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The Great Seal of State

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Joined: 27 Nov 2007
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Location: Monterey County, California

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:34 pm    Post subject: The Great Seal of State Reply with quote

At the time when the question of designing the Great Seal for the new State was being agitated in the Constitutional Convention, there happened to be sojourning temporarily in Monterey an accomplished and cultivated officer of the U. S. army, Major Robert Seldon Garnett. He was a gentleman of modest demeanor, and excelled in the use of his pencil. One evening he sketched a design for a seal of the State, and it was exhibited to various members of the convention. One of the delegates asked leave to present it to the body, but the quiet Major declined, upon the grounds that a knowledge of the source from whence it had come would prevent its adoption. There existed at that time quite a hostility between the military authorities and the nascent civil powers.

Caleb Lyon, one of the clerks of the convention, learned of the design, and readily obtained the consent of Garnett to appropriate it and present it as his own production. As the design came from the hands of its author, it was chaste and beautiful, and somewhat different from the present seal.

It represented the figure of Minerva, with the Golden Gate, and a ship in full sail in the foreground, and the Sierra Nevada range in the background, with the word "Eureka" above. An explanation accompanied the design which was entered in the Journal of proceedings as follows:

"Around the bend of the ring are represented thirty-one stars, being the number of States of which the Union will consist upon the admission of California. The foreground figure represents the Goddess Minerva, having sprung full grown from the brain of Jupiter. She is introduced as a type of the political birth of the State of California, without having gone through the probation of a territory. At her feet crouches a grizzly bear feeding upon the clusters from a grape-vine, emblematic of the peculiar characteristics of the country. A miner is engaged with his rocker and bowl at his side, illustrating the golden wealth of the Sacramento, upon whose waters are seen shipping, typical of commercial greatness; and the snow-clad peaks of the Sierra Nevada make up the background, while above is the Greek motto 'Eureka' (I have found it), applying either to the principal involved in the admission of the State, or the success of the miner at work."
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