Numerous self-assured bloggers and writers make the claim that the pyramid and “all-seeing eye” symbolism on the dollar bill is benign or, at least, non-“Masonic.”
One prominent website that takes this line concentrates heavily on showing that the people who “contributed elements to the final design …were not Freemasons.”
Even if this is granted, this information, while certainly interesting and possibly useful, cannot be considered a decisive “refutation” of the claim that the great seal is “Masonic” (in some sense) any more than we can show (say) that a mural on a building is not a susceptible to being labeled “Christian” because the architect who placed it there and the decorators who created it have no locatable baptismal records. For all we know, non-Christian artists could have been commissioned or otherwise expressly tasked with producing a Christian-themed arrangement. Similarly, for all we know, non-Masons may have been charged with inventing a (broadly) “Masonic” composition. These possibilities are not foreclosed upon by noticing that the contract workers are not Christians or Masons, respectively.
Investigators are advised to probe matters a bit more deeply. One obvious starting point would be to ask the question: what scholarly work, if any, has been done in this area?
According to Freemasonic apologist, Dr. S. Brent Morris, the "expert on the Great Seal" is Dr. Robert R. Hieronimus.
Dr. Hieronimus summarizes placement of the eye-pyramid symbol on the dollar bill by Freemason Franklin Roosevelt, at the behest of Freemason Henry Wallace, possibly under the direction of the Theosophist Nicholas Roerich.
"In 1934, secretary of agriculture and former vice president Henry A. Wallace submitted a proposal to the president to mint a coin depicting the [great] seal's obverse and reverse. Wallace's interest in the seal's reverse had been aroused when he discovered Hunt's 1909 volume [cited above] on the seal's history. The Latin phrase Novus Ordo Seclorum (New Order of the Ages) struck him as meaning 'the New Deal of the ages.' President Franklin D. Roosevelt was so impressed with this connection that he decided to place both sides of the Great Seal on the dollar bill rather than a coin. Roosevelt's action brought 153 years of obscurity to an end, and the seal's reverse was officially recognized.
"Wallace was interested in esoteric topics and was a friend of the Russian mystic Nicholas Roerich. One theory holds that Wallace undertook the promotion of the seal's reverse for kabbalistic reasons,* with Roerich as his guru."
Around 1927, Henry Wallace, an admirer of Russian mystic Helena Blavatsky and an adherent of her brand of occultism (called "theosophy"), "...joined the Masons, ...[a] secret society rich with ritual... George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Theodore Roosevelt, and numerous other prominent men, including Wallace's own father, were active Masons. Wallace participated in both the Blue Lodge [that is, the first three degrees of Craft Freemasonry] and the Scottish Rite [that is, an 'appendant' Masonic body offering degrees from four through thirty-three] branches of Masonry and received the Thirty-second Degree in November 1928. He stopped there - one step short of the Scottish Rite's highest rank [In fact, the thirty-third degree is honorary, as opposed to "earned." - Ed.] - but maintained his affiliation with the Masons until the late 1940s,* when he 'demitted' from the Masonic lodges in both Des Moines and Washington, D.C."
Franklin Roosevelt's Masonic affiliation is easily verifiable.
Nicholas Roerich was, among other things, a Theosophist. (Here, one can consult any number of publicly available resources, such as Wikipedia.)
Two features common to both Freemasonry and Theosophy are salient.
First, both systems are Luciferian.
Blavatsky's system of thought is overtly Luciferian. To put it a different way, Blavatsky plainly announced that, to her, Lucifer was the true god, while the Biblical God was, at best, a pretender (and at worst the genuine "adversary").
"...Demon est Deus inversus ['the devil is god, inverted']. The devil is now called Darkness by the Church, whereas, in the Bible he is called the 'Son of God' (see Job), the bright star of the early morning, Lucifer (see Isaiah). There is a whole philosophy of dogmatic craft in the reason why the first Archangel, who sprang from the depths of Chaos, was called Lux (Lucifer), the 'Luminous Son of the Morning,' or manvantaric Dawn. He was transformed by the Church into Lucifer or Satan, because he is higher and older than Jehovah, and had to be sacrificed to the new dogma."
On the other hand, Freemasonry is covertly Luciferian. Unknown to low-grade, so-called "porch Masons," at its highest levels, Freemasonry espouses the same teaching regarding Lucifer as does Theosophy.
Masonic authority Albert Pike wrote the following in his monumental (as well as tedious and largely unoriginal) Morals & Dogma:
"LUCIFER, the Light-bearer! Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darkness! Lucifer, the Son of the Morning! Is it he who bears the Light, and with its splendors intolerable blinds feeble, sensual, or selfish Souls? Doubt it not!"
Secondly, both Freemasonry and Theosophy revolve around symbols.
Every symbol has two categories of meaning: (1) outer, exoteric, false (misleading or incomplete) meaning; and (2) inner, esoteric, true meaning.
As Dr. Hieronimous has stated: "Symbols conceal and they reveal."
To be exact, symbols "reveal" esoteric meaning to initiates who "have eyes to see" while obscuring the inner-meaning from non-initiates (disparagingly called by secret society adherents the "profane"). Non-initiates thus apprehend - and parrot - exoteric meaning only.
Blavatsky expressed this dynamic in The Secret Doctrine. Note well her phrase "truth concealed by the symbol":
"The ancients ...conceal[ed] ...[the] true nature [of occult powers] under various allegories, for the benefit (or to the detriment) of the uneducated rabble, they never departed from the multiple object in view, while inverting them. They contrived to throw a thick veil over the nucleus of truth concealed by the symbol, but they ever tried to preserve the latter as a record for future generations, sufficiently transparent to allow their wise men to discern that truth behind the fabulous form of the glyph or allegory."
Here, Freemasonry proclaims its symbolic obsession quite directly:
"Of the various modes of communicating instruction to the uninformed, the masonic student is particularly interested in ...the instruction ...by symbols. ...No science is more ancient than that of symbolism. ...To study the symbolism of Masonry is the only way to investigate its philosophy. This is the portal of its temple, through which alone we can gain access to the sacellum ['shrines'] where its aporrheta ['secret doctrines'] are concealed."
As with Blavatsky, Masonic encyclopedist Albert Mackey in the above quotation stressed the relationship between symbols and "concealed" "truth." We may summarize Mackey by saying that, in Freemasonry, symbols are literally the keys to Temple.
We call special attention to the mocking attitude, apparent in these few quoted lines, that "initiates" of these occult systems have for outsiders (cowan). The origin of the word "hoodwink" comes from this arrogant disposition.
Mackey's Encyclopedia (cited above) defines "hoodwink" as follows:
"A symbol of the secrecy, silence, and darkness in which the mysteries of our art should be preserved from the unhallowed gaze of the profane."
"Profane" here designates any person who has not been admitted into the Masonic "Temple" - pro-fanus means "before (that is, outside of) the temple."
However, the hoodwink must be understood as sort of hidden-in-plain-sight gambit, as opposed to outright concealment. That this is so is apparent from the upper echelon's mocking even of lower-level initiates - in a manner similar to what one finds in college fraternities.
The Scottish Rite's erstwhile Sovereign Grand Commander Albert Pike goes further: "The Blue Degrees are but the outer court or portico of the Temple. Part of the symbols are displayed there to the Initiate, but he is intentionally mislead by false interpretations."
(Incidentally, as the former head of the Scottish Rite, Albert Pike was instrumental in establishing his Order's headquarters [the House of the Temple] in Washington, D.C., right in the seat of Federal power.)
Pike proceeds to expand upon the process of misleading people - even low-grade initiates - as to the true significance of various symbols.
"It is not intended that he shall understand them [the symbols]; but it is intended that he shall imagine he understands them. Their true explication is reserved for the Adepts, the Princes of Masonry. ...It is well for the mass of those called Masons, to imagine that all is contained in the Blue Degrees; and whoso attempts to undeceive them will labor in vain... Masonry is the veritable Sphinx, buried to the head in the sands...".
Following their Luciferian inversion-tactics, Masons "hoodwink" what they regard as the ignorant the "masses" by a cruel (mis-)application of John 1:5:
Lux lucet in tenebris, et tenebrae non comprehenderunt.
Translated, this says: "The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."
In the Gospel of John, Jesus himself is the light, and the darkness is the sinful world. In the Freemasonic inversion, the "light" is that of Masonry's hidden (occult) teachings and the "darkness" is, well, the "unenlightened."
This is the not-at-all-concealed meaning of "Illuminism" and "Illuminati." They fancy themselves the "Enlightened" ones - Plato's philosopher kings.
Here, also, is another hoodwink. As Rabbi Marvin Antelman has written:
"The Hebrew word for one who is 'poor' is ani, which is a letter rearrangement of the Hebrew word ayin, 'eye.' The pyramid with the eye signifying enlightenment is the symbol of the king-priest Platonic caste and the Illuminati."
In his book, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Freemasonic philosopher and "mystic" Manly Palmer Hall wrote:
"If any one doubts the presence of Masonic and occult influences at the time the Great Seal was designed, he should give due consideration to the comments of Professor Charles Eliot Norton of Harvard...".
Remarking on the All-Seeing Eye poised conspicuously above the truncated pyramid, Professor Norton stated:
"[I]t can hardly (however artistically treated by the designer) look otherwise than as a dull emblem of a masonic fraternity."
Norton was no slouch. Researcher Linda Dowling paints Professor Norton in the following terms:
"...Charles Eliot Norton ...[was] an eminent scholar and professor of art history at Harvard, and a figure widely regarded as the most cultured man in America."
The back matter for the book The Liberal Education of Charles Eliot Norton, by James Turner, states of Norton that he was a:
"...towering figure in American journalism, letters, and education. Norton was editor of the North American Review and a founder of the Nation [periodical]. He was the leading American Dantist [Dante scholar] of his day, translating the Vita Nuova and the Divine Comedy in what became standard versions. He initiated art history in the college curriculum, organized the field of classical archaeology in the United States, and formulated what has come to be known in college courses as 'Western Civilization.'"
According to the person (Dr. Hieronimous) acknowledged by Freemasonic spokesman S. Brent Morris to be the authority on the Great Seal, two high-level Freemasons were responsible for the placement on the dollar bill of the unfinished pyramid with the all-seeing eye.
According to the same authority, one Theosophist may have orchestrated the entire thing.
Freemasons (and Theosohists) ostentatiously display symbols in order to mislead non-initiates and communicate sub rosa meaning to "Adepts."
The pyramid-eye symbol has been admitted to be Masonic by Freemasonic philosopher Manly Hall.
The pyramid-eye symbol was recognized as obviously "Masonic" (broadly construed) by eminent scholar and Harvard University art expert Charles Eliot Norton.
For these reasons alone - and more beside - it is reasonable to hold that both:
(1.) The standard, "non-Masonic" interpretations of the Great Seal – articulated by such websites as http://greatseal.com/mythamerica/notmasonic.html – are merely echoes of an exoteric cover story that has been calculated to mislead percipients; and,
(2.) The Masonic interpretation is viable.
 Morris's opinion in this matter is expressed in an interview with Christian J. Pinto, Secret Mysteries of America's Beginnings Volume 3: Eye of the Phoenix, Secrets of the Dollar Bill, DVD, Antiquities Research Films, 2009. As of this writing, the entire 170 min. presentation is on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88-YHGqf27k.
 Robert Hieronimus, Founding Fathers, Secret Societies: Freemasons, Illuminati, Rosicrucians, and the Decoding of the Great Seal, Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 2006, p. 103. * Kabbalah refers to a tradition of Jewish mysticism and magic.
 John C. Culver and John Hyde, American Dreamer: A Life of Henry A. Wallace, New York: W.W. Norton, 2001, p. 81. * Note: Culver and Hyde seem unaware that the 33rd degree is strictly honorary. * The dollar was decorated by Roosevelt in 1934-1935, well before "the late 1940s."
 See FDR's online tribute at the website for the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, http://www.pagrandlodge.org/mlam/presidents/froosevelt.html.
 H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, vol. 1, p. 70, Theosophical Univ. Press, online ed., http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sd/sd1-1-04.htm.
 Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, reprint ed., Richmond, Va.: L.H. Jenkins, 1946, p. 321.
 In Christian Pinto, loc. cit.
 Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, vol. 1, p. 466, http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sd/sd1-2-14.htm.
 Albert G. Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Chicago: The Masonic History Co., 1956, vol. 2, p. 1033. See also Albert Gallatin Macke, The Symbolism of Freemasonry: Illustrating and Explaining Its Science and Philosophy, Its Legends, Myths, and Symbols, New York: Clay & Maynard, 1869.
 Vol. 1, p. 464.
 Pike, Morals and Dogma, op. cit., p. 819.
 Marvin S. Antelman, To Eliminate the Opiate, vol. 2, Israel: Zionist Book Club, 2002, p. 99.
 Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages: An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy, San Francisco: H.S. Crocker, 1928, p. 91; reproduced online at http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/sta/sta21.htm.
 Gaillard Hunt, ed., The History of the Seal of the United States, Washington D.C.: United States Department of state, Government Printing Office, 1909, p. 55; archived online at https://books.google.com/books?id=jUZmAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA55.
 Linda Dowling, Charles Eliot Norton: The Art of Reform in Nineteenth-Century America, Lebanon, N.H.: Univ. of New Hampshire Press, 2007, p. ix.
 James Turner, The Liberal Education of Charles Eliot Norton, Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1999, back matter.
 Note well that S. Brent Morris is entirely hostile to the idea that there is any nefarious symbolical import to the symbol. Hence, his endorsement of Hieronimous is extremely valuable, evidentially speaking.
For more information, see Robert Keith Spenser's The Cult of the All-Seeing Eye (Hawthorne, Cal.: Christian Book Club of America, 1964) and Freemason David Ovason's The Secret Symbols of the Dollar Bill (New York: HarperCollins, 2003).