Great Seal of the United States - Reverse

Great Seal of the United States

Great Seal of the United States - Obverse

Great Seal of the United States for Kids
The content of this article provides interesting facts and information about Great Seal of the United States of America.
The Great Seal of the United States of America is important as it represents and conveys the ideas, aspirations and beliefs of the country. The Great Seal of the United States instantly conveys interesting information and ideas about America. The images captured on the Great Seal of the United States summarize and encapsulate the history, values and ideals of the people of America.

Great Seal of the United States for Kids
The Great Seal of the United States  serves as a symbol of authenticity which verifies that government documents and papers of state are official and legal. The Great Seal of the United States seal is also an emblem that is representative of the country's origins, history, character and ideals. The spirit of America is reflected in the national motto of the United States of America. The Great Seal of the United States identifies government buildings and officials. The symbolism, history and emblems of the Great Seal of the United States are described in this article with fast, fun facts, pictures and information. The images and symbolism of the  Great Seal of the United States of America conveys a sense of history and achievements to all those who look at it.

 
 

Great Seal of the United States - Purpose & History of Seals
Seals have a very long history and were even mentioned even in the Bible. Seals were first used because most persons, even wealthy people and the nobility, could not read or write. The highest ranking people showed their agreement and acceptance of an important document by making an impression of their coat of arms, usually with an engraved signet ring, into a blob of soft wax. This was the early version of a personal document being 'signed and sealed'.

Great Seal of the United States
The uniqueness of an official seal meant it was difficult to forge or tamper with official documents. This eventually led to the idea that documents of state should also contain an imprint of a seal that bore witness to their authenticity. It therefore became important for every nation to have a Great Seal of state.  A seal provided a pictorial expression of approval which everyone could understand this was in the mind of the men who designed the
Great Seal of the United States.

Great Seal of the United States - The Obverse and the Reverse Sides
A 'Great Seal' is the principal seal of a government or state, with which official documents are stamped. Great Seal of the United States has two sides, the obverse (front) and the reverse side. When Congress adopted the Great Seal in 1782, "pendant seals" were in use. A wax disk was attached to the document by ribbons or cords. The disk had two sides, there was therefore the need for both a front or obverse side and a reverse side of the seal. Symbolically, the Great Seal of the United States reflects the beliefs and values that the Founding Fathers attached to the new nation and wished to pass on to their descendants.

Great Seal of the United States Motto - Front

 

Great Seal of the United States - Use of the Front Obverse Side
The obverse or front side of the Great Seal of the United States is used 2,000 to 3,000 times a year to authenticate the signature of the President on numerous official documents such as treaty ratifications, international agreements, appointments of Ambassadors and communications from the President to heads of foreign governments. The image on the obverse side of the Great Seal of the United States can also be shown on passports, coins, postage stamps, monuments and flags.

Great Seal of the United States of America - Use of the Reverse Side
The reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States is never used in the same way as the front seal.  The reverse has never been cut (as a seal) but is seen everyday on the back of the one-dollar bill.

Great Seal of the United States of America - Symbolism
The story of the development of the Great Seal of the United States makes fascinating reading - it is one small, but incredibly important element that became part of the making of a new nation - America. The images on the Great Seal of the United States are full of symbolism and meaning. The men who designed the Great Seal of the United States were educated in Roman and Greek classical mythology and were knowledgeable of art history and symbolism of heraldry. The history of many of the symbols date back hundreds of years to the European medieval era and the rules of heraldry on Coats of Arms. These old crests and coats of Arms bore mottos in the classical language of Latin, which is where we start the story of the mottos on the Great Seal of the United States of America.

 

The Motto on the Front of the Great Seal of the United States
The national motto of the United States of America is
"E pluribus unum" a phrase in Latin which means 'Out of many, one'. The words of the motto on the front of the seal are displayed on the yellow banner that the great eagle holds in its beak.

"E pluribus unum"

This is an excellent motto for America as it succinctly reflects the ideals of a country which began with the 13 original states and then, over a relatively short period of time, extended into a nation of 50 states.

"Out of Many, one"

Reverse of the Great Seal of the United States of America
Two mottos appear on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States of America. The motto over the eye is:

 "Annuit Coeptis" meaning  (He [God] has favored our undertakings)

This alludes to the many interventions of Providence in favor of the American cause. The second motto is:

Novus Ordo Seclorum meaning (A new order of the ages)

This motto signifies the beginning of the new American era in 1776.

 

 

Reverse of the Great Seal of the United States of America

Reverse of the Great Seal of the United States of America

 

Facts about the Great Seal of the United States for kids
The following facts about the Great Seal of the United States of America tell the story of its creation:

     
Great Seal of the United States - Reverse Facts about the History and Creation of the Great Seal of the United States Great Seal of the United States - Obverse

Facts about the History and Creation of Great Seal of the United States

Fact 1: On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress of the new nation of the United States passed a resolution that
Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams should form a committee to create a Great Seal for the United States of America.
Fact 2: The Continental Congress needed an emblem and national coat of arms to give visible evidence of the new sovereign nation of America 
Fact 3: A Great Seal of the United States of America would ensure that important  documents of state would contain an imprint of a seal that assured to their authenticity.
Fact 4: The First Committee came up with many ideas that included Greek and Roman classical themes, allusions to the Bible and symbolism used in heraldry when creating coats of arms
Fact 5: The Committee appointed the Philadelphia heraldic artist Pierre Eugene du Simitiere (who also designed the seals of New Jersey and Delaware) to help create the design
Fact 6: Their first ideas were submitted on August 20, 1776. Four elements recommended by the First Committee were agreed:
    The 1776 date of independence expressed in Roman Numerals -  MDCCLXXVI
    The Eye of Providence
    The Latin motto "E Pluribus Unum" meaning 'Out of many, one'
    The shield
Fact 7: Congress could not agree on the first design and it would take a total of six years, three committees and the combined efforts of fourteen men before the final design of Great Seal of the United States of America was approved on June 20, 1782.
Fact 8: The United States flag was adopted in 1777 (designed by Francis Hopkinson) and the 13 red and white stripes, the constellation of 13 six-pointed stars were included in the design of the Great Seal of the United States of America
Fact 9: An image of small crested white eagle with its wings spread to symbolize protection, not the American bald eagle, was the first to be suggested
Fact 10: The 13-step unfinished pyramid was also created
Fact 11: The men who served on the three committees to create the Great Seal of the United States of America included Franklin, Adams,Jefferson, Pierre Eugene du Simitiere, James Lovell, John Morin Scott, William Churchill Houston, Francis Hopkinson, John Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, Elias Boudinot and William Barton
Fact 12: The collective work of all of these men was presented to Congress who were still not satisfied with the design
Fact 13: On June 13, 1782, Congress presented the collected work and recommendations of the three committees to Charles Thomson, Secretary of Congress who selected the best elements. Charles Thomson made a few alterations
Fact 14: Charles Thomson consulted with the Committee who made a few alterations and recommendations of the design elements were agreed by the Continental Congress on June 20, 1782 - 6 years
Fact 15: It had taken 6 years to create the Great Seal of the United States of America.
Fact 16: The Great Seal of the United States of America was first used publicly in 1782

Facts about the History and Creation of Great Seal of the United States for kids

Facts about the Design of the Great Seal of the United States for kids
The design of the Great Seal of the United States of America was a combination of elements provided by the members of all three committees and the ideas of Charles Thomson and William Barton.

Contributors to the Design of the Great Seal of the United States

First Committee Second Committee Third Committee

E Pluribus Unum
Eye of Providence in a triangle
1776 in Roman numerals
 

13 red and white stripes and blue chief on shield
Constellation of 13 stars, surrounded by clouds and glory
War and peace theme, olive branch and arrows
 

Eagle ( not a bald eagle)
Unfinished pyramid
Overall design of the reverse
 

Charles Thomson

Overall design of the obverse, the Bald eagle and the Mottos Annuit Coeptis and Novus Ordo Seclorum

William Barton

Overall Vertical stripes on shield and the position of eagle's wings on the Great Seal of the United States

Design of the Great Seal of the United States

Facts about the Final Design of the Great Seal of the United States - 1865 Benson Lossing reverse
The final design of the Great Seal of the United States of America was influenced by the historian Benson John Lossing. Benson Lossing wrote an article on the Great Seal in the July 1856 Harper's New Monthly Magazine. His research, with copies of the original drawings by Francis Hopkinson and William Barton and an apparently original version of the reverse, led to his own interpretations of the first committee's designs. His depiction of the reverse of the seal more resembled the Egyptian pyramids and the Eye of Providence was changed to a left eye.

Facts about the Great Seal of the United States - Modern Official Design
The official versions of the Great Seal of the United States from the Department of State are largely unchanged from the 1885 designs prompted by Benson Lossing. The current rendering of the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States was made by Teagle & Little of Norfolk, Virginia, in 1972. It is nearly identical to the previous versions, which in turn were based on the 1856 version by Benson Lossing.

Facts about the Great Seal of the United States - Metallic Die
The metallic die of the obverse (front) side of the Great Seal of the United States of America is what actually embosses the design onto important state documents. These metallic dies eventually wear down, requiring replacements to be made.

Facts about the Great Seal of the United States - Color Symbolism
The images depicted on the Great Seal of the United States of America are highly symbolic and the meanings of the symbols are detail below. The colors are also hold symbolic meanings which mirror those used in ancient heraldry.  Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, reporting to Congress on the Seal, stated:

"The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America;
White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour,
and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice."

Facts about the Great Seal of the United States - The Number 13
The number 13 is a recurring number that is repeated in the images depicted in the Great Seal of the United States of America. The number thirteen is used in honor of the 13 original States in the Union. The number 13 is repeated in the following:

13 stars in the crest
13 stripes in the shield
13 olive leaves and 13 olives
13 arrows
13 letters in Annuit Coeptis and in E Pluribus Unum
13 steps on the Pyramid
13 grasses at the base of the Pyramid on the reverse of Great Seal of the United States

Facts about the Great Seal of the United States
The physical seal is kept by the United States Secretary of State. As a coat of arms, the design of the seal has official colors, which also hold symbolic meanings. The physical Great Seal itself, as affixed to paper, is monochrome. The Seal of the President of the United States is directly based on the Great Seal of the United States of America and its elements are used in numerous government agency and state seals.

 

 

Description, Meaning, Symbolism and Facts about the Front Side of the Great Seal of the United States for kids
Many of the images contained in the Great Seal of the United States of America reflect certain symbols that have been assigned traditional meaning in ancient heraldry. These symbols provide a greater insight into the meaning of the images on the Great Seal. Fast, fun facts and interesting information about the Front (obverse) side of the Great Seal of the United States of America:

     
Great Seal of the United States - Reverse Great Seal of the United States - Obverse Great Seal of the United States - Reverse

Description, Meaning Symbolism and Facts on the Front of the Great Seal of the United States

Fact 17: The Government of the United States has its coat of arms, which were created by an Act of Congress of June 20, 1782
Fact 18: The circular image at the top over the eagle is a crest. It depicts a golden Circle of Glory, breaking through a cloud. In heraldry a cloud is the symbol of the ethereal heights of heaven and represents the quality of higher truth.,
Fact 19: The golden Circle of Glory, surrounding 13 stars, represents the ring of light placed around sacred subjects.
Fact 20: Within the Circle of Glory there are thirteen 5 pointed stars that are colored Silver or White (Argent). In heraldry the star symbolizes honour, achievement and hope.
Fact 21: A constellation of stars is depicted on an azure (blue) field. The Constellation of 13 Stars symbolizes a new nation taking its place among other sovereign states
Fact 22: The 13 stars are arranged in rows of 1-4-3-4-1 that form a six-pointed star, as in the Star of David or the Seal of Solomon
Fact 23: The picture of the American Bald eagle dominates the center of the Great Seal of the United States. In heraldry the eagle was a symbol held by men of action and ingenuity, occupied with high and weighty affairs.
Fact 24: The choice of the eagle was intended to at once recall the Roman Republic and be uniquely American (the Bald Eagle being indigenous to North America).
Fact 25: The American Bald eagle is depicted with its wings "displayed" which is a symbol of protection. The profile of the eagle is depicted to dexter, or the viewer's left
Fact 26: A banner is held in the beak of the eagle containing the motto "E pluribus unum" meaning "Out of Many, one"
Fact 27: The motto is a clear reference to the integration of the original 13 independent colonies into one united country.
Fact 28: The gripping talons of the eagle symbolize ruin to evildoers
Fact 29: The Olive branch and arrows grasped in the talons symbolize the power of peace & war which is exclusively vested in Congress.
Fact 30: The olive branch, with 13 olive leaves and 13 olives, symbolizes peace
Fact 31: The 13 arrows symbolize war
Fact 32: The Escutcheon, the shield emblem, is born on the breast of the American Bald Eagle. The shield (escutcheon) is composed of thirteen stripes supporting the top section of the shield which unites the whole and represents Congress
Fact 33: The  Eagle holds the shield without any other supporters and this symbolizes that the United States of America is able to rely on its own resources

Description, Meaning Symbolism and Facts on the Front of the Great Seal of the United States

Description, Meaning, Symbolism and Facts about the Reverse of the Great Seal of the United States for kids
Fast, fun facts and meaning of the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States of America:

     
Great Seal of the United States - Obverse Great Seal of the United States - Reverse Great Seal of the United States - Obverse

Description, Meaning, Symbolism & Facts on the Reverse Side of the Great Seal of the United States

Fact 34: The motto "Annuit Coeptis" meaning (He [God] has favored our undertakings) is displayed at the top of the seal.
Fact 35: The central image is and unfinished pyramid on top of which sits the Eye of Providence
Fact 36: For the final design of the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States, Charles Thomson specified "A Pyramid unfinished"
Fact 39: Charles Thomson gave only a brief explanation of the symbolism of the pyramid, saying that "The pyramid signifies strength and duration"
Fact 40: The designers of the Great Seal did not call the eye an "all-seeing eye" or the "eye of Horus." They referred to it as the "Eye of Providence." However the picture of the pyramid does conjure images strongly associated with the Ancient Egyptians - see below.
Fact 41: The "Pyramid unfinished" has 13 steps or courses
Fact 42: The 1776 date of independence expressed in Roman Numerals -  MDCCLXXVI - is displayed on the ground step of the pyramid depicted on the Great Seal of the United States
Fact 43: The grass / crops growing randomly around the base of the pyramid total 13
Fact 44: The motto Novus Ordo Seclorum meaning (A new order of the ages) is displayed at the bottom of the Great Seal of the United States

Description, Meaning, Symbolism & Facts on the Reverse Side of the Great Seal of the United States

Reverse of the Great Seal of the United States - the Ancient Egyptians
The connection between the images on the Reverse of the Great Seal of the United States and the Ancient Egyptians is so strong that it should not be ignored. There is no written evidence clarifying the thoughts of the designers of the seal. We can only comment on the beliefs of the Ancient Egyptians. To the Ancient Egyptians the positioning of a pyramid symbolized the passage from darkness to light and from ignorance to knowledge. The east-west axis, parallel to the daily journey of the sun, symbolized the perpetual cycle of rebirth and death. The eye symbol was used extensively as talismans to ensure that the eye itself would watch over and guard its wearer. There was considerable interest in the Ancient Egyptians during the period leading up to the American Revolution. Sacred texts, believed to be Egyptian in origin, had survived in eastern Byzantine libraries. These texts were referred to as the "Emerald Tablets of Thoth" or the "Secret of Hermes" were believed to reveal the secret of life providing the key to the ideas of the earth, fire, the sun and the moon and the hidden secrets of the ancients. Writings on the tablets were published by many famous people including Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus and Sir Isaac Newton (1642 1727). Scholars of the age were interested in such ideas and perhaps these influenced the designers and creators of the Great Seal of the United States of America.

 

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