The Dove with the Olive Branch as a Symbol of Peace
At the time of the American Revolution, the olive branch had a stronger association with peace than did the dove. In fact, a dove was suggested as part of the third committee's design for the Great Seal which specified a natural-colored dove perched on the hand of "the Genius of America." (Shown here is a detail of the actual drawing.) But this dove did not symbolize peace. Instead it was "emblematical of Innocence and Virtue."
A dove with olive leaves was the emblem on North Carolina's £2 note of 1771 (above left). The accompanying motto meant: "Peace restored." A dove with olive leaves was also on Georgia's $40 note of 1778 (above right) along with a hand holding a dagger. The motto meant: "Either war or peace, prepared for both."
An early instance the olive branch signifying peaceful intentions is in
The olive branch is a dynamic symbol of the human desire for peace,
The white dove has become an international symbol of peace, thanks in good part to the fame of Picasso's 1949 lithograph for the International Peace Congress in Paris.
The Great Seal of the United States illustrates a founding principle:
Another place where a dove works better than an olive branch is as a weather vane.
Made in 1787, George Washington's prized weather vane (right) still sits atop his home, Mount Vernon. Shaped as a dove of peace, the bird is 40 inches long with a wingspan of 35 inches.
Historical content is based on the official history of the Great Seal.
Copyright ©2015 by John D. MacArthur.