On July 4, 1776, the Continental
Congress passed a resolution authorizing a committee to devise a seal
for the United States of America. This mission, designed to reflect
the the Founding Fathers' beliefs, values, and sovereignty of the
new Nation, became a reality on June 20, 1782.
The front side of the Great Seal, which is the U.S. coat of arms,
authenticates the President's signature on numerous official documents
such as treaty ratifications, international agreements, appointments
of Ambassadors and civil officers, and communications from the President
to heads of foreign governments. It is also shown on coins, postage
stamps, passports, monuments and flags, and in many other ways. The
American public sees both the front and less familiar reverse, which
is never used as a seal, every day when using a $1 dollar bill.
On the front side, the American bald eagle is prominently featured
supporting a shield composed of 13 red and white stripes representing
the Thirteen Original States with a blue bar uniting the shield and
representing Congress. The motto of the United States, E
Pluribus Unum (meaning out of many, one), refers
to this union. The olive branch and 13 arrows grasped by the eagle
allude to peace and war, powers solely vested in the Congress, and
the constellation of stars symbolizes the new Nation taking its place
among the sovereign powers.
On the reverse side, the pyramid
signifies strength and determination: The eye over it and the motto,
Annuit Coeptis (meaning He, [God,] has favored our undertakings)
allude to the many interventions of Providence in favor of the American
cause. The Roman numerals below are the date of the Declaration of
Independence. The words under it, Novus
Ordo Seclorum (meaning
a new order of the ages), signify the beginning of the new American
era in 1776.