Rushville Republican

Columns

February 25, 2014

The symbolism of the humble dollar bill

It’s one of the most common, everyday things we all carry around and pretty much take for granted without really knowing very much about it. And yet, it contains some of the most profound words and symbols that stand for who we are as a people! What is it? If you’ve got your wallet or purse handy, pull out an ordinary dollar bill and really look at it for the first time.

A few days ago I received an email from a friend who was forwarding the original message he had received about the fascinating history of the dollar bill.

It began when the First Continental Congress requested that Ben Franklin and others to come up with a Seal for the new United States. It took them four years to get the job done. Then it took another two years to get the design approved! Look on the back of an ordinary dollar bill, and you will see two circles. Taken together, they make up the Great Seal of the United States. Now, take a close look at the circle on the left side, which is the reverse of the Great Seal, and you’ll see a pyramid. Notice that the pyramid is not complete. The reason is that we weren’t close to being the nation we hoped to be. Most of the area that would ultimately become the 48 continental states was yet to be explored!

Above the unfinished pyramid is the capstone, depicting the ancient symbol of an all-seeing eye which represented divinity. Franklin’s belief was that one man couldn’t do much alone, but that a group of men, with the help of God, could do anything.

Written in Latin above the pyramid are the words “ANNIT COEPTIS,” which means “God has favored our undertaking.” Under the pyramid is a scroll, with the words, again in Latin, “NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM,” which means “a new order has begun.” Just above, on the base of the pyramid, are the Roman numerals MDCCLXXVI, (1776).

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