American Bucks

There are many symbols on the U.S. one dollar bill, some which we know the meaning of, and others that we guess at. The one dollar bill first came off the presses in 1957 in its present design. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, that is when the motto, “In God We Trust” started being used on paper money. It was in use on coins long before that. If you look on the front of the bill, you will see the United States Treasury Seal. The U.S. Treasury Department indicates that the balancing scales represent justice. In the center is a chevron with 13 stars representing the 13 original colonies. Underneath is a key that is intended to represent a symbol of authority.

If you turn the bill over, you will see two circles. The two circles reflect the two sides of the Great Seal of the United States. Before the adjournment of the Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776, the first of three committees was appointed to develop a seal for the United States. The committee was Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, three of the five men who had drafted the Declaration of Independence. It took six years, the work of two additional committees and a total of 14 men before a final version of the Great Seal was approved. 

The left-hand circle has an unfinished pyramid. The pyramid represents strength and duration and its unfinished state may signigy that our country would continue to grow and develop. Above the pyramid is the all-seeing eye, and the Latin words Annuit Coeptis, meaning “God has favored our undertaking.” The eye reflects divine providence and was suggested by the first committee. Benjamin Franklin believed that one man couldn’t do anything great alone, but a group of men with the help of God could co anything. The Latin below the pyramid, Novus Ordo Seclorum means “a new world order.” At the base of the pyramid is the Roman numeral for 1776.

The right-hand circle, with only slight modifications, is the same as the Seal of the President of the United States. The bald eagle is uniquely American, and in its beak is a banner reading E Pluribus Unum, meaning, “one nation from many people.” The olive branch and arrows in the eagle’t talons represent the power and peace of war. 

All throughout the dollar bill are symbols representing the thirteen original colonies since at the time our nation was coming together as one. Above the eagle are thirteen starts, and the shield in front of the eagle has thirteen bars. There are thirteen leaves on the olive branch, thirteen arrows, thirteen stars in the chevron, and thirteen steps on the pyramid. You can (and probably should) be reminded of the history of our country every time you look at a one dollar bill.


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