The United States of America is made up of 50 states, each of which has its own seal which represents its individual culture, heritage and ideals. It is seen in many places, one of which includes the authentication of government or legal documents such as patents for land from the government as well as for commercial purposes.
The seals predate the use of state flags and were first introduced by the original thirteen states, which created their own after declaring their independence from England. The other states quickly followed suit as not too long after, they joined the union. Since then, many have been modified from their original versions several times, while others have remained the same.
Inscribed onto each insignia, is the state’s name and motto which captures the states’ individuality and conveys its political stance. Also incorporated onto the seal, is a depiction of the coat of arms or state map, and on some, the inclusion of important historical moments such as the date of officially declaring independence or introduction into the union. Others, such as Texas, feature a back side, which is known as the reverse.
If you were given a picture of the state seal, would you be able to correctly match it to its state? The only way to find out just how many you can correctly identify is to take this quiz!
Washington's state seal is super simple; it's a picture of first President George Washington set against a blue backdrop with the year 1889 -- the year Washington became a state.
The Arizona state seal pays tribute to the state's mining, farming and natural resources. It includes the state's motto "Didat Deus," or "God Enriches," and proudly proclaims 1912 as the year Arizona became a state.
Hawaii's state seal embodies hope with images of a rising sun, a phoenix and flying flags. It also contains Hawaii's motto "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness," written in the traditional native language.
The patriotic Illinois state seal boasts a bald eagle holding a banner with the state's motto "State Sovereignty, National Unions." It also displays 1818 as the year the Illinois Constitution was signed.
Kentucky's state seal emphasizes the union between Native Americans and colonists, with a man wearing native dress and a man wearing a suit facing one another and holding hands. It also features the state's motto "United we stand, Divided we fall."
New Jersey's seal displays 1776 as the year New Jersey became a state, as well as the state's motto "Liberty and Prosperity." A pair of female figures represent Liberty and Ceres -- the ancient goddess of grain.
Inspired by the coat of arms of the Hudson Bay Company, which traded furs and similar supplies to people foraging across the frontier, the Michigan state seal features such bold symbols as an elk, a moose and a bald eagle. The seal also includes the state's motto "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you."
The state seal of Georgia includes the year 1776 -- the year America gained its independence. It also reflects the three pillars of government as well as the state motto "Wisdom, Justice and Moderation."
Connecticut's seal is dominated by a trio of grapevines, which represent luck and strong relationships. It also includes the state motto "Qui Sustinet Transtulit," or "He who is transplanted sustains."
The seal of New Hampshire honors the strong shipbuilding history of the city of Portsmouth. It's dominated by an image of the Raleigh, which was one of the first ships built for a new Continental Navy. It also includes a laurel wreath, representing honor and victory.
Oklahoma's state seal features a five-pointed star, as well as a pioneer and Native American clasping hands. The year 1907 proudly reflects the year Oklahoma became a state, and the state motto "Work Conquers All" is written in Latin.
Idaho is the only state with a seal designed by a woman. It features a woman, representing equality, liberty and justice; as well as a man, who represents the state's rich mining history.
Tennessee's seal features the state motto "Agriculture and Commerce," as well as the number XVI, reflecting the fact that Tennessee was the 16th state. The seal proudly displays a riverboat and agricultural symbols, too fields which have played an important role in the state's economy and growth.
Lumber, hunting and agriculture all played important roles in Minnesota's development, so it's no surprise that all three are represented on the state seal. The seal also includes a Native American mounted on a horse and the state's motto "L'etoile du nord," or "Star of the North."
Vermont's state seal is dominated by rolling hills, which represent the Green Mountains. The state's motto "Freedom and Unity" is also displayed with pride.
Ohio's state seal focuses on a sun with thirteen rays, which represent the original 13 colonies. Also included are rivers, mountains and a bundle of 17 arrows -- because Ohio was the 17th state to join the union.
Utah has a massive beehive front and center of its seal, indicative of the state's nickname "The Beehive State." It also includes 1847 -- the year Mormons settled in Utah -- as well as 1896, the year Utah became a state.
Alaska's seal primarily contains symbols of the state's industry and resources. These include a train, ships, trees, agricultural equipment and a smelter to represent mining.
The primary focus of West Virginia's seal is a boulder etched with the date June 20, 1863 -- the day West Virginia became a state. It also includes a pair of crossed rifles, indicating a commitment to fighting for liberty and freedom.
New Mexico's seal features images of a Mexican eagle, bald eagle and snake, showing a blend of Spanish, Mexican and Native American cultural concepts. The seal also features the motto "Crescit Euno," or "Grows as it Goes."
The state seal of Virginia features a figure of Virtrus trampling on the prone figure of tyranny. It also features the tough slogan "Sic Semper Tyrannis," or "Thus Always to Tyrants."
Texas has one of the simplest seals of any state. The Lone Star dominates the seal, with an oak branch and olive branch encircling either side of the classic icon.
Alabama's state seal is the only one that features a map of the state front and center. The map showcases the state's impressive river system. Alabama went back to this historic seal in 1939 after years of modifications and redesigns.
Mississippi's seal showcases an eagle with bold, outstretched wings. In its claws, it clasps an olive branch for peace, and a bundle of arrows for battle.
The Delaware state seal includes three critical years in the history of the state. They include 1704, when Delaware held its first state assembly; 1776, when the U.S. gained independence; and 1787, when Delaware ratified the Constitution.
The North Dakota seal features the number 42, because the state was one of four that joined the union in 1889, bringing the total number of states to 42. It also features a Native American chasing a buffalo, as well as a prominent tree and symbols of the state's agricultural industry.
Nevada seal features symbols of industry, mining, railroads and agriculture, all set against a bold mountain backdrop. It also includes the state's motto "All for our country."
Montana's mining history features prominently on the state seal, from the motto -- "Oro y plata," or "Gold and silver" -- to symbols of the industry. The seal also includes images of waterfalls, mountains and rivers, reflecting the state's natural resources.
Louisiana's nickname is The Pelican State, so it's no surprise that the state seal displays a brown pelican and her babies. The seal also includes the terms Union, Justice and Confidence, reflecting critical values to the state.
New York's seal includes the motto "Excelsior" or "Ever Upwards." It also displays images of ships on the mighty Hudson River, an eagle with wings spread, and figures representing Liberty and Justice.
The seal of South Dakota features the slogan "Under God, the People Rule" as well as the year 1889 -- when South Dakota became a state. Agricultural symbols and a steamboat are set against a blue sky and rolling hills.
Colorado's seal includes a Masonic symbol in the form of the eye of God -- a triangle-enclosed eye with rays emitting from it. It also includes the state motto "Nil Sine Numine," or "Nothing without the Deity."
Wisconsin's seal includes a sailor and miner, reflecting the importance of the sea and the mining industry to the state and its history. It also includes a badger, the state animal, and the motto "Forward."
As you might expect, Florida's seal includes a blazing sun and a palm tree. It also includes a Native American woman scattering flowers, and a pair of mighty steamboats sailing a river.
The balanced South Carolina seal includes a pair of side-by-side ellipses. One contains a Palmetto tree, while the other includes Spes, the goddess of hope. Two mottoes reflect the state's values of Preparedness and Hope.
Indiana's seal celebrates the American frontier. It includes a pioneer chopping a tree as buffalo roam nearby. It also includes 1816 -- the year Indiana joined the union.
Wyoming's seal features a banner declaring "Equal Rights," as well as two male figures representing the state's dependence on livestock and mining. The years 1869 and 1890 reflect the year the territory established an organized government and the year it became a state, respectively.
Missouri's state seal boasts a pair of giant grizzly bears holding a round shield. It also includes the state motto "Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law," in Latin.
Rhode Island's state seal was designed back in the 17th century, but looks incredibly modern. It features an anchor and the word "Hope," as well as 1636, the year the state was founded as a colony.
North Carolina's state seal includes figures representing Liberty and Plenty set against a mountainous backdrop. It also includes the state motto "Esse Quam Videri," or "To be rather than to see."
The Pennsylvania seal includes an eagle atop a shield containing three symbols, including a ship, a plow and three bundles of wheat. A cornstalk and olive branch complete the image.
The state seal of Kansas includes images related to agriculture, roaming buffalo and powerful steamships. It also includes the year 1861 -- when Kansas entered the Union -- as well as the motto "To the stars through difficulties" in Latin.
The state seal of Arkansas boasts an eagle clasping both an olive branch and arrows. It also includes the goddess of Liberty, as well as the motto "Regnat populus" or "The people rule."
Nebraska's state seal is rich with symbolism. In addition to listing 1867 as the year Nebraska became a state, the seal includes mountains, trains, a steamboat, agricultural symbols and a smith working with a hammer and anvil.
The 33rd state to join the Union, Oregon's seal includes a shield surrounded by 33 stars. The seal also features images of natural resources like mountains and forests, as well as a covered wagon and symbols of mining and agriculture.
On the Iowa state seal, you'll find an eagle holding a banner that declares "Our liberties we prize and our rights we ill maintain." The seal also features the Mississippi River, a soldier and farming tools.
The seal of Massachusetts features a white star to celebrate the fact that the state was one of the original 13 colonies. It also includes a shield and the motto "By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty."
The seal of Maryland includes a plowman and fisherman, reflecting the importance of agriculture and fishing to the state's history and economy. It also boasts the state motto "State deeds, gentle words."
Maine's seal includes the motto "Dirigo," or "I Lead." It also displays symbols ranging from the North Star to pine trees, moose, sailors and farmers.
California's seal is dominated by Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. It also includes the motto "Eureka," or "I have found it," as well as a grizzly bear, a river and agricultural symbols.