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National & State Symbols
Arkansas State Seal
Great Seal of the State of Arkansas
Adopted in 1864, 1907.
The Arkansas Seal was adopted in its present form in 1907. The outer ring of the seal contains the text "Great Seal of the State of Arkansas". The inner seal contains the Angel of Mercy, the Sword of Justice and the Goddess of Liberty surrounded by a bald eagle. The eagle holds in its beak a scroll inscribed with the Latin phrase "Regnat Populus", the state motto, which means "The People Rule". (The scroll read "Regnant Populi" prior to 1907.) On the shield of the seal are a steamboat, a plow, a beehive and a sheaf of wheat, symbols of Arkansas's industrial and agricultural wealth.
Arkansas Great Seal
Arkansas Seal of 1864
The present official state seal of Arkansas derives from the territorial seal designed and drawn in 1820 by Samuel Calhoun Roane, engrossing clerk of the state House of Representatives. When Arkansas became a state in 1836, the legislature ordained that the seal be altered by substituting “Seal of the State of Arkansas” for its original territorial designation. An 1856 enactment specified the “impressions, emblems and devices” to be included in all renderings of the state seal. The law named sixteen separate elements, plus the words and phrases “Regnat Populi” (Latin for “the people rule”), “Mercy,” “Justice,” and “Seal of the State of Arkansas.” This seal remained in use until 1864, when the legislature adopted a new design that survives to this day.
Arkansas Seal of 1907
The Arkansas State Seal was adopted in its basic form 1864 and modified to its present form on May 23, 1907. The only substantial alteration since 1864 occurred in 1907, when Regnat Populi, the Latin motto on the 1864 seal, was changed to Regnat Populus. This change was apparently the result of recognition that populi indicates a plurality of groups—that is, “peoples” rather than “people.”
The eagle in the lower half of the circle of the seal holds a scroll inscribed with the Latin phrase "Regnat Populus" (the state motto, which means "The People Rule") in his beak, a bundle of arrows in one claw, and an olive branch in the other. The breast of the eagle is covered with a shield, on which is engraved a steamboat, a beehive, a plow, and a sheaf of wheat, symbols of Arkansas' industrial and agricultural wealth. Above the eagle is placed the figure of the Goddess of Liberty, holding a wreath in one hand and a liberty pole with cap in the other. The goddess, wreath, and pole are surrounded by a circle of stars and rays. The figure to the left of the eagle is that of the Angles of Mercy, supporting the shield against the breast of the eagle with her left hand. The Sword of Justice is to the right of the shield.
Arkansas Legislature Archives
Arkansas Legislature Archives
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.