Who is on the 10 dollar bill? And who is this Mr. Hamilton?

Alexander Hamilton on the $10 dollar bill
Alexander Hamilton on the $10 dollar bill. Photo: Natasha Chebanoo

The $10 bill has featured Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and a key Founding Father, since 1929. He earned this honor due to his crucial role in creating the United States’ financial system and as a primary author of the Federalist Papers. His significant contributions to early U.S. financial policies justify his image on the bill.

Why is Alexander Hamilton on the $10 dollar bill?

  • Alexander Hamilton: First U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and a Founding Father.
  • Financial Architect: Played a crucial role in establishing the U.S. financial system.
  • Non-Presidential Honor: Unique as a non-president on U.S. currency, highlighting his exceptional contribution.
  • Influential Legacy: Key author of the Federalist Papers, shaping the nation’s constitution and policies.
  • Symbol of Economic Foundation: His image on the $10 bill underscores his impact on American economic history.

What else does the 10-dollar bill feature?

The $10 bill blends historical significance and modern security features, each element telling a part of the nation’s story.

Front (Obverse)

  • Portrait: Showcases Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.
  • Symbols: Features two renditions of the Statue of Liberty’s torch and the phrase “We the People.”
  • Design Elements: Intricate patterns and decorative elements surround the portrait and inscriptions.
Alexander Hamilton on the $10 dollar bill
Photo: Sergei Starostin

Back (Reverse)

  • Main Image: Displays the U.S. Treasury Building.
  • Color Scheme: Incorporates subtle shades of orange, yellow, and red.
  • Inscriptions: Includes “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “TEN DOLLARS.”

Security Features

  • Watermark: A faint image of Hamilton, visible on both sides when held to light.
  • Security Thread: Embedded thread to the right of the portrait shows “USA TEN” and a flag, glowing orange under UV light.
  • Color-Shifting Ink: When tilted, the numeral 10 in the lower right corner changes color from copper to green.

Historical Evolution of the $10 Bill

  • Initial Introduction: The U.S. Treasury first issued the $10 bill as a Demand Note in 1861, featuring Abraham Lincoln.
  • Early Changes: The design underwent several updates in the following years. Notably, in 1869, the bill featured Daniel Webster and a vignette of Pocahontas.
  • Design Evolution in the 20th Century: The bill’s design continued to evolve, reflecting changes in printing technology and aesthetics. A significant change in 1929 resized the bill to its current dimensions.
  • Mid-Century Modernizations: In 1950, the bill saw updates in its design elements, enhancing both its look and security features.
  • Later Additions: The motto “In God We Trust” was added in 1963, aligning with other U.S. currency. The same year marked the bill’s transition to a Federal Reserve Note.
  • Current Portrait and Features: Alexander Hamilton’s portrait has been the bill’s focal point since 1929. The latest design, adopted in 2000, includes advanced security features like color-shifting ink and a watermark.
  • Ongoing Evolution: Despite various redesigns and security enhancements, the $10 bill maintains key historical elements, continuing to reflect the nation’s legacy and economic history.