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Delaware State Seal

Great Seal of the State of DelawareDelaware Seal

Adopted on January 17, 1777.

The Great Seal of the State of Delaware was first adopted on January 17, 1777, with the current version being adopted April 29, 2004. It contains the state coat of arms surrounded by an inscription, and the dates 1704, 1776 and 1787 .

The images on Delaware’s official great seal symbolize the foundations of the state’s economy and a part of the state's history. Note that each of Delaware's three counties is represented.

Delaware Code Title 29 301

Delaware Great Seal

Delaware Coat  of ArmsDelaware Seal

At the center of the coat of arms is a shield of horizontal red, blue and white stripes. On the red stripe is hay and a cob of corn. On the white stripe is an ox standing on grass. Above the shield is a sailing ship. Supporting the shield are a farmer on the left and a militiaman on the right. Underneath the shield is the state motto.

  • The Wheat Sheaf -- was adapted from the Sussex County seal and signifies the agricultural vitality of Delaware.
  • The Ship -- is a symbol of New Castle County's ship building industry and Delaware's extensive coastal commerce.
  • The Corn -- is taken from the Kent County seal and also symbolizes the agricultural basis of Delaware's economy.
  • The Farmer -- with the hoe represents the central role of farming to the state.
  • The Militiaman -- with his musket recognizes the crucial role of the citizen-soldier to the maintenance of American liberties.
  • The Ox -- represents the importance of animal husbandry to the state economy.
  • The Water -- (above the Ox) stands for the Delaware River, the main stay of the state's commerce and transportation.
  • The Motto -- was derived from the Order of Cincinnati, and approved in 1847.

Inscription

The surrounding inscription reads: "Great Seal of the State of Delaware" and the dates 1704, 1776 and 1787.

  • 1704: The Lower Counties on the Delaware established their own General Assembly in 1704;
  • 1776: Separation Day, June 15, 1776, was the day the colonial General Assembly declared Delaware an independent state;
  • 1787: Delaware Day, December 7, 1787, was the day Delaware ratified the United States Constitution, being the first state to do so.

History of Changes

The seal was originally adopted in 1777 with minor changes made in 1793, 1847, and 1907. The current version was adopted in 2004.

  • 1793: The figures of the farmer and the soldier were eliminated from the seal.
  • 1847: The farmer and the soldier were restored and the motto, Liberty and Independence, was added on a ribbon at their feet. The motto was provided by the Society of the Cincinnati, a hereditary organization of Revolutionary War officers formed in 1783. 
  • 1907: he seal was "modernized" and "THE DELAWARE STATE" was changed to "THE STATE OF DELAWARE".

Delaware House Bill 128

On April 9, 2003, Representative Wayne Smith introduced House Bill No. 128 in to the Delaware House of Representatives. This bill suggested that the dates representing the physical changes to the seal be replaced by dates "...that have more substantial historic significance.

" House Bill No. 128 proposed that the years 1704, 1776 and 1787 should replace the current dates on the seal and indicated the historical significance of the replacement dates.

1704 - The year that Delaware established its First General Assembly.
1776 - The year that the colonies declared independence from Great Britain.
1787 - The year that Delaware became "The First State" to ratify the United States Constitution.

The bill was approved by the Delaware House of Representatives on April 29, 2004.

On June 17, 2004, sixth grader Yaxier Torres and seven of his classmates from Bayard Elementary School in Wilmington, entered Legislative Hall in Dover. They were there to speak on behalf of the date changes proposed by House Bill No. 128, explaining why the current dates on the seal were not relevant to Delaware history and confused them

The Delaware House of Representatives and the Delaware Senate had both approved House Bill No. 128

On June 28, 2004, Governor Ruth Ann Minner signed the legislation that changed the dates on the Great Seal of the State of Delaware.

Delaware Law

TITLE 29
State Government
General Provisions
CHAPTER 3. STATE SEAL, SONG AND SYMBOLS
301 Great Seal.

The seal now used as the Great Seal of this State and bearing the arms of this State shall be the Great Seal of this State. It is emblazoned as follows: Party per fess, or and argent, the first charged with a garb (wheat sheaf) in bend dexter and an ear of maize (Indian Corn) in bend sinister, both proper; the second charged with an ox statant, ruminating, proper; fess, wavy azure, supporters on the dexter a husbandman with a hilling hoe, on the sinister a rifleman armed and accoutred at ease. Crest, on a wreath azure and argent, a ship under full sail, proper, with the words "Great Seal of the State of Delaware," the dates "1704, 1776, and 1787," and the words "Liberty and Independence" engraved thereon.

Code 1852, 463; 24 Del. Laws, c. 89, 1; Code 1915, 387; Code 1935, 361; 29 Del. C. 1953, 501; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 276, 1.;

302 Seal of state officials, courts and public officers.

The seals of the Secretary of State and Auditor of Accounts and of the several courts of this State and of the several public offices and officers in the several counties, now established and used, shall be the seals of such courts, offices and officers respectively and shall be so received and used. The seal of the office of the clerk of peace shall be the seal of the county government of Kent and Sussex Counties. The seal of the office of the clerk of the county council shall be the seal of the county government of New Castle County.

Code 1852, 464; 21 Del. Laws, c. 114; Code 1915, 388; Code 1935, 362; 29 Del. C. 1953, 502; 54 Del. Laws, c. 186; 55 Del. Laws, c. 85, 38A.;

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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