Official Symbols and Emblems of Alabama

Coat of Arms


Image provided by Robert Sears


The bill to legalize a state coat of arms was introduced in the Alabama Legislature of 1939 by James Simpson, Jefferson County, and was passed without a dissenting vote by both houses. The coat of arms consists of a shield on which appears the emblems of the five governments that have held sovereignty over Alabama: Spain, France, Great Britain, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America. (The design includes the flag of the United Kingdom rather than that of Great Britain.) This shield is supported on either side by bald eagles, symbolic of courage. The crest is a model of the ship, the Baldine, that Iberville and Bienville sailed from France to settle a colony near present day Mobile (1699). The motto beneath the shield is "Audemus jura nostra defendere." Beneath the motto is the state name.


The original design of the Alabama coat of arms was made in 1923 by B. J. Tieman, New York, an authority on heraldry, at the request of Marie Bankhead Owen, Director of the Department of Archives and History. A few years later Naomi Rabb Winston, Washington, DC, painted the completed design in oil. Mrs. Owen selected the motto which was put into Latin by Professor W.B. Saffold, of the University of Alabama. It was through the influence of Juliet Perry Dixon, wife of Governor Dixon, that official action was taken by the legislature.


The act to adopt an official Coat-of-Arms for the State of Alabama was approved March 14, 1939, Act no. 140.


Acts of Alabama, March 14, 1939
Alabama State Emblems, Alabama Department of Archives and History, n.d.


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Updated: February 6, 2014