The official state motto of Louisiana, "Union, Justice, Confidence," was adopted in 1902. No one is sure how this specific motto came to be chosen for the state of Louisiana, but its theme of unity is reflected in the official mottoes of several other American states. The state motto of Louisiana is said to reflect the aspirations and ideals of its citizens. The motto reflects the unity of purpose presumably experienced by all of Louisiana's residents, and their collective confidence in the power of justice. The state motto of Louisiana appears on the state's flag, and on its great seal.
The great seal of the state of Louisiana was adopted on 30 April 1902, by which time the state's motto had already been chosen. Credit for the design of the Louisiana state seal, and for the choice of state motto, usually goes to Governor William Wright Heard, who was in office at the time. It is believed that Heard himself chose the state motto based on his own concept of what ideals are important to sustain a functioning state government.
The motto of Louisiana appears on the state's current flag and seal accompanied by the brown pelican. This bird, which has long been used to represent the perceived ideals of the citizens of Louisiana, is the state's officially recognized bird symbol. The use of the brown pelican in Louisiana's official symbolism is said to date back to the first years of the 19th century, when the state's first governor, William C.C. Claiborne, began using it as a territorial and, later, state symbol. Popular mythology at the time stated that the brown pelican would habitually feed its young on its own flesh when other sources of food could not be found. Governor Claiborne is said to have admired the symbolism of this mythological act so much that he decided the brown pelican should represent the state of Louisiana and its residents.
Governor Heard is believed to have carried on this symbolic tradition when he chose the brown pelican to appear on the state's great seal in 1902. The pelican on the seal is depicted in the act of nurturing its young by feeding them scraps of its own flesh. The state motto of Louisiana appears on the seal with the words "Union" and "Justice" emblazoned above the pelican, and the word "Justice" written beneath. On the state flag of Louisiana, the motto appears written on a ribbon beneath the pelican and her chicks.