Thomas Jefferson Papers

DuSimitière’s Design for a Coat of Arms for Virginia, [August 1776]

DuSimitière’s Design for a Coat of Arms for Virginia

[August 1776]

coat of arms for virginia as devised by monsr. de cimetiere of philadelphia1

Field a cross of St. george gules (as a remnant of the ancient coat of arms [showing] the origin of the Virginians to be English) having in the center a sharp pointed knife in pale blade argent handle or, alluding to the name the indians have given to that State.

In the first quarter argent, a tobacco Plant, fleury proper;

in the Second argent two wheat Sheafs in Saltire, proper;

in the third argent a Stalk of indian corn full ripe, proper;

in the fourth vert four fasces waved argent alluding to the four grat rivers of Virginia.

NB the pieces contained in the four above quarters may very well admit of a different disposition from the above if thought necessary and more emblematical or heraldical.

Supporters Dexter a figure dressed as in the time of Queen Elizabeth representing Sir Walter Rawleigh2 planting with his right hand the standard of liberty with the words magna charta written on it, with his left supporting the sheild. Senester a Virginian rifle man of the present times compleatly accoutr[ed.]

Crest. the crest of the antient arms of Virginia, the bust of a virgin naked and crowned with an antique crown. alluding to the Queen Elizabeth in whose reign the country was discover’d.

Motto. ‘Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God,’ or ‘Rex est qui regem non habet.’3

MS, with pencil sketch on verso (DLC); both in DuSimitière’s hand, but with additions in the MS by TJ as recorded in the textual notes below.

The relation of the present proposal to DuSimitière’s execution of a seal for Virginia (see letter to Page, 30 July 1776) is not clear. The present design no doubt grew out of the conferences between DuSimitière and the members of the Committee of Congress (of which TJ was one) ordered to bring in a device for the seal of the United States; see the Report of 20 Aug. 1776, above. The “rifle man” and the motto are common features of the two designs. Rebellion to tyrants: See Appendix II in this volume on “Bradshaw’s Epitaph.” No evidence has been found to show that this proposed coat of arms was executed; the sketch has been reproduced in this volume.

1Caption in TJ’s hand.

2Remainder of sentence in TJ’s hand.

3Last paragraph in TJ’s hand.

Index Entries