We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What Is the History of the State Seal of Hawaii?

By Jennifer Voight
Updated: May 17, 2024

The history of the state seal of Hawaii is representative of the island group’s transition from a tribal monarchy to a US state under the rule of a democratic government. Based on the royal coat of arms of the Republic of Hawaii, the state seal of Hawaii retains a similar layout of two figures facing an emblem, but with symbolic changes that represent Hawaii’s new status as a state. A precursor to the current state seal of Hawaii was designed in 1895 by Viggo Jacobsen, although at that time it was used for the Republic of Hawaii, as it was known. The final design was completed when Hawaii achieved statehood in 1959.

Several design elements of the state seal of Hawaii were retained from the royal coat of arms that served as its inspiration. One feature that remained unchanged was the shield that hovers between the two figures on both the emblem and seal. Divided into four quadrants, two opposing quadrants contain stripes of Hawaii’s state flag and represent the eight major Hawaiian islands. The remaining quadrants feature a ball and rod shape, or poululu, that was a royal symbol of power. Both the royal coat of arms and the state seal of Hawaii contain the state motto, “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono,” which translates as, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”

Prior to Hawaii’s statehood, the islands were under the rule of a kingdom with strict laws. The punishment for any violation was to pay with one’s life. Hawaii’s establishment as a US state meant that Hawaiians would be under a democratic form of government. This was symbolized by a red phoenix added below the shield to represent new life from ashes. Similarly, a rising sun replaced the crown above the shield, symbolizing the replacement of the monarchy with a new day of freedom.

The two warriors on the coat of arms were replaced with images of unity and freedom. King Kamehameha, who unified the Hawaiian islands under one rule during his reign from 1782 until his death in 1819, appears to the left of the shield. A woman representing Liberty appears to the right of the shield, holding a Hawaiian flag.

Several additions were made to the seal of Hawaii when it became a state. The words “State of Hawaii” were added above the year 1959, for the year Hawaii was made a US state. Finally, a star was added to the center of the shield to symbolize Hawaii as the 50h US state and the 50h star to appear on the US flag.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
America Explained, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

America Explained, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.