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Missouri State Seal

Seal and Nickname

The Missouri State Seal
The Great Seal of the State of Missouri serves as a symbol of authenticity which verifies that government documents and papers of state are official and legal in the "Show Me State". The Missouri state seal is also an emblem that is representative of the state's origins, history, character and ideals. The following motto, reflecting the spirit of the state, is also incorporated in the Missouri state seal is expressed in Latin as "Salus populi suprema lex esto" which means:

"The Welfare of the People is the Highest Law"

The Missouri state seal identifies government buildings and officials and is a centerpiece for the Missouri state flag. The symbolism of the Missouri State Seal is described below.

Missouri State Seal


Facts on the Missouri State Seal
The men who designed the Great State seals were educated in the classics and were knowledgeable of art history and symbolism of heraldry. Fast, fun facts about the history and design of the Missouri State Seal:

Missouri State Seal Facts
Fact 1: The Missouri State Seal was adopted on January 11, 1822

Fact 2: Designed by congressman Judge Robert William Wells

Fact 3: The year 1820 is inscribed in Roman numerals below the scroll, although Missouri was not officially granted statehood until 1821

Fact 4: The year 1820 was the year the state was allowed to draft a constitution.

George Washington

Judge Robert William Wells

Judge Robert William Wells (1795-1864),  who designed the Great Seal of Missouri, was a member of the Missouri House of Representatives from 1823 to 1826 and the Attorney General of Missouri from 1826 to 1836.

The original State Seal no longer exists as it was destroyed when the Capital burned in Jefferson City in 1837.

The first seal had the bears looking towards the viewer and this is shown in the mosaic on the Monroe County Courthouse rotunda floor which was constructed in 1867 and also in old engravings of the design shown opposite. Other modifications were subsequently made to the first design.

Description, Symbols, Icons and Emblems of the Missouri State Seal
The description and meaning of the symbols, icons and emblems are as follows:

The top of the seal displays a canopy of 23 small stars representing each of the other states of the Union when Missouri became the 24th state - the large star represents Missouri

Wells wrote that "The large star ascending from a cloud into a constellation of 23 smaller stars indicates the rise of Missouri into the ... union of 23 states and the difficulty attending to it ... the Missouri Compromise."

The barred front facing helmet above the shield represents state sovereignty.

Judge Robert William Wells said that this "indicates that the state, although sovereign as to some matters is not sovereign as to all; the helmet being that of a prince but not that of a king."

The origins of heraldry and blazoning arms was due to the need to distinguish participants in combat when their faces were hidden by helmets.  In heraldry, a gold barred helmet facing front which was the sole prerogative of royalty.
The original design (as displayed in mosaic in the Monroe County Courthouse) showed the helmet with an olive branch on either side, symbolizing peace. The current design shows an indeterminate foliage.
The two powerful grizzly bears on either side of the shield symbolize the state's strength and the courage of its citizens.
In heraldry a bear is a symbol of strength, cunning, ferocity in the protection of one's kindred
The center of the design is encircled by a belt inscribed with the motto.
The central design contains the Great Seal of the United States on the right side
The crescent symbolizes Missouri at the time of its statehood. A state of small population and wealth which would increase like the new or crescent moon
In heraldry a crescent symbolizes the hope of greater glory
The seal is kept and used as required by the Constitution and laws of the state.

The Missouri Flyer - Buffalo or Bear?
This is an early flyer depicting the design of the Missouri seal. The pictures are interesting as they depict the early inhabitants of the  state. On one side are images of Native Americans with a horse pulling a travois. On the other side is an early pioneer in a hunting scene.

Missouri-seal-1876Buffalo or Bear?

The somewhat blurred image on the seal section appears to be a buffalo, rather than a bear. We have been unable to confirm that is the case, but this would make sense given the number of bison who once roamed Missouri.


Missouri State Seal for Kids

Meaning & Symbolism of the seal
"The Welfare of the People is the Highest Law"
Find the meaning of the Great State Seal
Meaning, History, Seal Symbols and Origin for kids
Meaning, symbols, design, description and history
Interesting facts & picture of the Great State Seal
Official Nickname "Show Me State" for kids

Meaning of the Missouri State Seal for schools, kids and children

Missouri State Seal for Kids

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