The Great Seal of the State of Tennessee is the official insignia of the U.S. state of Tennessee. An official Great Seal of Tennessee is provided for in the Constitution of the State of Tennessee of February 6, 1796. However, the design was not undertaken until September 25, 1801. The Roman numerals XVI, representing Tennessee as the 16th state to enter the United States, is found at the top of the seal. The images of a plow, a bundle of wheat, a cotton plant, and the word “Agriculture” below the three images occupying the center of the Seal of Tennessee.
Wheat and cotton were and still are, important cash crops grown in the state. The lower half of the Seal of Tennessee was originally supposed to display a boat and a boatman with the word “Commerce” underneath but was changed to a flat-bottomed-riverboat without a boatman subsequently. River trade was important to the state due to three large rivers: the Tennessee River, the Cumberland River, and the Mississippi River; the boat continues to represent the importance of commerce to the State.
Surrounding the images are the words “The Great Seal of the State of Tennessee”, and “Feb. 6th, 1796”. The day and month have been dropped from later designs. In 1987, the Tennessee General Assembly adopted a standardized version of the seal that updated its look and appearance. The Seal of Tennessee is kept by the Secretary of State and the Governor for official use on state documents, like legislation, commissions, and proclamations.