Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Birthday to the Great Seal of the United States

230 years ago today - the Great Seal of the United States was officially adopted. This image above is of Charles Thomson’s original design sketch for the seal in 1782.

Here's a little history about the Great Seal of the United States:

While serving on the first committee, Benjamin Franklin suggested in August 1776, a scene from Exodus be used for the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States:
Pharaoh sitting in an open Chariot, a Crown on his head and a Sword in his hand, passing through the divided Waters of the Red Sea in Pursuit of the Israelites: Rays from a Pillar of Fire in the Cloud, expressive of the divine Presence and Command, beaming on Moses who stands on the shore and extending his hand over the Sea causes it to overwhelm Pharaoh.

Along with the imagery from Exodus (pictured above), Franklin suggested the motto, “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God,” be inscribed with it.  Even though Franklin’s suggestion was recommended by the committee it was not used on the final version.  However, Thomas Jefferson became so enamored with it that he took the motto for his own private seal (pictured below).


It is believed that Franklin’s motto inspired the motto that ultimately became selected for the Great Seal, “Annuit Coeptis,” or God has favored our undertakings.

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