In 1540-’42 the
spaniard Francisco Vásquez de Coronado undertook
an expedition to explore and find the mystical Seven Golden Cities of Cibola as
described by Cabeza de Vaca who had just arrived from his
eight-year ordeal traveling from Florida to Mexico. Over 50 years after
Coronado, Juan de Oñate came north from Mexico and founded San Juan de
los Caballeros, the
first Spanish settlement in a new province of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico, on
July 11, 1598. The Native Americans at Acoma revolted against this Spanish
encroachment but faced severe suppression. In 1610 the capital was moved and
established in Santa Fe at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Although
the colony failed to prosper, some missions survived. Spanish settlers
arrived at the site of Albuquerque in the mid-17th century. Missionaries
attempted to convert the natives to Christianity, but had little success.
of Spanish rule of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico was exploitation of the native
population and resources. The exploitative nature of Spanish rule involved
them in nearly continuous raids and reprisals with nomadic Indian tribes on
the borders, especially the Apache, Navajo, and Comanche.
missionaries came to Santa Fe with Onate and a struggle ensued between
secular and religious authorities. In the late 1650s the hostilities ended by
the arrest of the governor and his trial by the Inquisition in Mexico City.
Thereafter, the Franciscans reigned supreme in the province. Pueblo
dissatisfaction with the rule of the clerics was the main cause of the Pueblo
The first major
challenge to Spanish rule would come from the Pueblo Indians; the second
would be an ongoing struggle against the nomadic Indians, especially the
beginning of the 19th century the transition from Spanish to Mexican rule
occurred peacefully and Santa Fe de
Nuevo Mexico became a part of the Mexican Empire and the Mexican Republic.
In 1846, during
the Mexican-American War, the American army entered Santa Fe without
opposition and a joint civil and military government was established. Under
the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848, Mexico ceded much of its northern
holdings, including Nuevo Mexico.
Congressional Compromise of 1850 halted a bid for statehood under a proposed
antislavery constitution. Texas transferred eastern New Mexico to the federal
government, settling a lengthy boundary dispute. Under the compromise, the
American government established the New Mexico Territory on 9 September 1850.
The territory, which included all of Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Colorado,
officially established its capital at Santa Fe in 1851. Statehood was finally
granted to New Mexico on January 6, 1912.
The heraldry of New Mexico is purely european and
american in spite of the fact that its european settlers lived for a long
time within a large population of nomadic and Pueblo Indians. In the time of spanish rule the heraldic
emblems of the Spanish Empire, the Spanish Indies, and
the viceroyalty of New Spain
were, at least formally, also valid in Santa Fe. In the 17th and 18th
century, in the era of the domination
of the Franciscan Order, its arms were probably seen. No remains of these
arms however seems to have been preserved in any private or public
Arms of King Philip III
On the frontispiece of
“Historia de la Nueva Mexico, del capitan Gaspar de Villagra. En Alcala. Año
The arms are in fact the
arms of king Philip II until 1580
Arms of the Franciscan Order
in the time of its
confrontation with the Governor of New Mexico.
Present arms of the Franciscan Order
on the Indian Pueblo
Cultural Centre, Albuquerque
The coat of arms of the Franciscan Order showed the five
wounds of Christ and the arms of a Franciscan friar and of Chirst in saltire both
having the stigmata. In a newer
version both arms are in a saltire with a latin cross radiant.
first seal was designed shortly after the organization of the Territorial Government,
in 1851. The original seal has long since disappeared, possibly as part of
the artifacts placed into the cornerstone of the Soldiers' Monument in the
Santa Fe Plaza. Imprints of the original seal show it consisted of the
American Eagle, clutching an olive branch in one talon and three arrows in
the other. Along the outside rim was the inscription "Great Seal of the
Territory of New Mexico."
In the early
1860s an unknown official adopted a new seal, using a design similar to
today's Great Seal. It featured the American Bald Eagle, its outstretched
wings shielding a smaller Mexican Eagle. The outside rim of the seal
contained the words "Territory of New Mexico," with the date of
1850 along the bottom in Roman numerals.
Territorial Secretary W.G. Glitch augmented the earlier design with the latin
phrase "Crescit Eundo." meaning "It grows as it goes". It is
a quote from Lucretius’ De Rerum
Natura (On the Nature of Things). There, it
refers to a thunderbolt increasing in strength as it moves across the sky,
interpreted by the authors of the motto as a symbol of dynamic progress.
Coat of Arms, 1887
The seal of the
territory was formally adopted by law on the 27th session of the legislature held
in 1887 when that body passed an act entitled ‘An Act adopting and
establishing the coat of arms and great seal of the territory,’ which was
approved by the then Governor, Edmund G. Ross, on the first day of February,
of that year. The first section of it reads as follows:
“’The coat of arms of the
territory of New Mexico shall be the Mexican Eagle grasping a serpent in its
beak, the cactus in its talons, shielded by the American eagle with outspread
wings, and grasping arows in its talons. The date MDCCCL, under the eagles,
and above that, on a scroll, the motto Crescit
Eundo. That the great seal of the territory have the coat of arms
thereon, being the same seal now used by the secreatry of the territory, and
that the same be adopted and established as the official seal and coat of
arms of the territory of New Mexico.’”.
When New Mexico
became a state in 1912, the Legislature named a Commission for the purpose of
designing a State Seal. In the year and half it took the Commission to decide
to adopt the new State Seal, the Legislature authorized interim use of the
Territorial Seal with the words "Great Seal of the State of New
Mexico" substituted. In June 1913, the Commission, which consisted of
Governor William C. McDonald, Attorney General Frank W. Clancy, Chief Justice
Clarence J. Roberts and Secretary of State Antonio Lucero, filed its report
adopting the general design of the Territorial Seal, substituting only the
act of the legislature reads:
coat of arms of the state shall be the Mexican eagle grasping a serpent in
its beak, the cactus in its talons, shielded by the American eagle with
outspread wings, and grasping arrows in its talons; the date 1912 under the
eagles and, on a scroll, the motto: "Crescit Eundo." The great seal
of the state shall be a disc bearing the coat of arms and having around the
edge the words "Great Seal of the State of New Mexico”.
That seal is
still in use today as the official seal of New Mexico.
seal is usually represented in full color.
Æ See illustration in the head of this
Seal of the House of Representatives (201?)
A symbol referring
to the pueblo- as well as the spanish past of New Mexico is on the flag
adopted 15 March 1925.
of the American Revolution pushed New Mexico to design a contemporary and
unique flag in 1920. A contest to design the new state flag was won by Dr.
Harry Mera of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Mera was an archaeologist who was
familiar with the Zia Sun Symbol found at Zia Pueblo on a 19th-century pot.
The symbol has sacred meaning to the Zia. Four is a sacred number which
symbolizes the Circle of Life: the four directions, the four times of day,
the four stages of life, and the four seasons. The circle binds the four
elements of four together.
Being a service of the New Mexico government the
police uses the Great Seal of the state.
Description: That for regiments
and separate battalions of the New Mexico Army National Guard: From a wreath
of the colors, a coiled rattlesnake Proper.
Symbolism: The snake appears
on the State seal. The serpent is the classic symbol of wisdom and the rattler
is the American symbol of independence.
Background: The crest for color
bearing organizations of the State of New Mexico was approved on 5 July 1922.
Description: A gold color metal
and enamel device 11/8 inches (2.86 cm) in height overall
consisting of a gold morion bearing the red Zia Sun Symbol from the State
flag of New Mexico.
Symbolism: The Zia Sun Symbol
was suggested by the State flag of New Mexico. The Spanish morion alludes to
Coronado and the Spanish role in the early history of the State.
Background: The distinctive
unit insignia was originally approved for Headquarters and Headquarters
Detachment and noncolor bearing units of the New Mexico Army National Guard
on 17 April 1972. The insignia was redesignated on 12 August 1985, for
Headquarters, State Area Command, New Mexico Army National Guard.
Description: On a yellow shield
(of the same shape depicted on the coat of arms of the United States) 2¼ inches
(5.72 cm) overall in width and 2½ inches (6.35 cm) overall in length
including a 1/8 inch (0.32
cm) red border, a red Zia Sun Symbol (in the same proportions as fixed by act
of the New Mexico Legislature).
Symbolism: The colors red and yellow,
the official colors of New Mexico, and the Zia Sun Symbol, the State's
official emblem, were taken from the State flag of New Mexico.
Background: A shoulder sleeve
insignia was approved for the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, New
Mexico National Guard on 28 June 1955. That insignia design was cancelled and
the current design authorized for the Headquarters and Headquarters
Detachment, New Mexico Army National Guard on 7 March 1975. The insignia was
redesignated for Headquarters, State Area Command, New Mexico Army National
Guard, on 12 August 1985. (TIOH Dwg.
© Hubert de Vries 2013-11-30