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From the Kitchen Table


Our Motto

by Peg Luksik
 

"Just do it." "Have it your way." "It's the real thing." "Fifteen minutes can save you fifteen percent."

We've all heard them. The company motto is supposed to express the most important message the company wants the public to know about it. Most companies evaluate and update their mottos with some regularity.

Most of our states have mottos. Pennsylvania's motto is "Virtue, Liberty and Independence". California's is "Eureka", meaning "I have found it." In both cases, it is fairly easy to see where the motto came from.

The United States also has a motto.

Work began on developing it in 1776, when the Continental Congress commissioned Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson to develop a Great Seal. Since none of these gentlemen was skilled in artistry, they chose Pierre Eugène Du Simitière to work with them.

Franklin's proposal, preserved in his own handwriting, said: "Moses standing on the Shore, and extending his Hand over the Sea, thereby causing the same to overwhelm Pharaoh who is sitting in an open Chariot, a Crown on his Head and a Sword in his Hand. Rays from a Pillar of Fire in the Clouds reaching to Moses, to express that he acts by Command of the Deity. Motto, Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God."

Jefferson edited the image but kept Franklin's proposed motto.
Du Simitiere created a different image. Congress chose two of his elements for inclusion in the final seal. The first was the Eye of Providence in a radiant triangle whose glory extends over the shield and beyond the figures. The second are the words, "E Pluribus Unum," meaning "from the many, one".
The Great Seal that was eventually adopted included the words, "Annuit Coeptis", meaning "Providence has Favored Our Undertakings", on its reverse side. The words were proposed by Charles Thomson. In the only Official Explanation of the Great Seal, dated June 20, 1782, Mr. Thomson said the words "allude to the many signal interpositions of providence in favour of the American cause."
So the Great Seal of the United States has, from its inception, included God.
The words "E Pluribus Unum" appear on the front of the Great Seal. They were described in the Official Explanation as one of the three mottos inscribed on the Seal.
On April 22, 1864, Congress passed a law in response to a request from Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase mandating that the motto "In God We Trust" be engraved on the 2-cent piece. The motto eventually was included on most of our currency.
On July 11, 1955, Congress made it mandatory that all U.S. currency include the motto. On July 30, 1956, Congress passed a law declaring that "In God We Trust" was the national motto of the United States. This was the first time that the United States officially adopted a national motto.
The Judiciary Committee recognized that "E Pluribus Unum" had been widely used as an American motto, although it had never been officially adopted. The legislation did not repeal it as the national motto because it had never BEEN the national motto, and there was no need to legally repeal something that had never been legally adopted.
Why "In God We Trust"?
Because, our motto, like all successful mottos, expresses the most important message that we want everyone to know about us. As Jefferson and Franklin proclaimed, this is a nation that is founded on the belief that God exists, that He is the ultimate authority, and that a recognition of that fact is the only sure protection against tyranny.






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