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Alabama State Seal

Great Seal of the State of Alabama

Alabama Seal

Designed in 1817;

Adopted in 1819;

Revise in 1868;

Original Restored in 1939.

Alabama, unlike most other states, has a seal that is significantly different from its coat of arms. The current seal had been used prior to 1868 but was then replaced with another design. The original seal was readopted by law in 1939. It bears a map of the state with all of its principal rivers clearly drawn. This seal celebrates the importance of Alabama's river systems in its history. Around the edge of the seal are the words Alabama and Great Seal.

Alabama Great Seal

Alabama Seal of 1817

In 1817, when William Wyatt Bibb, the governor of the Alabama Territory and the subsequent first Governor of the state, Bibb realized he needed an official seal for his commissions and other state papers. With permission of President James Monroe and a law adopted by Congress, the territorial governor was authorized to select a design for a seal. Governor Bibb believed the best seal would be a map of the territory showing its rivers. It also showed the territories (now states) surrounding it. The map was shown affixed to a living tree, with no motto.

By 1819, when Alabama became a state, the territorial seal was designated by the first legislature as the state seal. The state seal remained unchanged for 50 years.

Alabama Seal of 1868

Alabama Seal

During the Reconstruction period when A Republican-dominated legislature had a new seal made.

The design was replaced with a new seal on December 29, 1868. The law describes the design thus:

The seal is in the form of a circle, and two and a quarter inches in diameter; near the edge is the word 'ALABAMA' and opposite, at the same distance from the edge, are the words 'GREAT SEAL.' In the centre of the seal an eagle is represented with raised wings alighting upon the national shield, with three arrows in his left talon. The eagle holds in his beak a streamer, on which immediately over the wings are the words 'HERE WE REST.' The crest-word, which give name to the State, signifies "The land of rest." This seal was used for 71 years to authenticate official documents and letterhead.

This design is still used by the Alabama Department of Labor.

Alabama Seal of 1939

In 1939, a bill was introduced by the legislature to restore the original seal as the Great Seal of Alabama. When the bill came up it was approved unanimously by the Senate and the House. Governor Frank M. Dixon approved the new law and the Secretary of State had a new Great Seal created. Act no. 20.

In 1939, at the request of Governor Frank M. Dixon, the original concept of a map design was returned to use. The new seal was adopted during a special session called by the Governor. The design was described as follows:

The seal shall be circular, and the diameter thereof two and a quarter inches; near the edge of the circle shall be the word "Alabama," and opposite this word, at the same distance from the edge, shall be the words, "Great Seal." In the center of the seal there shall be a representation of a map of the state with its principal rivers. The seal shall be called the "Great Seal of the State of Alabama." The seal shall be kept and used as required by the Constitution and laws.

The use of stars in the border, the specific design of the letterforms and the map image, the labeling of adjacent states and the Gulf of Mexico, and the application of colors to the seal are not described in the law.

Acts of Alabama

Sources:
Act 1868-133, Acts of Alabama, December 29, 1868
Act 39-20, Acts of Alabama, Special Session, April 5, 1939
Alabama State Emblems, Alabama Department of Archives and History, nd.

Sources:
Acts of Alabama, 1876
Alabama State Emblems, Alabama Department of Archives and History, nd.   Section 1-2-4
Great Seal of the State.
The seal shall be circular, and the diameter thereof two and a quarter inches; near the edge of the circle shall be the word "Alabama," and opposite this word, at the same distance from the edge, shall be the words, "Great Seal." In the center of the seal there shall be a representation of a map of the state with its principal rivers. The seal shall be called the "Great Seal of the State of Alabama." The seal shall be kept and used as required by the Constitution and laws.

(Code 1876, § Code 1886, §18; Code 1896, §3727; Code 1907, §1994; Code 1923, §2932; Acts 1939, Ex. Sess., No. 20, p. 22; Code 1940, T. 55, §4.)

State Seals
State Seals
When communications were transcribed by hand and tediously undertaken, seals authenticated official government documents. In this day of computers & instant communications, seals still serve the same purpose.
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