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1775: Great Britain viewed the American colonies as scattered, with loyalties ultimately to the throne. A culmination of diverse people groups, trades, backgrounds, and tastes, the colonies seemed an easy enemy to snuff out. But the newly formed Continental Congress members fought to overcome their differences and established a standardized currency for the 13 Colonies, relinquishing the dependency on Great Britain. Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, a renaissance man in the truest form: scientist, philosopher, politician, spearheaded the effort and the design of the Half A Dollar Bill to state with certainty the unity of these Colonies against the English crown. The colonial form of money called Continentals was not backed up by gold or silver like the British Pound. Although these notes were later devalued, the Half A Dollar stood for something more then currency alone. The words WE ARE ONE in the middle of this bill signify that even in the turbulent and uncertain times that promised peril and possible death for the patriots, they would be united as one no matter the outcome because they were taking a stand for the natural rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This patch commemorates our founding father’s efforts to establish a government that truly represented its people, from all backgrounds with natural rights and liberty for all.
This is our story. WE ARE ONE.
Nathan J Woodcock Social Studies Teacher Philadelphia, PA
"Franklin also recuperated his lifelong interest in creating symbolic designs that would have meaning as they were being exchanged. He used his favorite emblem book, Joachim Camerarius’s Symbolorum ac Emblematus Ethico-Politicorum (Latin for “Ethical and Political Symbols and Emblems”). Camerarius’s book was popular and was reprinted often. Franklin’s own copy of the book was a German publication from Mainz, dated 1702; it is housed at the Library Company of Philadelphia, the library Franklin began. One of the reasons British leaders thought the American colonies would never rebel was that the colonies were too diversely settled, and they produced different products and thus operated on different economies. But the era of non-importation had taught the American people that they could be self-sustaining if they worked cooperatively. This is the meaning behind Franklin’s expression on the Continental currency, “WE ARE ONE.” Surrounding the “WE ARE ONE” expression on the Continental bills is another image Franklin devised, based on classic sources: interlocked circles forming a circle. The image allows to each colony its own identity (each circle is marked with a different colony’s name) while creating a visual impression of unification, indicating that “we are one. These interlocked circles were used on different issues of continental bills across 1776, on a New Hampshire regimental flag in 1777, on a Massachusetts company flag, and eventually on a set of china that Robert Morris asked Josiah Wedgwood to create for him when he served as the U.S. Agent of the Marine.”