Thursday, February 3, 2011

Original intent

The motto of the United States of America is “E pluribus unum,” Latin for, “Out of many, one.”

The motto was originally suggested by a committee established by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776—which means it has been with us from the very birth of our nation. And the motto, as originally conceived by this committee, did not simply refer to the thirteen now-former colonies who had declared their sovereign independence as a united nation, but—as we know from a seal the committee sketched out to accompany the motto—the idea behind the motto also meant to include the six European nations that sent the majority of the first generation of American citizens to this new world.

What the inclusion of this cultural theme within the original “one out of many” concept means, is that the motto did not just refer to the political unity of the separate sovereign states, but also to the unity of spirit of the different European cultures that bonded together in the united citizenry of the new American nation.

So it is clear from the motto committee’s intent that, from its very moment of nativity, the United States of America was understood by our Founding Fathers to be a multicultural nation—and not the property of any single-minded faction within the populace.

No separate community of Americans—whether divided out by race, color or creed—has the right to decree to other Americans that its vision of America should dominate all others. The Founders specifically intended that all cultures within the new nation’s borders should be represented within the kaleidoscopic ferment of ideas and industry that signify a robust and growing nation. No one knew better than America’s Founding Fathers that what the poet William Blake referred to as the “single eye”—a monolithic vision, whether philosophical, religious or political—was the mark of all tyranny.

Nature’s God intended for Her children to be free.

--Michael Hasty

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