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Tennessee State Motto

"Agriculture and Commerce"

State Motto and Seal of Tennessee

Adopted in 1987.

Language: English

Focus: Progress and Prosperity

See Tennessee State Seal

The state of Tennessee's motto is "Agriculture and Commerce," taken from the wording used on the state seal.

The motto was officially adopted in 1987 by Public Chapter 402 by the 95th General Assembly.

Tennessee State Motto
"Agriculture and Commerce"

The state of Tennessee's motto is "Agriculture and Commerce," taken from the wording used on the state seal.

Thereafter, subsequent constitutions followed the same pattern and also made provisions for a state seal. Despite these efforts, no further action was taken to actually create a seal for the state until September 25, 1801. It was on this date that that representatives from both the Senate and House of Representatives formed committees to select a design for a seal and to actually cut the seal for use by the state.

Tennessee Law

The law designating the official Tennessee state motto is found in the Tennessee Law Annotated Title 4, Chapter 1, Part 3 Section 4-1-315

Title 4 State Government
Chapter 1 General Provisions
Part 3 State Symbols

Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-1-315 (2014)

4-1-315. State motto.

The motto of this state shall be "Agriculture and Commerce," as proclaimed on the great seal of the state of Tennessee since 1801.

HISTORY: Acts 1987, ch. 402, § 2.

4-1-314. Great seal of the state of Tennessee.

(a) The great seal of the state of Tennessee shall be in the shape of a circle. The circumference of the circle shall bear the words "THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE" and in the lower part of the circumference shall be the date "1796," being the year in which the constitution of Tennessee was adopted and Tennessee became one of the United States.

(b) Inside the upper semicircle of the circle shall be set the numerals "XVI," being the number of the state in chronological order within the United States; below the numerals shall be the figures of a plough, sheaf of wheat and cotton plant, emblematic of agriculture within the state; and under the base of the upper semicircle shall be the word "AGRICULTURE."

(c) Inside the lower semicircle of the circle shall be set the figure of a boat with sail, emblematic of commercial activity in the state; and below this figure the word "COMMERCE."

(d) The size of the seal embossed shall be not greater in diameter than two and one quarter inches (21/4'') nor smaller in diameter than one and three quarter inches (13/4'').

(e) The size of printed seals shall conform to the range of sizes as permitted by the rules of the state publication committee.

(f) Until a different rendering of this design is submitted by the governor to the secretary of state and approved by resolution by both houses of the general assembly, voting separately, the design in use as of May 17, 1987 is hereby validated and adopted, to wit: Click here to view image.

HISTORY: Acts 1987, ch. 402, § 1

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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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