The U. S. President’s Flag and Seal

When the President of the United States appears on camera, we normally see a representation of the Presidential seal attached to his podium and the Presidential flag displayed at his side. Today, these symbols of Presidential power and authority share the same design.

Although there have been several Presidential seals and even more Presidential flags, their various designs have basically run parallel throughout our nation’s history.

Consider the Presidential seal seen above. Not a plaque made to be displayed on a platform, this engraved seal die was cut to make wax impressions that were applied to documents and letters, as true seals. Made perhaps as early as 1845 during the administration of James K. Polk, the seal found use during the presidencies of Polk, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan and Lincoln. Lincoln replaced it in late 1864 with a seal showing thirty-six stars, the full complement of stars to represent all states: North and South. The “old seal” as it was later called disappeared until located and recognized by a Utah researcher, Ronald Fox. The seal’s design is strikingly similar to the design of a Presidential flag illustrated in a little book entitled Maritime Flags of All Nations published in London in 1848. The design and the eagle’s wings are extended to fill the flag’s rectangular space and a red scroll with the motto E. Pluribus Unum was added; nevertheless, the parallels between seal and flag are obvious.

For both emblems, the American eagle holds the olive branch of peace in the right talon and the arrows of war in its left claw. This clearly symbolizes the U.S. Presidents authority as Commander-in-chief. A civilian head of the armed forces charged to maintain peace with military might when required.

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