Image of Benjamin franklin on US cash Why Are Presidents On Money?

Why Are Presidents On Money?

If you live in the United States, you’ve probably wondered at least once why dead presidents are on our currency. This is part of a life-long tradition in which we have honored important people in our history by giving them a place on our currency. 

Even if that’s the case, several questions still need to be answered. Why aren’t any living presidents on American currency?

Has there ever been a living person on a coin or dollar bill? How did this tradition start?

Well, this article is meant to answer all of these questions and help you understand better why some of our most famous presidents have been immortalized on American money.

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Why Are Dead Presidents on American Currency?

This is a tradition that we have integrated into our culture, but back in the day, it was considered an insult to “honor” living people by putting them into currency. This is why even George Washington said no after being offered to put his image on the first silver dollar. 

Instead, coins with Lady Liberty and The American Eagle were minted as the nation’s official currency. But as time has gone on and presidents have passed, their likeness can now be found on US currency.

First President on a U.S. Coin

The first president to ever be featured on a U.S. coin was Abraham Lincoln in 1909, 100 years after his birth. It was called “The Lincoln Cent,” and it was supposed to commemorate the life of this famous American president.

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of America. He led the country through the Civil War and helped to defeat the Confederacy.

However, he is most remembered for advocating for the abolition of slavery during his entire political career.

Only Dead People Can Appear on U.S. Currency

It is written in our federal law that only people who have been dead for at least two years can appear in our currency, which is why it is nearly impossible to find a living person who has been featured on our official coinage. Nonetheless, it isn’t impossible, as Congress can issue a law to make an exception.

The United State’s first coin was minted in 1793, but it might be surprising to hear that the first people to be featured on our currency weren’t even Americans. In 1892 the state minted coins with the faces of Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain to honor the 400th anniversary of America’s discovery.

Still, you don’t have to be a president to be featured on a coin, as historical figures have also had the honor to be on the official currency. Some of these people have been Susan B. Anthony, Caesar Rodney, Hellen Keller, Sacajawea, and many more.

What Presidents Are on Currency and Why?

Moreover, there are several presidents who have had their faces featured on our currency, but do you know why they were chosen to be there? Keep reading and learn about some of the most popular presidents in coins.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, was immortalized on the five-cent coin, commonly called the “Jefferson Nickel.”

This coin was created five years before the 200th anniversary of his death, and it was designed by the artist Felix Schlag. However, it wasn’t the first time he appeared on American currency, as he had previously been on the $2 bill back in 1869.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt replaced Lady Liberty on the 10-cent coin only a year after his death. However, our 32nd president had an admirable history, which explains why Congress made this decision.

He led America throughout the Great Depression and World War II. His leadership helped the country rise from the critical economic depression and grow into one of the most powerful countries in the world.

It is unsure who made the art for this coin, as some people believe it was John Sinnock, but others credit Selma Burke.

George Washington

You can see the face of George Washington on any U.S. 25-cent coin. Although our first president refused to take this honor while he was still alive, in 1932, during his 200th birthday, John Flanagan was hired to sculpt his image, and soon after, it was turned into the coin we know today.

Washington commanded the Continental Army and led his soldier to victory during the Revolutionary War. Soon after, he became the first constitutional president of the United States. Many people affirm he shaped the presidency as we know it nowadays.

John F. Kennedy

Due to his tragic story, it isn’t shocking to tell you that John F. Kennedy also has his own coin within American currency. The 35th American president was assassinated on November 22nd of 1963, and a few hours later, Eva Adams and Gilroy Roberts decided to create a coin in his honor.

However, it took about a month to get the new design approved, as Jacqueline Kennedy had chosen the half dollar, which was 15 years old at the time, but coins could only be changed every 25 years. Finally, the Kennedy coin was officially minted in 1964.

American history is always going to remember JFK, as he was the youngest person to ever be elected president. Within his short three years serving the country, he launched several legislations that wished to support civil rights and make America a better place.

His assassination immortalized him as one of the most heroic figures in American history, and to this day, he remains in the hearts of citizens all over the country.

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan doesn’t only have one coin with his face. He has the Ronald Reagan Coin & Chronicles Set, which includes three unique coins and a booklet that displays his incredible life.

He was the 40th president of the United States, and he led the country from 1981 to 1989. One of his most highlighted achievements was ending the Cold War, which is why so many people remember him as an extraordinary president.

Bottom Line

Now you know everything about why presidents are in American money and many other fun facts about this country’s history. Not every president is featured on currency but the ones who are have had some of the greatest impacts in American history.

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