A New National Motto? United We Stand

In the immediate wake of 9/11, Americans rediscovered an underlying principle that makes this nation what it is. When faced with our greatest adversities, we put our differences aside, and work together.

I believe, therefore, that “United We Stand” is a far more fitting national motto than the current “In God We Trust”. Yes, my belief was inspired because I’m an atheist, and therefore do not believe in the motto. That’s exactly the point. This nation is strongest when we work together, so how can we have a motto that does not apply to many Americans (including Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, and, of course, atheists)?

I am interested in hearing the thoughts of fellow Dopers on this subject, especially those who do trust in God. You may wish to read this article on the subject over at the Church of Critical Thinking, or my original post on the subject in the discussion section of that site. Both are written more for atheists than non-atheists, but the discussion applies to all of us as a united America. How is “United We Stand” not a more fitting motto for this nation than “In God We Trust”?

While you may most certainly take my voucher against In God We Trust, we most certainly do not stand united.

It seems to me that America’s motto for the past year or so might be better phrased as “Untied We Stumble.”

I’m not sure why we need a motto anyway. What is the purpose?

We don’t all trust in God. We are not very united. Some people don’t take pride in our diversity.

I like:


I daresay you couldn’t do worse than SCREW THE WORLD.

I’ve got a better national motto: “Is this fun, or what?!”

Caution: Inflammable.

What’s wrong with E pluribus unum? I really like that one - it’s got history, and gives a head-nod to diversity and unity in a couple of words.

But that means I have to be united with Milum… and I don’t want that.

How about: “Contents may shift during campaigning”

Thanks for a serious reply. I’m glad this thread got at least one.

I like E pluribus unum but for one thing: nowadays, not many Americans speak Latin. If we’re really going for a unifying motto, it should probably be in a language that most Americans can understand. I’d vote for either, but I think “United We Stand” is more generally applicable.

As for the jokes… no, of course we’re not always united. However, I still stand by my ascertion that the strength of this country comes from unity. Why would it not be good to codify this in our motto? Do you prefer that we remain divided?

Frankly, yes.

  1. We are a democratic state. We aren’t united behind anything.

  2. We (well, most of us) like our diversity.

  3. If we are united, what are we united behind? People trying to kill us all? Any collective group of people can say that.

If the Latin turns people off, how about a literal translation - “From many, one”, or “Unity from Diversity” (slightly less accurate, a bit more like Indonesia’s national motto).

That or something asinine in English “There can only be one”, or Latin “Magnae clunes mihi placent”.

E pluribus Elvis. (Thank you, Dead Milkmen.)

I vote for "Have a Nice Day!

E pluribus unum works fine for me. The point of a motto is that most people shouldn’t understand it, otherwise they’d only start disagreeing. It’s like that funny pyramid and eye thing on our currency. Instead of debating rational fiscal policy, we’re arguing and sending in requests to the Straight Dope about whether it represents a vast Masonic conspiracy. Very sound government policy.

Plus it just makes you sound very erudite when you say it.

There’s always the Vulcan principle of IDIC: Infinite diversity in infinity combination.

Well, when Congress foisted “In God We Trust” off on us, they never got around to rescinding E Pluribus Unum, so we can simply ditch “In God We Trust,” leaving the original, or we could add a third motto, just to create a wonderful trivia question (and drive third graders nuts trying to figure out which answer they should put on their tests).

This involving laws and legislatures, it would appear to be a little more complicated than that.

36 U.S.C. 302 specifies that “In God We Trust” is the “national motto”. As best I can tell, if 36 U.S.C. 302 were simply repealed, then the United States just wouldn’t have an official “national motto”. (No doubt the Republic would be shaken to its very foundations.)

According to 31 U.S.C. 5112 (d)(1), all U.S. coins must by law bear three mottoes: ‘‘In God We Trust", ‘‘Liberty’’, and "E Pluribus Unum’’. (I’m not counting “United States of America” as a “motto”.) 31 U.S.C. 5114 (b) provides that all paper money has to say “In God We Trust”. If Cornell’s search engine is to be believed, 31 U.S.C. 5112 is the only place in the U.S. Code where E Pluribus Unum is explicitly mentioned. Note that the laws placing “In God We Trust” on the money don’t say anything about the “national motto” being mandatory on coins or bills, so changing the “national motto” wouldn’t automatically change what appears on U.S. coins or currency.

From 4 U.S.C. 41, the Seal of the United States is legally defined solely by traditional usage. Since the current design of the one dollar bill includes depictions of both the obverse and reverse of the seal, it therefore includes the various mottoes traditionally included in the seal: E Pluribus Unum, Annuit Coeptis (“He [God] has favored our undertakings”) and Novus Ordo Seclorum (“the New World Order”–OK, more accurately, “A new order of the ages”).

It’s often said that Congress “replaced” E Pluribus Unum with “In God We Trust”–I’ve probably said it myself–but I don’t actually know if there was a previous law explicitly defining E Pluribus Unum to be the “national motto” which was repealed when the current 36 U.S.C. 302 was adopted, or if E Pluribus Unum was always just sort of assumed to be the “national motto” from its use on the great seal. (Presumably no one has ever thought of Novus Ordo Seclorum as being “the national motto”.)

As to the question of the thread: I wouldn’t object to either “United We Stand” or E Pluribus Unum; the latter has more history behind it. Both express similar sentiments, apprpriate for a federal republic and for a nation whose citizens are immigrants from many different lands.

Did you know that “E pluribus, unum” is from Virgil’s poem “Moretum”, where it describes… an herb salad?

The Virgmeister wrote ‘E pluribus, unus’, not unum. Either way, it sounds good: “…garlic, parsley, rue, and onions, seasoned with cheese, salt, coriander, and vinegar, and finally sprinkled with oil.”