April 1st, 2013

Sealing the deal

President Obama has proclaimed his intention of changing the unofficial motto of the United States, e pluribus unum, on the Seal of the President.

Here’s its history:

E pluribus unum — Latin for “Out of many, one” (alternatively translated as “One out of many” or “One from many”) — is a phrase on the Seal of the United States, along with Annuit cœptis and Novus ordo seclorum, and adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782. Never codified by law, E pluribus unum was considered a de facto motto of the United States until 1956 when the United States Congress passed an act (H. J. Resolution 396), adopting “In God We Trust” as the official motto.

Not only does e pluribus unum appear on the Seal of the United States, it also appears on the Seal of the President as well as other official US seals (those of the House and Senate, for example). But although an act of Congress established the original e pluribus unum on the Seal of the United States in 1782, the application of the motto to the other seals was not sealed (as it were) by the legislature.

As far as its appearance on the Seal of the President goes, it has developed through custom, based on the official Seal of the US scheme, with Presidents Truman and Eisenhower solidifying the design by executive orders during their administrations (Eisenhower added the stars for Alaska and Hawaii to the circle of stars surrounding the eagle to make fifty). So there’s no need for new legislation to change it; Obama can do it by executive fiat.

Here’s the Seal in use today; you can see the motto prominently displayed:


It’s not the first time Obama has played with the seal. You may recall that during his 2008 campaign he was mocked for using a campaign seal that mimicked the Seal of the President, although it was simpler and contained a different motto above the eagle’s head, “Vero Possumus,” which translates more or less as ‘Yes we can.”

Here’s what it looked like:


Today Obama explained:

When I campaigned in 2008 I used a campaign seal that said “Yes, we can” in Latin. When I became president I used the seal that the forty-three presidents before me had used. I am a great respecter of tradition, but I believe that in honor of my new term I need a new motto. I thought to take the old campaign slogan’s Latin version of “yes, we can” and merely change it to the Latin for “yes, we did,” which would be “Vero Fecimus.”

But then I had a better idea, which is to use “E Unum Pluribus” instead. Our old motto meant “out of many, one.” It was a good motto, appropriate for its times. But our new one—“out of one, many“—is appropriate for our times. And the new one has the same number of letters, so it can fit on the seal exactly where the old one went.

The new motto has two meanings. The first is obvious; it’s meant to honor the great diversity of this nation and the fact that we no longer feel the need to arrogantly force new arrivals to give up their old cultures and merge into the prevailing one. The second meaning is more subtle; it refers to my nickname, The One, and the many achievements I’ve accomplished during my many years in office, as well as the many things I plan to do during the remaining years of my term.

We’ve only just begun. E Unum Pluribus!


[ADDENDUM: Scott Johnson is much better at Latin than I.]

43 Responses to “Sealing the deal”

  1. Bard Says:

    You really had me up till midway through the second-to-last paragraph. Which goes to show that it’s actually plausible from this guy.

  2. carl in atlanta Says:


  3. Lurch Says:

    almost got me too. LOL!!!

  4. JuliB Says:

    I realized the date almost immediately, but my stomach dropped when I initially read the headline. NOT NICE! Yes, goes to show that nothing is to be surprise with this one.

  5. Lizzy Says:

    Ouch! That’s why the joke works….there’s not much that Obama could do that would surprise us at this point.

    I kept looking for his favorite unity themes, either mentioning that we are “our brother’s keepers” or as he mentioned in last week’s Easter address, ” the belief that, as part of something bigger than ourselves, we have a shared responsibility to look out for our fellow citizens.”

  6. DNW Says:

    Given how the average lefty thinks, its not so easy to separate farce from fact when they are involved.

    “I saw him as a kind of God.”

    Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2013/03/31/saint-hugo-chavez-legacy-gains-religious-glow-in-venezuela/#ixzz2PEAnGaMF

  7. Roman Says:

    It took me too long to figure this out. Nearing the end of your post, I remembered what today is. Great! We must never take ourselves too seriously.

  8. Jim Nicholas Says:

    I am appalled that I did not recognize the joke until I began reading the comments above, because I think of myself as having a reasonable sense of humor. Am I so blinded by prejudice against President Obama that I am willing to believe anything negative about him, no matter how unjustified? Or does his pattern of self-centered arrogance warrant an acceptance of your great spoof? In either case, not good.

  9. paul abarge Says:

    April Fools – cute.

  10. Oldflyer Says:

    It is sad that a reasonably intelligent person can read most of that before the light comes on.

    In my case, probably due to racism, since: 1. I am white and have a southern heritage, and 2. I would never believe a word of it with regards to any previous President.

  11. rickl Says:

    I realized it was a joke right away.

    The problem is that it’s too believable to be funny.

  12. David Guaspari Says:

    A subtle touch: The Latin is ungrammatical, which seems about right. In the original, “unum” is nominative and “pluribus” (object of the preposition is ablative. In the revised version, those cases would have to be switched.

  13. waltj Says:

    Happy April 1 to you, too, Neo.

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    David Guaspari: you should see the amount of research I did to try to get the Latin right! Since I never learned Latin, it wasn’t easy.

    And apparently it wasn’t successful :-).

  15. rickl Says:

    By far the funniest April Fool’s joke I’ve heard this year was the one where Lady Gaga was asked to play at the Republican Convention.

    …Um, that was a joke, right?

  16. Sam L. Says:

    Only toooooooooo plausible!

  17. Mac Says:

    If I hadn’t come straight from Facebook where people were making April Fool jokes, I would probably not gotten this until the last paragraph.

  18. southpaw Says:

    Had me ready for a good rant too – but I think Man Bear pig (Al Gore) beat you to the punch during his bid for President n when in a speech, he mis-tranlated the existing motto just as you have proposed it.

  19. davisbr Says:

    …crap, neo: I fell for it too. Jeezus. Even on One April.

    …I just don’t expect you to be outright bold-faced funny.

    …even when I know you can be, with a tongue as firmly planted in cheek as the best of ’em, lol.

  20. Alex Says:

    ex uno plures

  21. southpaw Says:

    Knew I had seen this before.


  22. neo-neocon Says:

    davisbr: well, I’m hurt :-(.

    Although my humor is often rather dry.

    My finest April Fools hour was this. I don’t know whether you caught it, but it got linked by Breitbart at the time. So many people took it seriously it became somewhat of a cause celebre.

  23. southpaw Says:

    Neo – since this is a day for laughs, has anyone ever mentioned that your picture resembles Dr. Cuddy on “House”? Granted it’s a tiny picture and there’s an apply in the way, but there’s a slight resemblence.

  24. Occam's Beard Says:

    And the new one has the same number of letters, so it can fit on the seal exactly where the old one went.

    Allahu Akhbar has only one fewer letters.

  25. Occam's Beard Says:

    Am I so blinded by prejudice against President Obama that I am willing to believe anything negative about him, no matter how unjustified?

    You’re willing to believe in the arrogance about the erstwhile occupant of the “Office of the President-Elect?”

  26. Occam's Beard Says:

    about –> of

  27. neo-neocon Says:

    southpaw: well, since I don’t watch “House” much and don’t remember who Dr. Cuddy is, I was almost afraid to look it up.

    But I’m flattered.

    As for resemblance—well, someday perhaps I’ll remove the apple and the suspense. Of course, by that time, I’ll probably be too old for anyone to care :-).

  28. southernjames Says:

    It is a pretty sad commentary on the state of affairs that you had me all the way up to “it refers to my nickname, The One.” To me, it was totally and 100% believable up to that point.

    HAFD, Neo.

  29. ziontruth Says:

    This April Fool’s joke is spoiled, and at the very same time made all the stronger, by the fact that the scenario is so absolutely possible. Any other day this were posted and it would pass for reality.

    Gotta hand it to you, Neo: It’s best-of-breed in the “Many a true word is said in jest” genre.

  30. Eric Says:

    Good one.

  31. CV Says:

    You got me Neo!

    And not much surprises me these days 🙂

  32. sharpie Says:

    If only the real counterfeit were just an April Fools’ Day joke!

  33. eeyore Says:

    Vero Possumus

    Possum Truth???

  34. M J R Says:

    neo-neocon, 3:40 pm:

    “My finest April Fools hour was this [embedded link]. I don’t know whether you caught it, but it got linked by Breitbart at the time. So many people took it seriously it became somewhat of a cause celebre.”

    You got me on that one (2010), you devil(lette?) you, but not today (2013)!

    Am I ^finally^ wising up, or – – – ??

  35. gs Says:

    1. Wow, Obama knows Romany! 😆

    2. David Guaspari and Alex are on the right track. The correct form is Ex uno plura.

  36. sharpie Says:

    When Catholic theo Josef Pieper reflected on the abuse of language he posited that tyranny and propaganda disformed words. When sociologists reflected on the abuse of language they blamed parents for expressing “double binds,” for which, the palliative is not clear expression but drugs and the acceptance of nonsense as meaning.

  37. Mead Says:

    I’m pretty sure Obama privately would like the motto to be E pluribus, ego.

  38. Beverly Says:

    Well put by, Mead!

    I’m sure that ole Barry “Possum Truth” Obama would love to change our motto: please don’t give that goober any ideas!

  39. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

    Can’t they go with Semper Ubi Sub Ubi?

  40. Artfldgr Says:

    E Unem Pluribus

    E Unem Pluribus Divisa

    but the most fitting…
    De Uno Et Nihil Aliud


  41. ziontruth Says:


    Speaking of abuse of language, did you see Tingles’ latest stunt? It’s as brutal an exposition of the Marxist perversion of language (specifically, of the term “racism”) as you could get.

  42. NeoConScum Says:

    GOT ME, Too!! Hey, in a month that The Boy King has declared to be,”Teach our young people how to BUDGET RESPONSIBLY Month”, I figured it was just another in the perpetual: CANNOT possibly make this s**t up novel from His Infantile Majesty.

  43. Artfldgr Says:

    De Uno Et Nihil Aliud

    about one and nothing else

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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