What Is the State Motto of Arizona?
The state motto of Arizona is "Ditat Deus," which is Latin for "God enriches." The motto is incorporated into the state seal of Arizona. While the seal and other state emblems have evolved greatly over the years, the state motto has remained consistent since 1863. Richard Cunningham McCormick, a publisher and statesman who served as the first Secretary of the Arizona Territory and Arizona's second governor, created the motto and the original seal.
George Shankle, Ph.D., in his work "State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers, and Other Symbols" postulated that Arizona's "Ditat Deus" is probably taken from the Latin Vulgate translation of Genesis 14:23. In this passage, the patriarch Abram denies assistance from the wealthy king of Sodom and claims his reliance on the blessings of God. The actual phrase Ditat Deus appears nowhere in the Bible, but a cursory history of Arizona from a desert to a state reveals progress and enrichment.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Richard McCormick, originally from New York City, to oversee the newly founded territory of Arizona. One of McCormick's first efforts was to create an official seal, a necessity for authenticating legal territorial documents. The seal was emblazoned with two mountains towering behind a miner with a wheelbarrow, pick and spade. "Ditat Deus," later to become the official state motto of Arizona, hung across a banner over the scene. Critics derided McCormick's seal for its cartoon-like, comic-strip artwork and strong resemblance to the emblem on the Pioneer Baking Soda labels.
Over the years, the state seal was altered repeatedly. The miner disappeared then reappeared; a five-point buck, cactus and pine trees were added and then removed; shading for objects appeared on the wrong side of the objects, and overuse of shadows and colors marred the vista. Then in 1911, the Territory of Arizona adopted the official seal, state symbols and state motto as detailed in the Arizona Constitution, Article 22 Section 20.
According to the Arizona Constitution, the seal should include mountains, the sun, a reservoir and a dam in the background, and in the middle and foreground, orchards and cattle grazing in a field. It also depicts a miner on the middle left, standing before a quartz mill. The state motto should be at the top of the seal, which is surrounded by a band with the year the state was admitted to the US and the words "Great Seal of the State of Arizona."
Arizona was admitted in 1912 to the United States of America as the 48th state. "Ditat Deus" endured as the unofficial motto for the Arizona Territory and later became incorporated as the state motto of Arizona. Since admittance, the state of Arizona has flourished with improved irrigation, increase in population, and representation as one of the largest states in America. While Arizona and its seal have undergone numerous changes since 1863, the essential state motto of Arizona and its meaning remains clear: "Ditat Deus" &emdash; "God enriches."
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