October 1, 1957 – “In God We Trust” First Appears on Paper Currency

Series 1957 A $1 Silver Certificate


On October 1, 1957, new one-dollar silver certificates were issued inscribed with “In God We Trust”, the first United States paper currency to bear the motto declaring the nation’s faith in a providential God.  Coins of several denominations had borne the motto since Civil War times, when Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received numerous requests from citizens for such a recognition of the Deity.  He requested James Pollack, Director of the Mint at Philadelphia, to “cause such a device to be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition”, because “No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense.  The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.”  Pollock proposed “Our Country; Our God”, or “God, Our Trust”; Chase modified them to “Our God and Our Country” and “In God We Trust” before recommending them to Congress, which passed legislation adopting the mottoes on April 22, 1864.  Later that year, “In God We Trust” made its first appearance on the two-cent coin.

Over the years, the motto appeared on the gold double-eagle coin, the gold eagle coin, the gold half-eagle coin, the silver dollar coin, the half-dollar coin, the quarter-dollar coin, the three-cent coin, the five-cent coin, the one-cent coin, and the ten-cent coin.  The motto was removed from some coins around the turn of the century, prompting public demand that it be restored.  Congress passed an act on May 18, 1908 requiring the motto to be restored to all coins which had originally borne the device.  “In God We Trust” has appeared consistently on all of America’s coins since that time.

It was not until the 1950’s that a joint resolution by the 84th Congress, approved by President Dwight Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, adopted “In God We Trust” as the national motto of the United States.  Then, in 1957, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing began converting its paper money production from the wet intaglio to the dry intaglio printing process.  Dry intaglio printing used high-speed rotary presses which could turn out new bills much faster than the old flat-bed presses used in wet intaglio printing.  During the conversion, as it gradually created the costly new printing plates, the Bureau began including the newly-adopted national motto on all paper currency.  The first bills to be printed using the new process were one-dollar silver certificates.  Federal Reserve notes in one-dollar, five-dollar, ten-dollar, and twenty-dollar denominations began to bear the motto in 1964.  Fifty and one-hundred dollar bills were first printed with “In God We Trust” in 1966.

August 28, 1957 – Congress Passes the Poultry Products Inspection Act

Poultry processing in the 1950s at the Piedmont Dressing Plant in Concord, North Carolina. Photo Source: NCSU Library Digital Collection

Poultry processing in the 1950s at the Piedmont Dressing Plant in Concord, North Carolina. Photo Source: NCSU Library Digital Collection

On August 28, 1957, the United States Congress passed the Poultry Products Inspection Act. This comprehensive piece of legislation established uniform standards for inspecting all varieties of poultry to prevent diseased or contaminated birds from entering the food supply. Prior to this date, the US Department of Agriculture had monitored poultry quality only at the invitation of individual poultry processors. The 1957 Poultry Products Inspection Act required processors to cooperate with government inspectors. Provisions of the act also spelled out penalties for companies selling contaminated products or failing to maintain sanitary conditions in their plants.

Specifically, the act, under the governance of the Department of Agriculture, established rules for pre- and post-mortem inspection of poultry, with procedures for the quarantine and disposal of products deemed unfit . It authorized the establishment of sanitary practices for facilities and equipment which would also be verified by inspection. It established labeling standards, listed prohibited practices aimed at circumventing quality assurance, and specified fines and even possible prison sentences for those companies not complying with the regulations.

Some exemptions to the act’s provisions included those individuals who raised and slaughtered their own poultry, poultry processed for uses other than human consumption, and, curiously, pizza! The USDA inspectors evidently didn’t want to maintain a presence in the some kitchens (and felt it necessary to state so). Here’s how they spelled it out:

“The Secretary shall exempt pizzas containing a poultry product from the inspection requirements of this chapter if –

(A) the poultry product components of the pizzas have been prepared, inspected, and passed in a cured or cooked form as ready-to-eat in compliance with the requirements of this chapter; and

(B) the pizzas are to be served in public or private nonprofit institutions.”

In other words, no USDA inspectors wearing hairnets in school kitchens (among other places)!

The 1957 Poultry Products Inspection Act remained in force until July 31, 2014, when new regulations were established after much wrangling between the USDA, the poultry processing industry, and labor unions. The government wanted processors to perform some of the poultry inspections themselves, freeing government inspectors to focus more of their attention on sanitary conditions in general. Feathers flew and the poultry processors and unions opposed this, but the USDA prevailed. The processors also wanted to speed up the production line from 140 to 175 chickens per minute, which the unions opposed, and which the government decided to veto.