Janice K. Brewer
Arizona Secretary of State
As published in the
2003-2004 Arizona Blue Book
The History of the State Seal
The seal sits atop countless pages of official state documents, stationery, and
statute books. Arizonans have seen it on their tax return, driver’s license,
and election pamphlet.
What is little known is that the Arizona seal has graced instruments of the state
for the last century and a half, undergoing several dramatic changes over the years.
One element of the seal, however, remains the same today as it was 140 years ago.
When President Lincoln approved a bill in 1863 providing for temporary gov-
ernment in the Territory of Arizona, he appointed Richard McCormick, a former
businessman and journalist, to be its secretary. Although Congress hadn’t given
McCormick the authority to create a territorial seal, he knew one would be neces-
sary to authenticate official documents.
He designed his seal and brought it west in 1863. The Spartan artwork (which
to some was comic) featured a bearded miner standing casually in front of a
wheelbarrow, pick, and short-handled spade. Two bare mountains rose in the back-
ground, and at the bottom was the phrase “Ditat Deus,” God enriches. (Figure 1)
Perhaps in response to criticism of his seal, McCormick introduced a revised
version (Figure 2). The redesign was more elaborate and included new shadowing
and a small stream at the miner’s feet. Gone were the wheelbarrow and spade,
replaced with a more befitting long-handled shovel. The mountains now featured a
pointed peak, which may have been Thumb Butte, west of the capital in Prescott.
“Ditat Deus” remained in its former place.
Both McCormick seals bore a striking resemblance to the label on cans of
Pioneer Baking Powder, a popular brand at the time (Figure 3). Whether to honor
or dishonor, the McCormick seal was nicknamed the “baking powder seal” for the
duration of its use.
Members of the First Territorial Legislative Assembly had other ideas for the
design of a territorial