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Design Process
 1st Committee
   Ben Franklin
   Pierre Du Simitiere
 2nd Committee
Francis Hopkinson
 3rd Committee
   Barton's Design
 Final Design
   Charles Thomson
   Thomson's Design
   Thomson Bible

Latin Mottoes
 E Pluribus Unum
 Annuit Coeptis
 Novus Ordo Seclorum

Symbols (front)
 Bald Eagle
 Olive Branch
 Rays of Light

Symbols (back)

Great Seals
 Official Dies
 First Engravings
 First Painting
 1792 Medal
 Indian Medals
 1882 Medal
 One-Dollar Bill

 Eagle Side
 Pyramid Side


 Wild Turkey
 President's Seal

Charles Thomson's Description of His Design
for the Great Seal of the United States – June 1782

Thomson's description of the front of the Seal.

Text of above description for the front of the Seal:

Thomson's sketch On a field       Chevrons composed of seven pieces on one side & six on the other, joined together at the top in such wise that each of the six bears against or is supported by & supports two of the opposite side the pieces of the chevrons on each side alternate red & white. The shield born on the breast of an American Eagle on the wing & rising proper. In the dexter talon of the Eagle an Olive branch & in the sinister a bundle of Arrows. Over the head of the Eagle a Constellation of Stars surrounded with bright rays and at a little distance clouds.

Motto In the bill of the Eagle a scroll with these words E pluribus unum. –

Shield Thomson obviously gave a lot of consideration to the shield design, introducing the theme of mutual support that led William Barton to suggest the 13 vertical stripes (states) supporting a chief (federal government) for the final shield. Also, based on Barton's advice, the eagle's stance was changed to "displayed," with wing tips up like we see today.

The origin of chevrons comes from a pair of rafters meeting at the peak of a house.

  • Proper = natural color
  • Escutcheon = shield
  • Glory = rays of light
  • Or = gold
  • Argent = white