Meet My Friend, Mr. Grant

usdnotesIn my previous post, I talked about how common it is in the US to find traces (small amounts) of cocaine on US paper bills.  At the end of the post, I noted that the New York Times headline for a story about this issue was “Those Hamiltons and Jacksons Carry Some Cocaine.”  What exactly does this mean?

Money in the US has the picture of famous Americans on it (usually a president, but not always).  You need to know this to understand this headline.  For example, the $10 bill has a picture of Alexander Hamilton, our first Secretary of the Treasury.  So (informally) $10 bills are sometimes called “Hamiltons.”  Similarly, the $20 has a picture of President Andrew Jackson, a famous 19th century president and general – hence (for that reason), they are sometimes called “Jacksons.”

Here are the rest of the people who appear on US banknotes:

$1 – George Washington, first US president
$2 – Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president*
$5 – Abraham Lincoln, 16th president
$10 – Alexander Hamilton, first Treasury Secretary
$20 – Andrew Jackson, 7th president and general
$50 – Ulyssus Grant, 18th president and general
$100 – Benjamin Franklin, founding father and diplomat
* = Not commonly used

Although you will hear and read these terms, they are I think less popular now than they were 50 years ago, even though the pictures haven’t changed.  It is also not common to refer, for example, to the $1 bill as a “Washington,” although I suppose you could.  The $100 bill can be called either a Franklin or a Benjamin (or even “Benjie”).  It can also be called a C-note (C is the Roman numeral for 100).

The US no longer prints bills higher than $100.  They were last printed back in 1934, and are now rarely seen.


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16 Responses to Meet My Friend, Mr. Grant

  1. Javad says:


    I think it’s kind of wired but it’s better than the paper bills in my country (Iran ) !!! as U know my country have a very famous and Great people in its history , but unfortunately we have only one person in our paper bills 🙁 of course he was a great man but it’s so boring when u see the money !) i think in my country this method was exist from many years ago and it has a politic reasons !


  2. Cynthia says:

    Haha, it seems Benjamin Franklin is more expensive.

  3. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff,

    To my knowledge,C-note is still common. I guess ,a good substitute for all those difficult to remember names is green. For example ,I opened my wallet … pulled out some greens,and her eyes glinted of excitement.

    Trust me ,when it comes to girls,money works like a charm.

    It is reminding me of an old adage : He who pays the piper calls the tune. If you know what I mean.

  4. Park says:

    Why Jefferson is so rare?
    Do the coins also have another names?

  5. kobe.Su says:

    HI Javad,
    i found same situation with our bill. from 1RMB to 100RMB, (1,5,10,20,100) there’s only one same man in the banknotes, that’s our Great Chairman Mao.
    in my memory, there used to be four great man on 10yuan, (10 RMB) paper money in the soon past. i couldnt remeber since when we discard 2yuan in use.
    we also have 10cent, 50 cent paper money in use.

    i need to check if it’s ture that Chairman Mao used to love smoking very much, now he can try something new …dont get addiction

    we will have 60years founding ceremony on Oct1 this year, happy for our country“

  6. emiliano says:

    A long time ago, when I was changing money at the bank, one of the most falsificated note bills was the Benjamin´s and we have to be very careful
    about these notes.
    We have some secret ways of looking at the bills and testifying if they were good or not. Some times with a little needle testing the paper and the
    small things like colored hairs that were inside the paper bill.
    How much disgusting was for the person who wanted to changed the bill that we said her/him, I´m sorry this is not a good note, we can´t change it, same like now when so many euros are fake.

    There were some Banks that weren´t in good disposition of changing that kind of bills because it was very dangerous if they were falsificated. But
    we did, and we changed also Traveller´s Cheque, Credit Notes, Cheque´s Bank and everykind of bank´s document tourist wanted to changed.
    As we did that in The Gran Via street, we have always a long line of tourist waiting to be attended, and I could talked a lot of English with all of them.
    In fact our branch was one of the most foreign currency receiver in Madrid city. Yes, that was a good time to me, before the 1980 decade when
    all kind of bad signs began to happen as I said in the other blog.

    Since 1981 everything started to change litle by litle always to the worst, drugs, sida, dangerous nights and streets, and Madrid stoped of being
    one of the most friendly cities of the world, where you could go everywhere/everytime without any danger or being alert as we do now.

    I think I could do a song:

    “Once upon a time there was a city where you may go and rest without any kind of worry and where the inhabitants of it where nice and talkative
    people, where no body felt as stranger once they were visiting the place.
    A city where people stoped their walk when anybody requested them about a question, asked about a street or a good place to go”

    It remains still in Madrid something of that way of living now, I have listened about this matter to the visitors, but I know, old madrileños know that it have nothing to do with the way we use to treat people years before.
    May be all of these changes is something It has happened all over the world, I don´t really know, I would like to travel and see. That´s the best way of comparing.
    Sorry, too much words as ever.

  7. Julio says:

    Paper bills are the widest and biggest lie for everyone in everywhere. Undoubtly they are pieces of cheap paper. However, people are even able to kill to get some of them, precisely due to the ficticious feeling of power they can generate. Anyway, this would be the history of money, maybe be a sad history but, at the same time, a very helpful invention to trade and do businesses.
    In any case, I wish I could have a lot of Franklins to be able to spend them in every day…but it is not my case!
    Thank you, Dr. Jeff. Very interesting piece of article.
    Best regards from Spain,
    Julio (Jack).

  8. Peter says:

    Hi guys,

    We are not discussing counterfeit note bills here. The discussion revolves around cocaine and how it has made its way to different currencies all over the world. Seems like you misconstrued the whole thing. Jeff simply explains how cocaine has found its way on the paper bills. I don’t know about you guys ,but to me, the news is appalling.Now , as money touches our hands, we involuntarily think of Jeff and his appalling yet interesting posting about illicit drugs.

    the last sentence of the blog hits the spot. Love it. I bet, You are capable of taking people totally clueless about English language ,and turn them to modern-life Shakespeare in one year or two. LOL

  9. Tania says:

    Hi ! Peter , please tell me what means LOL .

    Thank you .


  10. peter says:

    Clueless of English

    Please don’t make my mistakes for lacking of knowledge. I make mistakes purely because I am hurry scurry kind of guy. I m not trying to justify my shortcomings ,I am just trying to save face.
    There is a fine line between being modest and being self-effaced ; try to walk on the edge my friend.

    Humble pie sometimes tastes sweet sometimes bitter depending who you are dealing with.

  11. peter says:

    Don’t take my mistake.I am really a piece of work ,aren’t I ?

  12. peter says:

    Hi Mate ,

    LoL Means Laugh Out loud

  13. peter says:

    laughter out loud

  14. peter says:

    For lack of knowledge
    I don’t know what possessed me( why on earth) to jot down( writting recklessly and fast) for lacking
    I gave up , pleace accept me for who I am.

  15. peter says:

    Hi Jeff,

    something totally irrelevant but interesting . My friends come to me when they want to write a business letters. The point is I use the guide line you made for us in one or two of your episodes as template. I use the same frame and change some words around to cater it to the requirement( you know what i mean)

    I have done it several times for my close friends. But ,today I did it for my friend of friend and made 20 dollars. Jeff I guess half of it is yours LOL.

    I am some how cheating,

    My friends are stupid .I keep telling them to hook up to your program but they are too lazy to do so.

    Sorry for my reckless errors


  16. vayluong says:

    I wonder why they rarely use Jefferson ($2) ? and I heard some people said they don’t want to use it, they keep it because it’s a lucky money?

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