Hayim Solomon’s personal reward for his services to the Continental Army

On the rear of the One Dollar bill, you will see two circles. Together, they comprise the Great Seal of the United States.  In 1775, the First Continental Congress requested that Benjamin Franklin and a group of men come up with a Seal. It took them four years to accomplish this task and another two years to get it approved.

In the left-hand circle, there is a pyramid.  The face is lighted, and the western side is dark signifying that this country was just beginning. The Pyramid is uncapped, again signifying that we were not even close to being finished. Inside the capstone you have the all-seeing eye, an ancient symbol for divinity. It was Franklin’s belief that one man couldn’t do it alone, but a group of men, with the help of God, could do anything.

The Latin above the pyramid, “ANNUIT COEPTIS”, means, ‘God has favored our undertaking.’ The Latin below the pyramid, “NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM”, means, ‘a new order has begun.’ At the base of the pyramid is the Roman Numeral for 1776. (MDCCLXXVI)

The right-hand circle is the seal for the Continental Congress and it was embossed on all official documents before 1787.  This seal will eventually be modified in 1790 to become the seal of the President of the United States.   The Bald Eagle was selected as a symbol for victory, the shield is unsupported (this country can now stand on its own) and at the top of that shield you have a white bar signifying congress, finally in the eagle’s beak is a banner which reads ‘E PLURIBUS UNUM’ meaning, ‘one from many.’  Above the Eagle, you have the thirteen stars, representing the thirteen original colonies, and any clouds of misunderstanding rolling away.  In the eagle’s talons are an olive branch and arrows — this country wants peace, but we will never be afraid to fight to preserve peace (last paragraph from Declaration of Independence). The seal is actually modified from time to time.  During periods of peace, the eagle faces the olive branch, but when Congress has declared war, his gaze turns toward the arrows.

Some people have triskaidekaphobia or the fear of the number 13.  It is seen as an unlucky number. A Mason, Benjamin Franklin embraces the number 13 in his design of the Great Seal.  This seal embodies:

  • 13 original colonies,
  • 13 stripes on our flag,
  • 13 steps on the Pyramid,
  • 13 letters in, ‘Annuit Coeptis,’
  • 13 letters in ‘E Pluribus Unum,’
  • 13 stars above the Eagle,
  • 13 bars on that shield,
  • 13 leaves on the olive branch, and
  • 13 arrows.

Finally, if you notice the arrangement of the 13 stars in the right-hand circle you will see that they are arranged as a Star of David. This was ordered by George Washington who, when he asked Hayim Solomon, a wealthy Philadelphia Jew, what he would like as a personal reward for his services to the Continental Army, Solomon said he wanted nothing for himself but requested that the seal of the United States include the Star of David.  Solomon raised money for the Continental Army and literally paid the soldiers at Valley Forge from his own pockets.  Many feel he saved the Army through his financial contributions.  Unfortunately he died a pauper.

Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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