Does anyone else remember those $3 joke bills that had Bill Clinton’s face on them?

That got me thinking about presidents and currency. It’s interesting to see whose faces we have bestowed the honor of putting on currency. The most recent president to have a face on currency is FDR, who died over sixty years ago.

It got me thinking: Will we ever have a president who is put on currency again? Considering that partisanship is far from a new concept, it’s hard to believe that we got some faces on there at all. Particularly Lincoln and Roosevelt, neither of whom were universally admired when they got the imprint.

We could theoretically replace one of Washington’s or Jefferson’s two appearances. But have we reached the point where a president will never be admired enough that political opponents won’t block attempts to put a more recent president on currency?

The most obvious candidates would be a two-termer. That would mean Eisenhower, Clinton, Reagan, or our current president (assuming that he serves out his term). Maybe Harry Truman. Eisenhower would be the most likely because he is the least controversial (and we’ve tried before on a dollar coin)… but is he the least controversial because he was a war hero and a moderate or simply because he’s the oldest listed? If it’s only a matter of time, is it possible that Clinton, Reagan, or Bush could eventually be given the honor? It sure seems unlikely.

The biggest obstacle, I think, is that we haven’t had any positive defining moments since World War II. The only exception that comes to mind is the Cold War, which would be a point in Reagan’s favor, but only if he is given at least partial credit and Democrats are unlikely to give him that.

So are we stuck?

(Personally, I think the greatest currency-related travesty is that James K. Polk is not on any currency. America would be an entirely different country if it were not for his run (the same could probably not be said of any president post-FDR). If two 19th century Tennesseans is a bit much, replace the much less consequential Andrew Jackson.)

Category: Coffeehouse

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2 Responses to Currency

  1. Becky says:

    It does seem to tie back to popular opinion, which hasn’t been that positive since JFK and the introduction of TV. The only one that might work is JFK, but I don’t know who he’d knock off unless we create a new bill.

  2. Hit Coffee » Killing The Greenback says:

    […] the face of each dead president on it. It’s a gimmick, but whatever it takes to get James K. Polk’s face on a coin is alright by me.

    « Periodic Pornography
    & […]

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