Today is the anniversary of California’s admission as the 31st state of the Union. The discovery of gold in California in 1848 caused its population to explode, and in 1849 settlers applied for admission to the Union after drafting a state constitution that prohibited slavery. Because making California a state would upset the balance of free and slave states, statehood was delayed until September 9, 1850, when the Compromise of 1850 opened the door for California statehood.
In addition to a state constitution, Californians adopted a state seal in 1849 with the motto “Eureka,” — The Greek word for “I Have Found It” — an appropriate interjection for a state whose reputation was made on gold strikes (1).
California is not the only state with a motto in a tongue other than English. In fact, ‘English Only’ proponents might be surprised to learn that more than half of states in the union have mottos in other languages.
Here are the statistics on the polyglot mottos:
Native American – Chinook: 1
Six states feature one-word mottos. Only one state, Vermont, has its state’s name in its motto, and Florida is the only state with the same motto as the United States of America: “In God We Trust.”
Today’s Challenge: Motto Mania
What’s your idea for a new state motto? Generate some possible new state mottos for your home state or the other 49 states. Host a state motto contest. The mottos may be funny or serious, but they should all be memorable; after all, they may someday be emblazoned on a license plate. (Common Core Language 3 – Knowledge of Language)
Quotation of the Day: The Philosopher’s Motto: I came, I saw, I pondered! –Greg Curtis
On this day in 1914, the main post office building in New York City opened its doors. The building’s main claim to fame is the inscription chiseled in gray granite on its enormous facade which reads:
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
Although many will recognize these words as the motto of the United States Postal Service, officials are quick to point out that there is no official U.S.P.S motto. Nevertheless, it would be difficult to find another building in the world that more effectively uses the words engraved on its outside walls to capture and to motivate the mission that is fulfilled inside.
The words of the inscription originate from the Greek historian Herodotus and refer to Persian mounted postal couriers who served faithfully in the wars between the Greeks and the Persians (500-449 B.C.).
In 1982, New York’s main post office building was officially designated The James A. Farley Building, in memory of the nation’s 53rd Postmaster General. The building’s ZIP code designation is 10001 (1).
Today’s Challenge: Words Worth Setting in Stone
What words do you think are important enough to chisel in stone? What motto would you etch on the outside of your school or your place of business? Hold a contest to determine the best motto. Either research a quotation by another person to use as your motto, or write your own using your own original words. Remember that a motto must be pithy and must express a rule to guide the behavior of persons who inhabit the building.
(Common Core Language 3 – Knowledge of Language)
Quotation of the Day: I was a drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness. -Words chiseled on the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C.