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Early inhabitants of the area that became Mississippi included the Choctaw, Natchez and Chickasaw. Spanish explorers arrived in the region in 1540 but the territory east of the river Mississippi was explored and appropriated for King Louis XIV of France by René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle in 1682.


The arms of René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle were:


Arms: Sable, a greyhound saliant, in chief an eight-pointed star Argent [1]


In 1699 the French  established the first permanent settlement in present-day Mississippi which for some 60 years shared the history of Nouvelle France east of the river.

Mississippi under the French Crown, 1717

Bibliothèque Nationale de France


The picture may refer to one of the events at the end of the 17th or beginning of the 18th century:


Parted from France in September 1698, Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville seeks to find the mouth of the Mississippi. His expedition landed in the sandy bay of the future colony of Biloxi in February 1699, where he left a garrison of 81 men, on a port site considered mediocre. On a second voyage in 1700, he built a Fort Maurepas (Louisiana) up 40 miles on the Mississippi, but there were also many sandbanks that prevented him from making it into a real port. Dissatisfied with both of these sites, he sends a Canadian expedition led by Charles Levasseur explorer in 1701 the Mobile Bay area, 120 kilometers east of Biloxi.

On September 14, 1712, Louis XIV created the Louisiana Company, by letters patent, granting for 15 years the monopoly of its operation to the financier Antoine Crozat but the death of Louis XIV three years later deprived him of a major support. In 1716 he had to pay a tax of 6,600,000 livres, according to the Journal de l'avocat Barbier (February 1723). To pay, he resold Louisiana to the Scottish banker John Law, who obtained on 23 August 1717 the surrender of the privileges of the Louisiana Company.


In 1763, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, France ceded the region to England. The southern region became part of the English territory of West Florida, while the rest of  present Mississippi became part of Georgia.


Royal British achievement  in the head of

The Proclamation of King George III of 1763 which “preserved to the said Indians” the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains and ordered white settlers “there forthwith to remove themselves from such Settlements,”[2]


In it is stipulated:

Thirdly, The Government of West Florida, bounded to the Southward by the Gulph of Mexico, including all Islands within Six Leagues of the Coast from the River Apalachicola to Lake Pentchartrain; to the Westward by the said Lake, the Lake Mauripas, and the River Missisippi [sic]; to the Northward, by a Line drawn due East from that Part of the River Missisippi which lies in Thirty one Degrees North Latitude, to the River Apalachicola or Chatahouchee; and to the Eastward by the said River.


In 1775, the War of Independence of the United States began. The inhabitants of the West Florida region, most of British descent, remained largely loyal to the British crown, while merchants (mainly British and French) and natives of the central north of the present Mississippi supported the Rebels Spain, which supported the rebels during the armed revolution, - with an army under Bernardo de Gálvez, governor of Louisiana - seized the British region of West Florida and East Florida without great difficulties in 1781.

Coat of arms of Bernardo de Galvez [3]


The region was given to the United States at the Peace of San Lorenzo in 1795. Mississippi became a territory of Georgia in 1798 and came under federal US administration in 1802. In 1817 the western part of the territory with the name of Mississippi became the 20th state of de United States.


The Seal


The first Mississippian governmental seal was adopted on 19 January 1798, when it was organized under the name of the Mississippi Territory.

The design of the seal is based upon the American eagle of the national achievement.

The eagle is positioned in the center of the seal, with its wings spread wide and its head held high. A shield of the arms of the union adorns its chest. In its talons, the eagle grasps an olive branch symbolizing a desire for peace and a quiver of arrows representing the power to wage war.


The seal of 1798

Museum of Mississippi History Collection, Accession Number: 1981.33.1 [4]


When Mississippi gained statehood in 1817, it decided to use the seal that it had been using since 1798 when Mississippi was still a territory. The outer circle of the seal holds the words "THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI". The eagle in the centre underwent some minor changes by omitting the ribbon with the motto and the stars-and-clouds crest.


The Seal of 1817

The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM and the stars & clouds crest omitted


The Seal of 1861

The shield with the arms of the Union omitted


Eugene Zieber remarks about the coat of ams of

“The State of Mississippi has never adopted a Coat of Arms. In 1861 the State Convention, whic is denominated the ‘Secession Convention,’adopted a Coat of Arms and Flag for the State, but when the star of the Confederacy went down the Coat of arms and State Flag wenrt down with it, and since that time the State of Mississippi has had neither Coat of Arms nor State Flag. [5]

In the time of the Confederacy  however a seal seems to have been used on which the shield with the arms of the Union was omitted. After the Civil war the use of the seal of 1817 was resumed.


On January 31, 2014, claiming to defend religious freedom, the Mississippi senate voted to add the words, “In God We Trust” to the state seal.


The Seal of 2014


On April 3, 2014, Governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill No. 2681, referred to as the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

As part of a Senate amendment, a section of that bill added the words “In God We Trust” to the bottom of the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi in place of the star as shown to the left. “In God We Trust” is bracketed by a single star on the left and a single star on the right.

The change was made effective on July 1, 2014


Excerpts pertaining to the change to the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi are reproduced below:


SECTION 2. It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to procure the official seal of this state as described in this section.

The center of the seal shall have an eagle displayed proper, holding an olive branch in his dexter talon and a bundle of three (3) arrows in his sinister talon. The shield on the breast of the eagle shall have eleven (11) vertical stripes of alternating white and red, supporting a chief of blue with eleven (11) white five-pointed stars in two (2) rows with five (5) stars in each row and one (1) star centered over the third column.

The margins dexter and sinister of the center point of the shield shall each have one (1) white five-pointed star. The margin over the eagle shall have the inscription “THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI.” The margin under the eagle shall have the inscription “IN GOD WE TRUST.”

The official seal need not be printed or otherwise displayed in color.

SECTION 3. All state agencies shall continue to use stationery and other supplies having the great seal thereon as it existed before July 1, 2014, until such stationery and other supplies are depleted. The great seal as it existed before July 1, 2014, affixed on any public buildings, property or any other item shall remain thereon until the replacement of the seal due to normal wear or until replacement with any nonpublic funds.

SECTION 4. The 1818 Mississippi Laws, Act of January 19, 1818, Page 142, which provided for the description of the seal of the state, is hereby repealed.

SECTION 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2014.


The arms


A coat of arms of the state of Mississippi was designed after the Civil war. It displays the eagle of the seal all proper on a white field.


Coat of Arms of Mississippi as proposed in 1876

The shield with the arms of the Union omitted


A committee to design a coat of arms was appointed by legislative action 7 February 1894. The shield is wreathed with cotton, an important Mississippi crop, and the egle holds a palm branch instead of the usual olive.[6]

The committee recommended for the coat of arms a

"Shield in color blue, with an eagle upon it with extended pinions, holding in the right talon a palm branch and a bundle of arrows in the left talon, with the word "Mississippi" above the eagle; the lettering on the shield and the eagle to be in gold; below the shield two branches of the cotton stalk, saltierwise, as in submitted design, and a scroll below extending upward and one each side three-fourths of the length of the shield; upon the scroll, which is to be red, the motto be printed in gold letters upon white spaces, as in design accompanying, the motto to be – "Virtute et armis", which means by valor and arms.

The present Coat of Arms of Mississippi has been in use since 2001. Even though the design was made official by the 1894 Mississippi Legislature, the law was not included in the Mississippi Code Revision in 1906. In May 2000 the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the state of Mississippi did not have an official Coat of Arms. On 7 February  2001 Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove signed Senate Bill No. 2885 that designated the original design described above as the official Mississippi Coat of Arms. [7]


In a version in the House of Representativer of the State Capitol in Jackson, build in 1903 the motto VIRTUTE ET ARMIS is added in golden lettering on a red ribbon. This motto, meaning by ‘valor and arms’, was suggested by the Honorable James Rhea Preston (*1853) of Virginia, who was at the time Superintendant of Education in the State of Mississippi. This may have been suggested to him by the motto of Lord Gray de Wilton, Virtute Non Armis Fido.[8]



The arms of Mississippi in the House of Representtives in Jackson, 1903

A motto added


Mississippi National Guard






That for regiments and separate battalions of the Mississippi Army National Guard: From a wreath of the colors, a slip of magnolia full flower with leaves Proper behind a trident Sable.


The magnolia is the Mississippi State flower and Neptune's trident is for "the Father of Waters."


The crest for color bearing organizations of the State of Mississippi was approved on 1 February 1924.


Distinctive Unit Insignia




A Gold color metal and enamel insignia 2.30 cm in width overall consisting of the crest for the Mississippi Army National Guard blazoned: On a wreath Argent and Gules a slip of magnolia in full flower with leaves Proper behind a trident Sable.


The magnolia blossom is the State flower of Mississippi and Neptune's trident is symbolic of the great river, Neptune being known in mythology as the "Father of Waters."  As the predominant population within the State was of English origin, the twists of the wreath are white and red.


The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for State Staff Corps and State Detachment, Mississippi National Guard on 20 January 1933. It was redesignated for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and noncolor bearing units of the Mississippi Army National Guard on 18 February 1969. The insignia was redesignated effective 1 October 1982, for Headquarters, State Area Command, Mississippi Army National Guard.  It was redesignated effective 1 October 2003, for the Mississippi Army National Guard Element, Joint Force Headquarters and amended to update the description.


Shoulder Sleeve Insignia




Centered on a light blue square, edged white within a 3,2 mm red border (the square 6.03 cm on a side) and turned on its diagonal axis, a white magnolia blossom with yellow center and with green leaves forming the lower angle of the square behind a black trident with white detail and outline.


The magnolia blossom is the State flower of Mississippi and Neptune's trident is symbolic of the great river, Neptune being known in mythology as the "Father of Waters." The light blue of the background is for Infantry.


The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Mississippi National Guard on 25 August 1960. It was redesignated for Headquarters, State Area Command, Mississippi Army National Guard on 30 December 1983.  The insignia was redesignated effective 1 October 2003, for the Mississippi Army National Guard Element, Joint Force Headquarters and amended to update the description. (TIOH Dwg. No. A-1-296)


Tribes in Mississippi


Biloxi Tribe


Biloxi tribe

Biloxi-Tunica Tribe


Chickasaw tribe


Chickasaw tribe


The Great Seal of the Chickasaw Nation [9]


Chickasaw Nation seal

The Great Seal of the Chickasaw Nation showed an Indian warrior standing in ancient regalia, carrying two arrows in his right hand, a long bow in his left, and a shield on his left shoulder.

The two arrows in the warrior's right hand represented his guard over the two ancient phratries or tribal divisions, in which all Chickasaw clan and house names originated. These two phratries were called respectively, "Koi" and "Ishpani" in the native language. In the ancient tribal organization, the hereditary ruler or chief of the Chickasaws was selected from the Ishpani division.

It seems his assistant, the tribal war chief who was often more influential and powerful than his superior, was selected from the Koi division.

In historical records, the Chickasaws were referred to as a nation noted for intrepid warriors, unconquered in battle. According to old tribal lore, the bow and the shield in the Great Seal represented the insignia of the Chickasaw warrior, by right of his descent from the "House of Warriors." This organization was sometimes called the "Tiger Clan" (i. e., Koi Clan or Division), which counted its members from more than one Indian tribe long before the Europeans came to the shores of America.

The Great Seal of the Chickasaw Nation was provided in a constitution adopted in the nation, on August 30, 1856. [10]) Under the terms of the Treaty of 1855, sponsored by the United States, the Chickasaws had separated from the Choctaws and organized their own government as the "Chickasaw Nation." The constitution and the laws were sent to Louisiana to be printed. Strangely, the person with whom the documents were entrusted lost them en route and they were never found. This necessitated the re-adoption of the constitution and laws at a later date.

In 1856, the capital of the nation was called "Tishomingo City," honoring the name of Chief Tishomingo, the last assistant chief (i. e., war chief) of the old tribal regime in power before the Chickasaws purchased a home among the Choctaws in the West and moved from Mississippi to the new country.

At the age of ninety-six, Chief Tishomingo had been honored by his tribesmen, with a life pension from their national funds "as a token of their kind feelings for him, on account of his long and valuable services." This provision appeared in the Treaty of Pontotoc, in 1832, which set forth the plans for the sale of all Chickasaw lands east of the Mississippi River. The name of this venerable chief has been perpetuated in Oklahoma by that of the present city

of Tishomingo, county seat of Johnston County and location of the old Chickasaw capitol.

With the adoption of the Great Seal of the Chickasaw Nation, the figure of the warrior in the device commemorated the courageous Chickasaw of olden times, represented in the person and character of Chief Tishomingo.[11]

Mississippi Band of Choctaw


Mississippi Band of Choctaw, Mississippi.



On April 20, 1945, this band organized under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. Also in 1945 the Choctaw Indian Reservation was created in Neshoba, Leake, Newton, Scott, Jones, Attala, Kemper, and Winston counties in Mississippi. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is the only federally recognized Native American tribe in the state.


Natchez tribe


Natchez tribe

Emblem on flag


Houma tribe


Houma tribe


Ofo tribe


Ofo tribe


Quapaw tribe


Quapaw tribe



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 © Hubert de Vries 2017-07-11




[1] HC, 2 (1968), p. 7.

[2] https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/road-revolution/resources/proclamation-1763-1763. With a transript of the whole document.

[3] Bernardo Galvez, Governor of Louisiana from 1777. http://galvezstatue.org/who-was-galvez/

[4] http://www.mdah.ms.gov/senseofplace/2011/04/05/1798-territorial-seal-of-mississippi/

[5] Zieber, Eugene: Heraldry in America. Published by the Department of Heraldry of the Bailey, Banks and Biddle Company. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1895. P. 147

[6] Smith, Whitney: The Flag Book of the United States. 1976   P. 161                                         

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_Mississippi

[8] Shankle, Georg Earlie: State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and other Symbols. The H.W. Wilson Comp.. New York, 1951.

[9] Wright, Muriel H.: Official seals of the Five Civilized Tribes. In: Chronicles of Oklahoma Volume 18, No. 4 December, 1940. Pp.361-363

[10] The clause providing the Great Seal of the Chickasaw Nation stated: "Executive Department, Article V, * * Sec. 10.—There shall be a seal of this Nation, which shall be kept by the Governor and used by him officially; and shall be called 'The Great Seal of the Chickasaw Nation.' Approved in the Chickasaw Convention at Tishomingo City, August 30, 1856.—Constitution, Laws and Treaties of the Chickasaws.

[11] Chief Tishomingo died on the way to the Indian Territory and was buried near Little Rock, Arkansas. He very likely died during the main emigration of the Chickasaws (1837-38), at the age of 104 years. Venerated by his own people, he was also held in high regard by early day citizens of Mississippi. He was well-to-do and the owner of a number of Negro slaves. His home where he lived for sixty-one years was located in the northwestern part of Lee County, Mississippi.

Contemporary with Chief Tishomingo was Captain Tishomingo of the Choctaw Nation, a younger man than the venerable Chickasaw chief. The name "Tishomingo" was an old one among both the Chickasaws and the Choctaws, in reality having been an official title in their ancient tribal organizations. The English form of the name—"Tishomingo"—was the spelling according to sound of the Choctaw and Chickasaw words tishu meaning "servant" (i.e., an assistant) and miko meaning "chief" (pronounced nearly minko). The Chickasaw language except for some dialectic differences was the same as the Choctaw language, both having the same written language established by the Christian missionaries.

Captain Tishomingo (or Tishu Miko), of the Choctaw Nation, lived ten miles from the Choctaw Agency, the location of which was in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi. He was one of the captains in Chief Mosholatubbee's district. Under the terms of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek (1830), Captain Tishomingo was granted a U. S. pension of $25 a year, for having served as one of the twenty-five Choctaw warriors under the command of General Anthony Wayne. After immigrating to the Choctaw Nation West, Captain Tishomingo lived in the vicinity of Eagletown, in the Pitchlynn-Howell settlement, where he died in the spring of 1841.

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