Money is printed by the government, so the faces on our various bills tend to be politicians. Okay, they’re all politicians. Three were not presidents: Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill, Benjamin Franklin on the $100 bill, and Salmon P. Chase on the discontinued $10,000 bill. Only one visage on U.S. currency was a bestselling author. In fact, this individual became fabulously wealthy because nearly every home in America owned a copy of one of his books. He also wrote a famous autobiography that has never been out of print.
Most politicians write memoirs or autobiographies to set the record straight, but Benjamin Franklin would probably have taken umbrage at being called a politician. He was a businessman, inventor, philanthropist, scientist, and writer. He just dabbled in politics. Benjamin Franklin was America’s true Renaissance Man.
His writing made him one of the top 100 richest Americans in history. For nearly thirty years, only the Bible outsold Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac, and his articles made the Pennsylvania Gazette the most successful newspaper in the colonies. Even today, schoolchildren can still recite his words. Mostly he wrote nonfiction, but he had the novelist talent for bending the truth to tell a good story.
William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens have graced British currency, and in 2017 Jane Austen will join their ranks on the £10 note. They were fine writers as well, but here in America, the Franklin is a fine tribute to all of our great and striving authors.