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This Day In Market History: The First Ever US Dollar Bill Is Issued

This Day In Market History: The First Ever US Dollar Bill Is Issued

Each day, Benzinga takes a look back at a notable market-related moment that occurred on this date.

What Happened? On this day in 1861, the U.S. Government issued the first U.S. dollar bills.

Where The Market Was: The U.S. dollar predates the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500.

What Else Was Going On In The World? In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln declared slavery unlawful in the U.S. Inventor Elisha Otis patented his design for a steam-powered elevator. A pound of fresh pork cost 11 cents.

The Dollar Bill Is Born: The United States dollar dates all the way back to 1792, but the dollar was in coin form until the creation of the first dollar bills in 1861.

When the U.S. government needed money to finance the Civil War, it turned away from coins and began printing $5, $10 and $20 bills in 1861. The bills were nicknamed “greenbacks” due to their green-tinted appearance. The first batch of dollar bills was ill-received by the public, which was skeptical of the value of paper money.

A year after the first batch of bills, the government began printing the first batch of $1 bills as well. Today, Americans recognize George Washington’s portrait on the front of the $1 bill, but the first ever U.S. dollar featured a portrait of Abraham Lincoln’s Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase.

Image credit: National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History


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