American History and Genealogy Project


The State Seal "Dirigo''

Many of the oldest families of Europe possess a coat-of-arms, in the design of which may be read, by those who understand, something of the family history. In a description of a coat-of-arms are many odd sounding terms among them tincture, gules, argent, and the sinister and dexter sides. These are heraldic.

In America, we have little familiarity with coats-of-arms, but each state has a seal, designed much after the same manner. The seal of Maine was designed by Dr. Benjamin Vaughan of Hallowell. It was adopted by the Legislature, June 9, 1820, the same year that Maine became a state. In the language of heraldry, the seal is described thus: "A shield, argent, charged with a pine tree; a Moose Deer at the foot of it, recumbent. Supporters: on dexter side, an Husbandman, resting on a scythe; on sinister side, a Seaman resting on an anchor. In the foreground, representing sea and land, and under the shield, the name of the State in large Roman capitals, to wit; M A I N E, the whole surmounted by a crest, the North Star. The motto in small Roman capitals, in a label interposed between the shield and the crest, viz; Dirigo."

State Seal

Each figure and emblem in the design was chosen because it was symbolic of the State. The moose deer is a native animal of Maine, which retires at the approach of human beings. In his recumbent and undisturbed position he denoted the extent of unsettled lands, where generations of men might settle, whose spirit of independence should be unrestricted as the range of the moose deer.

The supporters of the shield, the Husbandman and Seaman, represent, first, agriculture, and second, commerce and fisheries; and both indicate that the State is supported by these occupations of its inhabitants. The North Star in the crest indicates the most northern State in the Union.

The stately pine with its straight body and ever-green foliage, represents the State. The motto, Dirigo, means "I Direct."

Source: Maine My State, The Maine Writers Research Club, The Journal Print Shop, Lewiston, Maine, 1919

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