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What Is the State Motto of Georgia?

Dan Harkins
Updated May 17, 2024
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The southern state of Georgia, nicknamed "The Peach State," has more than one motto, though one is much more accepted than the other. Many believe the state motto of Georgia is "Wisdom, Justice, Moderation," since that straightforward message appears on the side of the state's two-sided state seal, which has remained unchanged since 1799. The other side of the seal, though, has the inscription "Agriculture and Commerce," offering a choice of mottoes.

When early state legislators approved Georgia's two-sided seal on 8 February 1799, succinct instructions were laid out regarding its appearance. The front of the seal depicts a three-columned structure holding up the state's "Constitution." Each pillar is decorated with a banner: "Wisdom," "Justice" and "Moderation." The three pillars also represent the three established branches of state and federal government — the legislative, judicial and executive branches, respectively.

Historians point to Plato as the source of the chief state motto of Georgia. The Greek philosopher wrote in Republic that these pillars, along with "Courage," form the basic construction of civilized government. Though courage is not represented by a pillar or by name, a single armed soldier, standing at attention between "Justice" and "Moderation" is said to represent this other quality.

The other side of the seal, however, boldly proclaims "Agriculture and Commerce" around the perimeter. For this reason, many believe this is another of Georgia's mottoes, even though Tennessee has chosen this for its official motto. At the center of this proclamation on the back of the seal is a picture depicting a tall ship bearing a U.S. flag and two smaller expedition boats, with a farmer and distant lumberyard beside them.

No official state motto of Georgia was actually selected, however. In fact, just a few dozen states have an official motto. The only change that has occurred to Georgia's state seal since 1799 was in 1914, when legislators changed the date on both sides of the seal to read "1776" — the year of American independence. Until then, the seal read "1799," for when the state joined the union.

The state motto of Georgia from the front of the seal, "Wisdom, Justice, Moderation," gains on its competition when the state flag is considered. Several versions of Georgia's state flag since 1902 have bore just the front of the state seal, along the left side in a field of blue. The current version of the flag, adopted in 2003, also bears the seal and accompanying motto. It also prominently states, "In God We Trust."

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Dan Harkins
By Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins, a former military professional, brings his diverse life experiences to his writing. After earning his journalism degree, he spent more than two decades honing his craft as a writer and editor for various publications. Dan’s debut novel showcases his storytelling skills and unique perspective by drawing readers into the story’s captivating narrative.
Discussion Comments
By Emilski — On Feb 10, 2012

@Izzy78 - What exactly is wrong with picking some type of food as the symbol of a state? I could understand if the states picked something that was found all throughout the region or the country, but the peach is recognized as being very prevalent in the state of Georgia and that is why they chose it to be their symbol.

I can understand that some symbols are seen as sacred, like the bald eagle is for the United States, but the sacredness of symbols are completely relative.

The people of Georgia have no problem eating their state symbol because they do not see it as wrong, even though it is the thing that defines them as a state.

I do not believe there is any problem picking food as the symbol of the state as long as it is something that is very important to the state and is related directly to the people of the state and has a significant impact on the state.

By Izzy78 — On Feb 10, 2012

@jcraig - I understand that peaches are very prevalent in the state of Georgia, but is it really something that needs to be seen as the symbol of the state?

I mean apples grow in Washington and Idaho both are known for growing apples and potatoes and this makes them unique as a state, but this is not their official mottoes or symbols. These states choose other things to use as their symbols that are not mass produced and simply things that people eat.

I am sorry but I have a problem with a state choosing something that is consumed as being the symbol of the state and wish they would pick something that may be seen as more sacred, like the Bald Eagle is to the United States.

By stl156 — On Feb 09, 2012

@jcraig - I totally agree with you. I have always liked the South Carolina state flag because it incorporates the palm tree in their flag and it is seen as the symbol of their state, much like the peach is used as the symbol of the state for Georgia.

Some people find it odd that states would choose fruit or tress as their state symbols, but they are both something that are prevalent in their states and add to the state culture. I find these symbols to be much better than other states that simply create a symbol or pick something that does not reflect the state culture at all.

By jcraig — On Feb 08, 2012

I always enjoyed the state motto of Georgia simply due to the fact that it is something that reflects the culture and society of Georgia.

Just like South Carolina, Georgia chooses to have something that is very prevalent in the state and have chosen something that naturally grows in the state as their state symbol.

I have always liked that states like Georgia picked things that were actually relevant to their state as their official state symbols and this is a far cry from other states that simply pick something that does not at all make their state unique or show anything related to the states culture that could be used as a symbol for people of the state to stand behind.

Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins, a former military professional, brings his diverse life experiences to his writing. After earning his...
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