The Civil War is undoubtedly one of the darkest times in American history.
Overshadowed by the death and devastation of that terrible time is the spiritual awareness that took place. Family members of soldiers prayed more than ever before. Church attendance was at an all time high, including hundreds of tent revival services that took place. There were many preaching services, prayer meetings, and testimony services held near the encampments of both Union and Confederate troops, all of which were highly attended by soldiers. Confederate chaplain J. William Jones, estimated that some 150,000 soldiers trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior during the Civil War.
The growing spiritual sentiment caused many people to write letters to Washington, urging the Treasury Department to recognize God on our coins. One such letter came from Rev. M.R. Watkinson, saying: “One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins… What if our Republic were shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation?” Perhaps Rev. Watkinson’s motivation for that letter came from Psalms 145:4, which reads: “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.”
Unfortunately, many people in our nation are trying to erase our history, including any and all references to God. Rev. Watkinson, along with numerous others, wanted future generations to know that we were a nation who trusted in God. As a result of his letter and others, in late November 1861 Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase wrote the following to James Pollock, Director of the Mint located in Philadelphia.
“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.”
After a few years of debate, the motto IN GOD WE TRUST was printed on a two cent piece in 1864, and later added to other coins. On July 30, 1956, President Eisenhower approved a Joint Resolution of the 84th Congress, declaring IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States. Since 1957 IN GOD WE TRUST has been printed on all currency.
Money is what millions of Americans put their trust in. The motto IN GOD WE TRUST, printed on our currency, should be a reminder that God is the only one we can trust with anything and everything.
“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Psalms 118:8).
As we journey thru this time of prayer and fasting for the upcoming election, it should also be our hope and prayer that this time will enhance our relationship with God, and as a result, we will learn what it really means to trust God.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).