Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pierre Eugene du Simitiere and the State Seal of NJ


New Jersey's state seal was designed by Pierre Eugene du Simitiere a Swiss born Freemason and Artist. This is the same artist who originally drafted the United States Great Seal along with other designs signifying America’s new independence. The New Jersey Seal was presented in May, 1777, to the Legislature, which was then meeting in the Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield. (Independent Hall Association) This Tavern has been recorded as having had its premises used as a Masonic lodge.

"Throughout 1777, the Indian King Tavern, with its huge second-floor meeting hall, served as a major political and administrative center for the Continental war effort. The Council and General Assembly of New Jersey -- the state's main government body -- was forced to evacuate its offices in the battle-ravaged Trenton and temporarily relocate to the Indian King. It was here that the Declaration of Independence was formally read into the minutes of the New Jersey Assembly. And it was here -- with Hugh Creighton and staff serving up great tankards of ale for toasting afterward -- that the Assembly enacted the law that officially changed New Jersey from a colony into a state and adopted that State's Great Seal.” (Hoag Levins)

The three plows in the state shield honor the state's agricultural tradition. The helmet above the shield faces forward, denoting sovereignty (New Jersey being one of the first governments created under the idea that the state itself is the sovereign). The crest above the helmet is a horse's head.

The supporting female figures are Liberty and Ceres, the Roman goddess of grain, symbolizing abundance or plenty. Liberty, on the viewer's left, carries the liberty cap on her staff. Ceres holds a cornucopia filled with harvested produce.

In present times, the staff that Liberty now holds with her right hand she once held in the crook of her left arm. While the female figures at one time looked away from the shield. The cornucopia that Ceres now holds upright was once inverted, its open end upon the ground. The Seal was redesigned in accordance with Joint Resolution 8 of the Laws of 1928. It was then that the year of statehood, 1776, first appeared in Arabic figures.

The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, the oldest Masonic jurisdiction in North America, first owned its own building in 1802. In its earlier days (1731) it was a Provincial Grand Lodge, and meetings were similarly held in taverns and inns, later meeting in meeting some of the statelier homes.

The 12 meeting places preceding the present Philadelphia Masonic Temple's erection are depicted on the reverse of the four-inch diameter medallion like the numbers on a clock dial, starting with the oldest, Tun Tavern at the bottom and progressing clockwise. Today's Masonic Temple is in the center. Some of them are:

1773-1748: Indian King Tavern and 1749-1754: Royal Standard Tavern -- Both taverns were located on High St. (now Market St.) below Third, at the corner of Biddle's Alley. The Indian King Tavern was at Market and Bank Streets, to the right of the First Presbyterian Church, and the Royal Standard, at Market near Second St. was to the left

1800-1802: The State House (Independence Hall) -- The lodge room was on the second floor of The State House on the south side of Chestnut St., between Fifth and Sixth Streets.

One might do well to note the tavern of the same name as that found in New Jersey across the water where Masons also met. Still, no evidence has surfaced regarding the Masonic membership of
Pierre Eugene du Simitiere though he could have been initiated in Switzerland or abroad perhaps.

1 comment:

p-p-pleasejustkillme said...

how did you come to the conclusion that Simitiere was a Freemason?