Ohio's Official State Motto: "With God All Things Are Possible"
Our current motto was not our first motto. Ohio's first motto was short lived expression. After the Civil War Ohio adopted "Imperium In Impeno" as its motto which translates to "An empire within an empire." This was like saying Ohio is the center of the nation. For some this was just about right. Others weren't so sure. After all at that time in our history we had only sent on man to sit in the Whitehouse, not the eventual 8. Ohio Legislature was not up for the ridicule being offered when it became public that the Ohio legislature had the nerve to think they were the center of the universe. The following year when the next legislature
The next General Assembly quickly corrected the situation by disavowing the official motto for no motto at all. So just 1 year later, that motto was officially dropped from the official state documents and Ohio went without an official motto for the next 90 or so years. That's when they got a plea from a young man in Cincinnati asking the legislature to come up with a new state motto. Ohio just couldn't be the only state in the Union without an official motto. Sensing a growing unrest among the voters, the Ohio Legislature decided Ohio just wasn't complete without a state motto. The Ohio Legislature let it be known that they would be accepting ideas for a new motto.
The young man who made the request responded to the legislature with the recommendation to use a verse from the Book of Matthew, Chapter 19, Verse 26. Today, the idea of using a Bible verse might seem impossible, but in the 1950s, life in Ohio was a little simpler and religion played an important role in daily life. Prayer was actually allowed in the schools, so was the Pledge of Allegiance. Young James Mastronardo's recommendation made the top of the new motto list. He came up from Cincinnati and spoke before the General Assembly on why this particular verse was worthy of being the official state motto. Whether or not he made this fact known to the legislators or not is unknown, but it should be pointed out that if the General Assembly accepted his idea, it would mean that Ohio would be the only state in the Union to actually use a Bible verse for its slogan. No kidding. Kind of like Ohio is the only state not to have a state flag, we have a state burgee! Kind of like that whole "Imperium In Impeno" all over again, but just in a more subtle way.
According to newspaper reports, young James, or Jimmie as his fellow classmates at Hartwell School called him, made several trips from Cincinnati to Columbus to speak before the General Assumable. His efforts were rewarded and on October 1, 1959, "With God All Things Are Possible" became the official state motto.
In 1996 Governor Voinovich recommended that this motto be inscribed above the main entrance to the statehouse. This recommendation was later modified and placed at the west entrance. The ACLU sued the state citing the separation of church and state should be enforced. However, the court denied their plea and found that the motto could be used as long as it wasn't presented with the attribution to Matthew 19:26.
The complete text of the verse goes something like: ''It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'' Asked who, then can be saved, Jesus replied, ''With men, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.''