We take our name from ?Liberty and Prosperity? the motto of New Jersey. That motto comes from the official seal of New Jersey adopted in August of 1776. That was one month after we declared our independence from the British Empire.
That seal depicts two goddesses from ancient Rome standing next to each other. They were later identified as goddesses of ?Liberty? and ?Prosperity?.
Liberty is carrying a red Liberty Cap or Phrygian Cap draped over a long wooden pole. According to legend, slaves in ancient Rome who had gained their freedom would wear that cap.
Patriots during the American revolution wore and displayed that red cap to show that they were now free citizens and no longer subjects to the kings and nobles of the British Empire. That same symbol was later adopted by revolutionaries in France and South America.
The long wooden pole or pike was the only weapon a poor peasant or tradesman could afford in Europe during the Middle Ages. One peasant using it to defend his himself, his family or his freedom against an armored knight on horseback with sword, shield, and lance would be quickly cut down.
However,? if every peasant and tradesman turned out with his wooden pike to defend anyone whose rights were threatened, they could together knock the knights off their high horses and preserve their lives, property, and freedom.
Standing next to liberty is the Goddess Prosperity with her ?cornucopia?–Latin for ?horn of plenty?.
The official seal containing these symbols appears on the State Flag of New Jersey. Those symbols remind us that Liberty and Prosperity always appear together. If Liberty is taken away, Prosperity leaves with her.
The red cap and pole held by the goddess of Liberty reminds each of us of our personal duty to defend the ?unalienable? rights of every citizen–not just our own.
Seth Grossman,?November 3, 2017
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