In God We Trust

Where did the motto on US money “In God We trust” come from?

A very similar phrase, “In God is our trust,” appears near the end of the 4th verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” However, the Star-Spangled Banner did not officially become the U.S. National Anthem until 1931, and wasn’t even all that popular until the First World War.

“In God We Trust” first appeared in 1864 on the U.S. two-cent piece, due primarily to an increase in religious feeling during the Civil War.

Two years later (1866), it also appeared on the quarter, the half dollar, the silver dollar, the half-eagle, the eagle, and the double-eagle. (The “eagle” was a $10 gold coin used as actual currency – the last eagles were minted in 1933.)

The motto did not make its way onto paper currency until the 1950s, when it also became the official motto of the United States (replacing the old “E Pluribus Unum” – Latin for ‘out of many, one’, referring to the States uniting together). The groundswell for “In God We Trust” in the 1950s primarily came from the Red Scare that also brought us such lovable public figures as Senator Joseph McCarthy. The notion of “Godless Communists” was pretty firmly entrenched on the national Zeitgeist, you see.

tracer, thanks. Sure sounds like you know what you’re talking about. Certainly good enough for me.

That’s 'cause this particular national motto has been the topic of heated debate over on the Great Debates forum, as to its Constitutionality and whatnot. (The upshot is that the U.S. Supreme Court says it doesn’t violate the First Amendment’s Establishment clause, but some people disagree with this ruling.)

It’s also 'cause I collect U.S. coins.