Who is on the 2 dollar bill? And why?

US two dollar bill
Photo: Shutterstock

Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. President, has been on the $2 bill since 1869. He earned this honor as a Founding Father and the main author of the Declaration of Independence, reflecting his vital role in shaping American history.

Why is Thomas Jefferson on the $2 dollar bill?

  • Thomas Jefferson: Third President of the United States.
  • Founding Father: Key architect of American democracy.
  • Authorship: Main writer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Historical Impact: His leadership and ideas significantly shaped the nation.
  • On $2 Bill Since 1869: Recognized for his fundamental role in U.S. history.

What else does the 2-dollar bill feature?

The $2 bill, with its unique attributes and design elements, tells an important part of American history.

Front (Obverse)

  • Portrait: Displays Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. President.
  • Historical Significance: Reflects Jefferson’s role as a key figure in American independence.
  • Design Details: Includes intricate engravings and ornamental patterns around Jefferson’s image.

Back (Reverse)

  • Main Image: Features John Trumbull’s painting “Declaration of Independence.”
  • Artistic Representation: Captures a pivotal moment in American history, though not all figures from the original painting are included due to space constraints.
  • Inscriptions: “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “TWO DOLLARS” prominently displayed.

Security Features

  • Watermark: None, as it is a unique denomination with distinct usage.
  • Security Thread: Not present in the $2 bill, distinguishing it from higher denominations.
  • Color Scheme: Primarily green, maintaining the traditional look of U.S. currency.

Historical Evolution of the $2 Bill

  • Initial Issue: The U.S. Treasury first released the $2 bill in 1862 as a Legal Tender Note with Alexander Hamilton’s portrait.
  • Jefferson’s Debut: In 1869, Thomas Jefferson’s portrait replaced Hamilton’s, honoring his role as a Founding Father.
  • Design Evolution: The bill saw several redesigns over the years, notably adding Jefferson’s Monticello on the reverse in 1928.
  • Bicentennial Redesign: The 1976 redesign for the U.S. Bicentennial introduced John Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence” on the reverse.
  • Rarity and Perception: Banking policies and public habits have led to the $2 bill’s rarity in circulation, fueling urban legends about its value.
  • Ongoing Production: Despite its infrequent use, the $2 bill remains an active denomination without plans for redesign, preserving its unique status in U.S. currency.
  • Common Misconceptions: The $2 bill, often hoarded and not widely used in transactions, is mistakenly believed by many to be out of print or more valuable than its face value.