Medallions for Flag Display Cases
What is the Great Seal of the United States?
The Great Seal of the United States is a symbol of our independent nation and self-government. It appears on official documents such as proclamations, warrants, treaties, and commissions of high officials of the Government.
The Continental Congress first created a committee to design a seal for the United States on July 4, 1776, the same day that they adopted the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams created a design that was eventually rejected, but one element was adopted: the motto "E Pluribus Unum" (Latin for "Out of Many, One.") as ideas moved forward.
After six years of discussion, the current design was finally selected on June 20, 1782. Secretary of Congress Charles Thomas outlined the symbolic connotations of the final seal's elements when he presented the design to Congress. The bottom of the shield (or pale) represents the 13 states united in support of the blue bar at the top of the shield (or chief), “which unites the whole and represents Congress.” The motto E Pluribus Unum serves as a textual representation of the same relationship. The colors used in the shield are the same as those in the flag: alternating red and white for the important balance between innocence and valor, topped by the blue of “vigilance, perseverance and justice.” The eagle's talons hold symbols of Congress power to make peace (the olive branch) and war (arrows). The constellation of stars indicates that "a new State [is] taking its place and rank among other sovereign powers."