The Great Seal of the State of Iowa was created in 1847 (one year after Iowa became a U.S. state) and depicts a citizen soldier standing in a wheat field surrounded by symbols including farming, mining, and transportation with the Mississippi River in the background. An eagle overhead bears the state motto.
The two-inch diameter seal pictures a citizen soldier standing in a wheat field, holding an American flag, surrounded by farming and industrial tools. A cultivator rests in the field behind him, smoke trails from the chimney of a small cabin, and a ship steams through the water of the Mississippi River in the background. An eagle is overhead, holding in its beak a scroll bearing the state motto, “Our liberties we prize, and the rights we will maintain.”
The motto was the work of a three-man Senate committee and was incorporated into the design of the Seal of Iowa at their suggestion. Seal of Iowa was approved by the First Iowa General Assembly on February 25, 1847. Since that date, there have been no revisions to the code governing this Seal.
The Seal of Iowa is kept and used by the Governor for official purposes. Because the seal was not illustrated in the Iowa code, over the years there have been several variations with differences in color and arrangement of objects. The Seal of Iowa was not universally beloved when introduced, it was considered cluttered and ungainly, and the older Territorial Seal was utilized in several instances on official publications into the 1860s, including official currency.
“Gov. Lowe, who, with every other gentleman of refinement, cannot but regret the bad taste that conceived and adopted the conglomerate devices of our present ‘Great Seal’. The Great Seal of Iowa cannot be used without the permission of the Governor. The state seal is retained in the custody of and under the control of the Governor, who uses the seal for official documents and functions.