State Seal Adopted October 1849

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 U. S. statehood. In 1849, the immense population influx from around the globe to California’s gold fields was called the Golden Migration, because most of the immigrants came looking for a fortune in gold. 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 as one springing forth “whole,” without having first been accorded official status as a United States Territory. The 31 white stars in a semi-circle above her head represent the number of states in the Union after California was admitted. The grizzly bear represents California wildlife, and the grapes 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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