The Civil War was supposed to be a “short” war,
but it wasn’t. People got scared about how long the war
was lasting and started “hoarding” (or saving) their
coins instead of spending them. This caused a huge shortage
of coins in the U.S.
Because there were no coins in circulation, American Businesses
started producing their own cheap “tokens” made
from bronze so people could use them to buy goods. When the
government saw that people didn’t really care how much
the metal in the coin was worth, they decided to change all
of the small coins in the country. This is when the two-cent
coin was born.
The two-cent coin was the first to use the motto, “In
God We Trust.” This was at a time when a lot of men
and boys were dying, and people tended to feel very religious.
The Reverend M. R. Watkinson, a minister from Ridleyville,
Pennsylvania wrote to the Treasury Secretary and said that
he thought it was time for the government to put the “recognition
of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.”
Even though it wasn’t a law, “In God We Trust”
has been on almost all coins since then. In 1955, Congress
passed a law that all coins in the U.S. carry that motto.