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Arizona State Seal

Great Seal of the State of State Arizona

Arizona Seal

Adopted in 1911.

The official state seal was approved by Article 22, Section 20 of the Arizona Constitution and adopted in 1911.

The Great Seal of the State of Arizona is ringed by the words "Great Seal of the State of Arizona"on the top, and 1912, the year of Arizona's statehood. In the background is a range of mountains with the sun rising behind the peaks. At the right side of the mountains is a water reservoir and a dam, with irrigated fields and orchards. Cattle are grazing on the right, and a quartz mill and a miner (George Warren) with a pick and shovel are on the left.

A shield with the motto Ditat Deus, which means God Enriches, lies in the center of the seal and contains symbols of Arizona's key enterprises.

The state seal is representative of the foundational elements of the Arizona economy: cattle, cotton, copper, citrus, and climate, which are all visible on the seal. The "Five Cs", as they are commonly known, appear as follows: Cattle are represented by the cow at approximately 5 o'clock. Citrus is represented by the irrigated orchard slightly left of the middle. Cotton is represented by the irrigated fields slightly right of the midline. Copper is represented by the miner on the left. Climate, as expressed and exported in the flora and fauna, is represented by the sun and rainclouds

Arizona Great Seal

Arizona Territorial Seal of 1863

Arizona Territorial Seal of 1863

President Lincoln approved a bill in 1863 creating the Territory of Arizona, and appointed Richard McCormick, a businessman and journalist, as the territory's Secretary, and designed a seal which featured a bearded miner standing in front of a wheelbarrow, holding a pick, and a short-handled spade. Two bare mountains appear in the background. At the bottom was the Latin motto "Ditat Deus", God enriches.

In response to criticism, McCormick introduced a revised, more elaborate version, which included new shadowing and a small stream at the miner's feet. The wheelbarrow and spade were replaced with a more befitting long-handled shovel, and the mountains featured a pointed peak- probably Thumb Butte, west of the capital in Prescott. The motto remained in its former place. The McCormick seal was nicknamed the "baking powder seal" because it resembled the label on cans of Pioneer baking powder.

Arizona Territorial Seal of 1863Members of the First Territorial Legislative Assembly approved an act, in the fall of 1864, creating a new seal and authorizing the secretary "to entrust said seal to proper parties for engraving". The seal was to be two and a quarter inches in diameter and feature "a view of San Francisco mountain [sic] in the distance, with a deer, pine trees, and columnar cactus in the foreground; the motto to be 'Ditat Deus'."

Despite the plans for a new seal, Arizona continued to use the old one. McCormick, preferring his own design, took advantage of a provision of the act that allowed him to use the former seal in his official duties "until the seal authorized in this act is prepared".

Arizona Territorial Seal of 1879

The new seal was not prepared until 1879, 15 years later. The old seal was finally retired in 1879, but it is still in use by Gila County.

The first known use of the legislatively approved territorial seal was by Secretary John J. Gosper to certify the Acts of the Tenth Territorial Legislative Assembly on March 3, 1879.

Secretaries of the territory made several variations of the legislative seal during the 30 years it was in use. In 1895, Secretary Charles Bruce added shading lines to the mountains, deer, and cactus.

A seal used by Secretary Charles Akers in 1899 brought the scene back to daylight.

Arizona Seal of 1911

In 1905, Secretary W.F. Nichols adopted a drawing from Phoenix artist Walter Rollins. In it, the deer faced left, the mountains bore more resemblance to the San Francisco peaks, the trees and cactus were more realistic, and grass grew in the foreground. This seal appeared on the original copy of the Arizona Constitution adopted in 1910.

Delegate M.G. Cunniff of Yavapai County to the Constitutional Convention submitted a proposed design to the seal by Phoenix newspaper artist E.E. Motter. A special committee of three delegates formed to consider the Motter seal and recommended adoption of the seal in Article 22, § 20 of the Constitution, which describes the present seal.

E.E. Ellinwood of Cochise County, the committee's chairman, explained that the committee's aim was to "get away from cactus, Gila monsters, and rattlesnakes" and feature other industries of the state. After lengthy debate that at times wandered into other political issues, on December 9, delegates approved the new seal by a vote of 28 to 11, with 13 members absent. Ellinwood was responsible for the image of Bisbee prospector George Warren on the seal. In some renditions of the seal, the prospector is shirtless.

The state's key enterprises are symbolized on the face of the seal. A quartz mill sits on the side of a hill on the left of the seal, behind a miner with a pick and shovel. They symbolize Arizona's mining industry. The sun rising behind mountain peaks in the background symbolizes Arizona's climate. The reservoir and dam which sit in front of the mountains remind us of water reclamation farming. Irrigated fields with rows of cotton and citrus trees lie below the dam. These elements symbolize Arizona's rich agriculture. Cattle, which graze in front of the fields, on the lower right side, is another symbol of historic importance to Arizona.

Written in a band around the edge of the seal are the words Great Seal of the State of Arizona with the year of Arizona's admission to the Union, 1912.

Arizona Constitution  

Section 20. Design of state seal  
Section 20.

The seal of the State shall be of the following design: In the background shall be a range of mountains, with the sun rising behind the peaks thereof, and at the right side of the range of mountains there shall be a storage reservoir and a dam, below which in the middle distance are irrigated fields and orchards reaching into the foreground, at the right of which are cattle grazing. To the left in the middle distance on a mountain side is a quartz mill in front of which and in the foreground is a miner standing with pick and shovel. Above this device shall be the motto: "Ditat Deus." In a circular band surrounding the whole device shall be inscribed: "Great Seal of The State of Arizona", with the year of admission of the State into the Union.


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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