Sunday, November 28, 2010

Proposed Seal for the United States

IV. Religion and the Congress of the Confederation, 1774-89

On July 4, 1776, Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams "to bring in a device for a seal for the United States of America."  Franklin's proposal adapted the biblical story of the parting of the Red Sea. Jefferson first recommended the "Children of Israel in the Wilderness, led by a Cloud by Day, and a Pillar of Fire by night. ..."  He then embraced Franklin's proposal and rewrote it.  Jefferson's revision of Franklin's proposal was presented by the committee to Congress on August 20.  Although not accepted these drafts reveal the religious temper of the Revolutionary period.  Franklin and Jefferson were among the most theologically liberal of the Founders, yet they used biblical imagery for this important task.

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