The latest addition to the Newman Numismatic Portal is an 1890 letter from Mint Director Leech about the "In God We Trust" motto. Project Coordinator Len Augsburger
provided the following report. -Editor
Mint Director Leech’s letter to Alabama congressman Joseph Wheeler, 6/12/1890
Mint Director Edward Leech Letter on “In God We Trust” (1890)
While scanning U.S. Mint Director correspondence for the Newman Portal, Roger W. Burdette located an 1890 letter from Director Edward Leech responding to a congressman’s inquiry on the origin of
“In God We Trust” on U.S. coinage. The motto first appeared on the two-cent piece in 1864, although pattern pieces dated 1863 alternately employed GOD AND COUNTRY, GOD OUR TRUST, and IN GOD WE TRUST.
The adoption of “In God We Trust” is one of the better documented design changes within United States coinage and is traced back to a November 13, 1861 letter from Rev. Mark Watkinson of Ridleyville,
PA to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase, urging acknowledgement of Almighty God on American coinage.
Watkinson’s original proposal was much different than that eventually adopted: “What I propose is that instead of the goddess of Liberty we shall have next inside the thirteen stars, a ring
inscribed with the words perpetual union. Within this ring the all-seeing eye, crowned with a halo. Beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its fields stars equal to the number of the States
United. In the fields of the bars the words God, liberty, law.”
Instead of this busy design, legislation simply adding “In God We Trust” was passed April 22, 1864, and U.S. coinage widely adopted the motto in 1865 (smaller denominations were excepted). Thanks
to Bill Bierly, who is currently writing a book on the adoption of “In God We Trust,” for supplying certain of the above information.
Link to Leech 1890 letter on Internet Archive:
Link to U.S. National Archives records on Newman Portal:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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