Liberty – In God We Trust on Coins

On April 22, 1864 Congress passed The Coinage Act of 1864, a United States federal law, changed the composition of the one-cent coin and authorized the minting of the two-cent coin. The Director of the United States Mint was directed to develop the designs for these coins for final approval of the Secretary of the Treasury.

As a result of this law, the phrase “In God We Trust” first appeared on American coinage.  The first appearance was on the 1864 two-cent coin.

When these new coins were circulated in Boston they were described this way in The Liberator.


A few of the two-cent pieces just coined are in circulation in this city. This new coin is a handsome one, a little less in size than the gold eagle and probably composed of the same material as the small cents. It bears on one side a shield, enclosed with an olive wreath, and two crossed arrows, behind it. Below the shield is the date, “1864,” and above it is a scroll, bearing the motto, “In God we trust.” The other side bears the denomination of the coin, “2 CENTS,” surrounded by a wreath of wheat, which again is surrounded by the inscription, “United States of America.

Our old cents used to bear the beautiful word “Liberty” upon them. When the first small cent was coined, (under the Presidency of Franklin Pierce, I believe,) that word was omitted from the coin, an eagle being substituted for head that bore it. Afterwards the eagle gave place to the head of an Indian queen, and the word “Liberty” was restored, though so small as to be nearly illegible. Now under the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln, that significant word is again omited.


Liberty - The Liberator, June 24, 1864

Liberty – The Liberator, June 24, 1864


Collection: The Liberator
Publication: The Liberator
Date: June 24, 1864
Title: Liberty
Location: Boston

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