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THE PRESIDENT'S SEAL.
At the same time that the seal of the United States was adopted, congress ordered a smaller seal for the use of the president of congress. It was a small oval, about an inch in length, the centre corered with clouds surrounding a blue sky, on which were seen thirteen stars arranged to form a six-pointed star. Over this device was the National motto. This seal was used by all the presidents of the Continental congresses. The seal of the President of the United States is dow round, with an eagle upon it.
THE DEPARTMENT SEALS.
Each department of the National government has its special official seal, about the size of that of the United States, which is attached to all com missions and important documents emanating from the department to which it belongs.
Post-office DEPARTMENT.—Under the National government, Samuel Osgood of Massachusetts was appointed the first postmastergeneral, and the rude wood-cut of a post-rider, which had been used by Franklin on his circular, became the device on the seal of the department, and it is retained to this day as such, with the words around it, “Post-office Department, United States of America.”
NAVY DEPARTMENT.—On the twenty-sixth of September, 1788, congress appointed a committee, consisting of John Witherspoon, Gouverneur Morris and Richard Henry Lee, to prepare a seal for the treasury and for the navy. On the fourth of May, 1779, they reported as a device an escutcheon, on which was a chevron with
a blue field above it, and thirteen perpendicular alternate red and white bars in the chevron. Below the chevron was a reclining anchor, proper, on a white or silver field; the crest was a ship under sail; the motto, “Sustentans et Sustentatum;" the legend, “U. S. A. Sigil. Naval,” with thirteen stars to complete the circle of the seal.
This seal was used until 1798, when, in the spring of that year, a regular navy department was established, and Benjamin Stodert of Maryland was appointed the first secretary of the navy.
Theil the old continental naval seal was laid aside, and another, similar to the one now in use, was adopted. In place of the chevron with bars, a large space of the face of the seal is covered with a spread
The ship and the anchor are retained, but not the heraldic
posture. The motto and stars are omitted and the legend is, “Navy Department, United States of America."
War DEPARTMENT.-In 1778 a seal was adopted for the board of war, having for its device a group of military trophies, with the Phrygian cap, the emblem of freedom, between a spear and a musket; over this was a serpent. Beneath the trophies was the date, “MDCCLXXVIII.” Around the seal were the words, “Board of War and Ordnance, United States of America." This was the origin of the present seal of the war department, which bears precisely the same device. The date is omitted. Within the curve of the serpent are the words, “Will Defend," and around the seal the legend, “United States of America. War Office."
TREASURY DEPARTMENT.-Congress ordered a seal to be prepared for this department, on the twenty-sixth of September, 1778, at the same time that one was directed for the navy department, and the device then adopted for the continental treasury seal has been continued in use by the treasury department up to the present time. It consists of a white or silver shield divided by a chevron studded with thirteen stars. In the field above the chevron an evenly balanced pair of scales, and in the field below the chevron a key; surrounding the shield is the legend, “Thesaur.*Amer. *Septent.* Sigil.*
STATE DEPARTMENT.-The device on the seal of the state department is an eagle volant, bearing in its beak the motto, "E Pluribus Unum," and over its head the constellation of thirteen stars. On its breast is the American shield, the blue field of the upper portion likewise studded with thirteen stars. In the right claw of the eagle is an olive branch and in the left a bundle of arrows with the points downward. Below the eagle is a wreath of oak leaves, and around the upper part of the seal the legend, “Department of State.”'
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR.—The device on the seal of this department is an eagle just ready to soar, resting on a sheaf of grain, with olive branch and arrows in its talons. Over the eagle, and around the upper edge of the seal, the legend, "Department of the Interior."
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE.—The seal of this department is an eagie resting on a prone National shield, with olive branch and arrows in its talons. Below the eagle, in a semicircle, is the motto, “Qui pro Domina Justitia Sequitur," and around the outer rim of the seal the legend, “Attorney-General of the United States.”
THE LIBERTY CAP.
HE cap seen upon our coins and used elsewhere as one of our
National emblems, had a remarkably indicative origin, and has held its original meaning all through history. It is of ancient origin. The Bryges, a warlike people from the southwest shores of the Euxine, conquered the east of Asia Minor, which they called Brigia, afterwards changed to Phrygia. This people distinguished themselves from the primitive inhabitants by wearing their national cap as a sign of their independence, and it was also stamped upon their coins. The Romans, who borrowed something of all the nations which they conquered, or with which they came in contact, adopted the cap also as an emblem, and when a slave was manumitted, placed a small red cap on his head, proclaimed him as a freedman and registered him as such. When Cæsar was murdered, the conspirators raised a Phrygian cap on a spear, as a token of liberty. The goddess of liberty, on the Aventine mount, held in her hand a cap, the symbol of freedom. In France, during the troubled times of the great Revolution, a red cap was worn as a signal of equality and freedom. In England the same idea is expressed by a blue cap with a white border; and Britannia is represented as holding such a cap at the end of a spear. The American cap of liberty has been adopted from the British, and is blue, with a border or bottom on which are thirteen stars.
One of the earliest recorded expressions touching this emblem on this side of the sea, was the following:
"Philadelphia, August 31, 1775. At a meeting of the committee of safety held this day, Resolved, That Owen Biddle provide a seal for the use of the board, about the size of a dollar, with a cap of liberty, with this motto: “This is my right, and I will defend it.””
THE LIBERTY-CAP CENT.
It was about three years after a mint for the coinage of money for the United States was authorized that the act went into operation, and in the interval several of the coins called “specimens,” now so scarce, were struck. Among the most rare is the “liberty-cap cent," having a profile and the name of Washington on one side, and on the other a liberty-cap in the centre, with rays of light emanating from it, and the words around them, “Success to the United States."
Liberty tree, in Boston, was a venerable elm similar to some now seen upon the famous Common of that city. It stood at a point which is now the corner of Washington and Essex streets, opposite the Boylston market. It received this distinguished name from the fact that under its shadows the association of the Sons of Liberty held their meetings during the summer of 1765, and adopted measures in opposition to the Stamp act. After that, meetings were frequently held there, until they were prohibited by the British authorities, in 1775. In August of that year the obnoxious tree was cut down by order of the British commander, when a soldier, who was in its branches, was killed by the fall. The tree itself had borne the inscription, “Liberty Tree,” while the space under it was called “Liberty Hall.” The Essex Gazette of August 31, 1775, says of its downfall: "They made a furious attack upon it. After a long spell of laughing and grinning, sweating, swearing and foaming, with malice diabolical, tliey cut down the tree because it bore the name of liberty."
THE SONS OF LIBERTY.
As early as 1735, the radical opponents of the royal governors were called “Sons of Liberty,” but the name was not often heard until after the memorable speech in the house of commons (in 1765) of Colonel Barre, against the taxation of the Americans. In reply to Charles Townshend's assertion that the colonies had been cared for and nourished into strength by the indulgence of the British government, Barre entered a denial, declaring that care was exercised in sending unfit persons as governors to rule over them, "men whose
behaviour on many occasions had caused the blood of these Sons of Liberty to recoil within them.” The associated patriots in America instantly assumed the name thus happily bestowed. They were chiefly ardent young men who loved excitement, but at the same time were truly patriotic. Many persons of consideration and influence, who favored their cause, still kept aloof from them, from reasons of prudence. Their first business seemed to be the intimidation of stamp distributors, and to oppose the Stamp act in every possible way; but they finally spread over the colonies from Massachusetts to Georgia, and became the most radical leaders in the great conflict then fully under way. Famous among them were the seven described below.
THE SEVEN SONS OF LIBERTY.
The seven Sons of Liberty are: Isaac Sears, Casper Wistar, Alexa ander McDougall, Jacob Van Zandt, Samuel Broome, Erasmus Williams and James Varick. These were the committee that carried to the house of the New York assembly the communication of fourteen hundred people, who assembled around the liberty pole in New York city, Monday, December 17, 1769, which denounced the action of the assembly in passing obnoxious bills. The house declared the paper an infamous and scandalous libel. When the vote was taken, twenty of the pliant assembly voted that it was so and only one member voted no. That member was Philip Schuyler. Alexander McDougall was arrested as the author of the paper. He was sent to prison, and in February, 1771, was released and was never afterward
"I rejoice," said McDougall, when ordered to prison, “that I am the first to suffer for liberty since the commencement of our glorious struggle.”
The Sons of Liberty, in their aggressive campaign for the rights of
people, erected tall flag-staffs, with the cap of liberty on the top, as rallying-places in the open air. Erected first in the cities, they soon made their appearance in country places in many directions. On the king's birthday, June 4, 1766, great rejoicings were witnessed in New York on account of the repeal of the Stamp act. Governor Sir Henry Moore presided at a public dinner at the King's Arms, near the foot