The American Motto

If you look at a coin from your pocket or a paper bill from your wallet or purse, you will find that each of them state, “In God We Trust.” Did you ever wonder how those words got on our American currency?

In the last stanza of the National Anthem, Francis Scott Key proposed the motto of “In God Is Our Trust!” But it would not be until the Civil War that the words “In God We Trust” would begin to be an official motto. This started with the placement of the words, “In God We Trust” upon our coins. Then Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase wrote to the Director of the U. S. mint in Philadelphia on November 20, 1861:

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.

Chase again wrote to the Secretary of the U. S. Mint in Philadelphia on December 9, 1863:

I approve your mottos, 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.”

The U. S. Congress, on March 3, 1865, adopted Secretary Chase’s proposal to inscribe the U. S. coins with the motto, “In God We Trust.”

American soldier praying The first congressional prayer

This was the last official act signed into law by President Lincoln before he was assassinated. On April 24, 1865, Schuyler Colfax, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, stated in a Memorial Address for President Lincoln.

Nor should I forget to mention here that the last act of Congress ever signed by him was one requiring that the motto, in which he sincerely believed, “In God We Trust,” should hereafter be inscribed upon all our national coin.

Finally, nearly a hundred years later, on July 20, 1956, “In God We Trust” was officially declared to be the motto of the United States. In these four simple words, our government declared that America was itself unashamedly a faith-based institution in the ultimate sense of trusting in a God who over-rules and protects His people.

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