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The Presidential Seal

The Presidential SealThe Seal of the President of the United States is an easily recognized symbol that is usually in place on the podium when the President speaks at press conferences. The Seal also graces presidential china and is emblazoned on the sides of Air Force One and Marine One.

The Seal, which is based on the Great Seal of the United States, was designed and put into use in 1880. President Rutherford B. Hayes authorized the seal, and he was the first to use it. Early uses of the Seal included having it imprinted on all White House invitations. President Woodrow Wilson was the first to commission china bearing the pattern, and this is still a popular use of the seal today.

Changes came to the Seal of the President in 1945 when President Harry S. Truman had it redesigned. The addition of a circle of stars and repositioning of the eagle completed the Seal that is still in use.

Every aspect of the design is rich in symbolism. Above the eagle is a banner that reads “E pluribus unum”, which translates to “out of many, one”. This is meant to symbolize a single nation that was born out of many colonies as well as a single people born of many races.

Around the eagle is a circle of 50 stars. Each star represents one of the states and stars were added as more states joined the union. The final star was added in 1959 when Hawaii became part of the United States. Above the banner are 13 more stars. Each one represents one of the original 13 colonies. In the eagle’s right talon is an olive branch which symbolizes peace. In it’s left is a bundle of arrows which symbolize the military power of the United States.

When the Seal was first created its use was limited. Today, there are many official uses for the Seal. These include those mentioned above as well as being displayed on the ceiling of the Oval Office and emblazoned on a rug in the same room. The Seal is also displayed on a White House balcony to recognize the arrival of the President. The Presidential flag includes the seal as does the back side of the Kennedy half dollar.

While use of the official seal is regulated by the White House Graphics and Calligraphy Office, variations of the Seal are heavily used in popular culture. One example is the use of a variation of the seal as a logo. The rock bands Blink-182 and The Ramones both use logos that are similar to the Seal. The mega-hit television show The West Wing used an altered Presidential Seal as part of its opening sequence.

Use of the Seal on products that are for sale is prohibited, but there is one exception. The U.S. Secret Service is allowed to use the Seal on items being sold to benefit their charitable fund. While not an exact replica of the seal is used (for example the words “Seal of the President of the United States” are replaced with “The President of the United States”), it is a close replica and has been featured on various retail items including a line of skin care products for men.

The use of the Seal of the President of the United States continues to be regulated so that it will not lose the respect and admiration that is deserves.

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The Presidential Seal