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Design Process
 1st Committee
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Latin Mottoes
 E Pluribus Unum
 Annuit Coeptis
 Novus Ordo Seclorum

Symbols (front)
 Bald Eagle
 Shield
 Olive Branch
 Arrows
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 Rays of Light
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 Pyramid
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 MDCCLXXVI

Great Seals
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 First Painting
 1792 Medal
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 1882 Medal
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Myths
 Eagle Side
 Pyramid Side

Themes
 Unity
 Peace
   The Dove
   Virgil's Aeneid
   Political Drawings 1
   Political Drawings 2
   Temple of Peace
   Diplomatic Medal
   Peace Medals
   Peace on Moon
 Liberty
 Thirteen

Related
 Wild Turkey
 President's Seal
 Sightings
 Resources

The power of peace

Peace is a Predominant Founding Principle

The chief designer of the Great Seal, Charles Thomson, said,
"The Olive branch and arrows denote the power of peace & war."

Charles Thomson's writing

What's more, the American Eagle looks toward the olive branch,
this ancient symbol of peace held in its stronger talon. In other words:

The power of peace is superior to the power of war
(symbolized by the bundle of arrows in the eagle's left talon).

Since ancient times, holding out an an olive branch has signaled peaceful intentions – as in Virgil's Aeneid, the epic story of the founding of Rome.

During the American Revolution, the olive branch was used in political drawings as well as on paper money. The back of Maryland's $16 bill (below) issued in 1775 shows America and Britannia holding an olive branch.

Emblem on Maryland $16 note (1775)

In a final attempt to avoid war with England, the Continental Congress sent what's been called the "Olive Branch Petition" to King George on July 8, 1775. A few months later, he rejected it. And the rest is history.

America offers an olive branch. See visions of peace after the Revolution.

Jefferson's 1792 Diplomatic Medal:
"To Peace and Commerce"

Visit the Temple of Peace.

Check out the great seals on George Washington's Indian Peace Medals.

The white dove of peace carries an olive branch.

Peace on Moon



Historical content is based on the official history of the Great Seal.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