Montana 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 Montana State Motto
Like other state mottoes, Montana's Spanish Oro y Plata was conceived as the Montanans were deciding on an official seal for the new Montana Territory. In 1865, shortly after Montana had gained territorial status, a committee, chaired by Mr. Francis R. Thompson, got together to determine an appropriate design for the new seal. The committee agreed that the seal should incorporate certain essential elements of Montana's economy and its future.
As the committee discussed the new seal the question of a territorial motto was introduced. Based on the mineral wealth that Montana had produced since 1862, members favored "Gold and Silver" as a meaningful motto for Montana Territory. Someone thought the motto would have a nice ring in Spanish and, again, there was agreement. Seal design and motto were presented to the Legislature on February 4, 1865. At this time there was a suggestion that "El Dorado," meaning "the place of gold," might be more appropriate than simply "Gold and Silver." But both houses approved the seal with the motto Oro y Plata and Territorial Governor Sidney Edgerton signed the bill into law on February 9, 1865.
The seal has been modified, to some degree, over the years, but the motto has remained: Oro y Plata.
The Montana Code Annotated
As mentioned above, Montana's state motto was adopted as an element of its official seal. The following information is excerpted from the Montana Montana Code Annotated, Title 1, Chapter 1, Part 5, Section 1-1-501.
TITLE 1. GENERAL LAWS AND DEFINITIONS.
History: En. Sec. 1, p. 42, L. 1893; re-en. Sec. 1130, Pol. C. 1895; re-en. Sec. 430, Rev. C. 1907; re-en. Sec. 526, R.C.M. 1921; re-en. Sec. 526, R.C.M. 1935; R.C.M. 1947, 19-111.
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State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and Other Symbols: A Study based on historical documents giving the origin and significance of the state names, nicknames, mottoes, seals, flowers, birds, songs, and descriptive comments on the capitol buildings and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: Montana Code Annotated, (http://data.opi.state.mt.us/bills/mca_toc/index.htm), March 23, 2005
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