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National & State Symbols
Georgia State Seal
Great Seal of the State of Georgia
Adopted in 1798.
The current Great Seal of Georgia was adopted by the State Constitution of 1798.
The Great Seal of the state of Georgia features a symbolic image of the Constitution as an arch that is supported by three pillars, three pillars supporting an arch, emblematic of the three branches of government - the legislative, judicial and executive. A man stands with a drawn sword defending the Constitution whose principles are wisdom, justice and moderation.
Georgia Great Seal
The reverse of the Seal shows a ship with cotton and tobacco, and a man plowing, representing the agriculture and commerce of the Seal's motto. In 1914, the date on the Seal was changed from 1799 to 1776 to correspond with the date of the Declaration of Independence. By law, the Secretary of State is the official custodian of the Great Seal, which is attached to official papers by executive order of the Governor.
Except for the date it bears, the present Great Seal has been in use since 1799 with the exception of the period 1863-1865, when a specially designed Great Seal was used, and the period 1868-1871, when it was hidden by Secretary of State Nathan C. Barnett. In 1872, it was restored by Mr. Barnett after Georgians were again in power in the state. During the three Governors' controversy in 1947, Secretary of State Ben W. Fortson, Jr. hid the Great Seal under the cushion of his wheelchair until the Georgia Supreme Court decided who was the rightful Chief Executive.
In 1914, the date on the Seal was changed by legislative action from 1799 to 1776 to correspond with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The device on one side is a view of the seashore, with a ship bearing the flag of the United States riding at anchor near a wharf, receiving on board hogsheads of tobacco and bales of cotton, emblematic of the exports of this State; at a small distance a boat, landing from the interior of the State, with hogsheads, etc., on board representing the State's internal traffic; in the back part of the same side a man in the act of plowing, and at a small distance a flock of sheep in different postures, shaded by a flourishing tree; the motto thereon, "Agriculture and Commerce, 1776." The device on the other side is three pillars supporting an arch, with the word "Constitution" engraved within the same, emblematic of the Constitution, supported by the three departments of government, viz., the legislative, judicial, and executive--the first pillar having engraved on it "Wisdom," the second "Justice," the third "Moderation"; on the right of the last pillar a man standing with a drawn sword, representing the aid of the military in the defense of the Constitution; the motto, "State of Georgia 1776." (0CGA Title 50-3-30)
GEORGIA STATUTES AND CODES
§ 50-3-30 - Description; custody
O.C.G.A. 50-3-30 (2010)
(a) The Secretary of State shall keep the great seal of the state
O.C.G.A. 50-3-31 (2010)
50-3-31. Use and display; facsimile
In addition to official documents which require that the great seal be affixed, the Governor may authorize the use and display of the great seal or a facsimile of the state emblem under such conditions as he may impose when there shall be demonstrated to his satisfaction that the intended use or display thereof is appropriate and legitimate and is not contrary to the state's interest in preserving the sanctity and dignity of the state seal and emblem and that the use or display will not otherwise violate Code Section 50-3-8 or 50-3-9.
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.