Statement by Michael Fuljenz, President of Universal Coin & Bullion….
Some critics of “In God We Trust” may be ignorant of the phrase’s legal history or are deliberately ignoring the rulings of courts and resolutions of Congress. Regarding the recent controversy about the motto’s placement on police vehicles in some communities, it’s important to remember the patriotic motto has withstood a long line of legal challenges to appear on our money and on government-owned property.
It first appeared on circulating United States coins in 1864. It has been on all our coins since 1938 and became the only official national motto in 1956 with the signing of legislation by President Dwight Eisenhower, and has appeared on all our paper money since 1966.
Recent court cases include a 2013 ruling when a Federal Court judge in New York dismissed a lawsuit seeking removal of “In God We Trust” from coins and paper money. The judge noted that “the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly assumed the motto’s secular purpose and effect.”
In 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a resolution reaffirming it as the national motto and encouraging its display in all public schools and government buildings.
While the motto first appeared on U.S. coins at the time of the Civil War, it actually was inspired by events a half century earlier during the War of 1812.
In 1861, Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase received a letter from a Pennsylvania minister who requested “the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.” Chase instructed Mint Director James Pollock to prepare a motto. Pollock recalled a lyric in the now-seldom sung fourth stanza of The Star Spangled Banner: “And this be our motto – In God is our trust.” Pollock had the words, ‘GOD OUR TRUST,’ placed on a few experimental patterns being tested in 1861 for proposed new designs for half-dollar and $10 denomination coins.
After consultations and debate within the Treasury Department, the words IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared in circulation on a new coin denomination, copper two-cent pieces, starting in 1864.
An award-winning detailed history of the national motto, written by Fuljenz, is available free online at www.INGODWETRUSTonmoney.com.
For more about IN GOD WE TRUST, be sure to check out CoinWeek’s own history of the motto.