Today, the United States Treasury Department only prints the $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills which are in wide circulation around the world. But, there used to be more currency, larger bills that were used in America. Not only did the U.S. government use to issue the $2 bill, but the Treasury Department also printed the $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 bills. There was even a $100,000 gold certificate that was used in the 1930’s.
The $500 bill featured a portrait of William McKinley, the $1,000 bill featured Grover Cleveland, the $5,000 bill pictured James Madison, the $10,000 bill featured a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, and the $100,000 gold certificate had a picture of Woodrow Wilson on its face. Salmon P. Chase was the Chief Justice of the United States from 1864-1873. Chase played a large role in designing the first U.S. notes. Chase’s face appears on the $10,000 bill printed from 1928 to 1946 in order to honor the man who introduced the modern system of banknotes.
The bills are still technically legal tender in the United States despite the high value bills last being printed in 1945. On July 14, 1969, the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve System announced that currency notes in denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 would be discontinued immediately due to lack of use.
These large bills were primarily used by banks and the Federal Government for large financial transactions amongst itself and other banks. The introduction of electronic banking and removing America’s currency from the Gold Standard has made large-scale cash transactions obsolete. Counterfeiting, illegal drugs, and organized crime have also persuaded the U.S. government to stop printing the large bills.
So, my thinking is that maybe we need to bring these large bills out of the closet and back into our American wallets. More people than ever before have needlessly abandoned the safety of their bank accounts despite FDIC insurance coverage on their deposits. The financial turmoil of the economy has a lot of people spooked. I get questions everyday from people about whether their bank accounts are safe or if they should pull their investments out of the market. I think that there is a mattress mentality that is creeping into the minds of some Americans. More people than ever want to stuff their money under their mattress and hide their heads in the sand. While not the best solution, that strategy would be a lot easier to hide your life savings under the mattress with just a few $10,000 bills.