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Great Seal of the United States

Adopted by Continental Congress

The adoption of the Great Seal of the United States was a meticulous and symbolic process that reflected the young nation's desire to establish its identity and values. The Continental Congress initiated this endeavor on July 4, 1776, when it appointed a committee consisting of prominent figures like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. Their initial design ideas were presented to the Congress over the course of several years, with contributions from other artists and officials. It wasn't until June 20, 1782, that the final design of the Great Seal was officially approved by Congress.

The design of the Great Seal comprised two distinct sides: the obverse (front) and the reverse (back). The obverse featured an allegorical representation of Liberty holding a pole with a Phrygian cap, symbolizing freedom from oppression. She stood in front of a radiant, thirteen-pointed sun, representing the original thirteen states. The reverse depicted the Eye of Providence above a pyramid, symbolizing strength and duration, with the Latin phrase "Annuit Coeptis" meaning "He has favored our undertakings." A scroll below the pyramid read "Novus Ordo Seclorum," signifying "A New Order of the Ages."

The adoption of the Great Seal of the United States was a culmination of the efforts of numerous individuals, including founding fathers, artists, and members of the Continental Congress. The Seal's design encapsulated the ideals of the newly formed nation, showcasing its aspirations for liberty, strength, and a new era. The involvement of luminaries like Franklin, Jefferson, and Adams highlighted the significance of this symbol as an emblem of American unity and identity, ultimately solidifying its place in the nation's history and iconography.

Additional Resources



Great Seal of the United States Adopted by the Continental Congress


National Archives

Original Design of the Great Seeal of  the United States (1782)


Bernard  J. Cigrand, DDS: Father of Flag Day and Renaissance Man


Department of State

The Great Seal

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