When Francis Scott Key first wrote the words to “The Star Spangled Banner,” he included a phrase hardly noticed but oft-repeated now. “Then conquer we must,” he wrote in a stanza all but forgotten now, “when our cause is just / And this be our motto — ‘In God is our trust.’” The motto was first stamped on coins at the insistence of a reverend, but had to be shortened somewhat to fit. Several versions of coins were issued before the official phrasing “In God We Trust” was settled on, and spread from the coins to the spirit of the nation.
On this day, July 30, in 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a law to make the motto stamped on U.S. currency for nearly a century the official motto of the U.S.
As many symbolic Congressional acts at the time, this one was intended to form another distinction between the atheistic communist Soviet Union and the U.S. The Cold War was nearing its peak at the time, and the country was beset with a second Red Scare in less than half a century. The vote in the House of Representatives to adopt the motto was 363-9.