THE GREAT SEAL OF VERMONT

    The first Great Seal of Vermont, designed by Ira Allen and made by
    Reuben Dean of Windsor in 1778, was accepted by resolution of the
    General Assembly on February 20, 1779. That seal wore out so a new
    seal was made in 1821. While this included many of the basic design
    elements of the original seal, it was distinctly more pictorial,
    rather than symbolic, in character. Seals in several variations of
    that second design, which was similar to the State Coat of Arms
    described elsewhere, were used over the next 115 years. In 1937 a new
    seal was adopted, this a precise reproduction of the original Ira
    Allen design. It remains to use today.

    While an interpretation of the meaning of the seal's different 
    elements involves some supposition, the row of wooded hills certainly
    indicate the Green Mountains; the sheaves and cow, agriculture; the
    wavy lines at the top and bottom, sky and water.  Henry Steele Wardner,
    in his THE BIRTHPLACE OF VERMONT: A HISTORY OF WINDSOR TO 1781,
    suggested that the four sheaves of grain stood for the four counties
    in existence in 1777; and that the cow stood on the eastern or more
    peaceable side of the State, while the spearhead on the western side
    represented the danger to Vermont at that time from the State of New
    York.

    The Vermont motto on the original seal, "Freedom & Unity," may have
    been suggested by the desire that Vermonters should be free and
    united, or more likely, that the individual states should be free, but
    united. It has been suggested that this motto may have been the verbal
    source for the Liberty and Union speech of Daniel Webster.

    The most dominant feature of the seal is the central pine. The pine
    trees of that time were noble trees, sometimes looming a hundred feet
    higher than the other trees around them. The pine was used on pine
    tree shillings, samplers, platters and other familiar objects. It was
    the feature of the Pine Tree Flag,  representing all New England since
    1700. Vermont charters reserved for the use of the State such pines as
    were suitable for masts for the State's Navy.

    The peculiar cutting of the Vermont seal tree shows fourteen distinct
    branches, none a leader. It is interesting to examine possible reasons
    for this. The national flag adopted in 1777 had focused attention on
    the number "thirteen," representing the original thirteen states.
    Since Vermont felt so strongly on the subject of admission to the
    Union that she had marked her coins "Quarta Decima Stella," or
    fourteenth star, it is easy to imagine that Ira Allen picked the New
    England Pine as a proper symbol for the United States, and
    deliberately made it a pine of fourteen branches to indicate that
    Vermont should be a member of the Union, that the Union should have no
    one dominant state, and that it was a living and growing organization,
    capable of adding branch after branch as it went higher and grew
    stronger.

    Hemenway's VERMONT HISTORICAL GAZETTEER in the section on Arlington
    carries an account by Vermont's prominent antiquarian, Henry Stevens,
    of his interview of a survivor of the bodyguard of Vermont's first
    governor, Thomas Chittenden. He told Stevens that Allen's state seal
    design originated from a carving made on a horn cup (apparently lost)
    which represented a view from the west window of Chittenden's house in
    Arlington; one element of that representation was a multi-stemmed
    pine. Until 1978 a majestic white pine tree, more than 175 feet tall
    and with many large stems branching from the base trunk, was visible
    from the site of Chittenden's house. This great pine was toppled by
    high winds May 9 that year.* Its numerous main stems and its
    visibility, from the Chittenden house site create a real possibility
    that the tree itself, or the horn carving of the tree, were indeed the 
    inspiration for Ira Allen's design.

    Use of the seal is governed by 1 V.S.A.  494 and 13 V.S.A.  1904.

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Principal source is an article. "The Coat of Arms and Great Seal of
    Vermont." by John P. Clement. which first appeared in the VERMONT
    LEGISLATIVE DIRECTORY of 1939. See also William Gove. THE STATE SEAL
    PINE TREE. Vermont Department of Forests. Parks and Recreation. n.d.
    (1979).

*Some years ago the Town of Arlington had purchased as an historic
    site the great tree and surrounding plot of land along Vermont Rt. 313
    a short distance west of Arlington village. The Arlington Garden Club
    has since maintained the site. The huge splayed stump of the original
    tree remains in place and on May 5, 1979 Governor Richard A. Snelling
    dedicated as the new State Seal Pine a white pine sapling which had
    sprung from a seed of the great pine.