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Georgia State Mottoes

Agriculture and Commerce Language:English
Translation:  Adoption:1799
Wisdom, Justice and Moderation Language:English
Translation:  Adoption:1799

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 Georgia State Motto

Fifteen states have specifically adopted a state motto and Georgia is not one of them. Like thirty-four other states, the Georgia state mottoes were adopted as elements of the State Seal; in this case, The Great Seal of the State of Georgia.

The General Assembly of the State of Georgia adopted the state seal on February 8, 1799. It was changed on August 17, 1914. The date was changed from 1799 (year of the seal's adoption) to 1776 (year of the Declaration of Independence). Except for this change, the Great Seal of the State of Georgia remains today as it was adopted in 1799.

About the Georgia State Motto

Great Seal of the State of Georgia
Reverse (Paragraph b)

The Great Seal of the State of Georgia has two sides as described in Section 50.3.30 of the Georgia Code. Though not designated as such by the statute, the Georgia Secretary of State refers to the side described in paragraph (c) as the front of the seal and the side described by paragraph (b) as the reverse of the seal. Indeed, the side depicting the three pillars and Wisdom, Justice and Moderation is the side that is used to authenticate official papers and the side most recognized, particularly since the appearance of the coat of arms on the Georgia State Flag adopted in 2003.

The motto of the state of Georgia is most often promoted as Wisdom, Justice and Moderation today, though this may not have always been the case. The description of the one side of the state seal that honors Georgia's agriculture and commerce describes, in part (b), "The motto inscribed thereon is 'Agriculture and Commerce, 1776'."

Great Seal of the State of Georgia
Front (Paragraph c)

Wisdom, Justice and Moderation are mentioned in part (c) of the statute describing the seal and, though significant elements of the seal, they are not referred to as a motto. In fact, one group of words in "part (c)" is specifically referred to as a motto; State of Georgia, 1776. These words don't make a very impressive state motto however!

Because it is referenced as such, Agriculture and Commerce, 1776 must surely be considered as a motto of the State of Georgia. This motto symbolizes well the basis of growth and strength of this original colony and the foundations of Georgia's economic health. In fact, Tennessee has adopted the same motto.

Even though it's not referenced as such in the statute, Wisdom, Justice and Moderation also earns a spot as a motto of the State of Georgia, simply because it seems to be the popular choice. It applies directly to the three pillars supporting the "Constitution" on the seal offering guidance in the three branches of government; Wisdom guiding the activity of the legislature; Justice the guiding principles of the judicial system; and Moderation providing guidance in the executive branch.

The Georgia Code

Georgia's state mottoes were adopted as elements of its official seal. The following information is excerpted from the Georgia Code, Title 50, Chapter 3, Section 50.3.30.

Additional Information

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: Georgia General Assembly, (http://www.legis.state.ga.us/), March 13, 2005
Source: Merriam-Webster Online, (http://www.m-w.com/), March 3, 2005
Source: State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols: A Historical Guide, Third Edition - Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer, Greenwood Press, 2002
Source: State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and Other Symbols: Revised Edition (Reprint)- George Earlie Shankle, Ph.D., The H.W. Wilson Company, 1938

 

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