Montani Semper Liberi

Dolly Sods, spruce trees, landscape of valley below
Chad Matlick / WVPB

“Montani Semper Liberi ⁠— Mountaineers Are Always Free” is West Virginia’s state motto, but it is more than that. It is a belief system that is not just true about the Mountain State. It rings true throughout Appalachia and even mountains on other continents. 

On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we'll take a look at how the natural environment has influenced our lives. 


E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On September 26, 1863, the first West Virginia Legislature adopted our state motto and great seal. Both were the brainchild of Joseph H. Diss Debar of Doddridge County. For the state motto, Debar suggested a Latin phrase, “Montani Semper Liberi,” which translates as “Mountaineers are always free.” This phrase had been long used by Swiss immigrants, like Debar, to express their independent spirit.