In 1971, North Carolina’s General Assembly resolved to standardize the design of the state’s seal. Prior to this resolution, the seal took on many different design variations. The ship which appears in the background of the present seal, for example, had totally disappeared from some previous seals. Mottos and dates came and went, and the images changed with the artists and office holders. So, the General Assembly passed this resolution in 1971:
“The Governor shall procure of the State a Seal, which shall be called the great seal of the State of North Carolina, and shall be two and one-quarter inches in diameter, and its design shall be a representation of the figures of Liberty and Plenty, looking toward each other, but not more than half-fronting each other and other-wise disposed as follows: Liberty, the first figure, standing, her pole with cap on it in her left hand and a scroll with the word “Constitution” inscribed thereon in her right hand. Plenty, the second figure, sitting down, her right arm half extended toward Liberty, three heads of grain in her right hand, and in her left, the small end of her horn, the mouth of which is resting at her feet, and the contents of the horn rolling out.
The background on the seal shall contain a depiction of mountains running from left to right to the middle of the seal. A side view of a three-masted ship shall be located on the ocean and to the right of Plenty. The date “May 20, 1775” shall appear within the seal and across the top of the seal and the works “esse quam videri” shall appear at the bottom around the perimeter. No other words, figures or other embellishments shall appear on the seal.”
It shall be the duty of the Governor to file in the office of the Secretary of State an impression of the great seal, certified to under his hand and attested to by the Secretary of State, which impression so certified the Secretary of State shall carefully preserve among the records of this Office.
But even this standard was not the final word on the subject. In 1983, the state ratified another change that had been proposed by former Senator Jullian R. Allsbrook. Since the state flag carried the date of the adoption of the Halifax Resolves, Allsbrook felt that the State Seal should do likewise to serve as a reminder of the state’s commitment to liberty. Thus, the Great Seal of the State of North Carolina was modified to show the date of the Resolves, April 12, 1776.