South Carolina's Great Seal was authorized by resolution of the General Assembly on April 2, 1776.
The seal is made up of two distinct elliptical areas, linked by branches of the palmetto tree.
A tall palmetto tree and another tree, fallen and broken, dominate the image on the left. This scene represents the battle fought on June 28, 1776 between defenders of the unfinished fort on Sullivan's Island, and the British Fleet. Of course, the standing tree represents the victorious defenders, and the fallen tree is the British Fleet. Banded together on the palmetto with the motto "Quis Separabit?" ("Who Will Separate?"), are 12 spears that represent the first 12 states of the Union. Surrounding the image, at the top, is "South Carolina", and below, is "Animis Opibusque Parati", or "Prepared in Mind and Resources".
The other image on the seal depicts a woman walking along a shore that is littered with weapons. The woman, symbolizing Hope, grasps a branch of laurel as the sunrises behind her. Below her image is the word "Spes", or "Hope", and over the image is the motto "Dum Spiro Spero", or "While I Breathe I Hope".
Asked by the Revolutionary Council of Safety in the fall of 1775 to design a flag for the use of South Carolina troops, Col. William Moultrie chose a blue, which matched the color of their uniforms and a crescent, which reproduced the silver emblem worn on the front of their caps.
The palmetto tree was added later to represent Moultrie's heroic defense of the palmetto-log fort on Sullivan's Island against the attack of the British fleet on June 28, 1776.