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What is the Great Seal of the US, what is its origin and meaning?

The seal is the main national symbol of the US and features on a number of official documents and government buildings.

The great seal of the United States is seen as US President Joe Biden speaks about the economy during an event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

All countries have a number of national symbols to represent them from flags, to mottos, to animals. The US has a Great Seal that is present on presidential plinths as well as on passports, government agencies and a number of other things.

Front and centre of the seal is the coat of arms of the US; the shield with a blue chief and argent, six pallets gules. However, the orifinal resolution in Congress legally describes the shield as ‘paleways of 13 pieces, argent and gules; a chief, azure.’ This is likely so as to keep a reference to the 13 original states despite it not being the true name of such heraldic design.

The motto on the Great Seal reads E Pluribus Unum or ‘Out of many, one’ in English. This was the unofficial motto of the US from its creation until 1956 when it was replaced by the motto In God we trust’.

Both sides of the Great Seal are present on the reverse side of the one-dollar bill.

What is it’s origin?

Three committees met over the space of six years after independence to finalise the design of the seal. The final design ended up as an amalgamation of a number of the prior designs, which included images from Native Americans to roosters to pyramids.

On 15 September, 1789, Congress ordered “that the seal heretofore used by the United States in Congress assembled, shall be, and hereby is declared to be, the seal of the United States.”