The Great Seal of Tennessee
In 1796, the Constitution of the State of Tennessee provided for an official Great Seal. Although the style of the present seal has changed, the basic elements remain similar to the 1796 provisions.
The design of the seal specified that there should be an image of a plow, a sheaf of wheat, and a cotton plant. These were placed under the Roman numerals XVI, representing Tennessee as the 16th state to enter the Union. Below the images, the word "Agriculture" should occupy the center of the seal. The lower half of the seal was originally supposed to display a boat and a boatman, and under this image was the word "Commerce". Surrounding all these images are the words "The Great Seal of the State of Tennessee", and "Feb. 6th, 1796", the date of the state's Constitution. As it happened, however, the design of the seal changed over time, officially and unofficially.
A standardized seal was adopted in 1987 by the General Assembly.
The current seal contains images similar to past seals, although notably different is the image representing Commerce. The boatman has disappeared, and the ship is now a larger rigged vessel. The current seal also contains just the year of statehood, 1796, rather than the full date as before.
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