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What Is the State Motto of Colorado?

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  • Written By: Esther Ejim
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2016
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Colorado's state motto Nil Sine Numine, has several slight variations in its translation. The Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration (DPA) describes the motto as “Nothing Without The Deity.” Other translations include “Nothing Without Providence” and “Nothing Without God.” The word numine is a Latin word that literally translates to "divinity." In this regard, the more accurate translation of the state motto of Colorado is “Nothing Without The Deity.”

The Latin phrase Nil Sine Numine appears in Virgil’s work, Aeneid, from which the motto may have been derived. The state motto of Colorado is inscribed on the state's seal. Both the state seal and the state motto were adopted together by the First General Assembly of Colorado in 1877. William Gilpin, Colorado’s first territorial governor had instructed L. C. Weld, the secretary of the territory to design a seal for Colorado. The governor approved Weld’s design for the seal and personally included the words Nil Sine Numine, which would become the state motto of Colorado.

Colorado’s state seal has the depiction of a shield in the center. The coat of arms contains designs from both Governor Gilpin’s family coat of arms and Secretary Weld’s family coat of arms. Underneath the shield, there is a scroll bearing the words that make up the state motto of Colorado.

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The Original state flag of Colorado had a blue background with the shield in the center. The flag was changed to another design in 1911. The new design had three horizontal stripes of blue and white. The white stripe was in the middle, and the letter “C” was placed against a white background. A golden disk in the center of the “C” completed the design. In 1964, the design was adjusted to increase the diameter of the golden disk.

Apart from the official motto of the state of Colorado, the state has some unofficial mottos like the “Centennial State,” a reference to the fact that Colorado became a U.S. state a century after its declaration of independence. “The Highest State” refers to the fact that Colorado has the highest number of mountains that reach the height of 14,000 feet (4,267.2 meters) of all the states. Gold was discovered in Denver, Colorado in 1858; the area was referred to at the time as “Pike’s Peak” leading to state slogan, “Pike’s Peak or Bust.”

Other official state symbols include the rocky mountain bighorn sheep, which is the state animal, and the greenback cutthroat trout, which is the state fish. The rocky mountain columbine is the state flower, while the state insect is the Colorado hairstreak butterfly.

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