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Arkansas State Motto

"Regnat populus"State Motto and Banner

(The People Rule)

Adopted in 1907.

Originator: Unknown

Language: Latin

Focus: People

See Arkansas State Seal

"Regnat populus" has been translated as: "The People Rule." A 1907 act changed the motto to its current language from "Regnant Populi," the motto selected in 1864. The exact origin of this motto is somewhat obscure.

Arkansas State Motto:
"Regnat populus"

In the lower half of the circle of the Seal; inscribed "Regnat Populus", a bundle of arrows in one claw and an olive branch in the other;

There are three states with mottos that focus on the people:

  1. Arkansas: "The People Rule"
  2. Missouri: "The Welfare of the People"
  3. South Dakota "Under God the People Rule"

Official State Motto aka: Regnat Populus

The constitution under the terms of which Arkansas entered statehood in 1836 stipulated that the governor must “keep” the Great Seal of the State. Its design, mentioned in Article 5, Section 12, should be “the present seal of the territory, until otherwise directed by the general assembly.” That seal bore, among other elements, the Latin motto Regnant Populi, which could be translated as “the people rule.” The origin of the phrase, either in Latin or English, is unknown. Its promoter was likely the recording clerk of the first territorial assembly, Samuel Calhoun Roane, who is usually credited with the initial design of the territorial seal. The 1864 Arkansas General Assembly reiterated the phrase’s place in the state seal while specifying an updated, if not simplified, design for the omnibus emblem.

In 1907, the General Assembly acted to modify the motto’s Latin form in order to better communicate a sense of its English version. “The people rule” had originally been rendered in Latin as regnant populi, employing the plural form of the noun, i.e., “the (or ‘some’) peoples,” implying multiple groups. An act approved by Acting Governor Xenophon O. Pindall on May 24, 1907, modified the subject to populus, signifying a single group, as in “the people.” Adjusting the verb to agree with the subject resulted in regnat populus, in which form the motto survives today.

Source: David Ware Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office

Arkansas Code

Arkansas Code (Non annotated), Title 1, Chapter 4, Section 1-4-107.

Title 1. General Provisions.
Chapter 4. State Symbols, Motto, Etc.
SECTION 1-4-107.

1-4-107. State motto.

The motto of the State of Arkansas shall be "Regnat Populus".

History. Acts 1907, No. 395, 1, p. 987; C. & M. Dig., 9181; Pope's Dig., 11866; A.S.A. 1947, 5-103.

The updated Latin is illustrated below in this current description of the Arkansas State Seal provided in the Arkansas Code.

Arkansas Legislature Archives

1-4-108. Official seals.
(a) It shall be the duty of the Governor to procure a seal for the State of Arkansas, which shall present the following impressions, devices, and emblems, to wit: An eagle at the bottom, holding a scroll in its beak, inscribed "Regnat Populus", a bundle of arrows in one claw and an olive branch in the other; a shield covering the breast of the eagle, engraved with a steamboat at top, a beehive and plow in the middle, and sheaf of wheat at the bottom; the Goddess of Liberty at the top, holding a wreath in her right hand, a pole in the left hand, surmounted by a liberty cap, and surrounded by a circle of stars outside of which is a circle of rays; the figure of an angel on the left, inscribed "Mercy", and a sword on the right hand, inscribed "Justice", surrounded with the words "Seal of the State of Arkansas".
(b) The Secretary of State, Auditor of State, and Treasurer of State shall each have a seal of office presenting the impressions, devices, and emblems presented by the Seal of State except that the surrounding words on the Secretary of State's seal shall be "Seal of the Secretary of State, Arkansas", on the Auditor of State's seal shall be "Seal of the Auditor of State, Arkansas", and on the Treasurer of State's seal shall be "Seal of the Treasurer of State, Arkansas".
(c) All official seals used in the state shall present the same impressions, emblems, and devices presented by the Seal of State, except that the surrounding words shall be such as to indicate the office to which each seal belongs.
History. Acts 1864, No. 1, 1-3, p. 31; C. & M. Dig., 2096, 9142-9144; Pope's Dig., 2700, 11804-11806; A.S.A. 1947, 5-104 - 5-106.

While updating the the Latin for seal, Section 1-4-107 was inserted in the Code of Arkansas designating Regnat Populus as the official state motto.

Mottos of the States
Motto: "United we stand, divided we fall" is a phrase that has been used in mottos, from nations and states to songs. The basic concept is that unless the people are united, they will be defeated. It is often used in the abbreviated form United we stand
State motto is a word, phrase, or sentence inscribed on or attached to a coin, building, or other object. The motto states an important idea for a group of people within the state.

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