comptroller of the Treasury. This was a role that required auditing all accounts and overseeing all financial affairs for the country.
He was also instrumental in the development of a bill that prompted the Coinage Act of 1873. It was basically a way of organizing and codifying currency and contributed to the banking system we have today. It’s probably for this reason that Knox, Jr. appeared on a $100 in 1902.
Samuel Finley Reese Morse
Samuel Morse makes our list because, in spite of his work being a worldwide phenomenon, not many people would necessarily know the name off hand. He is, of course, the gentleman who is responsible for co-creating the Morse code. So you can understand the importance of his work.
In his early years, Morse was a painter, but he invented a telegraph system in his later years, as well as the Morse code. Morse was recognized for his work with his portrait appearing on the back of a $2 Silver Certificate in 1896. Morse is one of the few people to be depicted on paper currency who was not a politician.
DeWitt Clinton is one of the great US politicians, and he served many roles within the government. He worked in the state and US Senate, served as the Governor of New York, and as the Mayor of New York City. His influence can be felt all through the state of New York, even to this day.
One of Clinton’s crowning achievements was the constriction of the Erie Canal that runs through New York City. For his achievements and legacy, a portrait of his likeness was featured on a $1000 bill of legal tender, and this can be viewed on the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s website.
The only woman ever to have been featured on US paper currency is the legendary Martha Washington, First Lady of the United States. You will no doubt be aware that she is the wife of former President George Washington. Even though as of now she’s the only woman to have appeared on paper currency, this looks set to change soon.
Martha made appearances on the $1 silver certificates in 1886, 1891, and 1896. This was unheard of at the time and hasn’t happened since. It looks like the new ground is being broken, with Harriet Tubman set to appear on the new $20 bill, and other women to appear on $5 and $10 bills