The Great Seal

The Greek word “Eureka,” translated as “I have found it,” has appeared on the state seal since 1849, when California’s first Constitutional Convention convened in Monterey preparatory to anticipated statehood, and news editors dubbed the immense population rush from around the globe to California’s gold fields the Golden Migration. The seal was designed by Major Robert Garnett of the United States Army and adopted October 11, 1849. The spear-holding woman in the foreground is Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom, signifying the political birth of the state without having gone through the probation of a Territory. The 31 white stars in a semi-circle above her head represent the number of states after California was admitted. The grizzly bear represents California wildlife, and the grapes at his feet symbolize the state’s agricultural richness. On the left a gold miner wields an ax. Ships on the Sacramento River illustrate the state’s commercial greatness, and the peaks of the Sierra Nevada make up the background.

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