Historical armorial of U.S. states from 1876
Historical coats of arms of the U.S. states date back to the admission of the first states to the Union. Despite the widely accepted practice of determining early statehood from the date of ratification of the United States Constitution, many of the original colonies referred to themselves as states shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed on 4 July 1776. Committees of political leaders and intellectuals were established by state legislatures to research and propose a seal and coat of arms. Many of these members were signers of the Articles of Confederation, Declaration of Independence, and United States Constitution. Several of the earliest adopted state coats of arms and seals were similar or identical to their colonial counterparts.
State Arms of the Union, illustrated by Henry Mitchell and published by Louis Prang (known as the father of the lithographic industry), offers historically accurate renderings of the state's coats of arms as they existed in 1876. An accomplished engraver with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for 40 years, Mitchell was responsible for engraving several coats of arms for official state use as well as arms for well-known educational and philanthropic organizations. The illustrations are presented alongside proof impressions from the engraved dies used to print the state arms on the first issue of United States National Bank Notes.
- 1 Coat of arms
- 2 State Arms of the Union
- 3 State Arms depicted on United States banknotes
- 4 Historical coats of arms
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Coat of armsEdit
Arms versus sealEdit
A state coat of arms may exist independently of the seal, but the reverse is not generally the case. A seal contains a coat of arms or other devices whereas a state coat of arms constitutes the bulk of a seal, except for the wording identifying it as the "Great Seal of the State of..." A "seal" has been described as the design impressed on public or legislative official documents, whereas a coat of arms generally appears for illustrative purposes. Examples include flags and banners, and state militia uniform caps and buttons, as well as specifically-designed regimental coats of arms for U.S. Infantry Regiments, and National Guard units.
A coat of arms of a nation or state is usually the design or device of the obverse of its seal. It is an official emblem, mark of identification, and symbol of the authority of the government of a nation or state. A nation or state's coat of arms is oftentimes referred to as the national or state arms.
The design of a state coat of arms or seal has generally been authorized by a provision in the state constitution or a legislative act. In most instances a committee (more often than not consisting of three members) was appointed to study the issue, seek advice from qualified artists, historians, legal scholars, etc., and report back to the authorizing legislative body with a design for their approval. Historically, this committee has consisted of notable members of society and elected officials.
The first committee to design the Great Seal of the United States was appointed on 4 July 1776 by the Second Continental Congress and consisted of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson. Their design was rejected on 20 August 1776. The second committee (James Lovell, John Morin Scott, and William Churchill Houston) design met with the same fate. It was the third committee (Arthur Middleton, Elias Boudinot, John Rutledge, who consulted with William Barton) that submitted a design which was approved on 20 July 1782.
Individual states approached their coats of arms and seals in a similar manner (i.e., seeking direction from the statesmen and scholars of their community). A few of those involved in the design of state arms and seals include (but is not limited to): John Jay and Gouverneur Morris (New York); Francis Hopkinson (New Jersey); David Rittenhouse and George Clymer (Pennsylvania); and George Mason, Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin West, and Thomas Jefferson (Virginia).
An impression of the Great Seal of a state (or its coat of arms) has long been required on official documents ranging from deeds to legislative acts. It was the emblem that certified the authenticity of a given document or that the authority of the state was invested in said document. Judicial decisions upheld the need for a valid seal and/or coat of arms on notarized documents.[nb 1]
One of the more compelling legislative actions recognizing the legal importance/authority of the state seal and arms occurred in February 1873 when a joint session of the United States Congress refused to recognize Arkansas's electoral votes in the November 1872 presidential election. The official tally of the state's electoral votes was submitted with an invalid seal (bearing the coat of arms of the office of the Secretary of the State of Arkansas versus the seal of the state of Arkansas bearing the state arms).
Courts and state legislatures also opined on the inappropriate uses of state seals and arms. Most states barred their use for any kind of advertising.[nb 2] Reproduction for corporate use was similarly prohibited and such infractions were classified as offenses against public property. The 2003 Code of Federal Regulations pertaining to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives prohibits the use of state seals or coats of arms in product branding so as not to mislead the public into thinking that a commercial product has been endorsed by a government organization.
Instances of design inaccuraciesEdit
A state coat of arms provided an opportunity to convey the natural and industrial resources available to its residents. Common themes depicted in state arms include farming, industry, transportation (e.g., boats, trains, and wagons), and nature (e.g., sunsets and mountains). The Ohio and Indiana state arms depict fairly substantial mountains in the distance. In reality, the highest points in Ohio and Indiana are Campbell Hill (1,550 feet (470 m)) and Hoosier Hill (1,257 feet (383 m)) respectively.
The Florida state arms also depicts mountains in the distance but the highest point in the state is 345 feet (105 m) feet high. In addition to the distortion of local geography, the image also contains historically inaccurate information. The period depicted in the state arms (c. 1830) was a time when the local Seminole Native Americans were hostile toward white settlers; the warm greeting (e.g., flower petals strewn on the ground) offered by the Seminole to the arriving steam ship would have been highly improbable. Furthermore, the Seminole woman depicted would not have worn any headdress, particularly one of northern and western Seminole tribes.
State Arms of the UnionEdit
Published in 1876 by Louis Prang and illustrated by Henry Mitchell, State Arms of the Union contains a chromolithographed title page depicting the Great Seal of the United States and seven color plates with 45 state and territorial coats of arms. The book was likely published for the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.
Louis Prang was born 12 March 1824 in Breslau. At the age of 13 he began apprenticing for his father and learned to dye and print calico, as well as wood and metal engraving. Prang emigrated to Boston in 1850 and became an illustrator for a number of local publications. Starting a business partnership in 1856 to manufacture copper and lithographic plates, Prang became sole proprietor in 1860 and named the company L. Prang & Co. He specialized in color printing, more specifically “chromolithography” Prang spent over four decades studying and creating a standard of colors and engraved and printed maps, prints of contemporary celebrities, and color reproductions of famous works of art.
In 1875 Prang was responsible for introducing the Christmas card to America. He created an annual design competition for his Christmas cards (run between 1880 and 1884), and judges included John La Farge, Samuel Colman, Stanford White, and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Some of the notable winners included Elihu Vedder, Rosina Emmet Sherwood, Edwin Blashfield, Thomas Moran, and Will Hicok Low. Prang has become known as the "father of the American Christmas card", as well as the "father of the lithographic industry".
Henry Mitchell was born in New York in 1835 and went to school in Philadelphia. At the age of 10 he began working with his uncle to learn the trade of gem and steel engraving. By the age of 20 (1855), Mitchell had engraved the official seals for the Kingdom of Hawaii.
In 1868 Mitchell joined the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and for 40 years engraved stamped envelopes. Through his BEP work, Mitchell was also responsible for engraving the seal of the Secretary of the Navy and the Internal Revenue Service. He also engraved the state seals for Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. Outside of state and federal government engraving, Mitchell engraved the seals and coats of arms for many well-known institutions which include Harvard University, Society of the Cincinnati, and Boston Public Library. He engraved the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition award medal (1876) which was struck in the Philadelphia Mint. In 1891, Mitchell was invited by the Secretary of the Treasury to join a committee to evaluate the artistic design proposals for a new issue of U.S. coins. The two other members were Charles E. Barber, Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
State Arms depicted on United States banknotesEdit
The National Bank Act (12 Stat. 532) authorized the issue of a national currency. Historical vignettes on the front and back were the same by denomination (e.g., Landing of Columbus was on the reverse of all $5 notes) and the state coat of arms (located on the reverse left side) was coordinated with the geographic location of the issuing bank. Records do not clearly state who bore the responsibility for the design of the state arms (i.e., the U.S. Treasury Department, or the three bank note companies contracted for engraving and printing). It appears that the first dies (for New Jersey, Missouri, Minnesota, and Vermont) were completed by the American Bank Note Company by 9 October 1863 based on their own drawings. State arms appeared on the reverse of the Original and 1875 Series notes (first and second issue of the first design), and the 1882 Brown Back Series (the second design) of National Bank Notes.
|Connecticut||Colonial (1775)[nb 3]|
National (1863)[nb 4]
National (1864)[nb 4]
|Rhode Island||Colonial (1738)|
National (1863)[nb 4]
|South Carolina||Colonial (1778)|
National (1865)[nb 4]
Historical coats of armsEdit
The main table contains four columns. Location refers to either the territory or state and is linked to the most relevant article (e.g., Seal of... or Coat of arms of...). All but one of the illustrations are included in a relevant article. Coat of arms contains the State Arms of the Union illustrations. National Bank Note contains the state arms found on U.S. National Currency between 1863 and the 1890s. Information lists the date of statehood and/or territorial organic act date and the date the state or territorial arms were accepted by constitutional convention or legislative assembly.
|Location||Coat of arms[nb 5]||National Bank Note||Information[nb 6]|
|Alabama||Statehood – 14 December 1819|
Arms – 29 December 1868
|Arkansas||Statehood – 15 June 1836|
Arms – 3 May 1864
|California||Statehood – 9 September 1850|
Arms – 2 October 1849
|Colorado||Statehood – 1 August 1876|
Arms – 13 June 1877
|Connecticut||Statehood – 9 January 1788|
Arms – October 1842
|Dakota Territory||Organic Act – 2 March 1861|
Arms – 3 January 1863
|Delaware||Statehood – 7 December 1787|
Arms – 18 January 1847
|District of Columbia||Organic Act – 21 February 1790|
Arms – 3 August 1871
|Florida||Statehood – 3 March 1845|
Arms – 6 August 1868
|Georgia||Statehood – 2 January 1788|
Arms – 8 February 1799
|Idaho Territory||Organic Act – 3 March 1863|
Arms – 13 March 1866
Statehood – 3 July 1890
|Illinois||Statehood – 3 December 1818|
Arms – 7 March 1867
|Indiana||Statehood – 11 December 1816|
Arms – 13 December 1816
|Iowa||Statehood – 28 December 1846|
Arms – 25 February 1847
|Kansas||Statehood – 29 January 1861|
Arms – 25 May 1861[nb 7]
|Kentucky||Statehood – 1 June 1792|
Arms – 20 December 1792[nb 8]
|Louisiana||Statehood – 30 April 1812|
Arms – 23 December 1813[nb 9][nb 10]
|Maine||Statehood – 15 March 1820|
Arms – 9 June 1820
|Maryland||Statehood – 28 April 1788|
Arms – 18 March 1876[nb 11][nb 12]
|Massachusetts||Statehood – 6 February 1788|
Arms – 13 December 1780
|Michigan||Statehood – 26 January 1837|
Arms – 2 June 1835
|Minnesota||Statehood – 11 May 1858|
Arms – 16 July 1858
|Mississippi||Statehood – 10 December 1817|
Arms – 6 February 1894[nb 13]
|Missouri||Statehood – 10 August 1821|
Arms – 11 January 1822[nb 14]
|Montana Territory||Organic Act – 26 May 1864|
Arms – 9 February 1865[nb 15]
Statehood – 8 November 1889
|Nebraska||Statehood – 1 March 1867|
Arms – 15 June 1867[nb 16]
|Nevada||Statehood – 31 October 1864|
Arms – 24 February 1866
|New Hampshire||Statehood – 21 June 1788|
Arms – 12 February 1785
|New Jersey||Statehood – 18 December 1787|
Arms – 10 September 1776[nb 17]
|New Mexico Territory||Organic Act – 9 September 1850|
Arms – 1 February 1887
Statehood – 6 January 1912
|New York||Statehood – 26 July 1788|
Arms – 27 March 1809
|North Carolina||Statehood – 21 November 1789|
Arms – 1835
|North Dakota||Statehood – 2 November 1889|
Arms – 1 October 1889
|Ohio||Statehood – 1 March 1803|
Arms – 1 March 1803[nb 20]
|Oregon||Statehood – 14 February 1859|
Arms – 2 June 1859
|Pennsylvania||Statehood – 12 December 1787|
Arms – 17 March 1875
|Rhode Island||Statehood – 29 May 1790|
Arms – 24 February 1875[nb 21]
|South Carolina||Statehood – 23 May 1788|
Arms – 2 April 1776
|South Dakota||Statehood – 2 November 1889|
Arms – 1 October 1889
|Tennessee||Statehood – 1 June 1796|
Arms – 24 April 1802[nb 23]
|Texas||Statehood – 29 December 1845|
Arms – 25 January 1839
|Utah Territory||Organic Act – 9 September 1850|
Arms – 9 September 1850
Statehood – 4 January 1896
|Vermont||Statehood – 4 March 1791|
Arms – 20 February 1779[nb 24]
|Virginia||Statehood – 25 June 1788|
Arms – 1776[nb 25][nb 26]
|Washington||Organic Act – 2 March 1853|
Arms – 28 February 1854
|West Virginia||Statehood – 20 June 1863|
Arms – 26 September 1863[nb 28]
|Wisconsin||Statehood – 29 May 1848|
Arms – 29 December 1851
|Wyoming Territory||Organic Act – 25 July 1868|
Statehood – 10 July 1890
Missing territorial or state coats of armsEdit
When State Arms of the Union was published in 1876, some existing arms were not included (e.g., Arizona and Washington Territory). At the time, Alaska was classified as the Department of Alaska (1867–84) and became the District of Alaska (1884–1912) before becoming the Territory of Alaska (1912–59). The Alaska territorial seal was designed in 1910 and adopted in 1913. On 3 January 1959 Alaska became the 49th U.S. State. The Oklahoma Territory (1890–1907) Organic Act was approved on 2 May 1890, and a territorial seal was adopted on 10 January 1893. Hawaii, formerly the Kingdom of Hawaii (1795–1893), Republic of Hawaii (1894–98), and then Territory of Hawaii (1898–1959) became the 50th U.S. State on 21 August 1959. None of the territories or states mentioned above had a coat of arms represented on national currency.
- Tickner et al. v. Roberts, 11 La. 14 (Louisiana Supreme Court March 1837) ("...notarial instruments were required to be authenticated by a seal, containing the coat of arms of the territory, the name and surname of the notary, his official capacity, and the place in which he exercised his office...the protest in this case, lacking the seal, which the law of that State prescribed, it appears to us, ought not to be received in evidence in our courts."). .
- For example, see Commonwealth v. R.I. Sherman Manufacturing Company, 189 Mass. 76 (Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court 8 Sep 1905) ("The Massachusetts statute prohibiting the use of its arms or seal for advertising or commercial purposes is not in conflict with the clause of the Constitution of the United States investing Congress with power to regulate commerce among the several states"). .
- Although the pictured example is from a 1776 colonial note, the arms depicted was designed and adopted on 25 October 1711.
- Although the example used is a Series of 1882 Brown Back, the coat of arms on the first issue 1860s notes used the same engraved dies for the arms.
- Any missing images in this column indicates that at that time of publication (1876) a given territory had not attained statehood and/or did not have an official territorial coat of arms.
- The date listed for the adoption of the state arms refers to the design illustrated in State Arms of the Union. Column sort function is chronological based on the date of statehood (ratification of the U.S. Constitution) or territorial status (Organic Act).
- The Kansas state coat of arms on the back of the 1882BB was engraved by Timothy House of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
- The Kentucky coat of arms on the back of the 1882BB was engraved by Alfred Jones of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
- The illustrated Louisiana coat of arms represents a small design change in 1864, but the concept and design elements were in place since 1813.
- The Louisiana coat of arms on the back of the 1882BB was engraved by Louis Delnoce of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
- The illustrated coat of arms of Maryland was the tenth version of the seal, and a restoration to the description offered by Lord Baltimore on 12 August 1648).
- The Maryland coat of arms on the back of the 1882BB was engraved by W.W. Rice of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
- In 1861 Mississippi adopted a coat of arms and state flag. However, in 1865 the approval was rescinded leaving Mississippi without official state arms until 1894. On 6 February 1894 the proposed design for the state coat of arms was approved.
- The Missouri seal and arms were designed by Judge Robert William Wells.
- According to the State Constitution of Montana, in the event of a transition from a Territorial to State government, the Territorial Seal would remain effective until expressly changed by legislative action.
- The illustrated arms represent the change from the territorial to state arms. However, the BEP engraved arms were never updated.
- New Jersey coat of arms was designed by Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere.
- The New Mexico coat of arms (territorial or state) was never used on National Bank Notes.
- North Dakota was admitted to the United States on 2 November 1889 (after the 1876 publication of the State Arms of the Union).
- While the seal of Ohio had experienced several unauthorized varieties in use, in 1868 legislature reverted the official design to the initial seal from the state constitution of 1803.
- The Rhode Island state coat of arms on the back of the 1882BB was engraved by Timothy House of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
- South Dakota was admitted to the United States on 2 November 1889 (after the 1876 publication of the State Arms of the Union).
- The Tennessee state coat of arms on the back of the 1882BB was engraved by Timothy House of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
- On 25 November 1862, Vermont legislature formally recognized the existing seal and coat of arms.
- The coat of arms was engraved in Paris and not ready until 4 September 1779.
- The Virginia coat of arms on the back of the 1882BB was engraved by James Bannister of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
- The Washington Territory seal was authorized (but never described) during the first session of the Territorial Legislature on 28 February 1854 The coat of arms appearing on National currency was a new design adopted after statehood.
- Drawings by Joseph H. Diss Debar.
- Pinnock, William (1840). A Catechism of Heraldry: Explaining the Nature and Use of Arms and Armoury. Whittaker and Co. p. 3.
- Clark, Hugh; Wormull, Thomas (1854). An Introduction to Heraldry. Henry Washbourne & Co. p. 1.
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- Nainfa, John A. (1909). Costume of Prelates of the Catholic Church: According to Roman Etiquette. John Murphy Company. p. 139.
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- Tannehill, Joseph W. (1917). Ohio Interrogation Points. Vic Donahey (Auditor of the State). pp. 19–20.
- Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (1985). State of Wisconsin Blue Book (1985-1986). Department of Administration (Wisconsin). pp. 958–960.
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- Harris, John T. (1916). West Virginia Legislative Handbook and Manual and Official Register. The Tribune Printing Co. pp. 350–51.
- Utah Military Department (1902). Regulations for the National Guard of Utah. p. 79.
- Adjutant General's Office (1901). Rules and Regulations Governing the Kansas National Guard. W.Y. Morgan, State Printer. p. 108.
- Swinton, William (1870). History of the Seventh Regiment, National Guard, State of New York. Fields, Osgood, & Co. p. 3.
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- Journal of the Thirteenth Senate of the State of New Jersey. Morris R. Hamilton. 1857. p. 45.
- Evans, 1910, p. 31.
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- Counting Electoral Votes: Proceedings and Debates of Congress Relating to Counting the Electoral Votes. Government Printing Office. 1876. p. 407.
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- Annual Report of the Director of the Mint. Government Printing Office. 1891. p. 70.
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- Zieber, 1895, p. 117.
- Zieber, 1895, p. 112.
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- Shankle, 1941, p. 184.
- Zieber, 1895, p. 118.
- Organic Acts for the Territories of the United States. Government Printing Office. 1900. p. 3.
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- An Act to Authorize... the Great Seal... Laws of the State of Delaware. 10. S. Kimmey (Printer). 1847. p. 106.
- Shankle, 1941, p. 189.
- Shankle, 1941, p. 190.
- Zieber, 1895, p. 127.
- Leeson, Michael A. (1885). History of Montana. Warner, Beers & Company. pp. 235–37.
- The Coat of Arms of Idaho. Journal of the Fourth Session of the Council of Idaho Territory. Idaho "Statesman" Publishing Company Printers. 1867. pp. 175–76.
- Shankle, 1941, p. 192.
- Zieber, 1895, p. 129.
- The Great Seals of Iowa. The Annals of Iowa. 11. Historical Department of Iowa. 1915. p. 576.
- Shankle, 1941, p. 194.
- Hessler, 1993, p. 175.
- Zieber, 1895, p. 131.
- Hessler, 1993, p. 180.
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- Bateman, Wilfred (1902). The Great Seal of Maryland. Maryland Manual. Wm. J. C. Dulany Co. p. 100.
- Hessler, 1993, p. 250.
- Willson, 1864, p. 99.
- Zieber, 1895, p. 144.
- The State Seal of Minnesota. The Legislative Manual of the State of Minnesota. Minnesota Secretary of State. 1907. pp. 9–10.
- Stone, J.M. (1894). Eighteenth Day. Mississippi Legislature (House). Clarion-Ledger Publishing Company. pp. 194–195.
- Stone, J.M. (1894). Thirty-First Day. Mississippi Legislature (House). Clarion-Ledger Publishing Company. p. 351.
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- The Statutes of Nebraska. Culver, Page & Hoyne. 1867. pp. 863–864.
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- Hammond, Otis G. (1916). History of the Seal and Flag of the State of New Hampshire. State of New Hampshire. p. 31.
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- An Act… Authorizing the making [of] a new Great Seal... Laws of the State of New York. 5. Websters and Skinner. 1809. p. 504.
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- Report of the Commissioners to Correct the Coat of Arms of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Miscellaneous Documents Read in the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 3. B.F. Meyers, State Printer. 1875. p. 1113.
- Shankle, 1941, p. 210.
- The Seals of South Carolina. South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine. 7. South Carolina Historical Society. 1906. p. 225.
- Constitution of the State of South Dakota. Statutes of the State of South Dakota. 1. H.B. Parsons. 1901. p. 49.
- Garrett, W.R.; Bass, John M. (1901). The Great Seal of the State of Tennessee. The American Historical Magazine. 6. Peabody Normal College. p. 210.
- Shankle, 1941, p. 213.
- Zieber, 1895, p. 183.
- Shankle, 1941, p. 215.
- An Act Establishing the State Arms, Seal and Flag. The Acts and Resolves Passed by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont. 1862. pp. 30–31.
- Zieber, 1895, p. 191.
- Hessler, 1993, p. 42.
- Statutes of the Territory of Washington. Geo. B. Goudy, Public Printer. 1855. p. 379.
- Zieber, 1895, p. 193.
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