Michael Hillegas
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Michael Hillegas First Treasurer of United States.

 

 

Michael Hillegas (1728 - September 29, 1804) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a family of German descent. As the son of a well-to-do merchant involved in iron and sugar, he had the freedom and resources to participate in local politics. Hillegas was a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly from 1765 to 1775 and served as treasurer of the Committee of Safety under Benjamin Franklin in 1774. On 29 July 1775 Hillegas and fellow patriot George Clymer were appointed by the Continental Congress to share the office of Treasurer of the United Colonies. They were instructed to reside in Philadelphia, which was the home of the Continental Congress. Their major responsibility was to raise money for the Revolutionary War. Unlike today's Treasurer, neither of their signatures appeared on the "continentals" as the paper money was then called.

 

After Clymer's resignation on August 6 1776, Hillegas assumed sole ownership of the office and held it throughout the remainder of the conflict of the American Revolution, using much of his own fortune to support the cause. He also served briefly as quartermaster to the army and served on occasional commissions. On September 9 1776, the Continental Congress officially changed the name of the country to the United States of America, but Hillegas' title did not officially change until March 1778. On September 11, 1789 the US Congress created the Treasury Department and Alexander Hamilton took the oath of office as the first Secretary of the Treasury . On that same date Hillegas tendered his resignation, and Samuel Meredith was appointed Treasurer. Hillegas was also an early member of the American Philosophical Society, along with Franklin. He died in Philadelphia and is buried near Franklin.

 

 

Hillegas appears on currency because his descendants in the 1890s petitioned to have his name resurrected from obscurity. His portrait was finally placed on the 1907 and 1922 $10 Gold Certificates. He's an obscure enough figure that it says who he is under his portrait. Pictured is a Fr. 1173. The front of the note has a nice portrait of Hillegas and the back has a particularly bright, glowing, attractive design which is always a favorite among collectors.

 

 

 

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Edited by GEM
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