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Published:August 19th, 2009 14:58 EST
Tradition or Progress: The Current Currency Debate

Tradition or Progress: The Current Currency Debate

By Daniel Marsche

The current debate over our American currency is heating up like a wild fire blazing across the dry, mid-western prairie lands.   In God We Trust " is the phrase striking " up controversy.  It seems the adopted motto stamped and printed on our coins and cotton doesn`t resonate well with all Americans.  The great hullabaloo is really no more than a symptom of the natural evolution of a diverse society in search of universal, governmental representation being met by the latent, fundamental, human resistance to change.  The arguments, of course, will vary subjectively, but, at the heart of the matter, it is merely a question of tradition or progress.  Before you pitch your tent in either camp, though, there are probably some facts you may want to consider in order to make an informed decision.


A common misconception in American society is that our currency and coinage has always been stamped with the motto In God We Trust. "  This belief, romantic as it may seem to some, is just simply not true.


The facts:


1.  The U.S. Mint was founded in 1792 following the April 2nd Congressional passing of The Coinage Act


2.  The first Director of the Mint was David Rittenhouse, an American scientist appointed by George Washington


3.  In God We Trust " was not stamped on a U.S. coin until the year 1864 " seventy-two years after the mint`s founding


So what we have is an institution erected by government (politicians) and run by a scientist (not a minister, reverend, rabbi, guru, priest or vicar).*   It wasn`t until November of 1861 that consideration for the inclusion of a tribute to God was suggested by Reverend M. R. Watkinson, Minister of the Gospel from Ridleyville, Pennsylvania.  In a letter to then Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, the Reverend Watkinson beseeched a, recognition of the Almighty God "on our coins. "** 


Ultimately, the request was honored, but what is worth noting here is:  It was Reverend Watkinson`s pleas along with those of many others that fostered the development and, finally, the striking of the first coin to bear the now divisive motto In God We Trust " in the year of 1864.  It was the voice of the people that brought God to the mint not a governmental imposition of theosophy.  Fast forward now to our current debate and one will find that the ambition is quite literally the same.  We are in the midst of breaking with what has been considered a tradition to fulfill the desires of the new voices burgeoning through our streets; the voices that decry a need for deities on dollars and cents.  Is it wrong?  Is it right?  It is neither.  It is merely a reflection of the new America rising up in our presence. 


So do we, as a nation, opt for tradition or progress?  And furthermore, precisely which is which?  If the tradition " the original tradition " is money without motto, and progress is honoring the voice of the people, are we not achieving both by removing it?  Please ask yourselves these questions before taking up residence on either side of the proverbial fence.  So far as it has been proven, the absence of God on our currency does not make it any more difficult to purchase a bible than the presence of God on our currency makes it to purchase guns, drugs or prostitutes.  So render unto Caesar what is Caesar`s, and do not disallow the new generation of Americans to be heard.  We are, after all, a democracy founded by and for the sake of religious freedom, and our banking systems simply do not operate on faith.


 *Ref: US Mint   

**Ref:  US Department of the Treasury: