Out of Many, One.
E pluribus unum, Latin for “Out of many one”, is a motto requested by Pierre Eugene du Simitiere (originally Pierre-Eugène Ducimetière) and found in 1776 on the Seal of the United States, along with Annuit cœptis and Novus ordo seclorum, and adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782. The phrase originally came from Moretum, a poem attributed to Virgil but with the actual author unknown. In the poem text, color est e pluribus unus describes the blending of colors into one. A different account was put forward in the Discovery Channel program “Secret America”. According to an interview with Priscilla Linn, Senior Curator, State Dept. Diplomacy, the phrase “Out of Many, One” came from a magazine called “The Gentleman’s Magazine,” published at the time of the revolution. Each year, the magazine would re-purpose one article from each of the year’s 12 issues, publishing a standalone issue that was “Out of many, one”.
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.
In many ways it is a tragedy that this change was ever made. During the heat of the cold war with the U.S.S.R. there was a push to state in any way possible that we were a god fearing nation and that therefore we were better than the Atheist Russians, but in the process of trying to unify our country behind God we have proceeded to forget that this country is built on diversity and that our strength lies in bringing together diverse cultural, religious backgrounds which help us to be more cognizant of the needs of all our citizens, allowing all the freedom to believe and worship as they see fit.
Within the last 30 years or so there has been a movement to take the USA beyond a belief that we are a “One Nation under God” , that that because the majority of US Citizens are Christians that we are somehow a “Christian Nation”. The reality is we are nation that has no national religion. The Bill of Rights specifically prohibits the establishment of one particular religion as the official religion of our country, effectively negating the claim of being a Christian Nation. We are a nation of Christians and all its many flavors, a nation of Jews, a nation of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Wiccans, Buddhists, Atheism, Agnostics, Skeptics and many other philosophies, each with the rights to practice their beliefs and practices without any sanction against them. And that is what it means to be many into one, one United States of America – a pluralist nation united in its diversity.