The crazy part of it not being issued is that the denomination was more popular than $2 in obsolete banknotes. There were $3 and 3c coins minted prior to the Civil War in larger quantities but smaller during the war. Even after the war some non-Federal govt issuers were using the $3 denomination as late as the mid 1870s:
Really? That's very interesting to know that the $3 bill was more popular than the $2 bill when private banks issued them. The guy who did the film "The $2 Bill Documentary" said he believes that the $3 bill would've been doomed from the start, had a Federal $3 note been issued. Here's what we said, in the comments about a video he did about when they ceased production of the $2 bill in 1966 and brought it back in 1976:
This always makes me wonder a few questions. Had the U.S. went through with one of it's two proposals in the 1860's where a law called for issuance of a $3 bill, would the $3 bill have lasted in circulation as long as the $2 bill did, before it was discontinued? Would the $3 bill have been discontinued "before" the $2 bill was discontinued? (I'd bet anything that the $3 would've been discontinued, considerably sooner than the $2 if they would've printed $3's and I'd also wager it would be harder to bring back the $3 than it was, the $2) And if so, would they have eventually began printing $3 bills again, possibly with a new design, as well? And as crazy as it may sound, if we were still using physical cash in 2076, and the $3 bill were discontinued, even over a hundred years before, would they have brought the $3 back for the "Tricentennial" of the country?
The $2 Bill Documentary Guy (John)
All good questions, but I think the $3 bill would have been doomed from the start. Even if they made one, it would not have lasted long. As it was, a $3 bill was in the works in 1863 but they never ended up making it. Regardless of where inflation left us or what the price systems were back then (and even now), I don't think people would have been happy sorting through their $1s, $2s and $3s to find the right combination. It's just too much. Hand them a $5 and get your change, period. The $3 would have been DOA.
I tend to disagree with the $3 bill failing right away, in fact, had it actually been produced, I feel there might've been a good chance we'd have had a $3 Federal Reserve note. At least, in the early days of Federal Reserve notes. But the fact of the $3 bill being more popular than the $2 bill in the past is news to me.
On another note, when I asked if there were anyone who might like a $3 bill in the U.S. on a different forum decades ago, one person said "Horse racing tracks would love a $3 bill, because they could bump up their $2 minimum bet to a $3 minimum bet (I guess they'd rather bump it up to $3 rather than bumping it up $3 to $5 minimum bets, not that they couldn't still bump it up to $3 and maybe circulate $2 bills and $1 coins, or Hell, bump it up to $2.50 and circulate $2 bills and halves among those race tracks.
I do know about the $3 and 3-cent coins though.