a reply to: ThereIsNoHandle
Here are the facts with the Great Seal and Freemasonry.
The first mention that the Great Seal was connected to the Freemasons came in 1884, when Harvard Professor Eliot Norton wrote that the reverse of the
Great Seal of the US was a “dull emblem of a Masonic fraternity.” It seems the good Professor was a little lacking on knowledge and didn't have
all the facts surrounding the creation.
The first committee charged with creating the Great Sea was established on July 4th, 1776, and was composed of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson,
and John Adams with Pierre du Simitiere as the artist. Ben Franklin was the only Freemason. Franklin proposed a design a scene similar to Moses at
the Red Sea with the Egyptian Pharoah being overwhelmed with the phrase “Resistance to Tyranny is Obedience to God.” Jefferson proposal was Israel
being led through the wilderness while Adam’s was of Hercules between the rugged path of Virtue and the flowery meadow of Sloth. These were all
rejected. Du Simitiere contributed much to the future design, such as “E Pluribus Unum” , the shield, the Eye of Providence in the radiant
The Second committee was composed of James Lovell, John Morin Scott, and William Churchill Houston with the help of Francis Hopkinson (Signer of the
Declaration of Independence, helped design American flag, and designed many government seals). Hopkinson's first design had a shield with thirteen
diagonal red and white stripes, supported on one side by figure bearing an olive branch and representing peace, and on the other an Indian warrior
(which later be replaced with a soldier) holding a bow and arrow, and holding a shiver. The crest was a radiant constellation of thirteen stars. The
motto was "Bello vel pace paratus", meaning "prepared in war or in peace“ (a theme used later with the Eagle holding the olive branch and
arrows). The reverse, in Hopkinson's words, was "Liberty is seated in a chair holding an olive branch and her staff is topped by a Liberty cap. The
motto `Virtute perennis' means `Everlasting because of virtue.' The date in Roman numerals is 1776.“ From this committee the following would be
incorporated into the final design: the white and red stripes within a blue background for a shield, a radiant constellation of 13 stars, and an olive
The Third committee was composed of John Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Elias Boudinot with the help of William Barton (a heraldic expert). This
time, the figures on each side of the shield were the "Genius of the American Confederated Republic" represented by a maiden, and on the other side
an American warrior. At the top is an eagle and on the pillar in the shield is a "Phoenix in Flames". The mottos were "In Vindiciam Libertatis"
(In Defense of Liberty) and "Virtus sola invicta" (Only virtue unconquered). On the reverse, there was used a pyramid of thirteen steps, with the
radiant Eye of Providence overhead, and used the mottos "Deo Favente" (With God's Favor, or more literally, God Favoring) and "Perennis"
(Everlasting). The pyramid had come from another Continental currency note designed in 1778 by Hopkinson, this time the $50 note, which had a nearly
identical pyramid and the motto "Perennis". Barton had at first specified "on the Summit of it a Palm Tree, proper", with the explanation that
"The Palm Tree, when burnt down to the very Root, naturally rises fairer than ever", but later crossed it out and replaced it with the Eye of
Providence, taken from the first committee's design. Again, Congress rejected the submitted design. From this committee the following would be
incorporated into the final design: eagle and a pyramid of 13 steps.
The Fourth and final committee was composed of only Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Congress, who took elements of the previous committees and added
“Annuit Coeptis”, “Novus Ordo Seclorum” and finally came out with the design we have today. Charles Thomson had received classical training
and worked as a Latin tutor at the Academy of Philadelphia.
So many theorists believe that "Novus Ordo Seclorum" translates into "New World Order" when in reality it translates to "New Order of the Ages"
and America was. With assistance, we had trounced on one of the mightiest empires the world had seen in a long time. The country had limitless
potential and we were establishing a "government of the people, by the people, for the people."
Some of the theories include the number 13 which many speculate is a very significant number with Freemasonry. I've read about all sorts of
elaborate measures taken to saturate the Great Seal with 13 because it correlates to something within Freemasonry, yet they always seem to dismiss the
simple and obvious explanation of the original 13 colonies.
Many point out that because Freemasonry today uses the All-Seeing Eye as a symbol and that the Great Seal has the Eye of Providence above the pyramid
that they must be connected. One thing I have learned in my research and time in Masonry is that symbols do not have a singular or exclusive meaning,
interpretation, or use. While both interpret to represent God, the Divine, this doesn't constitute a direct connection or that the Masons are somehow
involved with the design. Symbols for a long time were the preferred method of non-verbal communication as so many were illiterate.