Mr. Dayton is known to history solely by the currency he had printed for his bank, and it is not known whether the bank ever opened its doors. But it was his bank, and he had the right, so his grim visage, complete with imposing widow's peak, graces each of the three known denominations: one-, two-, and five-dollar bills.
The Dayton Bank was one of thousands of private issuers, supplying the capital that created the economic miracle of 19th-century America. No government dared issue paper money in those days: Americans had been so badly burned by inflation during one crisis (the Revolutionary War), that they would not countenance another public issue until another crisis (the Civil War).
The imagery on this note is very typical of that found in this period, especially on issues from western banks. Racial and ethnic stereotypes were prevalent and emphasized the dominance of white culture.
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