The Great Seal of the United States was adopted by Congress on June 20, 1782. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams as the committee to select a design for a national seal. The new nation needed a symbol of sovereignty to authenticate its international treaties and transactions. It took six years and three different committees before a suitable image was selected that would illustrate the principles upon which the new nation was founded. In June of 1782, the task was turned over to the Secretary of Congress, Charles Thomson, who created the final design using elements suggested by the other committees and images and mottoes of his own. In September 1782 the first Great Seal was cut and the die used to begin sealing the peace with England. Each element of the seal has a symbolic meaning. The front of the seal depicts a bald eagle holding an olive branch in its right talon and 13 arrows in his left. A shield on its breast has 13 red and white stripes topped by a bar of blue. In the eagle’s beak is a banner with the Latin motto E pluribus unum (Out of Many One). Above the eagle’s head golden rays of light are breaking through a cloud surrounding thirteen stars forming a constellation. The image on the reverse of the seal depicts a pyramid of 13 steps, the Eye of Providence, the year of independence in Roman numerals, and Latin mottoes.
From Jauflione Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution