The Exchange : 'In God We Trust' — A little history in everyday pocket change

'In God We Trust' — A little history in everyday pocket change

December is the most popular shopping month of the year. It is not difficult to realize this, especially if you are like me and your shopping money is going quickly. 


In today's technology-driven world, many of us walk up to the check-out register to finalize a purchase and pull out a little plastic card to make the payment. The days of using paper money and coins for payment are slowly vanishing.  Recently, I made a small purchase and the total came out to $7.49.  To my surprise, I actually had enough in my wallet that there was no need to use my credit or debit card.


I quickly counted out my $7 in cash, and then I reached into my pocket to gather the remaining amount in pocket change. As I pulled the coins out my pocket I took a moment and looked at the coins. What stood out at me was the phrase, "In God We Trust." This may have been because I remembered looking at the "In God We Trust" display at the Money Museum. This is what led me to choosing my blog topic for this week, which will be to shed a little light on this historic phrase.


During the Civil War, many Americans were seeking comfort and assurance in religious faith. One man, the Rev. Mark Watkinson, wrote a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Soloman Chase expressing his concern that "recognition of the Almighty God" had been overlooked on the United States coins. Chase wasted little time reacting to the letter. He personally wrote to U.S. Mint Director James Pollock and requested a motto be created that would be used to express the country's trust in God and that could possibly be demonstrated on future coins. 


On April 22, 1864, Congress passed an act that changed the composition of the 1-cent coin to read "In God We Trust," and it also authorized the minting of the 2-cent coin. In that same year the first "In God We Trust" appeared on the 2-cent coin.

Two _cents _1865_o In God We Trust

              (1865 2-Cent Coin)


Two _cents _1865_r In God We Trust

               (1865 2-Cent Coin)

Today the motto appears on all denominations of currency. Even paper money had the phrase printed on it starting in 1957. Yet, there have been times where the phrase has disappeared from currency. For instance, it was taken off the 5-cent coin in 1883 and did not reappear until it was placed on the Jefferson nickel in 1938.


Over the years there has been much controversy over the phrase and its placement on all currency. Some have claimed it violates the United States Constitution and church-state separation principles. Despite the debates that have spilled over into the courts, the phrase, "In God We Trust," remains on all United States currency.


The next time you have the unique opportunity to pay for something with cash or change, take that opportunity to observe the motto and realize that the change in your pocket is much more then metals; rather, it is a reflection of this country's history.  

Written by Brandon Ortega at 06:00



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