It’s been 50 years since “In God We Trust” first appeared on U.S. paper currency, and those four little words have proven to be the source of big debate in the courts.Â
Long before the words were printed on paper money, they first appeared on coins after a Pennsylvania minister wrote to the secretary of the treasury in 1861, suggesting God’s name should be featured on U.S. coins.
“This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism,” wrote the Rev. M.R. Watkinson to Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase in 1861, according to the Web site of the U.S. Treasury Department.
Three years later, U.S. coins began to bear the words “In God We Trust.”
It wasn’t until 1956 that Congress declared those words to be the national motto. On Oct. 1, 1957, they began appearing on the back of dollar bills under the words “The United States of America.”