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Colorado State Motto

"Nil Sine Numine"

State Motto and Banner

(Nothing Without the Deity)

Adopted in 1877.

Originator: Territorial Governor William Gilpin, 1861

Language: Latin

Focus: Religious

See Colorado State Seal

"Nil Sine Numine" has been translated as: "Nothing Without the Deity." This motto is credited to William Gilpin, first territorial governor of Colorado. Adopted as part of the Territorial Seal. At recurring intervals, discussion has ensued concerning interpretation of this Latin phrase which commonly translated is "Nothing without Providence". Others say it is "Nothing without God". In the early mining days of the State, the unregenerate said it meant "nothing without a new mine". In a strict sense, one cannot possibly get "God" from "numine", God being a purely Anglo-Saxon word. The word "numine" means any divinity, god or goddess. The best evidence of intent of Colorado's official designers and framers of the resolution for adoption of the seal is contained in the committee report wherein clear distinction was made between "numine" and "Deo" and it is specifically states that the committee's interpretative translation was "Nothing without the Deity". On November 6, 1861, by Joint Resolution, the First Territorial Assembly adopted the Territorial Seal and with it, the motto, Nil Sine Numine. The Territorial Seal was adopted as the Colorado State Seal by the First General Assembly of Colorado on March 15, 1877.

Colorado State Motto:
"Nil Sine Numine"

Colorado's motto, "Nil Sine Numine," meaning (Nothing without the Diety,) is drawn from Virgil's Aeneid, Book II, line 777. The Latin reads: ...non haec sine numine devum Eveniunt.

There are four states with mottos that mention "God." Most people would probably regard them as being religious mottos:

Nil Sine Numine is commonly translated as "Nothing Without Providence" but this is not the translation that was intended by the originators of the resolution that adopted the seal in 1861. The Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration says this about the translation of the motto:

At recurring intervals, discussion has ensued concerning interpretation of this Latin phrase which commonly translated is "Nothing without Providence". Others say it is "Nothing without God". In the early mining days of the State, the unregenerate said it meant "nothing without a new mine". In a strict sense, one cannot possibly get "God" from "numine", God being a purely Anglo-Saxon word. The word "numine" means any divinity, god or goddess. The best evidence of intent of Colorado's official designers and framers of the resolution for adoption of the seal is contained in the committee report wherein clear distinction was made between "numine" and "Deo" and it is specifically states that the committee's interpretative translation was "Nothing without the Deity".

  1. Arizona: "Ditat Deus" This means "God Enriches in Latin."
  2. Florida: "In God We Trust." - identical to the current national motto
  3. Ohio: "With God, All Things Are Possible." This is a direct biblical quotation from the King James Version of Matthew 19:25-26: "When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
  4. South Dakota: "Under God, The People Rule."

There are three other states with mottos that make reference to "God."

  1. Colorado: "Nothing Without Providence"
  2. Connecticut: "He Who Transplanted Still Sustains"
  3. Maine: "I Direct"

Colorado Law

The law designating the official Colorado state motto is found in the Colorado Statutes, Title 24, Article 80, Part 9, Section 24-80-901.

This statute describes the Colorado State Seal. The motto is specified within this description.

TITLE 24 GOVERNMENT - STATE : STATE HISTORY, ARCHIVES, AND EMBLEMS.
ARTICLE 80 STATE HISTORY, ARCHIVES, AND EMBLEMS.
PART 9 STATE EMBLEMS AND SYMBOLS.

24-80-901. Size and description of seal.

The seal of the state shall be two and one-half inches in diameter, with the following device inscribed thereon: An heraldic shield bearing in chief, or upon the upper portion of the same, upon a red ground three snow-capped mountains; above surrounding clouds; upon the lower part thereof upon a golden ground a miner's badge, as prescribed by the rules of heraldry; as a crest above the shield, the eye of God, being golden rays proceeding from the lines of a triangle; below the crest and above the shield, as a scroll, the Roman fasces bearing upon a band of red, white, and blue the words, "Union and Constitution"; below the whole the motto, "Nil Sine Numine"; the whole to be surrounded by the words, "State of Colorado", and the figures "1876".

Source: G.L. § 2422. G.S. § 3117. R.S. 08: § 6291. C.L. § 486. CSA: C. 152, § 1. CRS 53: § 131-8-1. C.R.S. 1963: § 131-8-1.

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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