THE GREAT SEAL OF THE UNITED STATES
The Great Seal of the United States
Upon the birth of the American nation, her forefathers created a national symbol to mark America’s freedom. The authors of the Declaration of Independence became the first committee to design the Great Seal of the United States. These men included Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. There were two more committees that would contribute to the project before the seal was complete.
The final seal was designed by Charles Thomson, who utilized suggestions from each of the committees. Thomson included the American Bald Eagle portrayed behind a striped shield, representing the states and the American government. The eagle holds an olive branch and arrows to symbolize war and peace. The eagle holds a banner in its beak, inscribed with the Latin phrase, ‘E Pluribus Unum’ which means ‘Out of Many, One’. Rays of light pierce clouds above the eagle, representing glory, with the 13 stars within standing for each of the original colonies.
On the back of the Great Seal, there is a blunt topped pyramid, to symbolize strength and longevity. The ‘Eye of Providence’ atop the pyramid is a symbol denoting God, and the gold beams around the eye mean glory. At the base of the pyramid is the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
At the top of the pyramid, there is the Latin phrase ‘Annuit Coeptis.’ This translates as ‘God Has Favoured Our Undertakings.’ Another inscription, found on the inverse side of the seal, is ‘Novus Ordo Seclorum’ that translates as ‘A New Order of the Ages’.
The Great Seal was accepted by Congress on the 20th of June 1782, and has since been the unifying symbol of our great nation. A place you will find the Great Seal is on American currency.
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