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Design Process
 1st Committee
 2nd Committee
 3rd Committee
 Final Design
 Description
 Explanation

Latin Mottoes
 E Pluribus Unum
    Source
 Annuit Coeptis
   Source
   Providence
   George Washington
   American Cause
 Novus Ordo Seclorum

   Source
   FDR

Symbols (front)
 Bald Eagle
 Shield
 Olive Branch
 Arrows
 Stars
 Rays of Light
 Cloud

Symbols (back)
 Pyramid
 Eye
 MDCCLXXVI

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

Myths
 Eagle Side
 Pyramid Side

Themes
 Unity
 Peace
 Liberty
 Thirteen

Related
 Wild Turkey
 President's Seal
 U.S. Constitution
 
Sightings
 Resources



Origin and Meaning of the Mottoes
on the Great Seal of the United States

Mottoes originated in early times as a word or phrase that formed a war-cry. Later they became religious or patriotic in nature and were used on seals to complement the imagery that depicted the character of the person or family represented by the seal.

The motto on a seal is somewhat like the headline on a print ad, or the slogan on a company logo.

Detail of artwork by Cy Hundley
E Pluribus Unum
and the original source of this
message carried by the American Eagle...

Annuit Coeptis
and the source of this
eye-opening observation...
This realization created in the 1970s.
Novus Ordo Seclorum
and the source of this bold declaration...

Although the 1782 description of the Great Seal does not provide an English translation of the three Latin mottoes, their meaning is made clear in the official explanation of the symbolism – and when their original sources are known.

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Historical content is based on the official history of the Great Seal.
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Copyright ©2014 by John D. MacArthur.