These days Americans accept and expect famous faces on our coins: Washington quarters (first minted in 1932), Jefferson nickels (1938), Roosevelt dimes (1946), Franklin (1948) and Kennedy (1964) half-dollars, Eisenhower (1971), Susan B. Anthony (1979), and Sacagawea (2000) dollars. But from first United States coinage in 1793 until 1909, no coin had the image of a real person on it. In 1909, however, Pres. Theodore Roosevelt wished to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth by putting Honest Abe’s face on a coin.
In spite of Lincoln’s popularity, however, not all were in favor of his image on a coin. In addition to setting a “monarchical” precedent (originally kiboshed by George Washington), some were opposed for less worthy reasons: