Kavan Ratnatunga writes:
"I am going through an interesting collection of old newspapers put online in Singapore. I did not know of this statement by President Roosevelt."
Theodore Roosevelt championed new designs for U.S. coinage, most famously reaching out to sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The designs did not include the "In God We Trust" motto which first appeared on the two cent piece in 1864. The January 3, 1908 article published a letter from Roosevelt putting forth his reasoning on the matter.
Kavan also found the letter in the New York Times archive, where it appeared on 11/14/1907.
I reached out to numismatic researcher William Bierly, author
of In God We Trust: The American Civil War, Money, Banking, and Religion.
"Yes, this was a big flap at the time and TR caught a lot of heat about it. The Republicans were very nervous about the public reaction as the Democrats were taking advantage of it. But TR seemed adamant about it so a group of Republicans persuaded Congressman Hampton Moore, a friend of the president, to talk with him about it. After a "difficult discussion" TR reluctantly agreed to not veto a bill passed by Congress restoring "In God We Trust".
"Roosevelt wrote "Congressman Moore says the House Committee wants to pass a bill restoring the motto to the coin. I tell him it is not necessary; it is rot; but the Congressman says there is misapprehension as to the religious purport of it. . . . I repeat, it is rot, pure rot, but I am telling the Congressman if Congress wants to pass a bill restoring the motto, I shall not veto it."
"The press had a field day with the issue and had numerous cartoons mocking both sides of the issue. My book devotes a chapter (17) to the story. I had a lot of fun researching and writing that chapter. Controversy of course surrounds the motto on our coinage to this day ."
Great topic. Thanks, everyone.
To read the complete article, see:
In God We Trust.
Straits Echo, 3 January 1908, Page 7
Teddy Roosevelt's letter on his reverential reason for "Dropping In God We Trust" from money.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NEW BOOK: IN GOD WE TRUST
Wayne Homren, Editor
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