One of the initial acts of the first Iowa Legislature in 1847 was to create the Great Seal of Iowa.
The two-inch diameter seal pictures a citizen soldier standing in a wheat field, holding an American flag, surrounded by farming and industrial tools. A cultivator rests in the field behind him, smoke trails from the chimney of a small cabin, and a ship steams through the water of the Mississippi River in the background. An eagle is overhead, holding in its beak a scroll bearing the state motto, "Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain." The motto was the work of a three-man Senate committee and was incorporated into the design of the seal at their suggestion..
It was approved by the First Iowa General Assembly on February 25, 1847. Since that date, there have been no revisions to the code governing this Seal. The Seal of Iowa is kept and used by the Governor for official purposes. Because the seal was not illustrated in the Iowa code, over the years there have been several variations with differences in color and arrangement of objects.
The seal was not universally beloved when introduced, it was considered cluttered and ungainly, and the older Territorial Seal was utilized in several instances on official publications into the 1860s, including official currency. "Gov. Lowe, who, with every other gentleman of refinement, cannot but regret the bad taste that conceived and adopted the conglomerate devices of our present 'Great Seal'.
The Great Seal cannot be used without the permission of the Governor. The state seal is retained in the custody of and under the control of the Governor, who uses the seal for official documents and functions.
TITLE I STATE SOVEREIGNTY AND MANAGEMENT
SUBTITLE 1 SOVEREIGNTY
CHAPTER 1A GREAT SEAL OF IOWA
1A.1 Seal — device — motto.
1A.1 Seal — device — motto.
The secretary of state be, and is, hereby authorized to procure a seal which shall be the great seal of the state of Iowa, two inches in diameter, upon which shall be engraved the following device, surrounded by the words, “The Great Seal of the State of Iowa” – a sheaf and field of standing wheat, with a sickle and other farming utensils, on the left side near the bottom; a lead furnace and pile of pig lead on the right side; the citizen soldier, with a plow in his rear, supporting the American flag and liberty cap with his right hand, and his gun with his left, in the center and near the bottom; the Mississippi river in the rear of the whole, with the steamer Iowa under way; an eagle near the upper edge, holding in his beak a scroll, with the following inscription upon it: Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain.
Section History: Early form
[1GA, ch 112; C75, 77, 79, 81, §1A.1]
Referred to in §2A.1
Editor’s Note: The Act of the First General Assembly of the State of Iowa creating the Great Seal, approved February 25, 1847, is hereby reproduced in the descriptive part.
There seem to be no further enactments, repeals, or amendments and no codification of this law appears in the various Codes. See Annals of Iowa, Volume XI, pages 561, 576. Constitutional provision for a great seal is contained in Iowa Constitution, Art. IV, §20, but no description is provided.
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