"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.
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:
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 (Non annotated), Title 1, Chapter 4, Section 1-4-107.
Title 1. General Provisions.
Chapter 4. State Symbols, Motto, Etc.
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.
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.
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