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SENTRY JOURNAL » American History, Civil War, Dwight D. Eisenhower, In God We Trust, Paper money, U.S. Coins » Public Law 140: In God We Trust

Public Law 140: In God We Trust

It was 55 years ago today on July 11, 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Public Law 140 making it mandatory that all coinage and paper currency display the motto “In God We Trust.”

The history of how our motto “In God We Trust” found its way on our coins and paper money can be traced back to 1861.  1861 was an extremely turbulent time for our young Republic.  The slavery issue had driven a wedge between the states.  Religious sentiment was increasing as the nation inched closer to an all out civil war. The Secretary of the Treasury was a man by the name of Salmon P. Chase.  “He received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins.”

On November 13, 1861 Rev. M. R. Watkinson wrote to Secretary Chase appealing for the nation to recognize God on our coins.  The letter moved Secretary Chase to write the following letter dated November 20, 1861 to James Pollock, Director of the Mint at Philadelphia.

“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.”

Polluck selected the motto “In God We Trust” and it was first printed on U.S. Coins in 1864.  The coins were the new two cent coin.  In 1909 the motto was included on most of our other coins; 46 years later, public law 140 signed by President Eisenhower extended it to all U.S. Coins and paper currency.

In March of 2010, “the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “In God We Trust” on U.S. currency does not violate the Constitution’s separation of church and state.”

Liberty forever, freedom for all!

Sources: Court Rules “In God We Trust” Constitutional and In God We Trust – More Than A Motto


Filed under: American History, Civil War, Dwight D. Eisenhower, In God We Trust, Paper money, U.S. Coins

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  • Trestin July 11, 2010 at 5:12 AM

    In years past I was frustrated with the courts, but lately, they are the only thing keeping us afloat.

    It is to bad more people do not think about what phrase means, when they count their money.

  • The Born Again American July 11, 2010 at 6:40 AM

    Pollock is a great name, I've been honored with it all my life…

    Thanks for giving me one more reason to be proud of my last name…

  • Right Hand Man July 11, 2010 at 8:39 AM


  • Matt July 11, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    Great historical background. Even better reasoning.

  • John Carey July 11, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    You know Trestin, you are so right about the irony of the courts actually keeping us afloat. I think the SCOTUS knows how dangerous this man is, because Justice Kennedy the other day said he would not even consider retirement until after Obama was done.

  • John Carey July 11, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    Just one more feather in your cap BO! Your family name.

  • John Carey July 11, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    Thanks Matt. I love the background stories behind some of the most significant historical events that impact us today.

  • Randy-g July 11, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    Even the 9th circus, er circuit got that one right. There is a God after all.

  • John Carey July 11, 2010 at 2:23 PM

    I know Randy, the 9th circuit actually ruling that "In God We Trust" is constitutional was indeed a surprise.

  • Ron Russell July 11, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    The SCOTUS is always surprising me. In years past I've had many bones to pick with those in the black robes, but currently they are standing between us an tyranny. Tristin is right!

  • John Carey July 11, 2010 at 11:15 PM

    Thanks for the comments Ron. I agree with Trestin. It surpises me but at this point I'll take it. Anything to buy some time.