Top Ten American State Mottos

Posted: October 12, 2011 in Lists
Tags: , , , , ,

Here’s the deal.  If you missed the first two editions of Makya McBee Vs. Other People’s Lists, don’t worry, they’re still available online (at this very blog, in fact) and will likely be included in the future best-selling collection – The Best of Makya McBee Vs. Other People’s Lists (to be available in book stores everywhere until there are no more book stores…i.e. 2017).  And there’s more good news.  It’s now time for Makya McBee Vs. Other People’s Lists – Volume 3, The Top Ten American State Mottos.  As discussed here, we love ourselves some state symbols, and state mottos are among the oldest traditions.  Perhaps the only older American tradition is rating state mottos in list form (which was understandably difficult in the years before state mottos existed).  I’m sure it’ll incite many a family debate, so let’s get started.  (Side note – South Carolina was instantly disqualified by being the only state with two state mottos…as per my last blog, I’m sick of everyone thinking more is better).

The Top Ten American State Mottos

11. Texas – Friendship (What could anyone have against this simple, welcoming message?  If you don’t like this state motto, what would you rather it be…Animosity?)

picture of a French Angora rabbit


10. New York – Ever Upward (Granted, it’s a little bit ambitious.  I mean, come on, ever upward?  Never even a little bit sideways?  Or just a standstill to rest every now and then?  But if you’re going to be ever moving in any direction I suspect upward is the way to go)

9. Oregon – She Flies With Her Own Wings (I must admit, I enjoy the ambiguity.  I don’t know who she is, why she needs wings, or where she’s flying…but, what the hell, good for her) 

8. Wyoming – Equal Rights (What can I say?  There are few two word sentiments I agree with more)

7. Idaho – Let It Be Perpetual (Also slightly ambiguous…I’m not entirely sure what it is, but it looks like it’s here to stay.  Interesting side note – this was the original title of the Beatles hit, but it proved a little too wordy as a chorus)

6. Rhode Island – Hope

5. Kansas – To the Stars Through Difficulties (I like this one because Kansas is willing to admit that life ain’t easy.  The whole, “To the stars” bit is a little trite, but bonus points for highlighting the struggle)

4. Maryland – Strong Deeds, Gentle Words (I enjoy gentle words.  Like fluffy, brook, naptime and bunny.  Strong deeds…not so much.  Unless after the strong deeds I can curl up by a brook with a fluffy bunny and take a nap…that sounds really nice.  I used to have a bunny when I was a kid.  I named it Caramel.  Then we moved and had to leave it with our friends.  Our friends ate my bunny.  That is actually a true story.  Here’s a good way to traumatize a kid – eat their pet bunny.  Come on, what were they thinking?  I know they didn’t want to take care of the bunny, but still.  You eat it?  And then tell me you ate it?  Oh, poor Caramel.  Poor, delicious Caramel)    

Rabbit meat

...and after

3. California – Eureka (This one’s cool because no other motto makes it seem more exciting to come to a state.  “We’re in California?  Eureka!”  Of course, it comes from the gold rush, back when California was an exciting, prosperous place to move to…you know, before we went bankrupt…like most states…is it just me, or did everything suddenly get depressing after my pet rabbit became somebody’s dinner)

2. Michigan – If You Seek a Pleasant Peninsula, Look Around You (Okay, this one makes everything better.  I couldn’t possibly begin to count the number of times I have been looking for a pleasant peninsula and have had no idea where to find it.  Problem solved)

1. North Carolina – To Be Rather Than to Seem (This wins because North Carolina is basically saying to all of the other states, “Oh, you got pretty words in your motto over there?  Well, it’s all about what you do, not what you say, suckas.  N.C. in the house!”  Love the message.  Best…motto…ever)

  1. Tom says:

    I had no idea what our state motto was, so I looked it up. “Agriculture and Commerce”. I also learned that we have a state slogan: “Tennessee – America at Its Best”. I dunno, but it kind of seems like cheating to have both a motto and a slogan. I’m going to write my governor and see if we can add a state catchphrase: “Tennessee – We’ll Keep Trying Until We Find One We Like”.

  2. heathersnyder1 says:

    I love our Virginia State Motto-“SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS”-Thus Always to Tyrants! We say a big “bring It you tyrant skanks” to tyrants out there.

    I lived in Michigan and yes…lots of pleasant peninsulas…I was literally wandering around saying, “Dang, Michigan sure does have a lot of pleasant peninsulas!”.

    Maybe the Oregondians were drinking lots of Red Bull to get wings? And, I’m jealous, I want my own wings, too!

    Rhode Island is that all you have? Hope? Ridiculous! (I’m just picking on you Rhode Island, you know I love you).

    California had to settle for “Eureka” because “Alakazam”, “Alley-Oop” and “Shazam” were already taken…I kid you not…true story.

    And, I’m very sorry to hear about your bunny!

    • I love your ideas for California, heathersnyder. I think that’s exactly how it went down.

      I live in MI now and crack up at the ways it markets itself (having, before now, lived in Indiana, where I’m pretty sure the motto is “We Have Indianapolis–the Surrounding States Took Everything Else”). I just found one of the “state songs” and was marveling at the lyrics–Makya, you should do state songs next, they’re pretty darn awesome.

      • Makya McBee says:

        Tom – Yeah, what’s up with “Agriculture and Commerce?” Welcome to Tennessee, we grow and sell things. As mathematically improbable as it is, your state’s motto failed to even make the top fifty. But it has no bearing on the fine citizens, such as yourself, who reside there.

        Heather – As a former Virginian, the motto there is just a little bit too aggressive for my taste. And don’t pick on Rhode Island, the smallest state with the biggest hope…it’s a movie waiting to happen. Thank you for your kind words re: Caramel…may she digest in peace.

        Becky – You’re quite welcome. Congratulations to you and the rest of the state.

        S.I. – I’ve done state symbols and now state mottos. I’ll take a hiatus but will tackle state songs in the future – thanks for the suggestion.

      • heathersnyder1 says:

        🙂 Thank you Spiritual.

      • heathersnyder1 says:

        @ Makya, Rhode Island is one of my favorite states that I’ve lived in (also CT, MA, MI, ME, VA). Ok, there’s a lot of states I’ve lived in that I loved, each has it’s own sparkly flair. Rhode Island knows that I love it, any state that can set their river on fire, is ok in my book. Other states, can you top River Fire…I didn’t think so.

  3. heathersnyder1 says:

    Also, you could’ve outed your neighbors on your blog as revenge for eating your cute bunny, Caramel. Put a name to those Bunny Killers so the whole world will know who they are. They can hang their head in shame and wear a big letter “B” on their chests.

  4. BeckyB says:

    NC rocks! Great shout-out!

  5. Lisa Worthington-Groce says:

    I’ve been following this blog from the beginning and have been waiting for the shout-out to your old stomping grounds. A little disappointed NC didn’t make it to the awesome state shapes list, but pleased that you recognized our motto as supreme. Plus we have a Borders and a Krispy Kreme at the same exit. Oh wait, what’s that you say…no more Borders? Oh well…

  6. Lokyra Stone says:

    The Michigan state motto sounds much better in Latin.
    And hey. IT IS A PLEASANT PENINSULA. Much better than California. Which is doomed to fall into the ocean.

    I live five minutes away from the coast of the lower peninsula. It’s quite pleasant.


    • Makya McBee says:

      Lisa – I can assure you that I show no favoritism to states I have lived in, North Carolina earned it fair and/or square.

      Lokyra – I think it sounds lovely in English. They didn’t try for some grandiose statment, they’re just a pleasant peninsula…and that’s more than enough for me.

      • Lokyra Stone says:

        I suppose when you put it that way, Michigan sounds like an up-front kind of… state. And actually, Michigan has TWO pleasant peninsulas. Even they caved to the “more is better” movement.

  7. Laura4NYC says:

    The New York motto total coincides with the attitude the people have here! And trust me, they never ever look sideways or stop on their way…!

    Sorry about Caramel, but why did you call your WHITE bunny like that? Shouldn’t he be “white chocolate” or “espresso topped with creamy milk”? You know, ANYTHING but caramel!

  8. Outlier Babe says:

    Give it up, Michigan: “If You Seek A Pleasant Penninsula Look Around You” IS better than “The Mitten State”–nice try–but every schoolkid will still call you by your real motto.

    And North Carolina: No commas? Because it sounds to me like your residents are all eager to be the actual, not imitation, well-known ex-news reporter who is quizzed on Manhattan sidewalks regarding the tuning of his radio:

    “To BE Rather, Than to Seem.”

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