The Great Seal of the American State of South Carolina was adopted in 1776. The Seal Of South Carolina is made up of two elliptical areas, linked by branches of the palmetto tree. The image on the left is dominated by a tall palmetto tree and an oak tree, fallen and broken. This scene represents the battle fought on June 28, 1776, between defenders of the unfinished fort on Sullivan’s Island, and the British Fleet. The state Seal Of South Carolina was the first of South Carolina’s state symbols.
It was first used in 1777, although it looked different then. At that time, it was two-sided, and impressions of the two sides would be put into wax so they could be affixed onto documents. This proved difficult, so eventually, the two sides were combined so that they fit next to each other on a one-sided seal, which is what we have now. The left oval was originally the front of the Seal Of South Carolina, and it has the first of our two state mottos on it: “Animis Opibusque Parati,” which is Latin for “Prepared in Mind and Resources.” The picture is of a palmetto tree and represents a battle victory against the British at present-day Fort Moultrie during the Revolutionary War.
The right oval was originally the reverse side of the Seal Of South Carolina, and it has our second state motto: “Dum Spiro Spero,” which is Latin for “While I Breathe, I Hope.” The picture on this side of the seal ties in with the motto, because the woman pictured is the Roman goddess Spes, who was the goddess of hope. The Great Seal of South Carolina was “set” or “affixed” to the Ordinance of Secession of December 20, 1860, at Secession Hall in Charleston shortly after 7:00 p.m., following which convention delegates signed it, including Robert Barnwell Rhett, as some three thousand South Carolinians watched enthusiastically the proclamation of South Carolina as “a separate, independent nationality.