Skip to main content
Select Source:

United States, Great Seal of the

Great Seal of the United States, official impression that validates a United States government document. It was adopted by the Continental Congress in 1782 and, with only minor changes in the design, remains in use today. In the center of the seal is an American eagle. It holds in its beak a scroll inscribed "E pluribus unum" ; in one talon is an olive branch; in the other, a bundle of thirteen arrows. A shield with thirteen alternate red and white stripes covers the eagle's breast, and over its head a cloud surrounds a blue field containing thirteen stars. The Secretary of State is the official custodian of the seal, and it is only affixed to certain classes of documents (e.g., foreign treaties, presidential proclamations, and commissions installing cabinet officers and other high executive officials).

See G. Hunt, History of the Seal of the United States (1909); U.S. Dept. of State, The Seal of the United States (1957).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"United States, Great Seal of the." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Nov. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"United States, Great Seal of the." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/united-states-great-seal

"United States, Great Seal of the." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved November 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/united-states-great-seal

Great Seal of the United States

Great Seal of the United States: see United States, Great Seal of the.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Great Seal of the United States." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Nov. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Great Seal of the United States." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/great-seal-united-states

"Great Seal of the United States." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved November 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/great-seal-united-states

Seal of the United States, Great

Great Seal of the United States: see United States, Great Seal of the.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Seal of the United States, Great." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Nov. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Seal of the United States, Great." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/seal-united-states-great

"Seal of the United States, Great." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved November 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/seal-united-states-great