The Great Seal of New Mexico was adopted in 1913. New Mexico‘s first seal was designed shortly after the organization of the Territorial Government, in 1851. The original seal has long since disappeared, possibly as part of the artifacts placed into the cornerstone of the Soldiers Monument in the Santa Fe Plaza. Imprints of the original Seal of New Mexico show it consisted of the American Eagle, clutching an olive branch in one talon, and three arrows in the other. Along the outside rim was the inscription “Great Seal of the Territory of New Mexico.”
In the early 1860s, an unknown official adopted a new Seal of New Mexico, using a design similar to today’s Great Seal. It featured the American Bald Eagle, its outstretched wings shielding a smaller Mexican Eagle, symbolizing the change of sovereignty from Mexico to the United States in 1846. The smaller Mexican Brown, or Harpy, Eagle grasped a snake in its beak and cactus in its talons, portraying an ancient Aztec myth. The outside rim of the seal contained the words “Territory of New Mexico,” with the date of 1850 along the bottom in Roman numerals (MDCCCL).
It is not clear when the Latin phrase “Crescit Eundo” was added to the Seal of New Mexico, but in 1882, Territorial Secretary W.G. Ritch embellished the earlier design with the phrase, which translates as “it grows as it goes”. This version of the seal was adopted as New Mexico’s “official seal and coat of arms” by the Territorial Legislature in 1887. When New Mexico became a state in 1912, the Legislature named a Commission for the purpose of designing a State Seal. In the meantime, the Legislature authorized interim use of the Territorial Seal with the words “Great Seal of the State of New Mexico” substituted.
In the year and a half it took the Commission to decide to adopt the State Seal New Mexico uses today, the Legislature authorized interim use of the Territorial Seal with the words “Great Seal of the State of New Mexico” substituted. Seal of New Mexico evolved over time with people adding symbolic pieces to it as they went along, much like the growth of the state itself, or even the Latin motto now adorning the seal “It grows as it goes.” It was and is a work in progress, growing as it goes, just like the State it represents.