Delaware State Motto
State mottoes may be said to reflect the character and beliefs of the citizens of the state, or more accurately, the citizens of the state when they were adopted. State mottoes can help us gain insight into the history of a state. [What is a motto? ]
Adoption of the Delaware State Motto
The motto, Liberty and Independence, became the Delaware state motto when it was added to the Great Seal of the State of Delaware in 1847. Adopted on January 17, 1777, the Delaware seal has undergone several changes since then, but remains essentially the same.
About the Delaware State Motto
Liberty and Independence was provided by the Society of the Cincinnati, a hereditary organization of American Revolutionary War officers, formed in 1783. George Washington served as its first President General, from December 1783, until his death in 1799.
The sentiments of the Delaware motto are expected from a state that played such a celebrated role in the United State's struggle for independence. Added to Delaware's great seal "...as an expression of the ideals of American government..." in 1847, the motto serves as a reminder of a basis of our nation's cultural development as well.
Both of the terms comprising the motto proclaim freedom from restraint or influence.
The Delaware Code
The following information is excerpted from the Delaware Code, Title 29, Chapter 3, Section 301.
Title 29 - State Government.
The seal now used as the Great Seal of this State and bearing the arms of this State shall be the Great Seal of this State. It is emblazoned as follows: Party per fess, or and argent, the first charged with a garb (wheat sheaf) in bend dexter and an ear of maize (Indian Corn) in bend sinister, both proper; the second charged with an ox statant, ruminating, proper; fess, wavy azure, supporters on the dexter a husbandman with a hilling hoe, on the sinister a rifleman armed and accoutred at ease. Crest, on a wreath azure and argent, a ship under full sail, proper, with the words "Great Seal of the State of Delaware," the dates "1704, 1776, and 1787," and the words "Liberty and Independence" engraved thereon.
(Code 1852, § 463; 24 Del. Laws, c. 89, § 1; Code 1915, § 387; Code 1935, § 361; 29 Del. C. 1953, § 501; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1.)
State Motto List: List of all of the state mottoes.
State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols: A Historical Guide, Third Edition - Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer, Greenwood Press, 2002
State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and Other Symbols: A Study based on historical documents giving the origin and significance of the state names, nicknames, mottoes, seals, flowers, birds, songs, and descriptive comments on the capitol buildings and on some of the leading state histories, Revised Edition - George Earlie Shankle, Ph.D., The H.W. Wilson Company, 1938 (Reprint Services Corp. 1971)
Source: Delaware General Assembly, (http://www.legis.state.de.us/Legislature.nsf/?Opendatabase), March 12, 2005
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