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Presidential Dollar Edge Lettering Change Becomes Law

By December 27, 2007

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President Bush has signed into law the major federal government appropriations act (see my previous coverage on HR-2764) which includes two coin-related provisions. One of the provisions adds 6 more coins to the popular Statehood Quarters series, sort of. The other provision requires the Mint to move the motto In God We Trust from the edge of the Presidential Dollars (and presumably the post-2008 Sacagawea Dollars, which will also have edge lettering) to one of the faces of the coin. The legislation doesn't specify which side of the coin the Motto must appear, but my guess is that it will be one the reverse, (the side with the Statue of Liberty) since this is the static, or non-changing side of the coin. Incorporating the Motto into the ever-changing obverse designs would not only defeat one of the hallmarks of the Presidential Dollar series (wide open, clean coin designs) but also open the Mint to constant continuing controversy if some folks don't like the lettering style the Motto is in one issue, or the size of the letters, or even the placement of the Motto. Putting it on the reverse, in one unchanging spot, is probably the safest and best solution for all concerned.

The subject of In God We Trust on our coinage is one of those challenging emotional issues that rarely see two sides duking it out. For folks that feel strongly about the Motto, and believe it should enjoy a position of emphasis on our coins, the issue took on a life of its own. People wrote letters and began viral email marketing campaigns (aka chain letters) to stir up support for the cause. But people on the other side of the issue, the people who really don't care where the Motto appears (or indeed, if it appears at all,) generally didn't get their dander up over the matter, and so for the most part, only one side of the issue was heard by Congress, thus the changes that have became law.

The comments I received from readers were fairly mixed when it comes to placing the Motto back on the faces. Some excerpts:
Don’t our legislators have better things to do with their time than micromanaging coin design? National health insurance, for example? Balancing the budget? --gdnp
“One Nation Under God” should fill the remainder of the incused rim. --Phil
The U.S.Mint is becoming the Wal-Mart of the gov. Creating more designs to sell. As for “In God We Trust” it should never have moved to the edge. --Gary Wilson
God giveth. And God taketh away!! It doesn't matter to me where the motto ends up, as long as they don’t remove it. Which would take “another” act of congress to do. -coinycom
If ¨In God We Trust¨ is moved to the face of the coin, ¨E Pluribus Unum¨ better be also. That was and is still the primary text representing our country. But then we might as well drop edge lettering entirely, but my preference is to keep it as-is. --Frank
I’m again hearing grumbling from all those people who want the “God” reference removed from coins citing separation in the Constitution. Actually they should probably read the Constitution which actually says the Gov’t should aid the practice of religion. Amazing how many people yell tolerance and haven’t figured out their tolerance only applies to those who agree with them. --Frank (Ed. Note: This is a different "Frank." Perhaps people who comment could start adding their last initial?)
The legislation mandating this edge lettering change stipulates that the change should take effect as soon as is "practicable." The next Presidential Dollar, the James Monroe coin, will be issued on Feb. 14, 2008, but many, if not most of these coins are probably already struck, given that they need time to wend their way through the Federal Reserve System's distribution network to the banks (which can start requesting them 2 weeks ahead of release.) Therefore, the soonest that we might see the edge lettering change would be the John Quincy Adams coin set for May 15th. Of course, the Mint could also opt to make the edge lettering change in mid-stream, making two varieties for one or more Presidential Dollar issues, but my feeling is that the Mint, which seems to abhor the tiniest deviance from the norm, will wait to make the change wholly in one given issue. This would, of course, result in the inevitable accidental release of coins with the wrong inscriptions on the edge, so perhaps the Mint is better off mixing them up after all. Anyway, they probably have some stock of edge lettering dies to use up that have the In God We Trust on them and we all hate wasting taxpayer money, right?

Update: The U.S. Mint has announced that the soonest it can make the edge lettering change is 2009, because the dies have already been set for the 2008 series of coins. The designs for the 2008 Presidential Dollars can be seen in the Presidential Dollar Photo Gallery.


May 21, 2008 at 2:30 pm
(1) Carleton Vance says:

God is the omly correct believe we have to run our lives and country. God being taken off the coins etc is the same as giving up our country. Make your choice!

August 1, 2008 at 12:27 pm
(2) Thomas says:

Federally produced coins should not reference a being called God, but the unfortunate majority of Americans still accept this Constitutional violation; credit the brainwashing of the various churches and the politicians. I would prefer a coin that expressed my own motto: “In the Easter Bunny We Trust,” although I would accept “In Santa We Trust” or “In the Tooth Fairy We Trust.”

November 21, 2008 at 1:19 am
(3) Eric says:

I prefer “In Allah we Trust”

The comments by the second Frank are a blantant lie. The United States constition explicitly prohibits any government endorsement of religion.

The phrase is unconstitional and never appeared on American currency until 1955. The “pledge” was modified in 1954 to contain “under god”.

Government endorsement of religion is not only illegal, its unamerican. The country was founded completely and utterly secular.

June 21, 2009 at 6:08 am
(4) Christien C says:

Actually, in response to Eric’s comment, I offer the specific words from the First Amendment to The Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

We must also consider the intent of this mentioning of religion, in that it’s sole purpose was to prevent the establishment by the government of a “state” religion, such as had been established by the King of England.

I also disagree about The United States of America being founded as a “secular” nation. One of the most famous images of George Washington is the painting of him praying in the snow at Valley Forge. In fact, the sentiment of those who worked and fought to create this great nation was that it would be only by the Presence of a Power greater than man, that victory would be achieved.

From the preamble to The Declaration Of Independence, “…and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them…” and “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…”

The concern of the Founders was not for the existence of God, but that the perception of God for one man, not be defined by another.

I have Silver Dollars from 1881 and 1885, and it says very clearly on the obverse “In God We Trust”.

July 19, 2010 at 3:13 pm
(5) Kate says:

Please people read about the history of the USA and the founders prior to making comments. The founders are all strong believers of God. Read about comments that the presidents have said and Ben Franklin quotes about their own belief with God. They are related to God in a positive way in relation to USA. Please don’t take our history and please educate yourself cause you sound so silly with some of your comments:)

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