Tennessee 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? ]
The Tennessee Code
The following information is excerpted from the Tennessee Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Part 3, Section 4-1-315.
TITLE 4. STATE GOVERNMENT.
The motto of this state shall be "Agriculture and Commerce," as proclaimed on the great seal of the state of Tennessee since 1801.
[Acts 1987, ch. 402, § 2.]
Adoption of Agriculture and Commerce as the official state motto is a relatively recent occurance (1987). Prior to that act of the legislature, the motto was documented as an element of the Great Seal of the State of Tennessee. The following, excerpted from the Tennessee Code, describes the Great Seal of the State of Tennessee.
TITLE 4. STATE GOVERNMENT.
(a) The great seal of the state of Tennessee shall be in the shape of a circle. The circumference of the circle shall bear the words "THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE" and in the lower part of the circumference shall be the date "1796," being the year in which the constitution of Tennessee was adopted and Tennessee became one (1) of the United States.
(b) Inside the upper semicircle of the circle shall be set the numerals "XVI," being the number of the state in chronological order within the United States; below the numerals shall be the figures of a plough, sheaf of wheat and cotton plant, emblematic of agriculture within the state; and under the base of the upper semicircle shall be the word "AGRICULTURE."
(c) Inside the lower semicircle of the circle shall be set the figure of a boat with sail, emblematic of commercial activity in the state; and below this figure the word "COMMERCE."
(d) The size of the seal embossed shall be not greater in diameter than two and one quarter inches (2 1/4") nor smaller in diameter than one and three quarter inches (1 3/4").
(e) The size of printed seals shall conform to the range of sizes as permitted by the rules of the state publication committee.
(f) Until a different rendering of this design is submitted by the governor to the secretary of state and approved by resolution by both houses of the general assembly, voting separately, the design in use as of May 17, 1987 is hereby validated and adopted, to wit:
[Acts 1987, ch. 402, § 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: Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., (http://188.8.131.52/tennessee/lpext.dll?f=templates&fn=fs-main.htm&2.0), March 24, 2005
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