States like North Carolina have their own official state seal, motto, nickname, and more, which are all used to symbolize and represent the uniqueness of each state and what they stand for.

North Carolina originally created 4 different state seals during the colonial period, and since declaring their independence, they created another 6 state seals! Despite the many state seals created, there are some variations on certain state symbols that have remained on the current Great Seal of North Carolina.

The latest two changes to the state seal were the standardization in 1971 and the addition in 1983, which both created what we know today as the official North Carolina state seal.

North Carolina state seal

What Does The North Carolina State Seal Represent?

The Great Seal of North Carolina has many symbols which are used to showcase the state’s rich historical roots. Liberty appears on the left-hand side, and is modeled after the Greek goddess “Athena” or the Roman goddess “Minerva”, both represent liberty.

Liberty is holding onto a cap, which is known as a “liberty cap”, symbolizing freedom from bondage, evolving from the Phrygian cap or Pileus, which is a cap worn by freed slaves in the Roman Empire. The second woman in the seal is sitting down with her right arm extended toward Liberty. She has three heads of grain in her right hand and the small end of a horn in her left.

In the background of the seal, you will see some mountains, a side profile of a ship with three masts. The date of May 20, 1775, can be seen at the top of the seal, which represents the day the state seal was created as well as the state flag.

At the bottom of the seal, you can see the quote “esse quam videri”, which is the official state motto, and means “To be, rather than to seem.” Also, at the bottom of the seal is another date, April 12, 1776. This refers to the Halifax Resolves, where the Provincial Congress authorized North Carolina delegates to approve the Declaration of Independence of the United States. These interesting facts about North Carolina and its state seal give you insight into those that founded the state and what its economic strengths and values were several hundred years ago.