What Presidents Are on the American Currency?

By Skip Davis
Adam Gault/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Many of the bills and coins in the United States currency system bear images of former presidents. All the presidents on the U.S. bills and coins have passed away. On dollar bills, the president's portraits are placed on the obverse side of the bill, while most coins feature profiles of presidents' faces.

George Washington

George Washington was the first president of the United States and served as the nation's president from 1789 to 1797. This former president gained notoriety by leading the Continental Congress Army to victory over the British forces in the American Revolutionary War. Washington first appeared on the nation's currency when his portrait was placed on the one-dollar bill in 1869. In 1932, his profile was set one side of the quarter.

Abraham Lincoln

The United States' 16th president, Abraham Lincoln served in the Oval Office from 1861 to his untimely death in 1865. Lincoln's career highlights include the Emancipation Proclamation -- a decree that freed all slaves in the United States -- and U.S. victory in the American Civil War. In 1909, President Lincoln first appeared on the U.S. penny. The first portrait of Lincoln on the five-dollar bill appeared in 1923. He has been on the one-cent coin and five-dollar bill ever since their inceptions.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States, serving from 1801 to 1809. Jefferson was responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, which doubled the size of the United States. The president's first appearance on U.S. currency was in 1938, when Jefferson's profile was placed on the five-cent coin, or the nickel. To celebrate the United States' bicentennial birthday, Jefferson's portrait was used for the new two-dollar bill, one of the rarest dollar bills in the U.S. currency system.

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th U.S. president; his tenure ran from 1869 through 1877. Grant rose to fame as a Union general during the American Civil War. The former president was responsible for Union success in the Vicksburg Campaign. Grant's first and only appearance in the U.S. currency system was in 1929, when his portrait was set on the obverse side of the 50-dollar bill.

Andrew Jackson

As the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson was in office from 1829 through 1837. Before taking office, Jackson was a general who led the United States to victories over the British in the War of 1812 and Creek Native American tribe in the Creek War. The nickname given to Jackson was "Old Hickory." The nation's seventh president has been on the obverse side of the 20-dollar bill since 1928.

John F. Kennedy

The 35th president of the United States was John F. Kennedy, also known as JFK. JFK served as a commander during World War II. During his presidency, JFK led initiatives to develop the U.S. space program and the civil rights movement. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, three years into his term. In 1964, the U.S. mint began printing half-dollar coins with the profile of JFK.

About the Author

Skip Davis has been writing professionally since 2005. His work has appeared in "Southern Literary Magazine," on various websites and in graphic panels at the Jackson Zoological Park in Jackson, Miss. Currently living in Southern California, Davis received his Bachelor of Arts in theater at Belhaven College.