Symbols of the United States Department of the Treasury

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Bureau of Engraving and Printing proof impression of a United States Treasury seal used for issued currency. This particular design, with the distinctive belt buckle, was only used on Series 1878 U.S. Silver Certificates. US Treasury seal (BEP proof).jpg
Bureau of Engraving and Printing proof impression of a United States Treasury seal used for issued currency. This particular design, with the distinctive belt buckle, was only used on Series 1878 U.S. Silver Certificates.

Symbols of the United States Department of the Treasury include the Flag of the Treasury Department and the U.S. Treasury Seal. The seal actually predates the department itself, having originated with the Board of Treasury during the period of the Articles of Confederation. The seal is used on all U.S. paper currency, and (like other departmental seals) on official Treasury documents.

United States Department of the Treasury United States federal executive department

The Department of the Treasury (USDT) is an executive department and the treasury of the United States federal government. Established by an Act of Congress in 1789 to manage government revenue, the Treasury prints all paper currency and mints all coins in circulation through the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the United States Mint, respectively; collects all federal taxes through the Internal Revenue Service; manages U.S. government debt instruments; licenses and supervises banks and thrift institutions; and advises the legislative and executive branches on matters of fiscal policy.

Articles of Confederation first constitution of the United States

The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America that served as its first constitution. It was approved, after much debate, by the Second Continental Congress on November 15, 1777, and sent to the states for ratification. The Articles of Confederation came into force on March 1, 1781, after being ratified by all 13 states. A guiding principle of the Articles was to preserve the independence and sovereignty of the states. The weak central government established by the Articles received only those powers which the former colonies had recognized as belonging to king and parliament.

Contents

The seal includes a chevron with thirteen stars, representing the original thirteen states. Above the chevron is a balance, representing justice. The key below the chevron represents authority and trust. [1] [2]

Chevron (insignia) V-shaped insignia used in various fields

A chevron is a V-shaped mark, often inverted. The word is usually used in reference to a kind of fret in architecture, or to a badge or insignia used in military or police uniforms to indicate rank or length of service, or in heraldry and the designs of flags.

The phrase THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY is around the rim, and 1789 (the year the department was established) is at the bottom. This inscription is in a Cheltanham Bold font. [3]

Seal

Seal of the Department of the Treasury
Seal of the United States Department of the Treasury.svg
Armiger U.S. Department of the Treasury
AdoptedJanuary 29, 1968
Torse THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY - 1789
Blazon Chevron with thirteen stars, a balance, and a key.
Earlier version(s) Seal of the United States Department of the Treasury (1789-1968).png
UseTo represent the organization and to authenticate currency and certain documents.

History

Original seal, dating from before 1968. Seal of the United States Department of the Treasury (1789-1968).png
Original seal, dating from before 1968.

In 1778, the Second Continental Congress named John Witherspoon, Gouverneur Morris and Richard Henry Lee to design seals for the Treasury and the Navy. The committee reported on a design for the Navy the following year, but there is no record of a report about a seal for the Treasury. [1] [2]

Second Continental Congress convention of delegates from the American Colonies

The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies in America which united in the American Revolutionary War. It convened on May 10, 1775 with representatives from 12 of the colonies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shortly after the battles of Lexington and Concord, succeeding the First Continental Congress which met in Philadelphia from September 5 to October 26, 1774. The Second Congress functioned as a de facto national government at the outset of the Revolutionary War by raising armies, directing strategy, appointing diplomats, and writing treatises such as the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms and the Olive Branch Petition. All thirteen colonies were represented by the time that the congress adopted the Lee Resolution which declared independence from Britain on July 2, 1776, and the congress agreed to the Declaration of Independence two days later.

John Witherspoon Scottish-American Presbyterian minister and a Founding Father of the United States

John Knox Witherspoon was a Scottish-American Presbyterian minister and a Founding Father of the United States. Witherspoon embraced the concepts of Scottish common sense realism, and while president of the College of New Jersey, became an influential figure in the development of the United States' national character. Politically active, Witherspoon was a delegate from New Jersey to the Second Continental Congress and a signatory to the July 4, 1776, Declaration of Independence. He was the only active clergyman and the only college president to sign the Declaration. Later, he signed the Articles of Confederation and supported ratification of the Constitution. In 1789 he was convening moderator of the First General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.

Gouverneur Morris American politician

Gouverneur Morris was an American statesman, a Founding Father of the United States, and a signatory to the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution. He wrote the Preamble to the United States Constitution and has been called the "Penman of the Constitution." In an era when most Americans thought of themselves as citizens of their respective states, Morris advanced the idea of being a citizen of a single union of states. He represented New York in the United States Senate from 1800 to 1803.

The actual creator of the U.S. Treasury seal was Francis Hopkinson, [4] who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and also contributed to the design of the Great Seal of the United States. He is known to have later submitted bills to the Congress in 1780 seeking payment for his design of flags, currency, and several seals, including one for the Board of Treasury. [1] [5] The earliest known usage of the seal was in 1782. When the United States Government was established in 1789, the new Department of the Treasury continued to use the existing seal. [2]

Francis Hopkinson American judge

Francis Hopkinson was an author and composer. He designed the first official American flag, Continental paper money, and the first United States coin. He was also one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence in July 1776, as a delegate from New Jersey. He served in various roles in the early United States government including as a member of the Second Continental Congress and as a member of the Navy Board. He also later served as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Pennsylvania after the ratification of the United States Constitution.

United States Declaration of Independence 1776 assertion of colonial Americas independence from Great Britain

The United States Declaration of Independence is the pronouncement adopted by the Second Continental Congress meeting at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1776. The Declaration explained why the Thirteen Colonies at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain regarded themselves as thirteen independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule. With the Declaration, these new states took a collective first step toward forming the United States of America. The declaration was signed by representatives from New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Great Seal of the United States National seal

The Great Seal of the United States is used to authenticate certain documents issued by the federal government of the United States. The phrase is used both for the physical seal itself, which is kept by the United States Secretary of State, and more generally for the design impressed upon it. The Great Seal was first used in 1782.

In addition to the elements still found on the current seal, the original featured more ornamentation and the Latin inscription THESAUR. AMER. SEPTENT. SIGIL. around the rim. The inscription is an abbreviation for the phrase Thesauri Americae Septentrionalis Sigillum, which translates to "The Seal of the Treasury of North America". [6] The reason for the original wording that embraced all of North America is unknown, [1] although the first national bankchartered in 1781 to help solidify the nation's financeswas named the Bank of North America.

Bank of North America United States bank established in 1781

The Bank of North America was a private bank first adopted on May 26, 1781, by the Continental Congress, and opened in Philadelphia on January 7, 1782. It was based upon a plan presented by US Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris on May 17, 1781 that created the Nation's first de facto central bank. When shares in the bank were sold to the public, the Bank of North America became the country's first initial public offering. It was succeeded in its role as central bank by the First Bank of the United States in 1791.

After nearly 200 years, Treasury Secretary Henry H. Fowler approved a new, simplified version of the seal on January 29, 1968. The Latin inscription was replaced by the English THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, and 1789 was added at the bottom. [1]

Currency

Seal on the first $1 paper bill from 1862 USDeptOfTreasurySeal-1862Bill (Higher Resolution).jpg
Seal on the first $1 paper bill from 1862

The Treasury seal has been printed on virtually all U.S. federally-issued paper currency, starting with the Legal Tender Notes (United States Notes) in 1862 and continuing today. The only exceptions were the Demand Notes of 1861 (the original "greenbacks") and the first three issues of fractional (less than a dollar) notes in the 1860s; in both cases the authorizing laws did not require the seal. [7] [8]

Initially the U.S. Government had no means to produce bills on its own, so the first paper bills were printed by private firms and then sent to the Treasury Department for final processing. Along with trimming and separating the bills, this processing included the overprinting of the seal onto the notes (even today, the serial number and seal are overprinted on the notes after the face has been printed). This was the beginning of what was later known as the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. In July 1869, the Bureau began to print notes on its own. [9]

Modern seal on a current $1 bill USDeptOfTreasurySeal-2003Bill.jpg
Modern seal on a current $1 bill

For several decades, the color and style of the printed seal varied greatly from issue to issue (and even within the same issue). The basic seal was the same, but the circumferences were embellished with lathework decoration such as scallops, beading, or spikes. Among the colors used for the seal during this period were red, blue, and brown. [7]

The usage of the seal was standardized starting on the smaller-sized notes of Series 1928. The seal was printed with a toothed outer edge, and other than the color were the same across all styles of currency. Federal Reserve Notes were issued with a green seal, silver certificates with a blue seal, gold certificates with an orange seal, United States Notes with a red seal, and National Bank Notes and Federal Reserve Bank Notes with brown seals. [7]

$10 Hawaii overprint bill $10HawaiiFront.jpg
$10 Hawaii overprint bill

During World War II, special versions of Federal Reserve Notes and Silver Certificates were printed with the word HAWAII on each end, and circulated only in Hawaii between 1942 and 1944. The seal and serial numbers were brown to further distinguish them from regular notes. In the event that Hawaii was captured by enemy forces, the special notes could be declared worthless. Similarly, special Silver Certificates were issued for use by American troops during the invasion of North Africa in November 1942. These notes had a distinctive yellow treasury seal, which would again allow them to be declared worthless if large amounts fell into enemy hands. [7]

In Series 1950, the general design of all Federal Reserve Notes was changed slightly, and a smaller seal was used. The 1968 version of the Treasury Seal had first been used on the $100 United States Note in Series 1966, and was later introduced on all Federal Reserve Notes starting with Series 1969. [7]

Watchdog seal

Watchdog seal WatchdogOfTheTreasury1800Seal.jpg
Watchdog seal

The watchdog seal dates from around 1800. Its origin is a matter of speculation, as is the extent of its use at the time. It has long disappeared from Treasury documents, but the original plate of the seal is on deposit at the United States Government Printing Office. [10]

The seal contains a symbolic strongbox, with the Scales of Justice on top. Lying beside the strongbox is a capable looking watchdog, with his left front paw securely clasping a large key. The seal bears the lettering "U.S. Treasury", and is bordered by a wreath. The scales and the key are also incorporated on the official seal.

The United States Mint did in fact own a real watchdog named Nero, who was originally purchased in 1793 for $3 and accompanied the night watchman on his rounds. Treasury documents record further expenditures for Nero and successor watchdogs over the following twenty-five years, and currently Sherman. According to department legend, Nero is the canine depicted on the seal, and may have been the origin (or at least the inspiration) of the term "Watchdog of the Treasury". [10] [11]

Flag

United States Department of the Treasury
Flag of the United States Department of the Treasury.png
AdoptedJanuary 11, 1963
DesignBackground of mintleaf green with an eagle, holding a scroll emblazoned with "THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY" in its beak, while resting on a shield. In the eagle's claws is another scroll, emblazoned with "1789".

The Flag of the Treasury Department was approved on January 11, 1963, by C. Douglas Dillon, the 57th Secretary of the Treasury, and was first displayed on July 1, 1963. [12] According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the flag is defined as follows:

Treasury Department officials

In addition to the departmental flag, several personal flags, or standards, are used to represent different U.S. Treasury Department officials, such as the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

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Federal Reserve Note current type of paper currency issued by the United States

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Bureau of Engraving and Printing government agency under the U.S. Treasury that prints paper money and distributes Treasury securities

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United States five-dollar bill

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United States ten-dollar bill Denomination of U.S. currency

The United States ten-dollar bill ($10) is a denomination of U.S. currency. The obverse of the bill features the portrait of Alexander Hamilton, who served as the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. The reverse features the U.S. Treasury Building. All $10 bills issued today are Federal Reserve Notes.

United States twenty-dollar bill Medium Value denomination of US currency

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United States fifty-dollar bill Second-Highest value denomination of the U.S currency

The United States fifty-dollar bill ($50) is a denomination of United States currency. The 18th U.S. President (1869-77), Ulysses S. Grant, is featured on the obverse, while the U.S. Capitol is featured on the reverse. All current-issue $50 bills are Federal Reserve Notes.

United States one hundred-dollar bill Highest-value denomination of the U.S currency

The United States one hundred-dollar bill ($100) is a denomination of United States currency. The first United States Note with this value was issued in 1862 and the Federal Reserve Note version was launched in 1914, alongside other denominations. Statesman, inventor, diplomat, and American founding father Benjamin Franklin has been featured on the obverse of the bill since 1914. On the reverse of the banknote is an image of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, which has been used since 1928. The $100 bill is the largest denomination that has been printed and circulated since July 13, 1969, when the denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 were retired. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing says the average life of a $100 bill in circulation is 90 months before it is replaced due to wear and tear.

Large denominations of United States currency greater than $100 were circulated by the United States Treasury until 1969. Since then, U.S. dollar banknotes have only been issued in seven denominations: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100.

United States one-dollar bill banknote

The United States one-dollar bill ($1) since 1876 has been the lowest value denomination of United States currency. An image of the first U.S. President (1789–1797), George Washington, based on the Athenaeum Portrait, a painting by Gilbert Stuart, is currently featured on the obverse, and the Great Seal of the United States is featured on the reverse. The one-dollar bill has the oldest overall design of all U.S. currency currently being produced. The obverse design of the dollar bill seen today debuted in 1963 when it was first issued as a Federal Reserve Note.

Silver certificate (United States) Representativo money issued by the united states government between 1868 and 1964

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Gold certificate certificate of ownership that gold owners hold instead of storing the actual gold

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Series of 1928 (United States Currency)

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United States dollar Currency of the United States of America

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Historical armorial of U.S. states from 1876

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In early 18th century Colonial America, engravers began experimenting with copper plates as an alternative medium to wood. Applied to the production of paper currency, copper-plate engraving allowed for greater detail and production during printing. It was the transition to steel engraving that enabled banknote design and printing to rapidly advance in the United States during the 19th century.

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Fact Sheet on the Seal of the Treasury Department". U.S. Treasury Department. Archived from the original on 2007-08-23. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  2. 1 2 3 "Treasury Historical Association Newsletter" (PDF). March 2001. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  3. "Treasury Order 100-01: The Department of the Treasury Seal". Department of the Treasury. Archived from the original on 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  4. Williams Jr., Earl P. (June 14, 1996). "A Civil Servant Designed Our National Banner: The Unsung Legacy of Francis Hopkinson". The New Constellation (Special Edition No. 7): 6 and 8.
  5. "Journal of the Continental Congress, Friday, October 27, 1780" . Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  6. "History of the Office of the Curator". U.S. Treasury Department. Archived from the original on 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 "Currency Notes" (PDF). Bureau of Engraving and Printing. pp. 14–15. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  8. "Act of August 5, 1861 Chapter XLVI". Washington D.C.: United States Congress. 1861. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  9. "BEP History" (PDF). Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  10. 1 2 "Fact Sheet on the Watchdogs of the Treasury". U.S. Department of the Treasury. Archived from the original on 2007-08-09. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  11. "Office of the Curator: Organization and Functions". Archived from the original on 2007-11-21. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  12. 1 2 "Flag of the Treasury Department". United States Department of the Treasury. Federal government of the United States of America. October 3, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2013. C.Douglas Dillon, the 57th Secretary of the Treasury, approved the Treasury Department's official Flag on January 11, 1963. It was first displayed on July 1, 1963. The Treasury Flag has a background of mintleaf green, upon which there is a shield resting upon an eagle. In its beak, the eagle is holding a scroll containing the words "The Department of the Treasury." The obverse side of the scroll is Old Glory blue with white letters and the reverse side is white with dark gray. In its claws the eagle holds another scroll containing the year of the Department's creation "1789" in white. The shield background is yellow with brown outlines and yellow-orange shadows. There is an oak branch on the right side and an olive branch on the left. It also contains a blue chevron crested by 13 white stars (to represent the original thirteen states). Beneath the chevron is the traditional Treasury key (the emblem of official authority) in white. Above the chevron appears the balancing scales (representing justice) in white pivoting upon a blue anchor.