United States is one of the last countries in the world to have a bill with as little value as a single dollar. The euro, pound, Canadian and Australian dollars are all in coins, yet the U.S. dollar bill remains, an icon. The U.S. one dollar bill has a long history, dating to 1862. It was not an original part of the U.S. money system, which was launched with $5, $10, and $20 denominations in 1861 in part to finance the Civil War. The $1 came the following year. The portrait on the original $1 bill was of Salmon P. Chase, who was Treasury Secretary at the time, under President Abraham Lincoln (OneDollarBill.org, 2007). It was another year later before the national banking system was established, in which the U.S. government would back the notes. These bills circulated as one monetary system, while another system, the , also existed at the time (Ibid).

While the U.S. one dollar bill was always known as a greenback, the current design of the bill dates to 1963. The size of the note dates to 1929, however, as do many of the design elements. George Washington first appeared on the one dollar bill in 1934. By 1969, the design of the bill was finalized, so that at this point most one dollar bills in circulation bear the same design (Ibid).

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There are controversial design elements as well. In particular, the with the pyramid is seen by some as that do not seem to fit on a national currency. The pyramid and eye could refer to the , whose eye never sleeps, or the eye in the pyramid could reflect the Illuminati, something , given how many Freemasons were involved in the founding of the country (Tolles, n.d.). The eye in the pyramid design, however, is also quite Christian in nature, found in many Catholic churches in Italy and Germany for example, representing God’s watchful eye, so there are many different interpretations of the meaning of this motif.

The future of the one dollar bill is uncertain at this point. There have been attempts to use coins for this denomination in the past. Silver dollars have been commonplace for a long time, and the Sacajawea dollar was the latest significant attempt to replace the bills with coins. Most other countries that have bills of a similar value have already moved to coins for this denomination, for several reasons. The first reason is that coins are cheaper and easier to produce than bills. The second is that coins are less likely to be counterfeited than are bills. Many of the other U.S. notes have undergone design changes in recent years to make them more difficult to counterfeit, and this is something that is likely to happen with the one dollar bill as well.

The Sacajawea dollar coin never really caught on with the American public, and the dollar bill had fended off another challenger. The two dollar bill is considered unlucky by many and was therefore never relevant, and silver dollars were never that popular. Thus, many Americans have resisted attempts to change away from one dollar bills and there have not been any recent attempts to eliminate the dollar bill. There is the possibility, however, that pragmatism will win over and the dollar bill will eventually be replaced with coins. Resistance elsewhere was overcome quite quickly once the changeover occurred. Moreover, dollar bills are used so frequently that they quickly become dirty and dog-eared, and some would say unhealthy as well. Aside from economic reasons, however, there is no compelling reason to do away with the dollar bill. If the American people want a dollar bill instead of a dollar coin, they should have it, since they are the ones whose taxes pay the U.S. Treasury and U.S. Mint. The dollar bill should stay.


OneDollarBill.org (2013). The dollar bill collector. OneDollarBill.org. Retrieved November 4, 2013 from http://www.onedollarbill.org/history.html

Tolles, L. (no date). The history of the dollar bill. University of North Carolina. Retrieved November 4, 2013 from http://www.unc.edu/~ltolles/illuminati/dollar.html