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Oregon State Seal
Great Seal of the State of Oregon
Adopted in 1859.
The Seal of the State of Oregon is the official seal of the U.S. state of Oregon. It was designed by Harvey Gordon in 1857, two years before Oregon was admitted to the
The seal was preceded by the Salmon Seal of the Provisional Government and the Seal of the Oregon Territory that ran from 1843 to 1849. The state seal is mandated by Article VI of the Oregon
The first seal for Oregon was during the Provisional Government that ran from 1843 to 1849. That government used the Salmon Seal, a round seal featuring three sheaves of
grain and a single salmon. The salmon was at the bottom, with Oregon along the top. The salmon was designed to symbolize the fishing industry and the grain to represent
agriculture. Designed to be neutral concerning the Oregon Question and whether the U.S. or Britain would ultimately control the region, the seal was used until the Oregon
Territory was created and the territorial government arrived in 1849.
With the arrival of Governor Joseph Lane in 1849 the territorial government took control of the region. That year the government adopted a new seal featuring a motto and a
variety of motifs. In the center was a sailing vessel used to represent commerce, and above that was a beaver to symbolize the fur trade that was prominent in Oregon's early
recorded history. On the left of the ship was a Native American and on the right an eagle. Above the beaver on a banner was the Latin motto, Alis Volat Propriis, translated as
"She flies with her own wings". Along the perimeter were five stars at the bottom and Seal of the Territory of Oregon on the top.
A resolution adopted by the Constitutional Convention in session on September 17, 1857, authorized the president to appoint a committee of three, Benjamin F. Burch, L. F. Grover and James K. Kelly to report on a proper device for the seal of the state of Oregon. Copy was submitted to the committee by Harvey Gordon, to which the committee recommended certain additions that are all incorporated in the state seal.
A proposal for a seal from Harvey Gordon was used with the addition of an elk added by the committee. Usage began after Oregon became the 33rd state on February 14, 1859, and
the number of stars was increased to 33 from the original 32 by the Oregon Legislative Assembly (Minnesota became a state in 1858).
Whereas the existence of an Oregon state seal is written into Oregon's state constitution, the design of the seal itself is dictated by Oregon Revised
Statute (ORS) chapter 186. The statutes list two laws pertaining to design and usage of the seal.
The state seal consists of an escutcheon, or shield, supported by 33 stars and divided by an ordinary, or ribbon, with the inscription "The Union." Above the ordinary are the mountains and forests of Oregon, an elk with branching antlers, a covered wagon and ox team, the Pacific Ocean with setting sun, a departing British man-of-war signifying the departure of British influence in the region and an arriving American merchant ship signifying the rise of American power. Below the ordinary is a quartering with a shear of wheat, plow and pickax, which represent Oregon's mining and agricultural resources. The crest is the American Eagle/ Around the perimeter of the seal is the legend "State of Oregon, 1859."
The seal appears on the obverse of the state flag of Oregon.
Oregon Seal Law
2011 ORS > Vol. 5
Chapter 186 > State Emblems
Description of state seal
The description of the seal of the State of Oregon shall be an escutcheon, supported by 33 stars, and divided by an ordinary, with the inscription, The Union.
In chief mountains, an elk with branching antlers, a wagon, the Pacific Ocean, on which there are a British man-of-war departing and an American steamer
arriving. The second quartering with a sheaf, plow and a pickax. Crest The American eagle. Legend State of Oregon, 1859.
Improper use of state seal
(1) Except as authorized by the Secretary of State, no person shall knowingly use any device, or possess any device capable of such use, to emboss upon a
document the seal of the State of Oregon described in ORS 186.020 (Description of state seal).
(2) No person shall use any reproduction of the seal of the State of Oregon:
(a) In any manner falsely implying official indorsement or sponsorship by the State of Oregon or any of its agencies of any product,
business, service or other activity; or
(b) In any manner that subjects or exposes the seal of the State of Oregon to ridicule, debasement or infamy. [1983 c.325 §1]
Injunction and civil penalties for improper use of seal
• judicial review
(1) In addition to any other liability or penalty provided by law, the Secretary of State may do one or both of the following:
(a) Petition the circuit court to enjoin violation of ORS 186.023 (Improper use of state seal); or
(b) Pursuant to a hearing, issue an order imposing a civil penalty upon a person for any violation of ORS 186.023 (Improper use of state seal).
(2) A civil penalty may only be imposed under this section pursuant to ORS 183.745 (Civil penalty procedures).
(3) The Secretary of State may assess a civil penalty under this section not exceeding $500. The Secretary of State may remit or reduce any
penalty imposed under this section upon such terms and conditions as the Secretary of State considers proper and consistent with the protection of the integrity
of the seal of the State of Oregon. In imposing any penalty under this section, the Secretary of State shall consider the following factors:
(a) Prior violations, if any, of the person under ORS 186.023 (Improper use of state seal);
(b) The economic and financial conditions of the person; and
(c) Whether and to what extent the seal or reproduction thereof was used or possessed for deceptive or fraudulent purposes.
(4) In any judicial review of civil penalties imposed under this section, the court, in its discretion, may reduce the penalty.
(5) All penalties recovered under this section shall be paid into the State Treasury and credited to the General Fund and are available for general governmental
expenses. [1983 c.325 §2; 1989 c.706 §9; 1991 c.734 §10]
Record of description
The description in writing of the seal of this state shall be deposited and recorded in the office of the Secretary of State, and shall remain a public record.
Oregon Constitution/Article V
Article VI: Administrative department
Seal of state.
There shall be a seal of State, kept by the Secretary of State for official purposes, which shall be called “The seal of the State of Oregon”.–
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.