In the wake of the Civil War, there was a profound increase in religious sentiment as the American people sought solace and strength after a national tragedy. The Rev. Mark R. Watkinson, a Baptistminister from rural Pennsylvania, sent a letter to the Secretary of Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, urging that the U.S. recognize God on its coins. Chase embraced the idea and directed Mint officials to proceed with designs. Several patterns of various denominations were struck with various mottos, such as "God and Our Country" or "God Our Trust." The final selection was "IN GOD WE TRUST."
The first coin to receive the motto was the 1864 two-cent piece. The Coinage Act of March 3, 1865 legislated that the motto appear on gold and silver coins as well. The first gold coin to bear the motto was the 1866 $10 coin. A flowing banner with the motto was added above the eagle's head on the coin's reverse. The 1866 Liberty Head Gold Eagle with Motto is now one of the most sought-after coinsin the Mint's history.
On July 11, 1955, Congress passed legislation requiring "IN GOD WE TRUST" to appear on all of our nation's coins and paper currency. The following year, "IN GOD WE TRUST" was officially declared the national motto.
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