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Less Known Facts About 3 African-Americans Whose Signatures Have Been On U.S. Currency

For a long time, African Americans have made significant commitments in the U.S. in regions, for example, administration, law, expressions, science and drug, discretion, among others, notwithstanding the assaults because of their race.

From any semblance of Benjamin Banneker, Rosa Parks, Rev. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks to Marylanders Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, these dark people have assumed instrumental jobs in American history.

Regarding governance, one of the most noteworthy legislative position then accessible to African Americans was the Register of the Treasury, which was an office of the United States Treasury Department. The Register, as a feature of their job, was to confirm money, securities, and treasury notes, in this way, their signatures were found on all U.S. money until 1923, alongside that of the Treasurer.

From 1861 to the present day, we have 3 of the five African Americans who have had their signatures appearing on U.S. currency. They are:

Pic credit: Alchetron

Blanche Kelso Bruce

He was the first African American to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate, representing Mississippi as a Republican from 1875 to 1881. As a senator, Bruce, born enslaved in Farmville, Prince Edward County, Virginia, not only spoke up about civil rights of African Americans and Native Americans and argued for political reforms, levee systems and railroad construction, among others.

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After his term ended, the successful banker was appointed to three posts by Republican Presidents. In 1881, President James Garfield named him Register of the Treasury, a post he held until 1885. This made Bruce the first African American to have his signature featured on U.S. paper currency.

Pic credit: Readex

Judson Whitlocke Lyons

He was Georgia’s first African-American Attorney and the second black person to be appointed Register of the Treasury. Growing up, he made some money for his tuition by teaching African American women who attended night school.

Lyons later worked for the Internal Revenue Service briefly and went to Howard University Law School where he received his law degree in 1884 and was admitted to the bar the same year, becoming Georgia’s first black attorney.

United States Paper Money 2 Dollar Silver Certificate 1899. Pic credit: World Banknotes & Coins

At the age of 20, he was the youngest member of the Republican National Convention in 1880. By 1898, Lyons had been appointed the Register of the Treasury by President William McKinley. As such, his signature appeared on many notes during that period including the first $10 “Bison” notes and each of the first Series 1899 Silver Certificates. He served until 1906.

Pic credit: Wikipedia

William Tecumseh Vernon

He was an African Methodist Episcopal bishop, educator, and university administrator who was born in Lebanon, Missouri on July 11, 1871. After teaching at public schools and earning degrees in Theology and honorary Doctor of Divinity and Doctor of Law degrees, Vernon joined the Missouri Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in 1896.

At the age of 25, he became President of Western University in Quindaro, Kansas, an A.M.E-sponsored university where he ensured partial state funding for the school while publishing books on race and politics including The Upbuilding of a Race, or The Rise of a Great People: a Compilation of Sermons, Addresses and Writings on Education, the Race Question and Public Affairs (1904).

Pic credit: kentakepage

Two years later, the staunch Republican who brought many black Americans to the party was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as Register of the Treasury. His signature appears in all U.S. currency printed during his tenure.


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