The “Event”-Our National Motto

Public Law 851 CHAPTER 795
July 30, 1956
JOINT RESOLUTION
[H. J. R e s . 396] To establislih a national motto of the United States.

Resolved By the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States of America in Congress assembled^ That the national motto of
the United States is hereby declared to be “In God we trust.”
Approved July 30, 1966.

In 1955, during the Cold War, Rep. Charles E. Bennett of Florida sought to make a gesture distinguishing America, which he said was “founded in a spiritual atmosphere and with a firm trust in God,” from the anti-religious sentiment associated with communism.

He proposed putting the phrase “In God We Trust,” which began appearing on coins in 1864, on all paper and coin currency. “In these days when imperialistic and materialistic communism seeks to attack and destroy freedom, we should continually look for ways to strengthen the foundations of our freedom,” he declared on the House floor.

His bill quickly passed through the House and Senate, and was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on July 11, 1955.

A year later, the same Congress was presented with a bill to make “In God We Trust” the national motto. The U.S. had never had a national motto, though “E pluribus unum,” meaning “out of many, one,” was considered the de facto motto.

Expressing its support of the bill, the House Judiciary Committee stated, “It will be of great spiritual and psychological value to our country to have a clearly designated national motto of inspirational quality in plain, popularly accepted English.” It added that it found “In God We Trust” to be “a superior and more acceptable motto” than “E pluribus unum.”

Congress passed the bill and Eisenhower signed it into law on July 30, 1956, officially making “In God We Trust” the national motto of the United States.

In 2006, President George W. Bush issued a proclamation commemorating the 50th anniversary of the motto, declaring that it was a time to “reflect on these words that guide millions of Americans, recognize the blessings of the Creator, and offer our thanks for His great gift of liberty.”

Controversy