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.
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.
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
1-4-108. Official seals.
(a) It shall be the duty of the Governor to procure a seal for the State of Arkansas, which shall present the following impressions, devices, and emblems, to wit: An eagle at the bottom, holding a scroll in its beak, inscribed "Regnat Populus", a bundle of arrows in one claw and an olive branch in the other; a shield covering the breast of the eagle, engraved with a steamboat at top, a beehive and plow in the middle, and sheaf of wheat at the bottom; the Goddess of Liberty at the top, holding a wreath in her right hand, a pole in the left hand, surmounted by a liberty cap, and surrounded by a circle of stars outside of which is a circle of rays; the figure of an angel on the left, inscribed "Mercy", and a sword on the right hand, inscribed "Justice", surrounded with the words "Seal of the State of Arkansas".
(b) The Secretary of State, Auditor of State, and Treasurer of State shall each have a seal of office presenting the impressions, devices, and emblems presented by the Seal of State except that the surrounding words on the Secretary of State's seal shall be "Seal of the Secretary of State, Arkansas", on the Auditor of State's seal shall be "Seal of the Auditor of State, Arkansas", and on the Treasurer of State's seal shall be "Seal of the Treasurer of State, Arkansas".
(c) All official seals used in the state shall present the same impressions, emblems, and devices presented by the Seal of State, except that the surrounding words shall be such as to indicate the office to which each seal belongs.
History. Acts 1864, No. 1, §§ 1-3, p. 31; C. & M. Dig., §§ 2096, 9142-9144; Pope's Dig., §§ 2700, 11804-11806; A.S.A. 1947, §§ 5-104 - 5-106.
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