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Virginia State Motto

Motto and Nickname

The Virginia State Motto
The Virginia State motto was adopted in 1776 and is expressed in Latin as "Sic semper tyrannis" which means:

"Thus always to tyrants"

The Meaning of the Virginia State Motto
The meaning of this famous motto symbolizes victory over tyrants and reflects the historical aspirations and concepts of freedom, justice, independence. and unity. All of these ideals relate to the causes and the history of the American War of Independence (17751783) in which the patriots of Virginia  were at the forefront of the fight for freedom from the British monarchy. The full quotation "Sic semper evello mortem Tyrannis (death to tyrants) is said to have originated with Brutus during the assassination of Julius Caesar.

"Thus always to tyrants"



The History of the Virginia State Motto
The strength of feelings of The Virginia patriots during the War for Independence is graphically represented in the Great Seal and the flag. The image depicts  the figure of Liberty trampling on a defeated enemy together with a picture of a crown that represents victory and freedom from the British monarchy.


The Virginia State Nickname
The Virginia Motto is complimented by a less formal, popular Virginia nickname which, combined with the motto, are highly descriptive of the people, the geography and the history of the state. The names used as nicknames are:

Virginia State Nickname List
Official Nickname: Old Dominion
Mother of Presidents
The Mother of States
The Cavalier State

George Washington


The Origin and Meaning of the Virginia Nicknames
The American citizens who live in, or who come from Virginia, are referred to as Virginians. The history, origin and meaning of each of the state's nicknames are as follows:

The Old Dominion
The 'Dominion' was a name formerly applied to self-governing parts of Britain. The Old Dominion nickname originated in Colonial times. In 1663 King Charles II (16301685) elevated Virginia to the position of dominion along with England, Scotland Ireland.

The Mother of Presidents
The Mother of Presidents reflects the large number of Presidents who were born in the state. The names of these eight U.S. presidents were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Tyler. William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson.

Virginia, Mother of Presidents

Mother of States
Virginia was the first state to be settled, the lands were absolutely vast and included present day Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and a part of Minnesota. It is therefore not suprising that another nickname is 'Mother of States.

The Cavalier State
The Cavalier nickname is another reference to King Charles II who was supported by gallant and courtly gentleman known as Cavaliers. The term originated during the English Civil War when the royalist forces of King Charles I were opposed by the 'Roundheads' the parliamentarians led by Oliver Cromwell. The name originally meant an armed horseman, similar to the French chevalier.


The Constitution of Virginia
The constitution of Virginia establishes the basic rights of its citizens and echoes the words and sentiments of the motto. The preamble (opening) of the constitution is as follows:

"A DECLARATION OF RIGHTS made by the good people of Virginia in the exercise of their sovereign powers, which rights do pertain to them and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of government."

Preamble of the Constitution of Virginia


Virginia State Motto for Kids

Learn the meaning of the motto for kids
"Thus always to tyrants"
Find the meaning of the Motto and nickname
Meaning, History and Origin of the motto for kids
Meaning, origin and history of the nickname
Interesting facts, info and picture of the flag
Official Nickname "Old Dominion"
Meaning of the motto and nickname for schools, kids and children

Abraham Lincoln

Virginia State Motto and Nickname for Kids

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