Barton's drawing of his design for the front of the Great Seal

Heraldic Description of Third Committee's Design for the Great Seal

Known as a "blazon," the following report was submitted to Congress on May 9, 1782 by the third Great Seal committee to describe the design suggested by William Barton. It is an excellent example of how heraldic language is used to precisely describe an image.

Device for an Armorial Achievement & Reverse of a
Great Seal for the United States of North America
Proposed by William Barton, Esq.
Blazoned according to the Laws of Heraldry.

Barry of thirteen pieces, Argent & Gules; on a pale, Or, a Pillar of the Doric Order, Vert, reaching from the Base of the Escutcheon to the Honor point; and, from the Summit thereof, a Phoenix in Flames with Wings expanded, proper: the whole within a Border, Azure, charged with As many Stars as pieces barways, of the first.

On an Helmet of Burnished Gold, damasked, grated with six Bars, a Cap of Liberty, Vert; with an Eagle displayed, Argent, resting thereon; holding in his dexter Talon a Sword, Or, having a Wreath of Laurel suspended from the point; and, in the sinister, the Ensign of the United States, proper.

On the dexter side, the Genius of the American Confederated Republic: represented by a Maiden, with flowing Auburn Tresses; clad in a long, loose, white Garment, bordered with Green; having a Sky blue Scarf, charged with Stars as in the Arms, reaching across her Waist from her right Shoulder to her left Side; and, on her Head, a radiated Crown of Gold, encircled with an Azure Fillet spangled with Silver Stars: round her Waist a Purple Girdle, embroidered with the Word "Virtus," in Silver a Dove, proper, perched on her dexter Hand.

On the sinister side, an American Warrior; clad in a uniform Coat, of blue faced with Buff, and in his Hat a Cockade of black and white Ribbons: in his left Hand, a Baton Azure, semé of Stars Argent.

Motto, over the Crest – "In Vindiciam Libertatis."
Motto, under the Arms – "Virtus sola invicta."

Barton's reverse of Great Seal Reverse of the Seal.
A Pyramid of thirteen Strata, (or Steps) Or, and, on the Summit of it a Palm Tree, proper. In the Zenith, an Eye, surrounded with a Glory, proper.

In a Scroll, above, or in the Margin –
  "Deo Favente."
The Exergue – "Perennis."

Upper motto: "Deo Favente" – With God's Favor (lit., God Favoring)
Lower motto: "Perennis" – Everlasting (lit., Through the Years)

    Glossary of some heraldic terms
  • argent = silver
  • azure = blue
  • barry = horizontal stripes
  • dexter = right
  • glory = rays of light
  • gules = red
  • or = gold or yellow
  • paleways, pieces = vertical stripes on the shield
  • proper = the element's natural color
  • sinister = left

I we had a palm tree instead of an eye at the top of the pyramid,
that would sure screw up conspiracy theories!