The two-cent piece was minted from 1864-73 in response to a large number of coins that disappeared from circulation due to the economic distress of the Civil War. Four years prior to the coin's release, Reverend M.R. Watkinson suggested that, given the country's turmoil, a reference to God should be added to coinage.

This two-cent coin was the first to say "In God We Trust" and popularized the motto. From 1983 on, these words have been inscribed on all US coins.

Designed by James B. Longacre (who also designed the Flying Eagle and the Indian Heady Penny), the shield under the motto represents strength and unity and has 13 vertical stripes - one for each state. This is the only two-cent coin by the US Mint.