State Symbols of Missouri
The Great Seal of Missouri
The Great Seal was designed by Judge Robert William Wells and adopted by the Missouri General Assembly on January 11, 1822. The center of the state seal is composed of two parts. On the right is the United States coat-of-arms containing the bald eagle. In its claws are arrows and olive branches, signifying that the power of war and peace lies with the U.S. federal government. On the left side of the shield, the state side, are a grizzly bear and a silver crescent moon. The crescent symbolizes Missouri at the time of the state seal's creation, a state of small population and wealth which would increase like the new or crescent moon; it also symbolizes the "second son," meaning Missouri was the second state formed out of the Louisiana Territory.
This shield is encircled by a belt inscribed with the motto, "United we stand, divided we fall," which indicates Missouri's advantage as a member of the United States. The two grizzlies on either side of the shield symbolize the state's strength and its citizens' bravery. The bears stand atop a scroll bearing the state motto, "Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto," which means, "Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law." Below this scroll are the Roman numerals for 1820, the year Missouri began its functions as a state.
The helmet above the shield represents state sovereignty, and the large star atop the helmet surrounded by 23 smaller stars signified Missouri's status as the 24th state. The cloud around the large star indicates the problems Missouri had in becoming a state. The whole state seal is enclosed by a scroll bearing the words, "The Great Seal of the State of Missouri." (RSMo.10.060)