The Great Seal of the United States' all-seeing "Eye of Providence"—like the pyramid, a symbol adopted by Freemasons—stares from the back of the U.S. dollar bill. To some of the society's detractors, the symbol is proof of a powerful Masonic conspiracy with its roots in the founding of the United States.
But Masonic scholar Jay Kinney, author of The Masonic Myth,
stresses that Freemasons weren't the first to use the eye. And it was a non-Mason, artist Pierre Du Simitiere, who introduced the eye to the seal.
On the seal, the eye represents divine guidance of the U.S. ship of state, or, as Secretary of the U.S. Congress Charles Thompson put it in 1782, it alludes "to the many signal interpositions of providence in favour of the American cause."
There was one known Mason on the seal-designing committee, Benjamin Franklin. His proposed design was eyeless--and rejected.
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Photograph by Flirt Collection, Photolibrary