Main Staircase Window
After the iron railings on the Main Staircase were cast, the molds were broken to ensure that the railings would be one of a kind.
Only four states are "commonwealths": Kentucky, Virginia,
Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Massachusetts chose this designation
when its first constitution, the "Constitution of Massachusetts Bay"
was turned down by the cities and towns; in order to differentiate the
second constitution, which for the first time included a Bill of Rights,
the Constitution Convention named it the "Constitution of the Commonwealth
Since its settlement, Massachusetts has had a series of state seals. The first is shown in the top pane of the painted and stained glass window. Designed in England for the original commercial enterprise that was the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the seal portrays, unrealistically, an Native American attired in a grass skirt voicing the plea, "Come Over and Help Us."
When Massachusetts became part of the New England Royal Dominion in 1684
a new seal, shown below the first, was adopted. The family seals of the
provincial governors appear on the two side panels and the Revolutionary
seal is located at the bottom of the window. This seal portrays a colonist
clutching the Magna Carta in one hand and a sword in the other. Our current
state motto, "Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem", was
adopted at that time. It means "By the sword we seek peace, but peace
only under liberty."
Massachusetts adopted its current seal in 1780. It appears just above the Revolutionary seal. A more realistically dressed Native American is shown on a blue background standing below a drawn sword. The star over his shoulder indicates that Massachusetts is one of the original colonies. The motto of the commonwealth appears at the bottom of the seal.