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22 April 2010

On this day in history: U.S. Congress authorised Two-Cent coin, 1864

On 22nd April 1864 the U.S. Congress passed an Act to authorise the issuance of a two-cent coin. This Act also gave the the U.S. Treasury discretionary powers to decide what inscriptions were stamped on the lower denomination coinage. As a result of this legislation the two-cent coin was the first U.S. currency to carry the inscription 'In God We Trust'.

Before this time the coins and notes in circulation bore no overtly Christian references; however, the increased religious feeling during the American Civil War led to many appeals landing on the desk of the Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, requesting that the country's currency show some reference to God. Other coins were also redesigned to carry the inscription, 'In God We Trust', which eventually became the motto of the U.S.A. in 1956. The following year the motto appeared on bank notes for the first time.

While the motto continued in usage until the current day, the two-cent coin did not fair so well. It was only produced for ten years. You can read about the rise and fall of the two cent piece at the Coin Community web site. Also, the U.S. Treasury web-site includes a page telling the history of the 'In God We Trust' motto.

Related posts
First European banknotes: 16th July 1661
First banknotes issued in America: 3rd February 1690
The United States Mint established: 2nd April 1792

2 comments:

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