Sixty-five years ago tomorrow, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law a resolution that enshrined “In God We Trust” as our nation’s official motto.
“In God We Trust” is the nation’s first official motto — the de facto motto “E Pluribus Unum” (out of many, one) was never legally codified. That same day, July 30, 1956, the 84th Congress also passed a measure to require all American currency to include “In God We Trust,” which is why your Abe Lincolns and Alexander Hamiltons have the phrase on their backsides.
The phrase first appeared on U.S. coins to respond to increased religiosity during the Civil War, being stamped on a two-cent coin issued in 1864. After appearing on most coins until 1873, the motto disappeared but would sometimes reappear. It wasn’t until the Eisenhower administration that it was permanently enshrined on American currency.