The History of the Great Seal of Arizona

The Arizona Great Seal is a constant presence on official state documents, including election pamphlets, driver’s licenses, tax returns and stationary.  You might not be aware; however, that the Great Seal, which proudly stands as a symbol of Arizona, has undergone several changes over the years with one primary exception, the inclusion of “Ditat Deus,” translating to God enriches.

The History of The Great Seal of Arizona

In 1863, then President Lincoln approved a bill that appointed a temporary government within the Arizona Territory. Former businessman and journalist, Richard McCormick, was appointed by President Lincoln to serve as Secretary.  McCormick took it upon himself to create a seal for the territory in order to signify and authenticate documents. The first attempt at the seal featured the  Spartan artwork of a bearded miner alongside a pick and wheelbarrow, standing in front of two bare mountains. In the bottom was the phrase “Ditat Deus” or God enriches, which mentioned above is the primary element of the original seal that remains today.

The Arizona State Seal Today

The official state seal of Arizona was officially approved by the Arizona Constitution, Article 22, Section 20 in 1911. Today’s state seal features the state’s key enterprises, with a background of mountains and the sun rising promisingly behind their peaks. On the right side, sitting below the mountains, is a dam and reservoir, in the middle are orchards and irrigated fields and in the front are grazing cattle. The left side features a mountainside with a quartz mill, a miner with a shovel and pick and all this sits under the historic motto God enriches or “Ditat Deus.”

How The Secretary of State Office Has Improved The Seal

Although the Arizona Constitution describes a black and white seal, state agencies have been using a colorized version for over 25 years. The seal was electronically redrawn in the mid-2000s by the Secretary of State’s office. Research had discovered that the key details of the seal were lost over time and the updated electronic version added shadows and improved certain elements of the seal to ensure all the original details are visible. Secretary of State Michele Reagan authorized the release of this updated color version in 2015. The idea was to combine the tradition of the old favorite seal while updating the color palette for more detailed viewing.

State Seal Use and Restrictions

The Great Seal of Arizona is a sign of authority and authenticity. As such, not just anyone can apply the seal to their documents. The Secretary of State office is required by law to be the official keeper of the state seal. Michele Reagan as Secretary of State is the official custodian, meaning she grants or denies permission to use the Great Seal. If a person uses the seal without getting permission or after their request to utilize the Seal was denied, they are guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor.

How to Ask for Permission to Use The Great Seal

Any person who wishes to use the state seal can contact the Secretary of State’s office at (602) 542-4285 for more information. Or they formulate their request in writing and send it to the following:

The Honorable Michele Reagan

Office of the Secretary of State

1700 W. Washington St, Fl. 7

Phoenix, AZ 85007


History of the Seal:


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