Thursday, February 19, 2009

50 US mottos

(via: strange maps)

Click on the link above to see a description of each state by state. Here's a brief glimpse of a few...

California: Eureka - I Have Found It
This form of the Greek verb heuriskein means ‘I have discovered it’, and was most famously uttered by Archimedes, when he had his Aha-Erlebnis while sitting down in a bath, and simultaneously understanding that the volume of water displaced must be equal in volume of his submerged body. He is said to have been so psyched by his discovery that he ran through the streets of Syracuse naked.
The Californian moment of discovery celebrated by the state slogan is the striking of gold near Sutter’s Mill in 1848, giving rise to the Gold Rush. The Greek exclamation has been on California’s seal since 1849, but was only officialised in 1963. The town or Eureka uses the state seal as its city seal. Over 40 localities were similarly named, and the word has also been used in Australian gold rush, a few years after the Californian one.

Illinois: State Sovereignty, National Union
This state motto is indicative of the tensions that simmered for much of the 19th century between pro-slavery states (using state sovereignty as a justification for maintaining the institution of slavery) and anti-slavery states (seeing the abolition of slavery as a matter of overriding concern for the unity of the nation). The motto was decreed in 1819; Illinois has just entered the Union as a free state, straight after Mississippi, and just before Alabama (both slave states). The balancing act expressed by Illinois’ motto was somewhat upset when in 1867 (shortly after the Civil War) it was proposed to reverse the wording to National Union, State Sovereignty, the proposal was rejected, but the amended seal now features the second part of the slogan slightly more prominent than in the first design.

Texas: Friendship
Refers to the state’s name, which derives from taysha, a Native American word meaning ‘friends’ or ‘allies’.