Image courtesy of the Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives
A World War II veteran, Charles Bennett of Florida served 22-terms in the House of Representatives.
On this date, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law H.R. 619, a bill that required that the inscription “In God We Trust” appear on all paper and coin currency. Representative Charles E. Bennett
of Florida introduced the resolution in the House where it won fast backing from the Committee on Banking and Currency and support from like-minded Members such as Herman Eberharter
of Pennsylvania and Oren Harris
of Arkansas. “Nothing can be more certain than that our country was founded in a spiritual atmosphere and with a firm trust in God,” Bennett proclaimed on the House Floor. “While the sentiment of trust in God is universal and timeless, these particular four words ‘In God We Trust’ are indigenous to our country.” Furthermore, Bennett invoked the cold war struggle in arguing for the measure. “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 said. Adding “In God We Trust” to currency, Bennett believed, would “serve as a constant reminder” that the nation’s political and economic fortunes were tied to its spiritual faith. The inscription had appeared on most U.S. coins since the Civil War, when Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase
first urged its use. Until passage of the 1955 law, however, “In God We Trust” had not appeared on paper currency and, from time to time, had not been inscribed on certain classes of coins. Bennett’s measure sailed through the House, passing on an unrecorded voice vote. The Senate approved the measure less than three weeks later. The first dollar bills bearing the inscription entered circulation in 1957, shortly after “In God We Trust” also had been made the official national motto by an act of Congress.