Welcome to part V in a series on Founding Fathers on Money. Today we examine the latin phrase E pluribus unum that has appeared on U.S. coins since 1786.
But what does it mean?
E pluribus unum, or “Out of Many, One” was the unofficial motto of the United States until 1956 (when Congress formally adopted In God We Trust). It also appears on the Great Seal of the United States, as well as the official seals of the President, Vice President, Congress, House of Representatives, Senate, and Supreme Court.
Here it is in latin:
paulatim singula vires deperdunt proprias, color est e pluribus unus…
And in English:
Their proper powers, and out of many comes
A single colour, not entirely green
The Founding Fathers were strongly influenced by certain aspects of Roman thought (notably Cicero and Cato). So I thought it entirely possible that the phrase that appears on all U.S. currency as well as the country’s official seal could very well have originated from one of Rome’s greatest poets (that would be Virgil, again) until I discovered that the poem it came from is about cheese!