Crescit Eundo: What does New Mexico’s State Motto Mean?
It Grows As It Goes – What does New Mexico’s State Motto Mean?
It is 1882 and William Ritch, Secretary of New Mexico Territory is tasked with creating a motto to add to our Territory Seal. He decides on the words Crescit Eundo, Latin for “It Grows as It Goes”. He had his reasons but left no record of why he chose it. It is not straightforward like Indiana’s “The Crossroads of America”, or sweet and simple like Texas’ “Friendship”. This has left generations of New Mexicans scratching their heads and wondering, “What does, It Grows as it Goes mean?”
Crescit Eundo has an interesting history behind it. We know that Secretary Ritch borrowed it from an ancient Roman text, the “De Rerum Natura”. “On The Nature of Things” was written by the Roman philosopher Lucretius, sometime during the 1st century. It was a book that took the Roman world by storm because it described a natural phenomenon like earthquakes, disease, and even death as being caused not by the Gods, but by nature itself.
Lucretius wanted to dispel the idea that the Gods controlled your life. He was an Epicurean, a school of philosophy that believed the Gods existed, but that they did not interfere with the earth or with any of our lives. He also believed that all matter, including human beings, were comprised of swirling masses of minuscule and indivisible particles. These atoms react to each other, and causality happened through their interaction. You can see how close this is to our modern scientific understanding of the world, and when he wrote this book, the Romans were amazed. One spectacular example from his book was lightning.
Imagine living as a simple farmer in the year 50 BC. Clouds begin to form in the skies above, and suddenly, without warning, a bolt of heat and light falls from the heavens with a thunderous roar and blows apart a tree right in front of you. What else could it be but the Gods being horribly angry at you? What did you do to piss them off?
Good news! Says Lucretius, you don’t have to sacrifice your fattest goats to appease the Gods. He goes to great lengths to describe how lighting is a natural phenomenon. That it always comes from clouds, so they have a known cause, and that it can be described through the interaction of atoms.
Once again, because it comes with long-lasting impulse, it is bound to gather speed ever more and more, which grows as it goes, and increases its strong might and strengthens its stroke. De Rerum Natura. Book VI pg 246 of Cyril Bailey’s Translation 1910 https://archive.org/details/lucretiusonthena00lucruoft
In essence, he is saying that the bolt of lightning gets faster and stronger as it moves forward, it grows as it goes, atom by atom, as it comes down from the clouds to the earth. The actual physics of a lightning bolt is actually quite different, but it is not a bad hypothesis for someone who lived over 2000 years ago.
Fast forward to 1882, and you are William Ritch. You are tasked with coming up with a motto for the land and its people. What do you pick? A motto says, this is who we are, what we believe in, and who we desire to be in the future. Picking the right motto is to put the state and all of its future generations on a path. You better pick the right motto.
Crescit Eundo. It grows as it goes, was Lucretius explanation for how a bolt of lightning works. Lightning is a powerful force, but its power does not come from the gods, it comes from within itself. It flows as a streak of light growing atom by atom through the sky.
If you have ever lived in New Mexico, you know that we still have a lot of our old west mentality. Fiercely independent, the people know that strength and good fortune aren’t given to us. These characteristics are earned. New Mexicans know that if good things happen, they happen because we make it happen.
Every day, young people here in New Mexico are starting businesses with dreams of making that money, and that money comes one sale at a time. We are looking to create social change to make New Mexico a land of opportunity, and that change happens with each person we talk to about it. Each of us is looking to make life better for ourselves and our families, and that life happens by making an effort each and every day.
A bolt of lightning starts off as a few electrically charged atoms, then the charge grows as it goes until it shows its true force.
And here in New Mexico, our bolt of lightning is sparking.