What President is on the 5-dollar bill? The $5 bill featuring Abraham Lincoln’s portrait is one of the most recognizable banknotes in circulation today. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, is featured on the front of the modern $5 bill.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at the history of Lincoln on the $5 bill. We’ll cover topics like when Lincoln first started appearing on the currency, the different $5 bill designs over the years, interesting facts about the Lincoln $5 bill, and more.

When Did Abraham Lincoln First Appear on the $5 Bill?

Salmon P. Chase Puts Lincoln on the $1 and $2 Bills

The distinguished appearance of Abraham Lincoln, the revered 16th president of the United States, first graced American paper currency in 1869. This occurred under the direction of Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln’s former Secretary of the Treasury.

Appointed by Lincoln at the start of his first term in 1861, Chase sought to honor the beloved president after his assassination in 1865 by putting his portrait on new federal banknotes.

Specifically, Chase decided to use an engraving of Lincoln from a photograph taken by the famous Civil War photographer Mathew Brady. This familiar image depicting Lincoln’s recognizable beard would come to decorate the new $1 and $2 bills first issued in 1869.

However, Lincoln did not make it onto the higher value $5 bill until a design change two years later.

The 1869 Design With Lincoln on the $5 Bill

The very first $5 bill featuring Abraham Lincoln’s visage premiered in 1871. This was two years after Chase’s original 1st and 2nd issue notes in 1869. The new $5 currency adhered to an 1869 law directing revisions for national banknotes, hence the “1869” printed on the face despite coming out in 1871.

The portrait of Lincoln on the front remained the same image Chase selected in 1869. However, the intricate back design was entirely new. It depicted a vibrant scene at the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. This picturesque engraving appealed widely to the public.

In fact, it proved so popular that the $5 note retained this basic Lincoln obverse and independence reverse design for nearly a whole century from 1871 to 1950 with only slight modifications.

Overview of the Different $5 Bill Designs Over the Years

The 1880 $5 ‘Woodchopper’ Note

The first $5 bill was issued in 1880 during the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes. Nicknamed the “woodchopper” note, it featured a vignette of an early American pioneer family on the front clearing trees to build a homestead. The reverse featured beautiful ornate lathe work.

It was 5-3/4 inches by 2-13/16 inches in size.

The 1886 ‘Silver Certificate’ $5 Bill

In 1886, a new $5 “silver certificate” note was issued which allowed people to trade it in for an equivalent value of silver coins. It featured ornate borders and an image representing “Education instructing Youth” on the front. The back depicted the Great Seal of the United States.

The 1896 ‘Educational Series’ $5 Bill

The famous 1896 “Educational Series” $5 bill depicted a classical scene of an ancient male figure teaching youths on the front. The back featured portraits of Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Phillip Sheridan and a vignette of soldiers in battle. This stunning orange-red-toned bill is a favorite among currency collectors.

The 1914 Federal Reserve $5 ‘Greenback’

After the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, a new $5 Federal Reserve Note was issued in 1914 with green ink and a portrait of President Lincoln on the face, earning it the “greenback” nickname. The reverse featured a beautiful vignette of the Columbus land sighting scene from 1492.

The 1929 Small-Sized $5 Bill

As printing technology improved, the $5 bill was reduced to a more manageable size in 1929 – 60% smaller in length and width than earlier notes! Lincoln remained on the front with the Lincoln Memorial on the back.

Intricate geometric lathe work and fine line engraving filled out the empty spaces with style.

The 1995 Series $5 Bill with Added Security Features

The first major redesign since 1929 happened in 1995 when the $5 underwent an anti-counterfeiting update. Features like microprinting, security thread, color-shifting ink, and watermarks were added while retaining the portraits of Lincoln (front) and Lincoln Memorial (back).

The 2008 ‘Colorful Money’ Series $5 Bill

The most recent $5 bill design debuted in 2008 with splashes of red, blue, and peach fibers embedded on both faces. Nicknamed “colorful money”, this updated look helps currency readers identify key features through color-shifting properties.

Abraham Lincoln remains the sole portrait on the $5 bill front.

Interesting Facts About the Lincoln $5 Bill

Lincoln $5 Bills Are Extremely Common

The $5 bill featuring Abraham Lincoln’s portrait is one of the most commonly circulated paper currencies in the United States. According to the Federal Reserve, there were over 1 billion Lincoln $5 bills in circulation as of 2022, making up around 45% of all US banknotes out there.

The Location of Lincoln’s Portrait Has Changed

While Lincoln has graced the $5 bill since 1929, the location and orientation of his iconic portrait have moved around over the years. Originally, Lincoln was depicted in an oval frame on the right side of the bill in full profile facing left.

However, in the most recent redesign in 2008, Lincoln was shifted to the left side and now faces the center.

The $5 Bill Was the First to Feature “In God We Trust”

The motto “In God We Trust” first began appearing on US paper currency in 1957 during the Cold War era. The very first banknote to premiere the iconic phrase was the $5 bill. The following year in 1958, all denominations of Federal Reserve notes started displaying the motto.

Lincoln $5 Bills Have Been Involved in Notorious Crimes

Due to being one of the most widely circulated banknotes, Lincoln’s $5 bills have also been present in several high-profile robberies and ransom cases throughout history. Most famously, a majority of the $1.2 million ransom paid in the Frank Sinatra Jr. kidnapping in 1963 consisted of $5 bills.

Additionally, the Lincoln $5 is often the currency of choice for convenience stores and bank robberies thanks to its popularity.

The Future of the Lincoln $5 Bill

The distinctive Lincoln $5 bill has become an iconic part of American currency over the years. However, as technology and security features advance, the design and even the existence of the Lincoln $5 face an uncertain future.

Potential Redesign or Makeover

To stay ahead of counterfeiters, the Lincoln $5 bill may see a major redesign in the coming years. Anti-counterfeiting features like 3D security ribbons, color-shifting ink, raised printing, and embedded security threads could be added.

However, there’s debate about whether these high-tech upgrades would diminish Lincoln’s classic portrait.

Switch to Coin instead of Bill

Some experts argue that coins are more cost-effective than paper bills long-term. Based on the 30-year lifespans of $1 and $5 coins, the switch from paper to metal could save the US government around $13.8 billion. So eventually, the Lincoln $5 bill could be swapped for a $5 coin featuring Honest Abe.

Digital Currency Future

In a more extreme scenario, physical currency could be phased out entirely in the coming decades. With cashless options via cryptos, mobile payments, and credit cards accelerating, we may be heading towards a future where dollar bills exist mainly in museum displays.

If this cash-free world comes to pass, it would spell the end of the Lincoln $5, at least in physical form.

While its final chapter is unwritten, the legendary Lincoln $5 bill has certainly left its unique imprint on history thus far. For the sake of tradition and Lincoln’s lasting legacy, many Americans hope it sticks around in circulation for years to come.

What President Is On The 5-Dollar Bill – Conclusion

As one of the most frequently used paper currency denominations, Abraham Lincoln has become a familiar face on the United States $5 bill. We’ve covered the history of Honest Abe on the five spots from his first appearance in 1869 to the present day.

While the Lincoln $5 bill design has gone through numerous changes big and small over the last 150+ years, it doesn’t seem like it will be leaving circulation anytime soon. However, with proposals for redesigns honoring prominent American women, the future of the current Lincoln $5 bill remains uncertain.

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