List of U.S. state and territory mottos

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Eureka, the motto of California on its state seal
Freedom and Unity, the motto of Vermont on its state quarter
Crossroads of America, the motto of Indiana on its state quarter
Esto perpetua, the motto of Idaho on its state quarter
South Carolina has two state mottos

All of the United States' 50 states have a state motto, as do the District of Columbia and three US territories. A motto is a phrase meant to formally describe the general motivation or intention of an organization. State mottos can sometimes be found on state seals or state flags. Some states have officially designated a state motto by an act of the state legislature, whereas other states have the motto only as an element of their seals. The motto of the United States itself is In God We Trust, proclaimed by Congress and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on July 30, 1956.[1] The motto E Pluribus Unum (Latin for "One from many") was approved for use on the Great Seal of the United States in 1782, but was never adopted as the national motto through legislative action.

South Carolina has two official mottos, both of which are in Latin.[2] Kentucky and North Dakota also have two mottos, one in Latin and the other in English.[3] All other states and territories have only one motto, except Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, which do not have any mottos.[4][5] English and Latin are the most-used languages for state mottos, used by 25 and 24 states and territories, respectively. Seven states and territories use another language, of which each language is only used once. Eight states and two territories have their mottos on their state quarter; thirty-eight states and four territories have their mottos on their state seals.

The dates given are, where possible, the earliest date that the motto was used in an official sense. Some state mottos are not official but are on the official state seal; in these cases the adoption date of the seal is given. The earliest use of a current motto is that of Puerto Rico, Johannes est nomen ejus, granted to the island by the Spanish in 1511.[6]

State and territory mottos[edit]

State Motto English Translation Language Date Ref.
 Alabama Audemus jura nostra defendere We dare defend our rights Latin 1923 [7]
 Alaska North to the future English 1967 [8]
 American Samoa Samoa, Muamua Le Atua Samoa, let God be first Samoan 1973 [9]
 Arizona Ditat Deus God enriches Latin 1863 [10][11]
 Arkansas Regnat populus The people rule Latin 1907 [12][N 1]
 California Eureka (Εὕρηκα) I have found it Greek 1849 [13][N 2]
 Colorado Nil sine numine Nothing without providence. Latin November 5, 1861 [14]
 Connecticut Qui transtulit sustinet He who transplanted sustains Latin October 9, 1662 [15]
 Delaware Liberty and Independence English 1847 [16]
 District of Columbia Justitia Omnibus Justice for All Latin August 3, 1871 [17]
 Florida In God We Trust English 1868 [18][N 3]
 Georgia Wisdom, Justice, Moderation English 1798 [20][21]
 Guam [4]
 Hawaii Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. Hawaiian July 31, 1843 [22][23][N 4]
 Idaho Esto perpetua Let it be perpetual Latin 1890 [24]
 Illinois State sovereignty, national union English 1819 [25]
 Indiana The Crossroads of America English 1937 [26]
 Iowa Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain English 1847 [27]
 Kansas Ad astra per aspera To the stars through difficulties Latin 1861 [28]
 Kentucky United we stand, divided we fall
Deo gratiam habeamus

Let us be grateful to God
English
Latin
1942
2002
[3]
 Louisiana Union, justice, confidence English 1902 [29]
 Maine Dirigo I lead Latin 1820 [30]
 Maryland Fatti maschii, parole femine Manly deeds, womanly words Italian 1874 [31][32]
 Massachusetts Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty Latin 1775 [33]
 Michigan Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you Latin June 2, 1835 [34][35]
 Minnesota L'étoile du Nord The star of the North French 1861 [36][N 5]
 Mississippi Virtute et armis By valor and arms Latin February 7, 1894 [37]
 Missouri Salus populi suprema lex esto Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law Latin January 11, 1822 [38]
 Montana Oro y plata Gold and silver Spanish February 9, 1865 [39]
 Nebraska Equality before the law English 1867 [40]
 Nevada All For Our Country English February 24, 1866 [41][N 6]
 New Hampshire Live Free or Die English 1945 [42]
 New Jersey Liberty and prosperity English March 26, 1928 [43]
 New Mexico Crescit eundo It grows as it goes Latin 1887 [44][N 7]
 New York Excelsior Ever upward Latin 1778 [45]
 North Carolina Esse quam videri To be, rather than to seem Latin 1893 [46]
 North Dakota Liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable
Serit ut alteri saeclo prosit


One sows for the benefit of another age
English
English
Latin
January 3, 1863
March 11, 2011
[47][48]
[49]
 Northern Mariana Islands [5]
 Ohio With God, all things are possible English October 1, 1959 [50][N 8]
 Oklahoma Labor omnia vincit Labor conquers all things Latin March 10, 1893 [52][N 9]
 Oregon Alis volat propriis She flies with her own wings Latin 1854 [55][N 10]
 Pennsylvania Virtue, liberty, and independence English 1875 [56]
 Puerto Rico Joannes Est Nomen Eius John is his name Latin 1511 [6][57][N 11]
 Rhode Island Hope English 1644[58] and by the General Assembly on May 4, 1664 [59]
 South Carolina Dum spiro spero
Animis opibusque parati
While I breathe, I hope
Ready in soul and resource
Latin May 22, 1777 [2]
 South Dakota Under God the people rule English 1885 [60]
 Tennessee Agriculture and Commerce English May 24, 1802 [61][N 12]
 Texas Friendship English 1930 [62]
 Utah Industry English May 3, 1896 [63][N 13]
 Vermont Freedom and Unity English February 20, 1779 [65]
 Virginia Sic semper tyrannis Thus always to tyrants Latin 1776 [66]
 Virgin Islands United in Pride and Hope English January 1, 1991 [67]
 Washington Al-ki By and by Chinook Jargon [68][N 14]
 West Virginia Montani semper liberi Mountaineers are always free Latin September 26, 1863 [69]
 Wisconsin Forward English 1851 [70]
 Wyoming Equal Rights English 1893 [71]


Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The motto was originally designated as Regnant populi in 1864. It was changed to Regnat populus in 1907.[12]
  2. ^ Eureka first appeared on the state seal in 1849. It was designated the official motto in 1963.[13]
  3. ^ "In God We Trust" first appeared on the state seal in 1868. It was designated the official motto in 2006.[18][19]
  4. ^ The motto of Hawaii was first used by King Kamehameha III in 1843, after his restoration. In May 1845 it first appeared on the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Hawaii. It was made the official motto of the State of Hawaii on May 1, 1959.[23]
  5. ^ The unofficial motto of the Minnesota Territory was Quae sursum volo videre, I long to see what is beyond, chosen in 1849.[36]
  6. ^ The unofficial motto of the Nevada Territory was Volens et Potens, Willing and Able, which was on the territorial seal approved on November 29, 1861. This was changed to the current motto after statehood.[41]
  7. ^ Crescit eundo was added to the territorial seal in 1882. Ths change was officially adopted by the legislature in 1887.[44]
  8. ^ From 1866 to 1868, the motto Imperium in Imperio (Latin for "Empire within an Empire") appeared on the state seal.[51]
  9. ^ Labor omnia vincit was on the territorial seal of 1893.[53] It was specified as a feature of the seal in the 1907 State Constitution.[54]
  10. ^ The motto of Oregon was "The Union" from 1957 until 1987, when the original 1854 motto of Alis volat propriis was restored.[55]
  11. ^ The Spanish Crown gave Puerto Rico its coat of arms in 1511. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico officially adopted it on March 9, 1905.[6]
  12. ^ The words "Agriculture" and "Commerce" appeared on the first state seal of 1802. "Agriculture and Commerce" was made the official state motto in 1987.[61]
  13. ^ "Industry" first appeared on the state seal of 1896. It was designated the official motto on March 4, 1959.[64]
  14. ^ The motto of Washington is the only one to be fully unofficial. It is neither on the seal nor designated by the state legislature.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "History of 'In God we Trust'". U.S. Treasury. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  2. ^ a b "Seals, Flags, House & Senate Emblems". State of South Carolina. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  3. ^ a b "Kentucky's State Symbols". Commonwealth of Kentucky. 2008-01-29. Archived from the original on 2008-12-22. Retrieved 2009-02-07.  The Latin motto was adopted by HB 857 and is defined by KRS 2.105.
  4. ^ a b Shearer 24
  5. ^ a b Shearer 23
  6. ^ a b c "Escudo de Puerto Rico" (in Spanish). Government of Puerto Rico. Retrieved 2011-04-10. 
  7. ^ "Official Alabama Motto". Alabama Emblems, Symbols and Honors. Alabama Department of Archives & History. February 13, 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-06. 
  8. ^ "State Symbols". State of Alaska. Retrieved 2009-02-07. [dead link]
  9. ^ Sorensen, Stan; Theroux, Joseph. "The Samoan Historical Calendar, 1607-2007" (PDF). American Samoa Government. p. 57. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  10. ^ "Arizona State Seal". State of Arizona. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  11. ^ "History of the Arizona State Seal". Arizona Secretary of State. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  12. ^ a b "The Great Seal of Arkansas" (PDF). State of Arkansas. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  13. ^ a b "History and Culture - State Symbols". State of California. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  14. ^ "Colorado State Archives Symbols & Emblems". State of Colorado. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  15. ^ "Sites, Seals & Symbols". State of Connecticut. 6/9/2008. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  16. ^ "Delaware Facts and Symbols". State of Delaware. 14 Aug 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  17. ^ "About DC". District of Columbia. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  18. ^ a b Shearer 30
  19. ^ "What is the state motto of Florida?". State of Florida. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  20. ^ "State Seal". State of Georgia. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  21. ^ "Georgia State Symbols". State of Georgia. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  22. ^ "Hawaii, the Aloha State". State of Hawaii. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  23. ^ a b "Hawaii State Motto". NETSTATE.COM. Retrieved 2009-02-15. 
  24. ^ "Idaho's State Motto" (PDF). Idaho State Historical Society. March 1970. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  25. ^ "Seal of the State of Illinois". State of Illinois. Retrieved 2009-02-15. 
  26. ^ "Emblems" (PDF). State of Indiana. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  27. ^ "Iowa State Symbols". State of Iowa. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  28. ^ "Kansas Seal". State of Kansas. Retrieved 2009-02-07. [dead link]
  29. ^ "Kids' Page". State of Louisiana. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  30. ^ "Emblems". State of Maine. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  31. ^ "Maryland State Seal - Great Seal of Maryland (reverse)". Maryland State Archives. State of Maryland. April 21, 2005. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  32. ^ "Maryland State Seal - Great Seal of Maryland". Maryland State Archives. State of Maryland. June 17, 2004. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  33. ^ "Massachusetts Facts". Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  34. ^ "History of the Great Seal". State of Michigan. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  35. ^ "State Motto". State of Michigan. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  36. ^ a b "Minnesota State Symbols". State of Minnesota. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  37. ^ "State of Mississippi Symbols". State of Mississippi. Retrieved 2009-02-10. [dead link]
  38. ^ "The Great Seal of Missouri". State of Missouri. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  39. ^ "About the State Seal". State of Montana. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  40. ^ "State Seal". State of Nebraska. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  41. ^ a b "Nevada Information" (PDF). State of Nevada. Archived from the original on 2009-01-30. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  42. ^ "State Emblem". New Hampshire Almanac. State of New Hampshire. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  43. ^ "The Great Seal of the State of New Jersey". State of New Jersey. Archived from the original on 2009-01-15. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  44. ^ a b "Great Seal of New Mexico". State of New Mexico. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  45. ^ "New York State Flag and Great Seal of the State of New York". State of New York. March 31, 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  46. ^ "The State Symbols". State Library of North Carolina. State of North Carolina. 2009-01-22. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  47. ^ "State Motto". State of North Dakota. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  48. ^ Kingsbury, George. History of Dakota Territory (1915). Retrieved from the Internet Archive 12 May 2014.
  49. ^ "House Bill No. 1346". State of North Dakota. Retrieved 2013-02-27. 
  50. ^ "5.06 State motto.". LAW Writer Ohio Laws and Rules. State of Ohio. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  51. ^ "Great Seal of Ohio". Ohio History. Ohio Historical Society. Retrieved 2011-04-10. 
  52. ^ Everett, Diana. "State Emblems". Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  53. ^ "Grand Seal of the Territory of Oklahoma". Chronicles of Oklahoma. Oklahoma State University. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  54. ^ "History of Oklahoma Emblems". Chronicles of Oklahoma. Oklahoma State University. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  55. ^ a b "State Motto Timeline". State of Oregon. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  56. ^ "Symbols". Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on 2009-01-22. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  57. ^ "Description". Welcome to Puerto Rico. March 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  58. ^ Howard M. Chapin notes published in "Illustrations Of The Seals, Arms And Flags Of Rhode Island," (Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence: 1930) pg 4-5.
  59. ^ "State Symbols". State of Rhode Island. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  60. ^ "Signs and Symbols of South Dakota". State of South Dakota. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  61. ^ a b "Tennessee Symbols And Honors" (PDF). Tennessee Blue Book. State of Tennessee. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  62. ^ "Texas State Symbols". Texas State Library. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  63. ^ "Great Seal of the State of Utah". State of Utah. Archived from the original on 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  64. ^ "Utah State Motto and Emblem". State of Utah. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  65. ^ "491. Coat of arms; crest; motto and badge". The Vermont Statutes Online. State of Vermont. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  66. ^ "State Symbols, Seals and Emblems". Commonwealth of Virginia. 11/12/2008. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  67. ^ "Legislative Seal". Legislature of the Virgin Islands. Archived from the original on 2008-12-16. Retrieved 2009-02-15. 
  68. ^ "Symbols of Washington State". Washington State Legislature. Archived from the original on 2007-03-05. Retrieved 2007-03-11. 
  69. ^ "State Seal of West Virginia". State of West Virginia. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  70. ^ "Wisconsin State Symbols" (PDF). Wisconsin Blue Book. State of Wisconsin. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  71. ^ "Great Seal". Wyoming Secretary of State's Office. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
Works cited

External links[edit]