The Alabama State Seal, called the Great Seal, was first designed in 1817 by the governor of the Alabama Territory and later the first governor of the state, William Wyatt Bibb. The seal prominently features the major rivers of Alabama.
The Great Seal of Alabama was redesigned in 1868 featuring an American bald eagle and again in 1939 returning to a map of the state with its principal rivers. In 1817, when William Wyatt Bibb was appointed Governor of the brand new Alabama territory, Bibb realized he needed an official seal for his commissions and other state papers.
With permission of President James Monroe and law adopted by Congress, the territorial governor was authorized to select a design for a seal. Governor Bibb believed the best seal would be a map of the territory showing its rivers. It also showed the territories (now states) surrounding it. By 1819, when Alabama became a state, the territorial seal was designated by the first legislature as the state seal.
Alabama state seal remained unchanged for 50 years, until the Reconstruction period when a Republican-dominated legislature had a new seal made. It consisted of an eagle perched upon the shield of the United States seal. In the beak of the eagle was a banner reading “Here We Rest”. Around the new emblem were the words “Alabama Great Seal”.
This Alabama State seal was used for 71 years to authenticate official documents and letterhead. In 1939, a bill was introduced by the legislature to restore the original seal as the Great Seal of Alabama. When the bill came up it was approved unanimously by the Senate and the House. Governor Frank M. Dixon approved the new law and the Secretary of State had a new Great Seal created. Act no. 20.