By Post Scripts on July 25, 2010
E Pluribus Unum was the original motto for the United States of America. Thirty-six years after the founding it was changed to “In God We Trust”. The motto is stamped on buildings and documents and on the money we carry in our pockets or purse but how often do we stop to think of how it came to be the national motto?
“E Pluribus Unum” – The original motto of the United States was secular. “E Pluribus Unum” is Latin for “One from many” or “One from many parts.” It refers to the welding of a single federal state from a group of individual political units — originally colonies and now states. ** On 1776-JUL-4, Congress appointed John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson to prepare a design for the Great Seal of the United States. The first design, submitted to Congress on 1776-AUG-10 used the motto “E Pluribus Unum.” It was rejected. Five other designs also failed to meet with Congress’ approval during the next five years. In 1782, Congress asked Mr. Thomson, Secretary of Congress, to complete the project. Thomson, along with a friend named Barton, produced a design that was accepted by Congress on 1782-JUN-10. It included an eagle with a heart-shaped shield, holding arrows and an olive branch in its claws. The motto “E Pluribus Unum” appeared on a scroll held in its beak. The seal was first used on 1782-SEP-16. It was first used on some federal coins in 1795.
“In God We Trust:” – The war of 1812 was an unusual conflict. Both sides claimed victory. The winner depends upon which history books or which country’s schools you attended. Also, the war lasted well beyond 1812. ** During 1814, Francis Scott Key (a.k.a. Frank) had an eventful September. “Traveling under a white flag, Key met with both an enemy general and admiral, recovered a war prisoner, became a war prisoner, watched a historical bombardment, lost a night’s sleep, and wrote” what eventually became the American national anthem: The Star Spangled Banner. 1 ** The final stanza reads: “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’ * And the Star Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave * O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” ** In 1864, the words were shortened to “In God We Trust” and applied to a newly designed two-cent coin.
Follow the link if you wish to also follow the controversy regarding the “God” motto…my purpose here is to offer food for thought that I believe is inclusive of religious and secular views. Consider, instead of a King, potentate, prime minister, dictator, judge, or even president, America’s founders recognized only God as the authority for our basic human rights:
A free, independent people can adopt a constitution for themselves. But the Americans (colonists) were subjects of George III, neither free nor independent. They were legally bound by English law. They changed that with the Declaration of Independence… ** The Declaration was necessary to separate the Continental Congress and the United States from King George. Without it, they were only rebellious subjects. That is why it was done in God’s name; His Authority was required to overrule the King’s. The Declaration is the clear statement by the Founders of the principles they built upon.
Today (and yesterday) many of us will attend religious services or spend quiet time in worship and prayer, others of us will not, but none of us can be denied our basic human rights by any other human being or spokesperson for the UN, Sharia, or other entity. We as a nation recognize, as our Declaration of Independence states, that God is the guarantor of our basic rights.
Like I said…food for thought on a Sunday afternoon.