The Great Seal of the United States features Latin phrases that have sparked curiosity for centuries. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: the Latin on dollar bills alludes to the country’s ideals of unity and God-given rights.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the history behind the Seal, analyze the Latin phrases word by word, and reveal the meaning behind the enigmatic codes printed on U.S. paper currency.
The History of the Great Seal of the U.S.
The Three Committees on the Great Seal
The Great Seal of the United States is a symbol that holds significant historical and cultural meaning. The design of the Great Seal went through a series of revisions and discussions before its final adoption in 1782.
The process involved the formation of three committees, each playing a crucial role in shaping the seal.
The first committee, composed of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, was appointed in 1776 to create a design for the seal. However, their proposal was not accepted, and the task was given to a second committee in 1780.
The second committee, consisting of James Lovell, John Morin Scott, and William Churchill Houston, worked diligently to come up with a design that would reflect the ideals of the newly formed nation. Their efforts, however, also faced rejection, leading to the formation of a third committee in 1782.
The Final Design and Adoption in 1782
The third committee, consisting of Arthur Middleton, Elias Boudinot, and William Barton, finally succeeded in creating a design that satisfied the requirements of the Great Seal. Their proposal incorporated several elements that symbolize the principles and values of the United States.
The front side of the seal features an eagle, holding a shield with 13 stripes representing the original thirteen colonies. The eagle also carries an olive branch and arrows, symbolizing both peace and readiness for war.
Above the eagle’s head is a radiant halo of thirteen stars, representing the unity of the states.
On the reverse side of the seal, an unfinished pyramid is depicted, with the Eye of Providence above it. The Latin phrase “Annuit Coeptis” (meaning “He approves our undertakings”) appears above the pyramid, while “Novus Ordo Seclorum” (meaning “New Order of the Ages”) is inscribed below it.
The design of the Great Seal was officially adopted by the Continental Congress on June 20, 1782. Since then, it has become an iconic symbol of American heritage and is prominently featured on the one-dollar bill.
For more information on the Great Seal of the United States, you can visit the official website of the U.S. Department of State: www.state.gov/great-seal/.
Breaking Down the Latin Phrases on the Dollar Bill
Have you ever wondered about the Latin phrases you see on the dollar bill? These phrases have deep historical and symbolic meanings, representing the values and ideals upon which the United States was founded.
Let’s take a closer look at three of the most prominent Latin phrases found on the dollar bill: Annuit Cœptis, Novus Ordo Seclorum, and E Pluribus Unum.
The Latin phrase “Annuit Cœptis” can be found on the back of the dollar bill, just above the pyramid. Translated, it means “He (God) has favored our undertakings.” This phrase reflects the belief of the founding fathers that their endeavors were guided and blessed by a higher power.
It serves as a reminder that the success and prosperity of the United States are not solely the result of human effort, but also the result of divine intervention.
Novus Ordo Seclorum
Located beneath the pyramid on the dollar bill is the Latin phrase “Novus Ordo Seclorum,” which translates to “A new order of the ages.” This phrase represents the idea that the United States was establishing a new era in history, a fresh start for a nation based on democracy and individual freedoms.
It signifies the belief that the American experiment was a departure from the traditional order of monarchy and aristocracy, ushering in a new era of self-governance.
E Pluribus Unum
One of the most well-known Latin phrases on the dollar bill is “E Pluribus Unum,” which can be found on the banner held by the eagle. Translated, it means “Out of many, one.” This phrase embodies the concept of unity and diversity in the United States.
It symbolizes the idea that although the country is made up of people from various backgrounds and cultures, they come together as one nation, bound by shared values and aspirations. It serves as a reminder of the strength and resilience that comes from diversity.
The Latin phrases on the dollar bill are a testament to the rich history and ideals of the United States. They serve as a constant reminder of the principles upon which the nation was built and continue to inspire and unite its citizens today.
The Deeper Meaning and Symbolism of the Latin Text
On the surface, the Latin text found on the dollar bill may appear to be nothing more than a traditional nod to the past. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that these words hold a deeper meaning and symbolism that reflect the ideals upon which the United States was founded.
References to the Country’s Founding Ideals
The Latin text on the dollar bill, “E Pluribus Unum,” translates to “Out of many, one.” This phrase encapsulates the core principle of unity that is at the heart of the American identity. It serves as a reminder that despite our diverse backgrounds and beliefs, we are all part of a single nation, working together towards a common goal.
Similarly, the Latin phrase “Annuit Coeptis,” meaning “He approves of the undertakings,” suggests a divine endorsement of the country’s founding principles and its pursuit of liberty and justice. This reference to a higher power reinforces the belief that the American experiment is guided by something greater than mere mortal ambition.
Religious Undertones and the Divine Eye
One of the most intriguing aspects of the Latin text on the dollar bill is the inclusion of religious undertones. The phrase “In God We Trust” is a powerful declaration of faith and a testament to the importance of religion in American society.
Moreover, the image of the “All-Seeing Eye,” often referred to as the “Divine Eye,” hovering above a pyramid, is a symbol that dates back centuries. It represents the watchful gaze of a higher power, overseeing the actions and decisions of mankind.
This imagery serves as a constant reminder that our actions are not isolated, but instead carry greater significance and consequences.
A Message of Unity and New Beginnings
Another Latin phrase found on the dollar bill, “Novus Ordo Seclorum,” translates to “A new order of the ages.” This phrase emphasizes the belief in progress and the ability to forge a new path forward.
It is a reminder that the United States is a country built on the idea of constant growth and improvement.
By including Latin text on the dollar bill, the designers sought to convey a sense of history, tradition, and the enduring values upon which the United States was built. These words serve as a powerful reminder of the country’s founding ideals, its religious heritage, and its commitment to unity and progress.
For more information on the symbolism found on the dollar bill, you can visit https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/currency/pages/denominations.aspx.
For centuries, the intriguing Latin phrases on the dollar bill have captured the imagination of Americans. As we have uncovered, the text alludes to the country’s providential founding and the unification of the original thirteen states.
While the exact origins of the Latin phrases remain shrouded in some mystery, analyzing the meaning word by word reveals references to the nation’s ideals of unity, freedom, and destiny. The messages of Novus Ordo Seclorum and E Pluribus Unum in particular are still relevant today, reminding us of America’s remarkable beginnings over 200 years ago.