Why Did Teddy Roosevelt Strongly Oppose Having “In God We Trust” On American Coins?

By Toby Tunwase July 12, 2021

During his presidency, former US president Theodore Roosevelt opposed coinage featuring the motto “In God we trust.” Since most opponents of this bill are anti-religious, it is a shocker. So did he oppose religion? And if not, why didn’t he want it?

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Let’s look at the past a little. In the early 1860s, Congress considered engraving “In God We Trust” on every U.S. coin. Most Americans were in favor of this, but not all.

It was 1864 when the two-cent coin bearing the motto “In God We Trust” first appeared. Salmon P. Chase, the Republican Treasury Secretary during the Civil War, proposed the idea. Religion became increasingly popular as Americans sought to convey the values of their country. During these turbulent years of division, many people aspired to a united North and South.

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Chase agreed to write “In God We Trust” on money to highlight America’s values in response to several letters. At first, 20 coins were printed when the bill was eventually passed. Some Americans, however, disagreed with this motto.

Roosevelt’s strong stance on coins, which had existed for decades then, became apparent in 1907, six years into his presidential tenure.

According to Roosevelt, it wasn’t a cheap slogan. He regarded having a Christian motto on something so secular as coins sacrilegious. The phrase may not be significant to most people, he feared.

Not surprisingly, the motto is part of the constitution presently, but it holds no religious significance for most Americans.