Origin of the United States National Motto
IN GOD WE TRUST, designated as the U. S. National Motto by Congress
in 1956, originated during the Civil War as an inscription for
U. S. coins, although it was used by Francis Scott Key in a slightly
different form when he wrote The Star Spangled Banner in 1814. On
Nov. 13, 1861, when Union morale had been shaken by battlefield
defeats, the Rev. M. R. Watkinson, of Ridleyville, Pa. wrote to
Secy. of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, "From my heart I have felt
our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present
national disasters," the minister wrote, suggesting "recognition
of the Almighty God in some form on our coins." Secy. Chase
ordered designs prepared with the inscription IN GOD WE TRUST and
backed coinage legislation which authorized use of this slogan.
It first appeared on some U. S. coins in 1864, disappeared and
reappeared on various coins until 1955, when Congrress ordered it
placed on all paper money and all coins.