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Texas State Seal

Great Seal of the State of Texas

Texas Seal

Adopted in June 1845;1992 .

The Seal of the State of Texas was adopted through the 1845 Texas Constitution, and was based on the seal of the Republic of Texas, which dates from January 25, 1839.

The state seal is required by law to be affixed to numerous documents, such as commissions for elected and appointed state and local officials; patents for land from the state; executive acts of the governor in criminal cases such as remissions of fines, reprieves, commutations of punishment, extraditions, and pardons; state bonds; and all official documents issued from the office of the secretary of state. The state arms and reverse of the state seal are used exclusively as symbols of the state and do not have any independent legal significance.

Texas Seal

Private use of the state seal, including the state arms and reverse of the state seal, is regulated by law. The state seal may be used for commercial purposes only if a license is obtained from the secretary of state and royalties are paid to the state. Persons seeking more information on private use of the state seal should contact the office of the secretary of state. Additionally, it is a criminal offense for a person other than a political officeholder knowingly to use a representation of the state seal in political advertising.

The origins of the seal go back to the early days of the republic.

Texas Great Seal

Because of Texas' history, there have been many seals used as official seals throughout the years. Private seals of governors, Spanish seals, Mexican seals, and seals of the Republic have all had their time and place. Seals approved in 1836 and again in 1839 used a five-pointed star as their central image. The five-pointed star continues to represent Texas today. The Mexican seal was probably the basis for the live oak and olive wreaths that have made their way onto Texas' current seal. In 1845, when Texas gained statehood in the Union, the images of the Republic's seal were retained, and the word "Republic" was replaced with "State". The state's new seal was to consist of "a star of five points, encircled by an olive and live oak branch, and the words "State of Texas". So many versions of the seal's design were being used, however, that by 1881, the state decided to come up with one standard. So, the Secretary of State in 1992 officially declared a seal designed by Juan Vega, and meeting the above requirements, as the official seal of the state.

The Obverse of the Texas Seal

The Convention of 1836 convened on March 2 at Washington on the Brazos and declared independence from Mexico. Ten days later, the convention adopted a resolution providing for "a single star of five points" as the "peculiar emblem" of the Republic. At least when used on official documents, the seal was to be either gold or silver in color.

Later that same year, the newly formed government of the republic passed a bill which refined somewhat the original description of the seal. Thus, it declared, "for the future, the national seal of this republic shall consist of a single star, with the letters 'Republic of Texas,' circular on said seal, which seal shall also be circular." Ad interim President David Burnet first proposed this description, and Sam Houston, who replaced Burnet as president, approved the design on December 10, 1836.

The Third Congress of the Republic of Texas modified the seal in 1839, adding a live oak branch (to represent strength) and an olive branch (to represent peace). The resulting design, basically, is the one used today. When Texas joined the Union in 1845 the new state constitution retained the seal, changing only the word "Republic" to "State." The 1845 constitution declared, "There shall be a seal of the State, which shall be kept by the Governor and used by him officially. The said seal shall be a star of five points, encircled by an olive and live oak branches, and the words 'the State of Texas.'" The 1861, 1866, and 1869 constitutions have similar language, and the current constitution of 1876 only adds that the seal shall be kept "by the secretary of state, and used by him officially under the supervision of the governor."

Over the next century and a half, the various departments of the state government evolved more than a dozen different renderings of the basic seal design.

By 1991, almost twenty different versions of the state seal were in use on state letterhead and publications. In response to the concerns of several state agencies about this lack of uniformity, Secretary of State John Hannah, Jr., appointed the Texas State Seal Advisory Committee to formulate recommendations on the design of the state seal. The members of this committee were Charles A. Spain, Jr., chair, Court of Appeals for the Third District of Texas; Donna D. Darling, cochair, Texas Water Development Board; Michael Green, Texas State Library and Archives Commission; Randy Jennings, Texas Rehabilitation Commission; Guy Joyner, Office of the Secretary of State; Shari Massingill, Texas Department of Health; Colonel John C. L. Scribner, Adjutant General's Department; Kimberly T. Sutton, Office of the Secretary of State; Ron Tyler, Texas State Historical Association; Juan Vega, Texas Water Development Board; and Douglas Young, State Preservation Board.

The committee researched the history of the state seal and recommended that the Texas Memorial Museum's 1960 watercolor by Henry W. Schlattner be used as a model. In addition, the committee developed standard black and white art of the state seal and state arms (the star and the live oak and olive branches) for use by all state offices, departments, and agencies.

To ensure more uniform usage, an official implementation of the seal  was adopted by the Secretary of State in 1992 a designed by Juan Vega of the Texas Water Development Board, and meeting the above requirements, as the official seal of the state.

The Reverse of the Texas Seal

The reverse of the Texas state seal developed much later than the obverse. It was adopted in 1961, based on a design proposed by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. It consists of a shield surrounded by The six national flags that have flown over Texas. Atop the shield is the familiar lone star from which Texas derived its nickname. A narrow banner across the upper part of the seal displays the words "Remember the Alamo". A similar banner at the bottom reads "Texas One and Indivisible".

The reverse of the seal is used only as a decorative symbol. Unlike the obverse seal, the reverse does not carry with it any legal use or significance.

Texas Constitution, article IV, section 19

There shall be a Seal of the State which shall be kept by the secretary of state, and used by him officially under the direction of the governor. The Seal of the State shall be a star of five points, encircled by olive and live oak branches, and the words, "The State of Texas."
- Texas Constitution, article IV, section 19. 

Vernon's Civil Statutes

Art. 6139f. State seal; state arms

(a) The state seal is as provided by Article IV, Section 19, of the Texas Constitution.

(b) The reverse of the state seal contains a shield, displaying a depiction of the Alamo, the cannon of the Battle of Gonzales, and Vince's Bridge. The shield is encircled by live oak and olive branches, and the unfurled flags of the Kingdom of France, the Kingdom of Spain, the United Mexican States, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America. Above the shield is emblazoned the motto, "REMEMBER THE ALAMO," and beneath it are the words, "TEXAS ONE AND INDIVISIBLE," with a white five-pointed star hanging over the shield, centered between the flags.

(c) The state arms are a white star of five points, on an azure ground, encircled by olive and live oak branches.

(d) The secretary of state, by rule, shall adopt standard designs for the state seal, the reverse of the state seal, and the state arms.

(e) A law that requires the use of the state seal does not require the use of the state arms or the reverse of the state seal.

Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 300, § 6, eff. Aug. 30, 1993.

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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