In 1782 the Congress of the United States adopted the Latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum”, Out of Many One, to be prominently displayed on the front side of the official seal of the newly formed country. It is currently in use on the National emblem, and on official documents such as passports. It also appears on the seal of the President and in the seals of the Vice President of the United States, the United States Congress, the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and on the seal of the United States Supreme Court. The use of this phrase on the seal was to signify that the United States of America was a single nation formed from the many states and former colonies. This idea has since been applied to the people of the United States, illustrating the concept of the melting pot that is so indicative of our history. It was considered the de facto motto until Congress officially declared “In God We Trust” as the Motto in 1954. The current motto is not inclusive and has created a divide in our citizenry. There has been a drive over the past few years to add the motto on every government building, from Congress to the smallest local street crew warehouse. In every instance that this has been proposed, it has divided the community. It has used up countless hours of valuable government time in debate and discussion surrounding this. Changing the motto to “E Pluribus Unum” would eliminate that division.
This is the letter we want to deliver to our elected officials.
In 1776, the newly formed nation needed an official seal for use on its document. To accomplish this, they assigned Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin to create one. While their design was turned down, it brought to the discussion one of the greatest phrases ever to be offered as a motto for these United States.
The phrase “E Pluribus Unum” was accepted in 1782 as the motto on the official seal for the United States government. It is in use in several federal seals and is prominent on all our currency.
That is the original motto, as our founding fathers intended. It was no accident that this phrase made it onto the official seal. They had turned down two others that did not contain the phrase and did not like the imagery of the first one that contained the phrase.
We are a nation of diversity. Our strength comes from our differences. We are able to accomplish much more when we work together as a unit than we ever could as individuals.
This is what makes America great. Our early history shows this when the thirteen independent colonies banded together to stand up to tyranny. And again when they joined to create the greatest nation on Earth. Out of these many and very diverse colonies came the one United States of America.
Now there are those that would seek to divide us by keeping a National motto that some citizens can not believe in. There is a rising population in America that firmly believe that government and religion should never be entangled. In 1956, this is exactly what happened. The Government of the United States, in order to differentiate itself from the “godless communists”, created the overtly religious motto “In God We Trust.” This motto has served to further drive a wedge between Americans.
There is a movement in America’s cities and counties to install the words “In God We Trust” in every single government building regardless of the opinion of the citizens. Again, we see religion attempting to co-opt the governmental structure for its own gain. The people heading these movements are essentially pushing the endorsement of religion on all citizens. This, if it were not the motto, would be easily interpreted as a violation of the First Amendment.
This seems to be the last line of defense for this drive. I have heard so many times during public comment that because it is the motto, it belongs on these buildings. I have even heard this from our law makers and representatives. This is not a good argument. It is simply an argument from tradition, which is not always the best way to handle things.
It is time to end this ability to hide behind the motto. It is time to change the motto. It is time to have a motto all Americans can be proud to say. It is time for “E Pluribus Unum.”
That is why we, the people, are asking you to take up our cause and sponsor a bill to change our national motto to “E Pluribus Unum.