I was looking for information on US currency (see my rant on the dollar bill at my personal blog if you are interested in why) and found a fun fact worth sharing here:
Martha Washington is the only woman whose portrait has appeared on a U.S. currency note. It appeared on the face of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1886 and 1891, and the back of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1896. (From the Bureau of Engraving and Printing)
While there have been women on the various US coins, our paper money is completely male and mostly Presidents. The current portraits were all chosen in 1928 and have not been changed since even with the secruity upgrades that began in 1996 to prevent counterfeiting.
It is interesting to see who were the chosen few who made US banknotes (I actually knew all these, but the information can be verified at the link provided below for the larger denominations if you wish):
1 dollar: Washington
2 dollar: Jefferson
5 dollar: Lincoln
10 dollar: Hamilton (non-President)
20 dollar: Jackson
50 dollar: Grant
100 dollar: Franklin (non-President)
There were also some larger denominations that were produced at certain times (but are no longer printed):
500 dollar: McKinley
1000 dollar: Cleveland
5000 dollar: Madison
10,000 dollar: Salmon P. Chase (I provided this link in case you don't know who Chase is)
100,000 dollar: Wilson (this was never circulated in the general public)
It makes you wonder why these Presidents (and three others) made the current cut while others didn't (the US Treasury doesn't provide an answer on this either).
So let's discuss! Some are to be expected: Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson. Alexander Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury and Salmon Chase was also very important in the Treasury Department's history so this also makes a lot of sense - they are important in the history of currency so they should get a place on its front. Andrew Jackson had the big "bank war" that could be a reason...that could be interesting to discuss though. Some of the others really make you think: Why Ulysses Grant? Or Grover Cleveland? Who wants to defend these portraits? Anyone got a recommendation of who SHOULD be on our national currency? I personally think Franklin Roosevelt should get a place (although since our current portraits were decided in 1928, I think its clear why he didn't make it).
[NOTE: The reason why portraits probably have not, nor will be changed anytime soon, is that is how many bank workers are trained to find counterfeits - by the portrait/denomination combination. I'm not actually suggesting that we change them - I just want to discuss why these Presidents made it over others and who else could be considered for inclusion.]