All of the United States' 50 states have a state motto, as do the District of Columbia and three US territories. A motto is a phrase meant to formally describe the general motivation or intention of an organization. State mottos can sometimes be found on state seals or state flags. Some states have officially designated a state motto by an act of the state legislature, whereas other states have the motto only as an element of their seals. The motto of the United States itself is In God We Trust, proclaimed by Congress and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on July 30, 1956. The motto E Pluribus Unum (Latin for "One from many") was approved for use on the Great Seal of the United States in 1782, but was never adopted as the national motto through legislative action.
South Carolina has two official mottos, both of which are in Latin. Kentucky and North Dakota also have two mottos, one in Latin and the other in English. All other states and territories have only one motto, except Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, which do not have any mottos. English and Latin are the most-used languages for state mottos, used by 25 and 24 states and territories, respectively. Seven states and territories use another language, of which each language is only used once. Eight states and two territories have their mottos on their state quarter; thirty-eight states and four territories have their mottos on their state seals.
The dates given are, where possible, the earliest date that the motto was used in an official sense. Some state mottos are not official but are on the official state seal; in these cases the adoption date of the seal is given. The earliest use of a current motto is that of Puerto Rico, Johannes est nomen ejus, granted to the island by the Spanish in 1511.
State and territory mottos
| Alabama||Audemus jura nostra defendere||We dare defend our rights||Latin||1923|||
| Alaska||North to the future||—||English||1967|||
| American Samoa||Samoa, Muamua Le Atua||Samoa, let God be first||Samoan||1973|||
| Arizona||Ditat Deus||God enriches||Latin||1863|||
| Arkansas||Regnat populus||The people rule||Latin||1907||[N 1]|
| California||Eureka (Εὕρηκα)||I have found it||Greek||1849||[N 2]|
| Colorado||Nil sine numine||Nothing without the deity||Latin||November 5, 1861|||
| Connecticut||Qui transtulit sustinet||He who transplanted sustains||Latin||October 9, 1662|||
| Delaware||Liberty and Independence||—||English||1847|||
| District of Columbia||Justitia Omnibus||Justice for All||Latin||August 3, 1871|||
| Florida||In God We Trust||—||English||1868||[N 3]|
| Georgia||Wisdom, justice, and moderation||—||English||1798|||
| Hawaii||Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono||The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.||Hawaiian||July 31, 1843||[N 4]|
| Idaho||Esto perpetua||Let it be perpetual||Latin||1890|||
| Illinois||State sovereignty, national union||—||English||1819|||
| Indiana||The Crossroads of America||—||English||1937|||
| Iowa||Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain||—||English||1847|||
| Kansas||Ad astra per aspera||To the stars through difficulties||Latin||1861|||
| Kentucky||United we stand, divided we fall|
Deo gratiam habeamus
Let us be grateful to God
| Louisiana||Union, justice, confidence||—||English||1902|||
| Maine||Dirigo||I lead||Latin||1820|||
| Maryland||Fatti maschii, parole femine||Manly deeds, womanly words||Italian||1874|||
| Massachusetts||Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem||By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty||Latin||1775|||
| Michigan||Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice||If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you||Latin||June 2, 1835|||
| Minnesota||L'étoile du Nord||The star of the North||French||1861||[N 5]|
| Mississippi||Virtute et armis||By valor and arms||Latin||February 7, 1894|||
| Missouri||Salus populi suprema lex esto||Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law||Latin||January 11, 1822|||
| Montana||Oro y plata||Gold and silver||Spanish||February 9, 1865|||
| Nebraska||Equality before the law||—||English||1867|||
| Nevada||All For Our Country|
|—||English||February 24, 1866||[N 6]|
| New Hampshire||Live Free or Die||—||English||1945|||
| New Jersey||Liberty and prosperity||—||English||March 26, 1928|||
| New Mexico||Crescit eundo||It grows as it goes||Latin||1887||[N 7]|
| New York||Excelsior||Ever upward||Latin||1778|||
| North Carolina||Esse quam videri||To be, rather than to seem||Latin||1893|||
| North Dakota||Liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable|
Serit ut alteri saeclo prosit
One sows for the benefit of another age
March 11, 2011
| Northern Mariana Islands||—||—||—||—|||
| Ohio||With God, all things are possible||—||English||October 1, 1959||[N 8]|
| Oklahoma||Labor omnia vincit||Labor conquers all things||Latin||March 10, 1893||[N 9]|
| Oregon||Alis volat propriis||She flies with her own wings||Latin||1854||[N 10]|
| Pennsylvania||Virtue, Liberty, and Independence||—||English||1875|||
| Puerto Rico||Joannes Est Nomen Eius||John is his name||Latin||1511||[N 11]|
| Rhode Island||Hope||—||English||1644 and by the General Assembly on May 4, 1664|||
| South Carolina||Dum spiro spero|
Animis opibusque parati
|While I breathe, I hope|
Ready in soul and resource
|Latin||May 22, 1777|||
| South Dakota||Under God the people rule||—||English||1885|||
| Tennessee||Agriculture and Commerce||—||English||May 24, 1802||[N 12]|
| Utah||Industry||—||English||May 3, 1896||[N 13]|
| Vermont||Freedom and Unity||—||English||February 20, 1779|||
| Virginia||Sic semper tyrannis||Thus always to tyrants||Latin||1776|||
| Virgin Islands||United in Pride and Hope||—||English||January 1, 1991|||
| Washington||Al-ki||By and by||Chinook Jargon||—||[N 14]|
| West Virginia||Montani semper liberi||Mountaineers are always free||Latin||September 26, 1863|||
| Wyoming||Equal Rights||—||English||1893|||
- ^ The motto was originally designated as Regnant populi in 1864. It was changed to Regnat populus in 1907.
- ^ Eureka first appeared on the state seal in 1849. It was designated the official motto in 1963.
- ^ "In God We Trust" first appeared on the state seal in 1868. It was designated the official motto in 2006.
- ^ The motto of Hawaii was first used by King Kamehameha III in 1843, after his restoration. In May 1845 it first appeared on the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Hawaii. It was made the official motto of the State of Hawaii on May 1, 1959.
- ^ The unofficial motto of the Minnesota Territory was Quae sursum volo videre, I long to see what is beyond, chosen in 1849.
- ^ The unofficial motto of the Nevada Territory was Volens et Potens, Willing and Able, which was on the territorial seal approved on November 29, 1861. This was changed to the current motto after statehood.
- ^ Crescit eundo was added to the territorial seal in 1882. Ths change was officially adopted by the legislature in 1887.
- ^ From 1866 to 1868, the motto Imperium in Imperio (Latin for "Empire within an Empire") appeared on the state seal.
- ^ Labor omnia vincit was on the territorial seal of 1893. It was specified as a feature of the seal in the 1907 State Constitution.
- ^ The motto of Oregon was "The Union" from 1957 until 1987, when the original 1854 motto of Alis volat propriis was restored.
- ^ The Spanish Crown gave Puerto Rico its coat of arms in 1511. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico officially adopted it on March 9, 1905.
- ^ The words "Agriculture" and "Commerce" appeared on the first state seal of 1802. "Agriculture and Commerce" was made the official state motto in 1987.
- ^ "Industry" first appeared on the state seal of 1896. It was designated the official motto on March 4, 1959.
- ^ The motto of Washington is the only one to be fully unofficial. It is neither on the seal nor designated by the state legislature.
- ^ "History of 'In God we Trust'". U.S. Treasury. http://www.treas.gov/education/fact-sheets/currency/in-god-we-trust.shtml. Retrieved 2009-02-27.
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- ^ a b Shearer 24
- ^ a b Shearer 23
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- ^ a b Shearer 30
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