A motto is a brief statement that summarizes the purpose, beliefs, and values of a group, family, organization, individual, and even states. It expresses united goals of all those associated with that group and sets the mission for collaboration. Let’s see how the states illustrate this point.

The mottos of the first 13 colonies seem to reflect their connection to England. The latter state mottos appear to indicate growth. They had a broader view of life than merely their reaction to colonization by England. And the more recent ones reflect views toward the future. 

We have selected a few state mottos from different regions, to show how they reflected their era, mission, and hope for the future. 

First 13 Colonies:

Massachusetts – By the Sword We Seek Peace, but Peace Only Under Liberty

New Hampshire – Live Free or Die

Connecticut – He Who Transplanted Sustains

Middle Colonies:

New Jersey – Liberty and Prosperity

New York – Ever Upward

Pennsylvania – Virtue, Liberty and Independence

Latter States:

Maryland By the Shield of Your Goodwill You Will Have Crowned Us

Georgia – Wisdom, Justice, Moderation

Virginia- Thus Always to Tyrants 

Midwestern States:

Missouri The Welfare of the People Is the Highest Law

Nebraska – Equity Before the Law

Illinois – State Sovereignty, National Union

Western States:

Texas – Friendship 

California – Eureka

Oklahoma – Hard Work Conquers All Things

Final Two States (added within the last 50 years):

Hawaii – The Life of the Land Is Perpetuated in Righteousness 

Alaska – North to the Future

We have created our own mottos as well, which for Frances is, Fear little, understand much. Diane’s motto is, Value people over things. Have you created your personal motto? This may be more difficult than you imagine. As you ponder your response, it helps you to identify what you value most in life.

As people aim to reach the united goals espoused in their mottos, it will enhance the possibilities of achieving them, instead of dealing with the complexities of individual differences. 

Although individual goals are crucial, some of the most successful organizations, such as the military and the church, have proven the value of shared goals, as expressed in mottos. Embracing a shared group or organizational goal does not devalue your individual goals, but aids in establishing group cohesion. 

Footnote: Some state mottos were established by legislative action, while others were created by the symbols on their flags. Some states have updated their mottos throughout time.

Frances Goddard, LCSW, BCD
Diane Harvey, LCSW