U.S. Government Agency Seals

government agency sealsIn the United States, government agency seals are official emblems used by various federal departments and agencies to authenticate their documents, products, and services. These seals are designed to represent the mission, values, and authority of each agency and are highly regulated by federal law. In this article, we will explore the history, design, and use of U.S. government agency wooden seals.

History of U.S. Government Agency Seals

The use of seals to authenticate official documents and products dates back to ancient times. In the United States, the use of seals by government agencies can be traced back to the founding of the nation. The first federal seal was created in 1782 by Charles Thomson, the Secretary of the Continental Congress. This seal was used to authenticate official documents and correspondence.

Over the years, many other government seals were created for various departments and agencies. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that the use of seals became standardized and regulated. In 1945, President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order that established uniform standards for the design and use of seals by federal agencies.

Design of U.S. Government Agency Seals

The design of each government agency seal is unique and is intended to represent the mission and values of that agency. For example, the seal of the Department of Justice features a balanced scale, representing the impartial administration of justice, while the seal of the Federal Trade Commission features a shield with a torch and scales, representing the agency’s mission to protect consumers.

All U.S. government agency seals must comply with specific guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Commerce. These guidelines specify that seals must be circular in shape, have a diameter of 1.25 inches, and feature the name of the agency in capital letters at the top of the seal. The design must be simple and easy to reproduce and must include the eagle and shield, which are symbols of the federal government.

Use of U.S. Government Agency Seals

U.S. government agency seals are used to authenticate a variety of documents and products, including passports, visas, currency, and official correspondence. The use of these seals is highly regulated and is governed by federal law. According to 18 U.S.C. ยง 713, it is a federal crime to use the seal of any U.S. government agency, except as authorized by law.

In addition to their use on official documents and products, U.S. government agency seals are also used on buildings and vehicles to identify federal property. For example, the seal of the Department of Defense is displayed on military vehicles and aircraft, while the seal of the Internal Revenue Service is displayed on the agency’s buildings.

The use of U.S. government agency seals is an important part of maintaining the integrity and authenticity of government documents and products. These seals serve as a symbol of the authority and trustworthiness of federal agencies and help to protect against fraud and counterfeiting.

Controversies Surrounding U.S. Government Agency Seals

Despite their importance, U.S. government agency seals have been the subject of controversy and criticism over the years. One of the most significant controversies involving government seals occurred in 2002, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created.

The DHS was created by merging 22 existing agencies into one department, and the department was given a new seal. The design of the seal was widely criticized for being too similar to the Great Seal of the United States, which is the official emblem of the federal government. Some critics argued that the use of a similar design was a violation of federal law, while others argued that it was a symbolic overreach by the new department.

Despite the controversy, the DHS seal remains in use today and is an important part of the department’s identity.


The government agency wooden seals of the United States are important symbols of authority and authenticity of federal agencies. Their unique designs and usage help maintain the integrity of government products and documents and while they have been subject to controversy over the years, they remain a significant part of the government’s identity.

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