GreatSeal.com logo

Main Pages

Front Page
Overview
Seal FAQs

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

Latin Mottoes
 E Pluribus Unum
 Annuit Coeptis
 Novus Ordo Seclorum

Symbols (front)
 Bald Eagle
 Shield
 Olive Branch
 Arrows
 Stars
 Rays of Light
 Cloud

Symbols (back)
 Pyramid
 Eye
 MDCCLXXVI

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

Myths
 Eagle Side
 Pyramid Side

Themes
 Unity
 Peace
 Liberty
 Thirteen

Related
 Wild Turkey
 President's Seal
 Sightings
 Resources


Seal of the President

The Seal of the President of the United States

The Seal of the President looks much like the Great Seal of the United States. The difference is in the "crest" above the bald eagle, where the cloud puffs and (most) stars fan upward in an arc. On the Great Seal, the constellation of stars is surrounded by the cloud puffs.

Whereas most seals of the federal government were created by statute, the Seal of the President was determined by use and custom. Beginning with President Hayes in 1877, the eagle on the presidential seal traditionally faced the bundle of arrows in its left talon. A good example of this old seal is carved on the President's desk.

On October 25, 1945, President Truman signed Executive Order No. 9646 that legally specified the design of the President's seal and flag. A press release was issued to call attention to the new design:

"In the new Coat of Arms, Seal and Flag, the Eagle not only faces to its right – the direction of honor – but also toward the olive branches of peace which it holds in its right talon. Formerly the eagle faced toward the arrows in its left talon – arrows, symbolic of war."

In heraldry, the imagery on the shield's right side (the left side from our point of view) has more importance than the one on its left. The official 1782 description of the Great Seal specifically says the olive branch is held in the eagle's right talon.

Heraldic birds traditionally look to their right, unless otherwise specified, and Charles Thomson's preliminary sketch and all dies of the Great Seal have shown the eagle facing its right side with the olive branch which the founders said symbolizes "the power of peace."

Three Great Seal dies have been discovered that are identical to
the Dorsett Seal die associated with George Washington.



Historical content is based on the official history of the Great Seal.
GreatSeal.com is not affiliated with the U.S. Government.
Copyright ©2013 by John D. MacArthur.