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David Mislin go not occupational for, consult, own shares in or receive capital from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has discover no pertinent affiliations past their scholastic appointment.

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In his attend to to the national Prayer Breakfast ~ above the morning of Feb. 8, president Donald trumped emphasized the centrality of belief in American life. After describing the nation as a “nation of believers,” trumped reminded his audience that American money features the expression “In God we Trust” as does the Pledge that Allegiance. He also declared that “our civil liberties are not provided to united state by man” however “come from ours Creator.”

These remarks come a main after Trump attached religion through American identification in his first State of the Union address. ~ above Jan. 30, he likewise invoked “In God us Trust” while proclaiming one “American way” in i m sorry “faith and also family, not government and also bureaucracy, space the center of the American life.”

But the history of together language is more complex than Trump’s assertions suggest.


chairman Trump in ~ the nationwide Prayer Breakfast. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The ar of “In God we Trust,” and comparable invocations of God in national life, have actually been a topic of debate. From my perspective as a religious background scholar they reflect a details view the the joined States, no a universally accepted “American way.”

The civil War

Political rhetoric linking the United says with a divine power arised on a big scale through the outbreak the the Civil battle in 1861. M.R. Watkinson, a Pennsylvania clergyman, urged the location of “In God we Trust” ~ above coins at the war’s outset in stimulate to assist the North’s cause. Together language, Watkinson wrote, would “place united state openly under the magnificent protection.”

Putting the expression on coins was simply the beginning.

In 1864, with the Civil war still raging, a group supported by the North’s major Protestant denominations began advocating readjust to the preamble of the Constitution. The propose language – i beg your pardon anticipated chairman Trump’s remarks around the origin of Americans’ legal rights – would have asserted that Americans known “Almighty God together the resource of all authority and also power in civil government.”

If the amendment’s supporters had succeeded in having their way, Christian belief would be deeply embedded in the United claims government.

But, together invocations of God in national politics were no to last. Despite lobbying by significant Protestant denominations such together the Methodists, this so-called Sovereignty the God modification was never ratified.


The 1849 liberty head architecture by James B. Longacre. National Numismatic Collection, nationwide Museum the American History.

Though “In God we Trust” was added to coins, it was not included to the progressively common paper money. In fact, when coins were redesigned so late in the 19th century, it disappeared from coins as well.

As I show in my book, these advancements were pertained to the spread out of secularism in the post-Civil battle U.S. Because that many people at the time, placing spiritual language in the structure or on symbols of government was not continuous with American ideals.

The renewal of ‘In God we Trust’

The 1950s, however, experienced a dramatic rebirth of religious language in government and politics. It was that te that carried “In God we Trust” right into widespread use.

In 1955, president Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill placing the expression on every American currency. One sponsor of the legislation, Congressman Charles Bennett, echoed the sentiments that had inspired the Sovereignty the God amendment throughout the polite War. Bennett proclaimed, the the U.S. “was started in a spirituality atmosphere and also with a firm to trust in God.”

The following year, “In God us Trust” was embraced as the very first official motto the the unified States.


U.S. Capitol’s ‘In God us Trust’ plaque. USCapitol (

Both the these advances reflected the desire to emphasize Americans’ religious commitment in the beforehand years of the Cold War. Chroniclers such as Jonathan Herzog have actually chronicled how leaders varying from chairman Eisenhower to the evangelist Billy Graham emphasize on the solid faith of the country in setup the U.S. Except the godlessness the Soviet communism.

Recently, however, Princeton University historian Kevin Kruse has presented that spiritual language to be not just rhetoric against communism. “In God we Trust” reflect domestic pertains to as well.

The id in American religiosity that placed “In God we Trust” on coins and made it the national motto in the 1950s had emerged over several decades. Conservative businessmen had allied with ministers, including Billy Graham, to combat the social welfare policies and government growth that started with Franklin Roosevelt’s new Deal. This wide-ranging programs, draft to tackle the an excellent Depression, irked plenty of conservatives. Lock objected to federal government intervention in business and Roosevelt’s assistance for job unions.

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As Kruse notes, this alliance that conservative organization leaders and ministers linked “faith, freedom, and totally free enterprise.”

In this way then, chairman Trump’s repeated assertions that “In God us Trust” can be claimed to reflect certain American values. But, as my study shows, for lot of U.S. History, the acceptance of such worths ebbed and flowed.

“In God us Trust” is a no a motto that mirrors universally shared historic values. Quite it represents a certain political, financial and spiritual perspective – one the is taken on by chairman Trump and the modern GOP.