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The Great Seal was designed by Charles Thomson in 1782. Keep in mind, this only one side of the Seal, the main or front side. Let's see what symbols it's made up of and what they mean:
The Eagle - A long time American symbol. Here it is meant to portray Freedom and Liberty. Notice the eagle is in flight and sports a shield covering its breast. In it's right talon is an olive branch; in the left 13 arrows. In its beak, a banner that reads E Pluribus Unum. This is Latin and translates to: "Out of many, one."
The Shield - The stripes in the shield are 13 in number and represent the 13 original colonies.
The Arrows - The bundle of 13 arrows in the eagle's left talon represent America's strength in war.
The Olive Branch - The olive branch with its 13 leaves and olives represents peace. Olive trees take many years to cultivate before bearing fruit and live upwards of 500 years. This was perhaps the hope of America's founding fathers in developing this Seal. Also of note: The eagle holds the branch in its right and stronger talon. He also faces toward the olive branch symbolizing our desire for peace more than war.
Above the Eagle we see 13 stars forming a constellation coming out a cloud. Let's find out what it means:
The Golden Rays of Light - This symbolizes the light of Providence.
The Cloud - The light of Providence breaks through the clouds.
The Stars - There are 13 of them often depicted in a random arrangement or constellation. This symbol is yet unclear through all of the documentation on the Great Seal. What do you think it means?
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