Crescit Eundo: The Story Behind New Mexico’s State Motto

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The Deming Headlight – Friday, January 28, 1949

Crescit Eundo: It Goes as it Grows.

Crescit Eundo, New Mexico’s State Motto, has been translated into a variety of similar sayings. It Increases by Going. It Increases as it Goes Along. Or, my personal favorite and probably the most famous translation: It Goes as It Grows.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer – Sunday, October 14, 1917

What is Crecit Eundo?

Crecit Eundo, New Mexico’s State Motto, was first used in the Latin poet’s Lucretius’s epic De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) to describe the growing strength of a lighting shooting across the sky in first century Roman times. But it wasn’t until 1882 that New Mexico’s state motto officially became a part of New Mexico lore when Territorial Secretary W. G. Ritch included “Crescit Eundo” in a redesigned territorial seal in the first publication of the Blue Book, a reference book now published by the Secretary of State.

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First Recorded State Motto: New Mexico Blue Book

Following the publication in the Blue Book, the New Mexico Territorial Legislature adopted the official Territorial Seal in 1887, and along with it came Crescit Eundo. After Statehood in 1912, the newly minted New Mexico State Legislature adopted a new State Seal that replaced “Territory” with “State” on March 13, 1913, and the use of Crescit Eundo had continued to this day.

September 9, 1850 or 1851?

But was it really adopted in the 1880s? Newspapers throughout the ages submit a different adoption date – September 9, 1850. And El Palacio asserts that the date of first usage was in 1851. Whatever the date of adoption, we can all agree that Crescit Eundo is the best motto in the history of the USA.

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The Boston Globe – Friday, October 9, 1942
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St. Louis Globe Democrat – Sat, July 26, 1919

El Palacio tells yet a different account: The story of today’s state seal begins decades before statehood, in territorial times. Like most creations of government, it took countless visions and opinions to reach its final design. Laws passed by the first territorial legislative assembly of 1851 employed an unofficial seal favored by Territorial Secretary William S. Allen. The illustration featured an American eagle clutching an olive branch and three arrows, and the words “Grand Seal of the Territory of NM” imprinted on its rim. Also in 1851, Territorial Governor James S. Calhoun stamped a military commission with a seal that included both the binational eagles and the “Crescit Eundo” phrase central to today’s design. Other unofficial renderings followed, but by the early 1860s these main elements were commonly featured in most designs.