Iowa State Motto

"Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain"

State Motto and Banner

Adopted on February 25, 1847.

Language: English

Focus: Rights and  Liberty and Freedom

See Iowa State Seal

This motto, which expressed the sentiment of Iowans as they entered the Union in 1846, was placed on the state seal by the first General Assembly in 1847.

Iowa officially entered the Union on December 28, 1846. During the new state's First General Assembly, in 1847, legislation was passed on February 25, 1847 to designate an official state seal to authenticate official state papers, and, with it, the state motto, Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain.

Iowa State Motto
"Our Liberties We Prize" and "Our Rights We Will Maintain"

These a states with mottos that focus on liberty.

  1. Delaware: "Liberty and Independence"
  2. Iowa: "Our Liberties We Prize, and Our Rights We Will Maintain"
  3. Massachusetts: "Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem"
    (By the Sword We Seek Peace, but Peace Only under Liberty)
  4. New Jersey: "Liberty and Prosperity"
  5. North Dakota: "Liberty and Union Now and Forever; One and Inseparable"
  6. Pennsylvania: "Virtue, Liberty, and Independence"

The motto, Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain, was determined by a three-member committee of the Iowa Senate. They suggested the motto and its placement on the official state seal. 

This motto is at least partially in response to the difficulties that Iowa ran into establishing statehood. The motto makes the clear statement that the liberties of the Iowa citizenry are very important and that they are willing to defend them.

Iowa Law

The law designating the official Iowa state motto is found in the Iowa Code, Title 1, Subtitle 1, Chapter 1A, Section 1A-1

1A.1 Seal - device - motto.

1A.1 Seal - device - motto.

The secretary of state be, and is, hereby authorized to procure a seal which shall be the great seal of the state of Iowa, two inches in diameter, upon which shall be engraved the following device, surrounded by the words, "The Great Seal of the State of Iowa"- a sheaf and field of standing wheat, with a sickle and other farming utensils, on the left side near the bottom; a lead furnace and pile of pig lead on the right side; the citizen soldier, with a plow in his rear, supporting the American flag and liberty cap with his right hand, and his gun with his left, in the center and near the bottom; the Mississippi river in the rear of the whole, with the steamer Iowa under way; an eagle near the upper edge, holding in his beak a scroll, with the following inscription upon it: Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain.

Section History: Early form
[1GA, ch 112; C75, 77, 79, 81, §1A.1]

Referred to in §2A.1

Editor's Note: The Act of the First General Assembly of the State of Iowa creating the Great Seal, approved February 25, 1847, is hereby reproduced in the descriptive part.

There seem to be no further enactments, repeals, or amendments and no codification of this law appears in the various Codes. See Annals of Iowa, Volume XI, pages 561, 576. Constitutional provision for a great seal is contained in Iowa Constitution, Art. IV, §20, but no description is provided.

Mottos of the States
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