Motto. On a silver scroll below the shield, in black type, the word "Excelsior" (Ever Upward).
The Great Seal of 1777 was devised by a committee consisting of Messrs. Morris, Jay and Hobart, and was to be used for all the purposes for which the Crown Seal was used under the Colony.
About the Flag: Emblazoned on a dark blue field is the state coat of arms. The goddess, Liberty, holds a pole with a Liberty Cap on top. At her feet is a discarded crown, representing freedom from England at the end of the Revolutionary War. On the right is the goddess, Justice, wearing a blindfold and carrying the scales of justice, indicating that everyone receives equal treatment under the law. The state motto, "Excelsior," on a white ribbon expresses the idea of reaching upward to higher goals. On the shield a sun rises over the Hudson highlands and ships sail the Hudson river. Above the shield is an eagle resting on a globe representing the Western Hemisphere.
31 March 1827, New-York Mirror, pg. 286:
Perhaps the proudest of all arms, with the most appropriate motto, are those of the State of New-York; the sun rising; the motto, "Excelsior," higher. It implies continued and unchecked elevation. Were the motto in the superlative it would imply that the elevation had ceased, and that declension must follow.