Did you ever wonder why it says "In God We Trust" on money? It was not meant to be a religious statement. Rather, it was the only way my ancestor could think of to get away with printing "Do Not Trust In Money" on the money. That is to say, "there is no inherent value in money." But, how do you get that past your supervisors? He was a funny and clever guy.
"In God We Trust" -- James Pollock, Philadelphia Director of the Mint
"In God We Trust" was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956 as an alternative or replacement to the unofficial motto of E pluribus unum, which was adopted when the Great Seal of the United States was created and adopted in 1782.
"In God we trust" first appeared on U.S. coins in 1864 and has appeared on paper currency since 1957. Some secularists object to its use.
It is also the motto of the U.S. state of Florida. Its Spanish equivalent, En Dios Confiamos, is the motto of the Republic of Nicaragua.
The phrase appears to have originated in "The Star-Spangled Banner", written during the War of 1812. The fourth stanza includes the phrase, "And this be our motto: 'In God is our Trust.'" According to Ted Alexander, Chief Historian at Antietam National Battlefield, the contracted "In God We Trust" was first used by the 125th Pennsylvania Infantry as a battle cry on September 17, 1862, during the Battle of Antietam of the American Civil War. "The Star-Spangled Banner", which includes the phrase "And this be our motto: In God is our Trust" in its fourth stanza
The final form of the motto and its placement upon currency were forged entirely within this crucible of national turmoil (lasting from 1861 to 1865). The Reverend M. R. Watkinson, in a letter dated November 13, 1861, petitioned the Treasury Department to add a statement recognising "Almighty God in some form in our coins." At least part of the motivation was to declare that God was on the Union side of the Civil War.
Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase acted on this proposal and directed the then-Philadelphia Director of the Mint, James Pollock, to begin drawing up possible designs that would include the religious phrase. Chase chose his favorite designs and presented a proposal to Congress for the new designs in late 1863.
As Chase was preparing his recommendation to Congress, it was found that the Act of Congress dated January 18, 1837, prescribed the mottoes and devices that should be placed upon the coins of the United States. This meant that the mint could make no changes without the enactment of additional legislation by the Congress. Such legislation was introduced and passed on April 22, 1864, allowing the Secretary of the Treasury to authorize the inclusion of the phrase on one-cent and two-cent coins.
An Act of Congress passed on March 3, 1865, allowed the Mint Director, with the Secretary's approval, to place the motto on all gold and silver coins that "shall admit the inscription thereon." In 1873, Congress passed the Coinage Act, granting that the Secretary of the Treasury "may cause the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to be inscribed on such coins as shall admit of such motto."
The use of "In God we trust" has not been uninterrupted. The motto disappeared from the five-cent coin in 1883, and did not reappear until production of the Jefferson nickel began in 1938. In 1908, Congress made it mandatory that the phrase be printed on all coins upon which it had previously appeared. This decision was motivated after a public outcry following the release of a $20 coin which did not bear the motto. The motto has been in continuous use on the one-cent coin since 1909, and on the ten-cent coin since 1916. It also has appeared on all gold coins and silver dollar coins, half-dollar coins, and quarter-dollar coins struck since July 1, 1908. Since 1938, all US coins have borne the motto.