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In God We Trust
"In God We Trust"
Although Faith in God and Faith in the Union had been popular concepts throughout American history, they enjoyed a renewal of sorts during The Civil War. A Pennsylvania minister came up with the idea of adding a motto to coins minted by the United States and expressed his feelings in a letter to Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase on November 13, 1861, recommending the words "God, Liberty, Law" be added to all coins minted by the United States.
Chase liked the idea so much that within a week he told the director of the Philadelphia mint, "The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins. You will cause a device to be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition." Mint director James Pollock decides to add the motto to the new one, two and three-penny designs then being worked on for future production. He proposed "Our God, Our Trust" and "God, Our Trust" to Chase. Unhappy with either recommendation, Chase personally came up with "In God We Trust."
After the war the use of the phrase on public currency curtailed, but in the early 1900's it was prescribe by law that it must appear on all coins minted by the U. S. Government on which the motto had appeared. In 1955 Florida Congressman Charles Bennett proposed a bill requiring the motto appear on all paper currency as well, saying "At the base of our freedom is our faith in God and the desire of Americans to live by his will and his guidance. As long as this country trusts in God, it will prevail."
The bill was passed by both the House and the Senate unanimously and was signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower on July 30, 1956.
U. S. Treasury
Notes: The words "And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust'" appear in the fourth stanza of the Star Spangled Banner, written by Francis Scott Key in 1814. There is no evidence that Chase knew of these words when he came up with the phrase.
The term "In God We Trust" on U. S. coinage does not violate the First Amendment to the Constitution. That amendment contains the "Establishment Clause," which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Simple trust in God does not advocate any specific religion.
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In God We Trust was last changed on - November 22, 2007
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