In God We Trust: Wikis


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"In God We Trust"

In God We Trust is the official motto of the United States, the U.S. state of Florida and the Central American nation of Nicaragua.[1]

In the United States, the motto first appeared on a coin in 1864 during strong Christian sentiment emerging during the Civil War, but In God We Trust did not become the official U.S. national motto until after the passage of an Act of Congress in 1956.[2][3] It is codified as federal law in the United States Code at 36 U.S.C. § 302, which provides: '"In God we trust" is the national motto'.



The motto E Pluribus Unum (Latin for "One from many" or "One from many parts.") was approved for use on the Great Seal of the United States in 1782. It still appears on coins and currency, and was widely considered the national motto de facto.[4] However, by 1956 it had not been established so by legislation as the Your Mum "national motto". The Congressional Record of 1956 reads: "At the present time the United States has no national motto. The committee deems it most appropriate that 'In God we trust' be so designated as U.S. national motto."[3]

One possible origin of In God We Trust is the final stanza of The Star-Spangled Banner. Written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key (and later adopted as the U.S. national anthem), the song contains an early reference to a variation of the phrase: "...And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust'."[5]

Use on coins and currency

As excerpted from the United States Treasury Department's public education website:[6]

The motto In God We Trust was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the American Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout Christians throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize God on United States coins. From Treasury Department records, it appears that the first such appeal came in a letter dated November 13, 1861. It was written to Secretary Salmon P. Chase by Reverend M. R. Watkinson, Minister of the Gospel from Ridley Township, Pennsylvania, and read:

Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report to the Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances. One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins. You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were not shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION; within the ring the allseeing eye, crowned with a halo; beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its field stars equal to the number of the States united; in the folds of the bars the words GOD, LIBERTY, LAW. This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed. From my heart I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters.

To you first I address a subject that must be agitated.

As a result, Secretary Chase instructed James Pollock, Director of the Mint at Philadelphia, to prepare a motto, in a letter dated November 20, 1861:

Dear Sir: No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. 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.

It was found that the Act of Congress dated January 18, 1837, prescribed the mottoes and devices that should be placed upon the coins of the United States. This meant that the mint could make no changes without the enactment of additional legislation by Congress. In December 1863, the Director of the Mint submitted designs for a new one-cent coin, two-cent coin, and three-cent coin to Secretary Chase for approval. He proposed that upon the designs either OUR COUNTRY, OUR GOD or GOD, OUR TRUST should appear as the motto on the coins. In a letter to the Mint Director on December 9, 1863, Secretary Chase stated:

I approve your mottoes, only suggesting that on that with the Washington obverse the motto should begin with the word OUR, so as to read OUR GOD AND OUR COUNTRY. And on that with the shield, it should be changed so as to read: IN GOD WE TRUST.

1864 two cent coin with motto

Congress passed the Coinage Act (1864) on April 22, 1864. This legislation changed the composition of the one-cent coin and authorized the minting of the two-cent coin. The Mint Director was directed to develop the designs for these coins for final approval of the Secretary. In God We Trust first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin.

Another Act of the United States Congress passed on March 3, 1865, which allowed the Mint Director, with the Secretary's approval, to place the motto on all gold and silver coins that "shall admit the inscription thereon." Under the Act, the motto was placed on the gold Double Eagle coin, the gold Eagle coin, and the gold Half Eagle coin. It was also placed on the silver dollar coin, the half dollar coin and the quarter dollar coin, and on the nickel five-cent coin beginning in 1866. Later, Congress passed the Fourth Coinage Act of February 12, 1873. It also said that the Secretary "may cause the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to be inscribed on such coins as shall admit of such motto."

The use of In God We Trust has not been uninterrupted. The motto disappeared from the five-cent coin in 1883, and did not reappear until production of the Jefferson nickel began in 1938. Since 1938, all United States coins bear the inscription. Later, the motto was found missing from the new design of the gold Double Eagle coin and the gold Eagle coin shortly after they appeared in 1907. In response to a general demand, Congress ordered it restored, and the Act of May 18, 1908, made it mandatory on all coins upon which it had previously appeared. Therefore, the motto was not mandatory on the one-cent and five-cent coins, but it could be placed on them by the Secretary of the Treasury or the Mint Director with the Secretary's approval.

American presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt strongly disapproved of the idea of evoking God within the context of a "cheap" political motto. In a letter to William Boldly on November 11, 1907, President Roosevelt wrote: "My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege... it seems to me eminently unwise to cheapen such a motto by use on coins, just as it would be to cheapen it by use on postage stamps, or in advertisements."

Despite historical opposition, the motto has been in continuous use on the one-cent coin since 1909 and on the ten-cent dime since 1916. It also has appeared on all gold coins and silver dollar coins, half-dollar coins, and quarter-dollar coins struck since July 1, 1908.

Legislation approved July 11, 1955, made the appearance of "In God We Trust" mandatory on all coins and paper currency of the United States.[7] This was influenced by the Red Scare sentiment of the time, reacting to the threat posed by "godless Communism".

A 1957-A one-dollar silver certificate (top image is the reverse of the certificate, bottom image is the obverse of the certificate).

In God We Trust was first used on paper money in 1957 when it appeared on the one-dollar Silver Certificate. The first paper currency bearing the motto entered circulation on October 1, 1957. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) was converting to the dry intaglio printing process. During this conversion, it gradually included In God We Trust in the back design of all classes and denominations of currency.

As a part of a comprehensive modernization program, the BEP successfully developed and installed new high-speed rotary intaglio printing presses in 1957. These allowed BEP to print currency by the dry intaglio process, 32 notes to the sheet. One-dollar silver certificates were the first denomination printed on the new high-speed presses. They included In God We Trust as part of the reverse design as BEP adopted new dies according to the law. The motto also appeared on one-dollar silver certificates of the 1957-A and 1957-B series.

One-dollar silver certificates series 1935, 1935-A, 1935-B, 1935-C, 1935-D, 1935-E, 1935-F, 1935-G, and 1935-H were all printed on the older flat-bed presses by the wet intaglio process. P.L. 84-140 recognized that an enormous expense would be associated with immediately replacing the costly printing plates. The law allowed BEP to gradually convert to the inclusion of In God We Trust on the currency. Accordingly, the motto is not found on series 1935-E and 1935-F one-dollar notes. By September 1961, In God We Trust had been added to the back design of the Series 1935-G notes. Some early printings of this series do not bear the motto. In God We Trust appears on all series 1935-H one-dollar silver certificates.

On March 7, 2007, the U.S Mint reported an unknown number of new George Washington dollar coins mistakenly struck without the edge inscriptions, including "In God We Trust." These coins have been in circulation since February 15, 2007, and it has been estimated by some experts that at least 50,000 of them were put in circulation. The coin rapidly became a collector's item as well as a source for conspiracy theorists.[8][9] daries togain

Use in individual states

In God We Trust is found on the flag of Georgia, flag of Florida, and the Seal of Florida. It was first adopted by the state of Georgia for use on flags in 2001, and subsequently included on the Georgia flag of 2003. Starting in 2007, the phrase can also be found on the license plates of Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Ohio (it can be selected among offered designs).

It became the official state motto of Florida in 2006 under a law signed by Governor Jeb Bush.[10][11] On May 28, 2008, Governor Charlie Crist signed into law Senate Bill 734, which amended the state's specialty license plates law (320.08056) to include an "In God We Trust" automobile license plate as an option for residents.

Adoption as national motto

A law was passed by the 84th United States Congress (P.L. 84-851) and approved by the President on July 30, 1956. President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved a joint resolution declaring In God We Trust the national motto of the United States.[3] The same Congress had required, in the previous year, that the words appear on all currency, as a Cold War measure: "In these days when imperialistic and materialistic Communism seeks to attack and destroy freedom, it is proper" to "remind all of us of this self-evident truth" that "as long as this country trusts in God, it will prevail." [12]

Legal status

Use of the motto on circulating coinage is required by law. While several laws come into play, the act of May 18, 1908, is most often cited as requiring the motto (even though the cent and nickel were excluded from that law, and the nickel did not have the motto added until 1938). Since 1938, all coins have borne the motto. The use of the motto was permitted, but not required, by an 1873 law. The motto was added to paper money over a period from 1957 to 1966.[13]

Aronow v. United States and other constitutional objections under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment have been rejected by the courts.


A circulated $1 bill with "In God We Trust" marked out with a custom-made stamp

The motto is opposed for a variety of reasons, but is still widely supported by a majority of Americans.[14] According to a 2003 Gallup Poll, 90% of Americans approve of the inscription on U.S. coins.[15] The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment states that congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Critics contend that the motto's placement on money constitutes the establishment of a religion or a church by the government. The Supreme Court has upheld the motto because it has "lost through rote repetition any significant religious content"[16]; so-called acts of "ceremonial deism" that have lost their "history, character, and context".[17] In such related decisions as Zorach v. Clauson, the Supreme Court has also held that the nation's "institutions presuppose a Supreme Being" and that government recognition of God does not constitute the establishment of such a state church as the Constitution's authors intended to prohibit. Constitutionalists object to sworn judiciaries employing historical context in what they believe ought to be a raw textual interpretation.[18][19] Some activists have been known to cross out the motto on paper money as a form of protest.[20] Although federal law (18 U.S.C. § 333 and 18 U.S.C. § 475) prohibits defacement and modification of currency under certain specific conditions, no documented cases exist of prosecution for such action, and the Federal Reserve frequently recirculates similarly defaced notes.[21]

Outside of constitutional objections, President Theodore Roosevelt took issue with placing the motto on coinage as he considered it sacrilegious to put the name of God on money.

In 2006 this motto was the subject of controversy in a British episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in which Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and his wife Jackie appeared in. They were asked this question: "Translated from the Latin, what is the motto of the United States?" and chose the answer "In God We Trust", rather than "One Out of Many" which was the correct answer.

See also


U.S. Court Cases


  1. ^ As shown on the Córdoba (bank notes and coins); see for example Banco Central de Nicaragua
  2. ^ History of 'In God We Trust', United States Treasury.
  3. ^ a b c Congressional Record, 1956, p. 13917, via
  4. ^ The U.S. National Mottos: Their history & constitutionality,
  5. ^ 50th Anniversary of Our National Motto, "In God We Trust," 2006, Proclamation Issued by President Bush, White House.
  6. ^ "History of 'In God We Trust'", Fact Sheets, U.S. Department of the Treasury,, retrieved 2008-01-14 
  7. ^ In God We Trust, U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 11, 1955,, retrieved 2009-02-08 
  8. ^ A Statement from the United States Mint, U.S. Department of the Treasury, March 7, 2007,, retrieved 2008-01-14 
  9. ^ Coins circulating without ‘In God We Trust’: U.S. Mint admits to the goof with the new George Washington dollar, msnbc, March 8, 2007,, retrieved 2008-01-14 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Florida House Bill 1145 (Engrossed). Florida House of Representatives. Enacted July 1, 2006. Signed by Gov. Jeb Bush on June 22, 2006.
  12. ^ Steven B. Epstein, "Rethinking the Constitutionality of Ceremonial Deism" Columbia Law Review, Vol. 96, No. 8. (Dec., 1996), pp. 2083-2174, quoting the peroration (abridged here) of the speech by Charles Edward Bennett, sponsor in the House, the only speech in either House of Congress on the subject. President Eisenhower and W. Randolph Burgess, Deputy to the Treasury for Monetary Affairs, had approved of the legislation. 101 Congressional Record pp. 4384 (quoted), 7796. (1955)
  13. ^ History of the Motto "In God We Trust"
  14. ^ "A Half Century After It First Appeared on the Dollar Bill, “In God We Trust” Still Stirs Opposition". Pew Research Center. September 12, 2007. 
  15. ^ "Approve or disapprove "The inscription 'In God We Trust' on U.S. coins"". Gallup Poll. September 19-21, 2003. 
  16. ^ Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668
  17. ^ Elk Grove Unified School District et al. v. Newdow, 542 U.S. 1
  18. ^ Atheist protests `In God We Trust' posting
  19. ^ Judge turns down atheist's suit challenging 'In God We Trust'
  20. ^ ""In God We Trust"--Stamping Out Religion On National Currency". Flashline. American Atheists. 1999-03-15. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  21. ^ Lacitis, Erik (2004-10-04). "Where's George? Tracking the travels of paper currency". The Seattle Times (The Seattle Times Company). Retrieved 2008-07-16. 


External links

Simple English

In God We Trust is one of the national mottos of the United States. The other is E Pluribus Unum. In God We Trust can be found on the obverse, or front side, of money. It refers to the United States being founded on belief and trust in God. It is also the motto of Florida


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