Friday, 25 November 2011 00:00Unlike Stanley Ronell, I congratulate Gary Ackerman for his vote against the “In God We Trust Motto” bill. Mr. Ronell seems to feel that only those who believe in what he does deserve any appreciation, but all he did was display his ignorance on where this motto came from.
In 1863, Salmon Chase, then Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury, acting on his own, decided to put In God We Trust on Union currency. Lincoln acceded to this, but was not thrilled. Neither was Teddy Roosevelt, who wanted it removed. In 1956, in a response to the paranoid McCarthyism raging through the country, Congress, in its usual fit of non-wisdom decided to make “In God We Trust” our national motto, to go with the 1954 idea (after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus) that “under God” should be added to the pledge of allegiance.
The Founding Fathers, who acted more under the philosophy of Lucius Quinictius Cincinnatus (whom they all frequently cited) than any monotheistic doctrine, never used such a motto. These, after all, are the titans who wrote the Constitution and used phrases like “Separation of Church and State.” The 1950s was also the period when the Cincinnati Reds (no pun intended but a funny coincidence) changed their names to the Redlegs to make sure everyone knew they weren’t Communists either.
Thank you Congressman Ackerman for knowing your American history; shame on Mr. Ronell for not.