Saturday, October 3, 2009

Novus Ordo Seclorum / the Great Seal of the United States

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The motto Novus Ordo Seclorum was coined by Charles Thomson in June 1782. He adapted it from a line in Virgil's Eclogue IV, a pastoral poem that expresses the longing for a new era of peace and happiness which was written by the famed Roman writer in the first century B.C. Welcome to
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Great Seal > Mottoes > Novus Ordo Seclorum

NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM – Origin and Meaning
of the Motto Beneath the American Pyramid
"Novus Ordo Seclorum" was the motto suggested in 1782 by Charles Thomson, the Founding Father chosen by the Continental Congress to come up with the final design for the Great Seal of the United States.
On June 20, 1782, Congress approved Thomson's design for both sides of the Great Seal whose official description states:
"On the base of the pyramid the numerical letters MDCCLXXVI
& underneath the following motto. 'novus ordo seclorum'.
He put the motto at the bottom of the reverse side where its meaning ties into the imagery above it: the unfinished pyramid with the date MDCCLXXVI (1776).
Thomson did not provide an exact translation of the motto, but he explained its symbolism: Novus Ordo Seclorum signifies "the beginning of the new American Æra," which commences from 1776.
The farsighted founders of the United States thought in terms of ages. They looked back into history as well as forward, realizing their actions would have long-lasting consequences.
In January 1776, Thomas Paine inspired the Colonies with a vision of this new American Era. In Common Sense he wrote: "The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind... 'Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected, even to the end of time, by the proceedings now."
In his farewell letter to the Army (June 8, 1783), George Washington wrote: "The foundation of our Empire was not laid in the gloomy age of Ignorance and Superstition, but at an Epocha when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clearly defined, than at any former NOTE: Novus ordo seclorum does not properly translate into "new world order," which is an English phrase that, if converted to Latin, would not be novus ordo seclorum. Seclorum is a plural form (new worlds order?), and Thomson specifically said the motto refers to "the new American era" commencing in 1776.
Recognize other Myth and Misinformation about the Great Seal.

Find out how the pyramid & eye got on the one-dollar bill.

Top image: Detail of first engraving of pyramid side. 

Understand this revolutionary vision for a better world.

Main sections

Learn the origin and meaning of the other MOTTOES:
E Pluribus Unum | Annuit Coeptis

Examine the SYMBOLS on the Seal's Two Sides:
Dynamic imagery from nature and history.
Includes clickable image map.

See Preliminary DESIGNS for the Great Seal:
Ideas suggested by three committees (1776-1782).

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