Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia

From Wythepedia: The George Wythe Encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Illustration of the obverse (front) of the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Illustration of the reverse (back) of the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Monday, July 1, 1776:[1]

Resolved, that mr. Richard Henry Lee, mr. George Mason, mr. Treasurer [Robert Carter Nicholas], and Mr. Wythe, be appointed a committee to devise a proper seal for this Commonwealth.

Friday, July 5, 1776:[2]

Mr. George Mason, from the committee appointed to devise a proper seal for this commonwealth, reported, that the committee had accordingly prepared the following device thereof; which he read in his place, and afterwards delivered in at the clerk's table, where the same was again twice read, and agreed to.

To be engraved on the GREAT SEAL:

VIRTUS, the genius of the Commonwealth, dressed like an Amazon, resting on a spear with one hand, and holding a sword in the other, and treading on TYRANNY, represented by a man prostrate, a crown fallen from his head, a broken chain in his left hand, and a scourge in his right.

In the exergon the word VIRGINIA over the head of VIRTUS; and underneath, the words Sic semper tyrannis.

On the reverse a groupe.

LIBERTAS, with her wand and pileus.

On one side of her CERES, with the cornucopia in one hand, and an ear of wheat in the other.

On the other side ÆTERNITAS, with the globe and phœnix.

In the exergon these words:

Resolved, that George Wythe, and John Page, esquires, be desired to superintend the engraving the said seal, and to take care that the same be properly executed.

Description of the seal

Evidence for Wythe's design

On November 18, 1776, Wythe wrote to Thomas Jefferson from the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia:

I understood by the person employed to draw the figures for our great seal that you intended to propose an alteration in those on the reverse. I wish you would propose it; for though I had something to do in designing them, I do not like them. Let me know of the alteration, if any; and send a neat impression made by the old seal. It will be useful to the workman. Adieu.

See also


  1. Proceedings of the Convention of Delegates Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg, in the Colony of Virginia, on Monday the 6th of May, 1776 (Williamsburg, VA: Alexander Purdie, 1776), 173.
  2. Proceedings, 184-185.

External links