Friday, May 14, 2021

Representative David Vieira Appointed To Special Commission Studying MA State Seal And Motto

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has announced his appointment of State Representative David Vieira (R-Falmouth) to serve on a special commission that will investigate and recommend potential changes to Massachusetts’ official state seal and motto.

The 19-member commission will study the features of the seal and motto “that may be unwittingly harmful to or misunderstood by the citizens of the Commonwealth,” and will work “to ensure that they faithfully reflect and embody the historic and contemporary commitments of the Commonwealth to peace, justice, liberty and equality and to spreading the opportunities and advantages of education.”

The state motto is Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem, a Latin phrase that is loosely translated as “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.” According to the Secretary of State’s office, the motto “was written about 1659 and is attributed to the famous English patriot, Algernon Sydney.” 

The current version of the state seal, which incorporates this motto, dates back to June 4, 1885. The seal has come under criticism for its depiction of Native Americans, and for its inclusion of an image of a raised broadsword.

“The state seal and motto has been an ongoing source of controversy among the Native American community,” said Representative Jones. “I am confident David will do an outstanding job helping the commission navigate through these concerns and make responsible recommendations for the future.”

In addition to making recommendations for a new or revised state seal design and state motto, the commission has also been tasked with developing ideas for an educational program on the history and meaning of the seal and motto.

The members of the special commission will include the executive director of the Commission on Indian Affairs, along with five members who are lineal descendants of tribes with a historical presence in the Commonwealth, each of whom will be appointed by the Commission on Indian Affairs. Additional members include State Senator Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton) and State Representative Antonio Cabral (D-New Bedford), who currently serve as the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight; representatives from Secretary of State William Galvin’s office, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council; and five members appointed by Governor Charlie Baker who have relevant cultural and historical expertise.

The commission is scheduled to file a report with its finding and recommendations by October 1, 2021.

First elected to the House of Representatives in November of 2010, Vieira is now in his sixth term representing the Third Barnstable District, which is comprised of Precincts 3, 4, 5 and 6 in Bourne; Precincts 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 in Falmouth; and the town of Mashpee.