A number years after the nation declared its official independence, many things within the United States changed, and a new historical chapter began to take shape.

On June 20, 1782, the nation’s state seal was finally approved by the Continental Congress, after a committee was first created to design the seal on July 4, 1776. Nearly six years and four designs later, the U.S. seal uses an eagle that holds a scroll in its beak with the E Pluribus Unum motto; in one claw is an olive branch, a symbol of peace, and the other claw holds thirteen arrows, a symbol of war. The seal is used on many official documents.

Shortly after 1776, states like Idaho began to adopt their own official state seals, mottos, nicknames, and much more, which are all used to symbolize and represent the uniqueness of the state.

The Idaho State Seal below is significant for a multitude of different reasons, with perhaps the most significant being that it was and is the only state seal to be created and designed by a woman. The official state seal can also be found on Idaho’s flag, which can be seen lower down on this page.

Idaho state seal

Most of the famous state seal of Idaho is actually an updated painting by Emma Edwards Green, the painting was selected as the design of the state seal by the state of Idaho in 1891, which was one year after the state declared it’s official independence, and subsequently becoming a state.

What Does the Great Seal of the State of Idaho Mean?

The current state seal of Idaho is an updated version of the original, which was commissioned in 1957. The original painting that features on the seal is held in trust by the Idaho Historical Society.

The text below has been quoted by Emma Edwards Green when asked what the meaining of the famous Idaho state seal is:

“Before designing the seal, I was careful to make a thorough study of the resources and future possibilities of the State. I invited the advice and counsel of every member of the Legislature and other citizens qualified to help in creating a Seal of State that really represented Idaho at that time. Idaho had been admitted into the Union on July 3rd, 1890. The first state Legislature met in Boise on December 8, 1890, and on March 14th, 1891, adopted my design for the Great Seal of the State of Idaho.”

Below is the state flag of Idaho, which also features the state’s famous seal.

Idaho state flag

“The question of Woman Suffrage was being agitated somewhat, and as leading men and politicians agreed that Idaho would eventually give women the right to vote, and as mining was the chief industry, and the mining man the largest financial factor of the state at that time, I made the figure of the man the most prominent in the design, while that of the woman, signifying justice, as noted by the scales; liberty, as denoted by the liberty cap on the end of the spear, and equality with man as denoted by her position at his side, also signifies freedom.

The pick and shovel held by the miner, and the ledge of rock beside which he stands, as well as the pieces of ore scattered about his feet, all indicate the chief occupation of the State. The stamp mill in the distance, which you can see by using a magnifying glass, is also typical of the mining interest of Idaho. The shield between the man and woman is emblematic of the protection they unite in giving the state. The large fir or pine tree in the foreground in the shield refers to Idaho’s immense timber interests.

The husbandman plowing on the left side of the shield, together with the sheaf of grain beneath the shield, are emblematic of Idaho’s agricultural resources, while the cornucopias, or horns of plenty, refer to the horticultural. Idaho has a game law, which protects the elk and moose. The elk’s head, therefore, rises above the shield. The state flower, the wild Syringa or Mock Orange, grows at the woman’s feet, while the ripened wheat grows as high as her shoulder. The star signifies a new light in the galaxy of states. . . . The river depicted in the shield is our mighty Snake or Shoshone River, a stream of great majesty.”

This speech was extremely powerful, and shed some light on the Idaho seal’s inception in a way that not many other states have done. Most states will have their seals showcase a relevant story, that is indicative of the state and its history, and the Gem State has certainly done that!