Seal of New Mexico

Great Seal of the
State of New Mexico
Great seal of the state of New Mexico.png
Armiger State of New Mexico
Adopted 1913

Crescit Eundo

(It grows as it goes)

The Great Seal of the State of New Mexico is the official seal of the U.S. State of New Mexico and was adopted in 1913.



When New Mexico became a state in 1912, the Legislature named a Commission for the purpose of designing a State Seal. In June 1913, the Commission, which consisted of Governor William C. McDonald, Attorney General Frank W. Clancy, Chief Justice Clarence J. Roberts and Secretary of State Antonio Lucero, filed its report adopting the general design of the Territorial Seal, substituting only the date 1912. That seal is still in use today as the official seal of New Mexico.

The official act of the legislature reads:

The coat of arms of the state shall be the Mexican eagle grasping a serpent in its beak, the cactus in its talons, shielded by the American eagle with outspread wings, and grasping arrows in its talons; the date 1912 under the eagles and, on a scroll, the motto: "Crescit Eundo." The great seal of the state shall be a disc bearing the coat of arms and having around the edge the words "Great Seal of the State of New Mexico.

The Mexican Eagle and the American Bald Eagle. New Mexico was settled by Spanish colonists as part of New Spain, and was later part of Mexico. As such, symbols and customs of Mexico grew up in New Mexico as well. The Mexican eagle grasps a snake in its beak and cactus in its talons, portraying an ancient Aztec myth. Mexico adopted this symbolic image when it was under Spanish administration, and New Mexico identified with it as well. On the seal, it symbolizes that New Mexico still holds on to its Spanish, Mexican and Native American traditions. The Mexican eagle is small and shielded by the larger American eagle, which grasps arrows in its talons, its wings outstretched with its watchful eyes guarding the Mexican eagle. This configuration is meant to show the change of sovereignty in 1846 between Mexico and the United States. It also symbolizes America's dominant yet delicate protection of New Mexico and its heritage and culture.

1912. Originally, New Mexico's territorial seal was engraved with MDCCCL (1850 in Roman numerals) to commemorate the date New Mexico was organized as a territory. But after it was admitted as a state, the Commission decided that that was a better date to use on the Seal. They decided against using Roman numerals, believing it was too pretentious.

Great Seal of the State of New Mexico. No one is quite sure who came up with the term, but it appeared on New Mexico's first State Seal, and was added to the Seal adopted in 1913, untouched - with the small exception of changing the word "Territory" to "State".


Crescit eundo. Translated from Latin, it means "It grows as it goes" and has been criticized for appearing strange or even nonsensical at first hearing. However, the intended effect is more clear if one considers it within the context of the epic poem De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) by first-century B.C. Latin poet Lucretius. Here, it refers to a thunderbolt increasing in strength as it moves across the sky, referenced by the selectors of the motto as a symbol of dynamic progress.

The motto was first used in 1882, when acting Territorial Secretary William G. Ritch added the Latin phrase "Crescit eundo" to an early 1860s version of the territorial seal. In 1887, Ritch's version of the seal, including the words "Crescit eundo," was adopted by the legislature as part of the official New Mexico Territory seal and coat of arms. When New Mexico became a state in 1912, the Legislature appointed a commission to settle on a design for an official state seal. As it turned out, the commission recommended the territorial seal to be continued as the state seal, including the words "Crescit eundo" which were then adopted as the official state motto.

Historical Evolution

New Mexico's first seal was designed shortly after the organization of the Territorial Government, in 1851. The original seal has long since disappeared, possibly as part of the artifacts placed into the cornerstone of the Soldiers' Monument in the Santa Fe Plaza. Imprints of the original seal show it consisted of the American Eagle, clutching an olive branch in one talon and three arrows in the other. Along the outside rim was the inscription "Great Seal of the Territory of New Mexico."

In the early 1860s an unknown official adopted a new seal, using a design similar to today's Great Seal. It featured the American Bald Eagle, its outstretched wings shielding a smaller Mexican Eagle. The outside rim of the seal contained the words "Territory of New Mexico," with the date of 1850 along the bottom in Roman numerals.

In 1882, Territorial Secretary W.G. Ritch embellished the earlier design with the phrase "Crescit Eundo." This version was liked so much it was adopted as New Mexico's "official seal and coat of arms" by the Territorial Legislature in 1887. Ritch had no apparent motive for the change, but it fit well.

In the year and half it took the Commission to decide to adopt the State Seal New Mexico uses today, the Legislature authorized interim use of the Territorial Seal with the words "Great Seal of the State of New Mexico" substituted.

New Mexico's seal evolved over time with people adding symbolic pieces to it as they went along, much like the growth of the state itself, or even the Latin motto now adorning the seal "It grows as it goes." It was and is a work in progress, growing as it goes, just like the State it represents.

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