No, I am not going to blog about the Gordon Getty, or San Francisco’s old money. I want to promote an essay I read about the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s decision to make paper money a “showcase for art” back in 1886. It is a well written essay about the beauty of paper money for a decade between 1886 and 1896. The essay is filled with amazing images of paper currency from the period.

The only problem I have with the essay is that it mistakenly calls all the people depicted on paper money “dead presidents.” This “dead presidents” myth is perpetuated by rap music and pervasive slang. But let’s not forget that Alexander Hamilton, depicted on the $10 bill, was Secretary of the Treasury and never a president. Also Benjamin Franklin, depicted on the $100 bill, was never a president.

Although Franklin was an influencer and a politician, the only executive branch position he held was as a member of the first presidential cabinet with the title of Postmaster General, an honorary and now defunct cabinet position that required little to no responsibility. Franklin would later become an early governor of Pennsylvania with the title of President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania.

So when you are humming along to “It’s All About the Benjamins” remember that Benjamin Franklin is not a dead president. He’s actually a “dead rich white guy,” a more accurate term but admittedly not as catchy.

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