*Both mottos and mottoes are correct, according to every dictionary I've read. In terms of aesthetics, I prefer the "oes" spelling.
Alabama: Audemus jura nostra defendere, or "We Dare To Defend Our Rights".
I like the source of this motto:
Men, who their duties know,
But know their rights, and, knowing, dare maintain,
Prevent the long-aim'd blow,
And crush the tyrant while they rend the chain
According to Wiki, this is found in "An Ode in Imitation of Alcaeus", in which the first line is "What constitutes a State?" Clever.
Granted, Alabama's history tends to make this motto somewhat ironic and/or oxymoronic. But I'm rating the slogan here, not the state.
Alaska: North to the future.
The state embraces its geography and its relative newness. Can't complain about that.
From originator Richard Peter: "[The motto] is a reminder that beyond the horizon of urban clutter there is a Great Land beneath our flag that can provide a new tomorrow for this century's 'huddled masses yearning to be free."
The only disappointing thing about this slogan is that I cannot use it as a personal motto.
Arizona: Ditat Deus, or "God enriches".
Boo. There is nothing good about this slogan. The inclusion of a deity, the lack of self-awareness regarding state-fulfilling enrichment. (Climate? Really? It's freakin' hot and dry. Your climate sucks. Your state seal shows cattle, citrus, and cotton on irrigated fields. Irrigated, as in, the land is too dry to grow crops/breed animals.)
God enriches. Arizona, you're delusional.
Arkansas: Regnat populus, or "The people rule".
Pretty good slogan, albeit too generic and ideal for my taste. Hey, it's Latin. That must mean something. I like mottoes that emphasize a state's distinctness, though. This one doesn't do it for me.
California: Eureka, or "I have found it".
What a fantastic motto, one that exhibits the history of the state (the Gold Rush), the geography (the city of Eureka), and the attitude of the citizens. The state legislature tried to make the motto "In God We Trust". That would have been a tragedy of epic proportions. This one is original, unique, and symbolic. You can't get better than this.
Tomorrow: Chad's Takes and Coverage of Election Day 2009 (perhaps a brief live blog).
Wednesday: Pictures from the Road
Thursday: Stories from the Road