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Nebraska State Seal

Great Seal of the State of Nebraska

Nebraska Seal

Adopted in 1867.

In 1866 the first constitution of Nebraska stated, "There shall be a seal of the state, which shall be kept by the governor and used by him officially, and shall be called the Great Seal of the State of Nebraska."

The Great Seal of the State of Nebraska was adopted in 1867. A train steams across the background, with mountains in the distance. A steamboat plies the waters of the Missouri River. A simple cabin and sheaves of harvested wheat portray the importance of settlers and agriculture. A blacksmith works at his anvil in the foreground. At the top of the seal a banner holds the motto "Equality Before the Law", and around the outer ring of the seal contain the text "Great Seal of the State of Nebraska, March 1st, 1867".

 

Nebraska Great Seal

After statehood had been achieved in March of 1867 then Governor Butler called a special session of the legislature to pass such laws as the Governor thought necessary for starting the state government. In this special session a bill was introduced that required the Secretary of State to procure a seal "...to be designated and known as the Great Seal of the State of Nebraska." The bill went on to specify, "The eastern part of the circle to be represented by a steamboat ascending the Missouri River, the mechanic arts to be represented by a smith with a hammer and anvil, in the foreground, agriculture to be represented by a settlers cabin, sheaves of wheat, and stalks of growing corn, in the background a train of cars heading towards the Rocky Mountains, and on the extreme west, the Rocky Mountains to be plainly in view, around the top of the circle, to be in capital letters, the motto: "Equality Before the Law," and the circle to be surrounded with the words, "Great Seal of the State of Nebraska, March 1, 1867." A sum of twenty-five dollars was appropriated to enable the Secretary of State to carry out the act and the bill was signed into law by Governor Butler on June 15, 1867.

According to legend the seal purchased by then Secretary of State Thomas Kennard played a key role when the State Capitol was moved from Omaha to Lincoln in 1868. According to Mr. Kennard's statements much later in his life he and Governor Butler had decided to go along with the movement to make the move to Lincoln. "So Governor Butler and I, without consulting any other person, decided what steps we should take. We planned that he should leave Omaha and go to his home in Pawnee City and prepare his proclamation announcing the removal, that I would go to my home in Washington county and on the following Sunday I would hitch up my team and drive up to Omaha, go into the Capitol, wrap up the seal, carefully take it out and place it under the seat in my buggy, drive straight to the west over the prairies and before Sunday closed cross the Platte river. The scheme was successfully carried out, and on the following Monday I appeared at the new Capitol with the State Seal and put the impression upon the proclamation of Governor Butler, who met me here, and which declared that the Capitol of the State of Nebraska was at Lincoln, County of Lancaster, Nebraska, and now open for business."

The same seal that was purchased in 1867 and played the key role in the moving of the Capitol from Omaha to Lincoln the next year, is still in use today. The Seal is located in the Secretary of State's office and still leaves its impression on all official State documents.

Section 1 of the act of 1867 is as follows:

To provide for the original seal, Isaac Wiles of Cass County introduced a bill in the House of Representatives on May 31, 1867, to obtain a seal for Nebraska. Signed by then-governor David Butler on June 15, 1867, the bill read:

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Nebraska: Sec. 1. That the Secretary of State shall be, and he is hereby authorized and required to procure, at the cost and expense of the state, and as soon after the passage of this act as practicable, a seal for the state, to be designed and known as the great seal of the state of Nebraska, and of the design and device following, that is to say: The eastern part of the circle to be represented by a steamboat ascending the Missouri river; the mechanic arts to be represented by a smith with hammer and anvil; in the foreground, agriculture to be represented by a settler's cabin, sheaves of wheat, and stalks of growing corn; in the background a train of cars heading toward the Rocky Mountains, and on the extreme west, the Rocky Mountains to be plainly in view; around the top of this circle, to be in capital letters, the motto: "Equality Before the Law," and the circle to be surrounded with the words, "Great Seal of the State of Nebraska, March 1, 1867." Sec. 2. The sum of twenty-five dollars, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated out of any fund in the treasury not otherwise appropriated by law, to enable the Secretary of State to carry into effect the provisions of this act.

Nebraska Revised Statute 84-501

Chapter 84 § 84-501
84-501. Secretary of State; Great Seal; custodian.

The Secretary of State shall safely keep and not suffer to be imitated or counterfeited the Great Seal of the State of Nebraska of the form and design prescribed by the Act approved June 15, 1867, as follows:
Source

Laws 1867, § 1, p. 57;
R.S.1913, § 5569;
C.S.1922, § 4873;
C.S.1929, § 84-501;
R.S.1943, § 84-501.
Note: Section 1 of the act of 1867 is as follows: "Section 1. Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Nebraska, That the Secretary of State be, and he is hereby authorized and required to procure, at the cost and expense of the state, and as soon after the passage of this act as practicable, a seal for the state, to be designated and known as the Great Seal of the State of Nebraska, and of the design and device following, that is to say: The eastern part of the circle to be represented by a steamboat ascending the Missouri river; the mechanic arts to be represented by a smith with hammer and anvil; in the foreground, agriculture to be represented by a settler's cabin, sheaves of wheat and stalks of growing corn; in the background a train of cars heading towards the Rocky Mountains, and on the extreme west, the Rocky Mountains to be plainly in view; around the top of this circle to be in capital letters, the motto. 'EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW,' and the circle to be surrounded with the words, 'Great Seal of the State of Nebraska, March 1st, 1867.'"

 

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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