The History of the Seal of the United States

By United States. Dept. Of State | Go to book overview

IV
THE SECRETARYS DEVICE

Barton's elaborate design fixed the reverse, but that part of the seal does not appear to have caused much discussion. For the obverse it produced the displayed eagle, but Barton's eagle was crested and not the American or baldheaded eagle.

The whole matter now having by order of Con- gress come into the hands of Charles Thomson, he took a radical departure from all previous designs. Putting the eagle as the central figure of his de- sign, he specified that it be an American eagle, rising, not displayed. As emblematic of the war power he put in the sinister talon a bundle of arrows, where Barton had put the American flag, introducing the arrows into the seal for the first time. To picture peace he put in the eagle's dexter talon an olive branch which had figured in the device of the second committee, instead of Barton's sword and wreath of laurel. For the crest he used the constellation of thirteen stars sur- rounded by clouds, as in the second committee's report, and arranged the red and white stripes, which the second committee had made diagonal and Barton horizontal, in chevrons, one side of red

-33-

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The History of the Seal of the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Contents 3
  • I - The First Device 7
  • II - The Lovell Committee 18
  • III - William Barton's Designs 23
  • IV - The Secretarys Device 33
  • V - The Arms Adopted 41
  • VI - The Illegal Seal 48
  • VII - The Third Seal 53
  • VIII - The Fourth Seal 63
  • IX - Uses of the Seal 65
  • Glossary of Heraldic Terms. 69
  • Index 71
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