New Mexico Symbols
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National & State Symbols
New Mexico State Seal
Great Seal of the State of New Mexico
Adopted in 1913.
The Great Seal of New Mexico was adopted in 1913. New Mexico's first seal was designed shortly after the organization of the Territorial Government, in 1851. The original seal has long since disappeared, possibly as part of the artifacts placed into the cornerstone of the Soldiers Monument in the Santa Fe Plaza. Imprints of the original seal show it consisted of the American Eagle, clutching an olive branch in one talon, and three arrows in the other. Along the outside rim was the inscription "Great Seal of the Territory of New Mexico."
New Mexico Great Seal
In the early 1860's an unknown official adopted a new seal, using a design similar to today's Great Seal. It featured the American Bald Eagle, its outstretched wings shielding a smaller Mexican Eagle, symbolizing the change of sovereignty from Mexico to the United States in 1846. The smaller Mexican Brown, or Harpy, Eagle grasped a snake in its beak and cactus in its talons, portraying an ancient Aztec myth. The outside rim of the seal contained the words "Territory of New Mexico," with the date of 1850 along the bottom in Roman numerals (MDCCCL).
In the year and half it took the Commission to decide to adopt the State Seal New Mexico uses today, the Legislature authorized interim use of the Territorial Seal with the words "Great Seal of the State of New Mexico" substituted.
New Mexico's seal evolved over time with people adding symbolic pieces to it as they went along, much like the growth of the state itself, or even the Latin motto now adorning the seal "It grows as it goes." It was and is a work in progress, growing as it goes, just like the State it represents.
In June 1913, the Commission, which consisted of Governor William C. McDonald, Attorney General Frank W. Clancy, Chief Justice Clarence J. Roberts, and Secretary of State Antonio Lucero, filed its report adopting the general design of the Territorial Seal, substituting only the date 1912 for the Roman numerals. That seal is still in use today as the official seal of New Mexico.
2013 New Mexico Statutes
Chapter 12 - Miscellaneous Public Affairs Matters
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.