These are important concepts to understand. Money is the lifeblood of civilization and it is for this fact that money should be understood by every person. To understand money is to understand its history. Money arose from the free interaction of individuals in an open market. Money has never come about by government dictate.
This might seem strange to people because the dollar bills we use today have government writings, symbols, and persons on them. But, this has nothing to do with what money really is. Money has always been a source of propaganda by governments. Roman money used to have a Roman farmer on it pouring a basket full of grain into the air symbolizing abundance. During the Roman Empire it became more solid. Money is a symbol of wealth. Governments throughout history have tried to put their symbols on money implying that they are the source of wealth. Traditionally, money in the United States has had things that symbolize autonomy on them, like plains buffaloes, American Indians, and Lady Liberty. Within the 19th century, you would never find a politician on a coin. This was considered backwards. It was something that the Europeans did. They put Kings and Queens on their money while Americans considered themselves free. They would never elevate another human being to such a status as to be put above other men. The first president to ever be put on a coin was Abraham Lincoln at the beginning of the 20th century. This was a time when the intellectual class began importing the statist philosophies of Europe. The government built grand projects to aggrandize itself like the monuments in Washington DC, Mount Rushmore, and the Hoover Dam. The first half of the 20th century was truly the era of the state. This can be seen with the establishment of the Roosevelt Dime in 1946, a year after Roosevelt’s term and death. Can anyone today imagine the United Sates Treasury putting George Bush’s face or Barack Obama’s face on a coin so close to his presidency. The idea is somewhat absurd. We are approaching a new era where politicians are no longer aggrandized like they were in the past. YouTube has made it impossible for politicians to have an air of sophistication and greatness about them. The political landscape of the 21st century will look much closer to the 19th than the 20th. I, for one, look forward to the day that money has symbols of liberty once again.
History of the symbols of money in the 19th century (read this, it is fascinating).