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Illinois State Seal

Great Seal of the State of Illinois

Illinois Seal

Adopted in 1788; 1868.

The first seal used in what is now Illinois was the seal of the Northwest Territory in 1788. In January 1867 Secretary of State Sharon Tyndale told State Senator Allen C. Fuller that a new seal was needed. He asked Senator Fuller to sponsor a bill to authorize that new seal.

In the bill that Fuller sponsored, Tynsdale proposed changing the wording on the banner the eagle held to "National Union, State Sovereignty" from the original "State Sovereignty, National Union." The wording change proposal was in response to the states rights controversy that was critical to the, then recently, settled Civil War.

The Senate disagreed with Tynsdale's proposed wording change. A new State Seal was authorized of March 7, 1867; however, the amended bill restored the original wording. Although Tinsdale followed the General Assembly's decree that he not reverse the wording, he redesigned the seal in such a way that the words "National Union" are more prominent than the words "State Sovereignty."

The present Great Seal of the State of Illinois is essentially unchanged from the one produced by Tynsdale.

 

Illinois Great Seal

The Secretary of State is the keeper of the keeper of the Great Seal. The State Seal can only be reproduced or used in strict accordance with the provisions of Chapter 1 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

Illinois Seal Timeline

  1. The first seal used in what is now Illinois was the seal of the Northwest Territory in 1788.
  2. Shortly after the Illinois Territory gained statehood in December 1818, the First General Assembly of the state decreed that state officials should procure a permanant State Seal. Like the Territorial Seal, the first State Seal was based on the Great Seal of the United States. However, unlike the Territorial Seal, the First (and subsequent) State Seals shows the eagle with a banner reading "State Sovereignty, National Union" in its mouth.
  3. The words "Seal of the State of Illinois" and the date "Aug. 26, 1818" appear between the inner and outer circles on the seal. The date refers to the date that the first Illinois Constitution was signed in Kaskaskia.
    The Second Great Seal of the State of Illinois was a slight modification of the First. The eagle's wings were reduced somewhat, and the field of stars around the eagle's head were removed.
  4. Until 1868 the Second Great Seal was the one in use. In January 1867 Secretary of State Sharon Tyndale told State Senator Allen C. Fuller that a new seal was needed. He asked Senator Fuller to sponsor a bill to authorize that new seal.

    In the bill that Fuller sponsored, Tynsdale proposed changing the wording on the banner the eagle held to "National Union, State Sovereignty" from the original "State Sovereignty, National Union." The wording change proposal was in response to the states rights controversy that was critical to the, then recently, settled Civil War.

    The Senate disagreed with Tynsdale's proposed wording change. A new State Seal was authorized of March 7, 1867; however, the amended bill restored the original wording. Although Tinsdale followed the General Assembly's decree that he not reverse the wording, he redesigned the seal in such a way that the words "National Union" are more prominent than the words "State Sovereignty."

    The date 1818 on the present Seal refers to the year Illinois became a state. The date 1868 refers to the date the seal was redesigned. The shield carried by the eagle shows thirteen stars and stripes representing the original states.

    The present Great Seal of the State of Illinois is essentially unchanged from the one produced by Tynsdale.

Illinois Law

Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS)

5 ILCS 460/5. State seal.
(a) The reproduction of the emblem only on the "great seal of the State of Illinois" is authorized and permitted when reproduced in black or in the national colors upon a white sheet or background and bearing underneath the emblem in blue letters the word "Illinois" and being an actual reproduction of the great seal, except for the outer ring, for use as a State banner or insignia under the conditions and subject to the restrictions provided by the laws of the United States and the State of Illinois as to the United States or State flag or ensign.

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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