Presidential Check Collection
Did you know that you can do your banking and enjoy a history lesson, too? We encourage you to visit our main lobby and view the bank's truly unique collection of checks written by 38 Presidents of the United States. These checks are authenticated, insured and bolted to the lobby walls. The collection has been acquired piecemeal over the last four decades from collectors and historians throughout the United States.
Each check represents a unique piece of history, starting with George Washington's 1797 check – it was payment for the construction of a whiskey still at Mount Vernon.
Abraham Lincoln's check, made out to "Self" for $800.00, was for his monthly salary as President. In fact, it was the last paycheck he ever cashed; he was assassinated just days later in April 1865.
Teddy Roosevelt's check, dated November 29, 1912, was written to "Dr. George Hochrein" shortly after President Roosevelt was shot in the chest while campaigning in Milwaukee on the "Bull Moose" ticket. Not only did Roosevelt survive the Milwaukee attack; he also completed his speech! Roosevelt later commented, "I did not care a rap for being shot. It is a trade risk, which every prominent public man ought to accept as a matter of course." Was this Roosevelt's payment to the doctor who treated him that day for the gunshot wound? Go to Teddy Roosevelt's Wikipedia page to find the answer.
In 1948, while supporting Harry Truman's campaign, Ronald Reagan donated $50.00 to Americans For Democratic Action, one of the nation's oldest liberal political organizations. It was not until 1962 when Reagan officially switched his allegiance to the Republican Party.
Some of the checks serve as reminders of the good old days when you could live very comfortably on $85.00 a week. For example, Warren Harding's monthly utility bill at Potomac Electric was only $4.70 in 1919, and it only cost LBJ $3.00 to renew his driver's license with the Texas Department of Public Safety in 1965.
We'll keep you posted on the procurement of additional checks as we continue our efforts to complete our collection. Going forward, the "paperless transactions" of wire transfers, Internet banking and electronic bill payment may require us to revisit our check collection strategy. Politics aside, could an expired debit card from Bill Clinton ever hold a candle to Abraham Lincoln's check?
The next time you need to do your banking pay us a visit here inside the bank and see this unique historical collection. The collection moves clockwise in chronological order around the first floor. You are invited to view the checks anytime during our regular lobby hours, and children are always welcome.