The southern state of Georgia, nicknamed "The Peach State," has more than one motto, though one is much more accepted than the other. Many believe the state motto of Georgia is "Wisdom, Justice, Moderation," since that straightforward message appears on the side of the state's two-sided state seal, which has remained unchanged since 1799. The other side of the seal, though, has the inscription "Agriculture and Commerce," offering a choice of mottoes.
When early state legislators approved Georgia's two-sided seal on 8 February 1799, succinct instructions were laid out regarding its appearance. The front of the seal depicts a three-columned structure holding up the state's "Constitution." Each pillar is decorated with a banner: "Wisdom," "Justice" and "Moderation." The three pillars also represent the three established branches of state and federal government — the legislative, judicial and executive branches, respectively.
Historians point to Plato as the source of the chief state motto of Georgia. The Greek philosopher wrote in Republic that these pillars, along with "Courage," form the basic construction of civilized government. Though courage is not represented by a pillar or by name, a single armed soldier, standing at attention between "Justice" and "Moderation" is said to represent this other quality.
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The other side of the seal, however, boldly proclaims "Agriculture and Commerce" around the perimeter. For this reason, many believe this is another of Georgia's mottoes, even though Tennessee has chosen this for its official motto. At the center of this proclamation on the back of the seal is a picture depicting a tall ship bearing a U.S. flag and two smaller expedition boats, with a farmer and distant lumberyard beside them.
No official state motto of Georgia was actually selected, however. In fact, just a few dozen states have an official motto. The only change that has occurred to Georgia's state seal since 1799 was in 1914, when legislators changed the date on both sides of the seal to read "1776" — the year of American independence. Until then, the seal read "1799," for when the state joined the union.
The state motto of Georgia from the front of the seal, "Wisdom, Justice, Moderation," gains on its competition when the state flag is considered. Several versions of Georgia's state flag since 1902 have bore just the front of the state seal, along the left side in a field of blue. The current version of the flag, adopted in 2003, also bears the seal and accompanying motto. It also prominently states, "In God We Trust."