On #July4, #1776, the same day that #independence from Great Britain was declared by the #ThirteenStates, the #ContinentalCongress named the first committee to design a #GreatSeal, or national #emblem, for the country. Similar to other nations, the #UnitedStates needed an official #symbol of sovereignty to formalize and #seal (or #sign) international treaties and transactions. It took six years, three committees, and the contributions of fourteen men before the #Congress finally accepted a design (which included elements proposed by each of the three committees) in 1782.
The first committee consisted of #BenjaminFranklin, #ThomasJefferson, and #JohnAdams. While they were three of the five primary authors of the #DeclarationOfIndependence, they had little experience in #heraldry and sought the help of Pierre Eugene du Simitiere, an artist living in #Philadelphia who would later also design the state seals of #Delaware and #NewJersey and start a museum of the #RevolutionaryWar. Each of these men proposed a #design for the seal.
Franklin chose an #allegorical scene from #Exodus, described in his notes as "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 suggested a depiction of the Children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night for the front of the seal; and Hengest and Horsa, the two brothers who were the legendary leaders of the first Anglo-Saxon settlers in Britain, for the reverse side of the seal. Adams chose a painting known as the "Judgment of Hercules" where the young Hercules must choose to travel either on the flowery path of self-indulgence or the rugged, more difficult, uphill path of duty to others and #honor to himself.