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Design Process
 1st Committee
 2nd Committee
 3rd Committee
 Final Design

Latin Mottoes
 E Pluribus Unum
 Annuit Coeptis
 Novus Ordo Seclorum

Symbols (front)
 Bald Eagle
 Olive Branch
 Rays of Light

Symbols (back)

Great Seals
 Official Dies
 First Engravings
 First Painting
 1792 Medal
 Indian Medals
 1882 Medal
 One-Dollar Bill

 Eagle Side
 Pyramid Side


 Wild Turkey
 President's Seal

eternal vigilance

Eye of Providence on the Reverse Side
of the Great Seal of the United States

The eye was originally suggested by Pierre Du Simitière, the consultant and artist on the first Great Seal committee appointed July 4, 1776. He was no doubt influenced by the Declaration of Independence.

... Endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." – Declaration of Independence

Simitière's design description includes: "The Eye of Providence in a radiant Triangle whose Glory extends over the Shield and beyond the Figures."

Top of first committee's design.

Barton's reverse This design was not approved by Congress, but six years later, William Barton of the third Great Seal committee suggested the pyramid and eye for the reverse side of the Great Seal: "A Pyramid of thirteen Strata... In the Zenith, an Eye, surrounded with a Glory." ("Glory" is the heraldic term for rays of light.)

Deo Favente means: With God's Favor.
Perennis means: Everlasting.

Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson liked Barton's idea, but added a triangle around the eye – creating a floating capstone for the unfinished pyramid.

On June 20, 1782, Congress approved Thomson's design, which specifies:

"In the Zenith an Eye in a triangle surrounded with a glory"

Detail of Blazon

According to Thomson's explanation: the eye and the motto Annuit Coeptis "allude to the many signal interpositions of providence in favour of the American cause."

Explanation of Annuit Coeptis and Eye of Providence

  • "Zenith" means more than apex or summit. It also suggests a highest point or state; culmination.
  • The official description of the Great Seal does not specify a left or right eye. It is simply referred to as a single eye.
  • The designers of the Great Seal did not call it an "all-seeing eye" or the "eye of Horus."
  • They referred to it as the "eye of Providence."

Eagle Eye.
America's Vision Statement