$100 Confederate bill, 1864

Lucy Holcombe Pickens, the Queen of the Confederacy

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by Tom Wancho, Exhibit Planner

Lucy Holcombe Pickens (1832–1899), known as the “Queen of the Confederacy,” is the only woman to be featured on currency issued by a Confederate state.  

Pickens was born on her family’s planation in La Grange, Tennessee. She attended La Grange Female Academy and, at the age of 14 with her older sister, Anna Eliza, began attending school at the Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Her family moved to Marshall, Texas in 1848, and their new home, Wyalucing Plantation, was built with enslaved labor between 1848–1850. In the years that followed, the family remained staunch supporters of slavery and southern politics. Lucy seems to have been well-traveled for a young woman of the mid-19th century, and on trips throughout the south she met her future husband, Senator Francis Wilkinson Pickens. Senator Pickens was a South Carolina native, two-time widower, and the son of a former governor. He and Lucy married at Wyalucing on April 26, 1858.

That same year, with Lucy's support, Pickens was appointed United States ambassador to Russia. The family moved oversees where Lucy became a favorite of Czar Alexander II and Czarina Maria Alexandrovna. Prior to the start of the Civil War, Pickens resigned his post, and he and Lucy returned to South Carolina. Lucy became known as the “Queen of the Confederacy” after her husband was elected Governor of South Carolina in 1860. Long admired for her beauty and financial support of the Confederacy, Lucy was featured on four different Confederate bills during the Civil War. She supported the Confederate cause by selling jewels given to her in Russia, an endeavor that helped outfit the Confederate Army unit named after her — the Lucy Holcombe Legion. This particular style of bill was issued two years after her husband left office, a testimony to her continuing popularity. 

It would take more than 152 years for the U.S. Treasury to prominently feature women on currency notes. On April 20, 2016, the Treasury announced that Harriet Tubman, leading abolitionist, humanitarian, and an armed scout and spy for the U.S. Army during the Civil War, would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill beginning in 2020. The reverse of the $10 bill will also pay tribute in 2020 to the 1913 historic march for suffrage that ended at the steps of the Treasury building. Images of Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul will be featured. The reverse of the new $5 bill will honor people and events at the Lincoln Memorial that helped shape U.S. history including opera singer Marian Anderson and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. 

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$100 Confederate bill, 1864 Artifact from Marshall
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