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Michigan State Seal

Great Seal of the State of Michigan

Michigan Seal

Adopted in on June 2, 1835

Michigan's Great Seal was designed by Lewis Cass, Michigan's second (non-acting) Territorial governor. The seal was patterned after the seal of the Hudson Bay Fur Company. It was presented to the Constitutional Convention of 1835 and adopted on June 2, 1835 as the official Great Seal of Michigan.

Public Act 19 of 1963 states that "The great seal shall be comprised of the coat of arms of the state around which shall appear the words 'great seal of the state of Michigan, A.D. MDCCCXXXV.' "

Michigan Great Seal

The Great Seal of the State of Michigan depicts the coat of arms of the U.S. state of Michigan on a light blue field. On the dark blue shield the sun rises over a lake and peninsula, a man holding a long gun with a raised hand represents peace and the ability to defend his rights. The elk and moose are symbols of Michigan, while the bald eagle represents the United States.

The design features three Latin mottos. From top to bottom they are:

  1. On the red ribbon: E Pluribus Unum, "Out of many, one," a motto of the United States
  2. On the light blue shield: Tuebor, "I will defend" (although some scholars prefer "observe" or "consider")
  3. On the white ribbon: Si Quæris Peninsulam Amœnam Circumspice, "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you," which is the official state motto. It was adopted in 1835 and said to have been suggested by the tribute to architect Christopher Wren at Saint Paul's Cathedral in London, which reads Si monumentum requiris, circumspice (Latin "If you seek [his] monument, look around you").

The seal was adopted on June 2, 1835.

Michigan State Coat of Arms

The Coat of Arms is familiar to us because it is shown on Michigan's state flag. This first occurred in 1837. From that time, numerous flags were in use bearing the State Coat of Arms, with various designs and emblems.

It was not until 1865, however, that an official Michigan flag was adopted. The design of this flag, recommended by Adjutant-General John Robertson, and approved by Governor Crapo, bore on one side the State Coat of Arms on a field of blue. On the reverse side was the arms of the United States.

Michigan's state flag was first unfurled at the laying of the corner stone at the monument of the Solders' National Cemetery at Gettysburg on the Fourth of July, 1865.

By Act 209 of 1911, the State of Michigan flag was adopted with a simple phrase, "The State Flag shall be blue charged with the arms of the state." (MCL 2.23) Flags may be purchased by contacting the Michigan Department of Management and Budget at 517/322-5088.

Michigan's current Coat of Arms was adopted by the Legislature in 1911. (MCL 2.21) It is identical to the Great Seal of Michigan with the legend or circle, The Great Seal of the State of Michigan, A.D. MDCCCXXXV, omitted.

Unlike the Great Seal, the Coat of Arms may be printed on documents, stationery, or ornaments with no design or words and disconnected with any advertisement. (MCL 750.247) However, a person who improperly exhibits and displays the Coat of Arms is guilty of a misdemeanor. (MCL 750.245

Changes in the Great Seal have been made from time to time. However, the present Seal has not been changed since 1911. No facsimile or reproduction of the Great Seal can be used in a manner unconnected with official functions of the state. (MCL 2.45) A person who violates any provision of the Great Seal Act is guilty of a misdemeanor (MCL 2.46).

Michigan Compiled Laws

Act 19 of 1963 (2nd Ex. Sess.)

2.41 Great seal; as official seal.

Sec. 1.

The state of Michigan shall have a great seal which shall be the official seal of the state.

2.42 Great seal; description.

Sec. 2.

The great seal shall be comprised of the coat of arms of the state around which shall appear the words "great seal of the state of Michigan, A.D. MDCCCXXXV".

2.43 Great seal; official dies.

Sec. 3.

The official dies of the great seal shall not be transported outside the state but shall remain at the seat of government at the office of the secretary of state.

2.44 Great seal; impression on certain documents.

Sec. 4.

An impression of the great seal shall be placed on the following documents but no others:

(a) Extraditions.

(b) Warrants issued under extradition proceedings.

(c) Pardons.

(d) Commutations of sentences.

(e) Appointments by the governor to public office.

(f) Railroad police commissions.

(g) Notary public commissions.

(h) Governor's proclamations including those calling extraordinary sessions of the legislature.

(i) Land patents.

(j) Farm centennial certificates issued where land has been in the family for 100 years or more.

(k) Military commissions issued under authority of the adjutant general.

(l) Certifications of the holding of office by the administrative board members, county clerks and notaries public.

(m) Certifications of the qualifications of elected and appointed officials.

(n) Trademark registration certificates.

(o) Copies of records and documents required by law to be filed with or maintained by the secretary of state for the purpose of authenticating their genuineness.

2.45 Great seal; facsimiles and reproductions.

Sec. 5.

No facsimile or reproduction of the great seal shall be used in a manner unconnected with official functions of the state.

2.46 Great seal violations; penalty.

Sec. 6.

Any person who violates any provision of this act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

2.47 Great seal act; effective date.

Sec. 7.

This act shall take effect on January 1, 1964.

History: 1963, 2nd Ex. Sess., Act 19, Eff. Jan. 1, 1964


Act 267 of 1947

2.207 Governor to execute final draft and affix seal.

Sec. 7.

The governor of Michigan is authorized and directed to witness the ratification of this compact by executing the final draft thereof in his own name and on behalf of the state of Michigan and affixing the seal of the state of Michigan.

History: 1947, Act 267, Eff. Oct. 11, 1947 ;-- CL 1948, 2.207

Michigan Compiled Laws

Act 209 of 1911

2.22 State coat-of-arms; emblazonment.

Sec. 2.
The coat-of-arms shall be blazoned as follows:
Chief, Azure, motto argent Tuebor;
Charge, Azure, sun-rayed rising sinister proper, lake wavey proper, peninsula dexter grassy proper, man dexter on peninsula, rustic, habited, dexter arm-raised, dexter turned, sinister arm with gun stock resting, all proper;
Crest, On a wreath azure and or, an American eagle rising to the dexter, tips of wings partly lowered to base, all proper, dexter talon holding an olive branch with 13 fruit, sinister talon holding a sheaf of 3 arrows, all proper. Over his head a sky azure environed with a scroll gules with the motto "E Pluribus Unum" argent;
Dexter, An elk rampant, proper;
Sinister, A moose rampant, proper;
Mottoes, On the scroll unending superior narrow argent, in sable, the motto, "Si quaeris peninsulam, amoenam."
On the scroll unending inferior, broader argent in sable the motto "circumspice."
Scroll support and conventional leaf design between shield and scroll superior or;
Escutcheon supporters rest on the scroll supports and leaf design.

History: 1911, Act 209, Eff. Aug. 1, 1911 ;-- CL 1915, 1099 ;-- CL 1929, 135 ;-- CL 1948, 2.22

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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