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Breanna McOmber

History 1700-54

Signature Assignment Question #1:

For quite some time now there has been much controversy over the who, what, when,

where and why of the phrase, In God We Trust on U.S. currency. I am here to give you a

personal explanation of these five W questions and to hopefully pin point some of the reasons it

came to be so ingrained in our U.S. history.

The use of In God We trust has been popping up on currency since 1864. The most

common explanation of its early use is typically along the lines of it was used to increase

religious sediment. However, in my research I have come to conclude that it was mostly the

fault of War. Before we delve into that mess lets first examine how it passed in Congress in the

first place.

Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase was issued many requests during the Civil

War to include the reference of God on our currency. According to The Almost Chosen People

Blog, Chase, had been in favor of doing so since 1861 after a letter he received from Rev. M. R.

Watkinson as quoted below:

Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury had been looking for an opportunity to place

such a motto on coins since he received the following letter dated November 13, 1861 from the

Rev. M. R. Watkinson Almost Chosen People Blog (link to full letter in work cited).

The Director of the United States Mint designed the newly mottoed one and two-cent

coins which then receive final approval by Chase, who gladly obliged. The passage of this Mint
was made possible through The Coinage Act of 1864 which was officially passed on April 22

that same year. Although it was ultimately approved by Chase, you can see there was still

requests by the people for the inclusion of the phrase. The Civil War was a time of a panicked

nation. People with no hope tend to look for a light at the end of a tunnel, and in this case, it was

the idea of a God or life after death since death seemed so close.

The motto appeared again nearly a decade later on our dollar bill. However, this time it

was used as a response to the threat of communism during the Cold War. It was a time of rivalry

between the U.S. and Russia or Capitalism vs Communism. However, this time the famous

motto wasnt used to calm a nation, it was used as a symbolic threat against communism because

the one thing that communist didnt believe in was religion. So, in other words,

To combat soviet godlessness Washington D.C. became a beacon of religiousness.

- NowThis News

Which lead to a number of argumentative events such as the prayer room being built in

the White House. President Eisenhower was baptized and began attending the Prayer Breakfast.

Then, the words, Under God was added to the Pledge of Allegiance and finally our motto was

officially changed from E Pluribus, Unum (out of one, many) to In God We Trust. Thus,

leading it to being included on all currency.

Charles Bennet was a Representative at the time was the one who introduced the

legislation that put the motto on all currency. The following quote was made by him:
In these days when imperialistic and materialistic communism seeks to attack and

destroy freedom, we should continually look for ways to strengthen the foundation of our

freedom.

To conclude everything, I hope you can note that the motto wasnt just a religious

sediment. It was used as a sign of hope during the Civil War and a mechanism of unity during

the end of the Cold War. Or at least to unify us against communism at all costs.
WORK CITED:

http://history.house.gov/Historical-Highlights/1951-2000/The-legislation-placing-

%E2%80%9CIn-God-We-Trust%E2%80%9D-on-national-currency/ - single paragraph

webpage, no other navigation needed.

http://www.pbs.org/godinamerica/god-in-the-white-house/ - Scroll down to President Dwight

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A36Iq5qNukQ - short video no navigation needed.

http://time.com/4179685/in-god-we-trust-currency-history/ - Single page, no navigation needed.

https://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/april-22-1864-coinage-act-of-1864-and-

in-god-we-trust/ - referenced first paragraph on page, letters to Chase listed after first paragraph

were referenced.