THE GREAT SEAL OF WISCONSIN
Wisconsin has seen a multitude of seals that have been used from territorial times through to
the present. Even after Wisconsin gained statehood in 1848, one of the last
territorial seals was still in use. In fact, the first state seal that
Wisconsin used was simply the last territorial seal that had been modified to
say "State of Wisconsin" rather than "Territory of Wisconsin",
and carried the date of statehood, "May 29th, 1848", rather than the
date on the territorial seal,"Fourth of July, 1836".
The present Great Seal began taking shape in 1851 as Governor Nelson Dewey, and Chief
Justice of Wisconsin's Supreme Court, Edward Ryan, discussed designs that would
be appropriate. What they came up with was a basic design for a coat of arms to
be placed in the seal, surrounded by images and text representing the state.
Although the details have changed with the years, Wisconsin's current seal
adheres to their concept. The state's industry is depicted with images of a
plow, a pick and shovel, an arm and hammer, and an anchor. Wisconsin's
dedication to the Union is represented with a shield of thirteen vertical
stripes and the U.S. motto "E Pluribus Unum". The state's resources
are represented by a full cornucopia and a pyramid of pig lead. On either side
of the shield are a sailor and a yeoman, symbolizing the marine and land-based
labor force. Because Wisconsin is known as the "badger state", what
could be more appropriate than the badger over the shield? The state's motto,"Forward",
displays over these images, and under the words "Great Seal of the State of
Brought to you by members of Wisconsin
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