No nation can be strong except in the strength of God or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins. You will cause a device to be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition.
I approve your mottos, only suggesting that on that with the Washington obverse, the motto should begin with the word “Our,” so as to read: “Our God and our Country.” And on that with the shield, it should be changed so as to read: “In God We Trust.”
— from a Nov. 20, 1861, letter and Dec. 9, 1863, letter, respectively, to the director of the Philadelphia Mint by Salmon Portland Chase
Salmon Portland Chase (1808–1873) was an American politician who served as a U.S. senator from Ohio, the 23rd governor of Ohio and U.S. treasury secretary under Abraham Lincoln; he also served as the sixth U.S. chief justice. He was known as being stridently anti-slavery, coining the Free Soil Party’s slogan, “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men.” He presided over the senate trial of Andrew Johnson and, as the above quote makes clear, coined (literally) the expression of the U.S.’s faith in God inscribed on all the country’s legal tender.