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Providence – A Word favored by America's Founders

George Washington and the Great Seal on the stained-glass window in the Prayer Room of the US Capitol. Our "firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence." – Declaration of Independence, 1776

"The many signal interpositions of providence in favour of the American cause." – official explanation of the Great Seal's symbolism, 1782

"I entertain a fond hope that the same kind providence which has conducted us so far in our journey will open a way for the future happiness and prosperity of the United States." – Charles Thomson (to his wife Hannah), 1783

"If it had not been for the justice of our cause, and the consequent interposition of Providence, in which we had faith, we must have been ruined." – Ben Franklin (to William Strahan), 1784

"The frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favour." – Benjamin Franklin at Constitutional Convention, 1787

"Our sincere and humble thanks for... the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war." – George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789

"We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on earth." – President Barack Obama, 2012

    providence, noun:
  1. the foreseeing care and guidance of God or nature over the creatures of the Earth.
  2. (cap.) God, esp. when conceived as omnisciently directing the universe and the affairs of humankind with wise benevolence.
  3. a manifestation of divine care or direction.
  4. foresight; provision; provident care.

An Eye in a triangle surrounded with a glory.

Rays of golden light are symbolic of Providence. In heraldry, they are known as a Glory – the only symbolic element incorporated into both sides of the Great Seal.

A Glory breaking through a cloud.


Top image: stained glass window
in the US Capitol building Prayer Room

Historical content is based on the official history of the Great Seal.
Author and webwright: John D. MacArthur