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Azie Taylor Morton

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The first African-American Treasurer of the United States

signs a $5 bill bearing the portrait of the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln

Azie Taylor Morton, 1936–2006.  Treasurer of the United States, 1977–1981.  Framed $5 star note boldly signed Azie Taylor Morton.

This is a very nice association piece.  Taylor, the first African-American Treasurer of the United States, has signed this pristine $5 note bearing the portrait of President Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator.  Her printed signature appears on the bill to the left of Lincoln’s portrait, and she has boldly signed the bill above it.  She remains the only African-American to hold the Treasurer’s office.

Morton, who served during the administration of President Jimmy Carter, rose out of segregated society to become the officer charged with the receipt and custody of United States Government funds, including the Government’s gold bullion reserves. 

She was born during the Great Depression in a rural African-American colony in Dale, Texas, an unincorporated community southeast of Austin, and was raised by her grandparents.  She once said, &ldqo;I born to a mother who was deaf and could not speak.  I do not know who my father is or was.  The first job I ever had was in a cotton field.”  She was not deaf, blind, or an orphan, but she nevertheless attended high school at the Texas Blind, Deaf and Orphan School, a charity-sponsored school for Black children in Austin, because segregated Dale did not have a high school for African-Americans.  She graduated cum laude from Huston-Tillotson College in Austin in 1956 but was refused admission to the University of Texas graduate school on the ground that she needed more undergraduate courses—courses that the University then refused to let her take because she was African-American. 

After holding various jobs, including one as a school teacher, Morton became an administrative assistant and community relations specialist for the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, which President John F. Kennedy created by an executive order in 1961.  She later became a complaint investigator and conciliator for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C., and served as the director of social services for the Model Cities program in Wichita, Kansas.

Morton was an active Democrat throughout her career.  She worked as deputy convention manager for the 1976 Democratic National Convention and was a member of the Democratic National Committee’s Compliance Review Commission in 1975–1976.  She was a special assistant to the chairman of the DNC from 1971 until 1977.  President Carter appointed her Treasurer on September 12, 1977, and she held that post through the remainder of his administration.

This signed $5 bill has never been offered on the autograph market before.  We acquired it from the collector who obtained Morton’s signature in person in 1997 and subsequently had it framed.

Morton has signed the bill in black felt-tip pen just above the left serial number, below which appears her printed signature as Treasurer of the United States.

The bill is in gem uncirculated condition.  Apart from the autograph, the bill is special in itself.  First, it is a star note, a replacement printed to replace a faulty banknote.  Because two bills cannot bear the same serial number, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing adds a star at the end of the serial number to denote that the bill is a replacement note.  Second, our research shows that $5 bills are uncommon for signed bills; $1 bills are used much more often for autographs.

The bill has been beautifully framed, we understand to archival standards.  It is double matted in black and tan linen, with an inlaid gilt wood fillet, along with Morton’s official portrait and an engraved identification plate.  It is framed in a classical design brown and gilt wood frame to an overall size of 13½” x 21½”.


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