The original state seal of Florida was designed in 1865 and approved by the state legislature, which voted the round seal not be larger than a silver dollar. The circular seal showed sunbeams in the background, with a steamboat and cocoa tree. It also depicted a Native American woman tossing flower blossoms near the shoreline. The image is surrounded by the words, “The Great Seal of the State of Florida — In God We Trust,” which represents the state motto.
Revisions to the state seal of Florida occurred in 1970 to make the Indian woman more representative of the Seminole tribe native to the state. The earlier image resembled a Plains Indian. This redesign also removed a headdress shown on the earlier seal because only male Seminole Indians wore these accessories. The palmetto tree replaced the cocoa on the state seal of Florida, since it was deemed the official state tree.
It was 20 years after Florida became a state in 1845 that a state seal of Florida was adopted. Nicknamed “The Sunshine State,” Florida became a territory in 1821, when Tallahassee was chosen as its capital. It became the 27th state much later.
The state seal of Florida also appears on its flag, in the middle of a red cross on a white background, adopted in 1900. Its state bird is the mockingbird, and the manatee is designated Florida’s marine mammal. The saltwater mammal is the dolphin, and the saltwater fish is represented by the sailfish. Other official state symbols include the orange blossom as the state flower and agate coral as the state stone.
Calusa Indians inhabited Florida thousands of years ago, before European explorers discovered the state. Juan Ponce de Leon recorded the first detailed account when he landed in Florida in 1513. He named the spot La Florida, which represented the feast of flowers in Spain in the spring. Other explorers soon followed, seeking gold, with some traveling all the way to Mexico. The French arrived in 1562 and began establishing communities.
William D. Moseley became the first governor of Florida in the late 19th century. The state began developing a reputation for agriculture, especially cattle. Phosphate and sponge industries also sprung up, which attracted immigrants from other areas. Today, Florida is known for its citrus industry and tourism. Orange juice represents the state beverage.