Part I: Alabama - Florida
Part II: Georgia - Maine
Part III: Maryland - New Jersey
Part IV: New Mexico - South Carolina
South Dakota: Under God the people rule
Oooh, a pan! Sorry Adam, but my visceral loathing of Godly mottoes continues unabated. I really should group the God-mottoes together and have a box-off to see which one is the
Tennessee: Agriculture and commerce
Aren't these zoning categories in Sim City (answer: no -- though you can get agriculture in SimCity 3000 if you zone industrial in a sufficiently isolated location)? Tennessee took Montana's idea (yes, Montana's motto predates Tennessee's -- way to slack off, guys) and decided to make it duller. C-.
If Nevada's motto is so perfect as to make it unnerving, Texas' is so incongruous that I'm suspicious of the real meaning. They should add a little Mao: Friendship grows out of the barrel of a gun. Now that's a Texas-sized motto! C-.
Utah: Unbelievably boring. Motto: Unbelievably boring. So, high marks or low? I refer to the Delaware rule for motto-creation in boring states: holding that for states with no distinctive qualities, it is permissible to throw out a bunch of abstract virtues. But "Industry" is not a virtue, it is, well, an industry. That's pushing it even under the most lenient interpretation. C-.
Vermont: Freedom and Unity
See, Utah, take your cue from Vermont. Most Americans know nothing about the Green Mountain state other than it gave us Ben & Jerry's (who, I'm sure, could create a fabulous state motto if given the privilege). So, why not something generic like "Freedom and Unity"? Given that Vermont was for a few years an independent nation (freedom!) and once was part of New York (umm...disunity!), the motto even has vague claims to a specific relationship with the state. B-.
Virginia: Sic semper tyrannis/Thus always to tyrants
It's a shame this phrase is now associated with the Lincoln assassination, because it is a stellar motto. I checked, and it turns out that the motto easily predates the civil war, so this wasn't neo-confederatism talking. Excellent news for Virginia. A+.
Virgin Islands: United in Pride and Hope
I can't decide how I feel about the "United in" part of this motto. The conventional approach would definitely be just "Pride and Hope". Virgin Islands innovates by adding a preface. But I'm not convinced the aesthetics are there. C.
Washington: Al-ki/By and by
Fantastic. This motto is so unbelievably chill. I'm not even sure what "by and by" means (I'm thinking of how Richard Fish used "bygones" in Ally McBeal), and I don't really care. The language is not Chinook, but Chinook Jargon, which adds to the laid-back quality. And of course, it's not even formally Washington's motto. Dude, Al-ki. I can feel my blood pressure lowering just by saying it. A.
West Virginia: Montani semper liberi/Mountaineers are always free
There's a dig at Virginia if I ever saw one. Virginians, for all their blathering about tyrannies, certainly had plenty of unfree people in its domain when WV seceded. Of course, West Virginia might not even be constitutional, so Virginia would get the last laugh after all. Still, it's got a good flow, and anything that burns the Old Dominion is fine by me. A-.
I can't top the Book of Ratings on this one, so I won't even try: "[I]f I was a settler and I found myself in Wisconsin that's what I'd say, too. That's why California's state motto means 'I have found it.' You get to Wisconsin, you keep moving. You get to California, you've arrived." Sorry, 'sconies. B-.
Wyoming: Equal Rights
Wyoming was the first state to grant women's suffrage, in 1869 (well before it became a state actually). One of the reasons was to boost its voting population to get it admitted to statehood faster. So the motives weren't entirely pure, but the fact that Wyoming chose to inscribe its early stand in favor of sex equality as its written face to the world is still a nice gesture. B+.
Well, we're through! I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. I gave exactly two A+'s and two D-'s. So congratulations to our winners (New Hampshire and Virginia) and throw eggs and stuff at the losers (Michigan and Florida).