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What is the significance of the state seal of Pennsylvania?

The Emblem of Identity: Understanding the Significance of Pennsylvania’s State Seal

The state seal of Pennsylvania is more than just an official stamp; it’s a symbol steeped in history and meaning, representing the identity and values of the Commonwealth. Adopted in 1791, the seal has undergone various modifications, but its core elements have remained consistent, each with its own significance.

At the Heart of the Seal: The Coat of Arms

Central to the state seal is the coat of arms, featuring a shield crested by an American Bald Eagle, a symbol of strength and freedom. The shield itself is emblazoned with three symbols: a ship, a plow, and three sheaves of wheat. These icons reflect Pennsylvania’s commitment to commerce, labor, and agriculture, respectively—key pillars that have supported the state’s economy since its inception.

Unity and Diversity: The Horses and Olive Branches

Flanking the shield are two horses, signifying the importance of animals in the state’s history and economy. Below, an olive branch and a cornstalk cross, symbolizing peace and prosperity. These elements underscore Pennsylvania’s dedication to unity amidst diversity and its aspiration for growth and harmony.

FAQs about Pennsylvania’s State Seal

Q: When was the current design of the state seal adopted?
A: The current design was officially adopted in 1791.

Q: What do the elements on the state seal represent?
A: The ship, plow, and wheat signify commerce, labor, and agriculture. The horses represent strength, the olive branch and cornstalk symbolize peace and prosperity, and the Bald Eagle reflects freedom.


Commonwealth: A political community founded for the common good. Pennsylvania is one of four states in the U.S. that designates itself as a Commonwealth.
Coat of Arms: A unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to promote the identification of individuals or families.
Symbol: A mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship.