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   George Washington
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 Novus Ordo Seclorum


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Origin, Meaning, and Source of the Three Mottoes
on the Great Seal of the United States

Mottoes originated in early times as a word or phrase that formed a war-cry. Later they became religious or patriotic in nature and were used on seals to complement the imagery that depicted the character of the person or family represented by the seal.

The motto on a seal is somewhat like the headline on a print ad, or the slogan on a company logo.

Detail of artwork by Cy Hundley
E Pluribus Unum
and the original source of this
message carried by the American Eagle...

Annuit Coeptis
and the source of this
eye-opening observation...
This realization created in the 1970s.
Novus Ordo Seclorum
and the source of this bold declaration...

Although the 1782 description of the Great Seal does not provide an English translation of the three Latin mottoes, their meaning is made clear in the official explanation of the symbolism – and when their original sources are known.

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Historical content is based on the official history of the Great Seal. is not affiliated with the U.S. Government.
Copyright ©2017 by John D. MacArthur.