The idea for Alabama's state motto came from Marie Bankhead Owen of the Alabama Department of Archives and History while searching for a phrase to be put on the state coat of arms (completed in 1923). The motto was inspired by a poem by the 18th-century author Sir William Jones which includes the stanza,
"What constitutes a state? . . .
Men who their duties know,
but know their rights,
and knowing, dare maintain."
The motto was translated into Latin by Professor W. B. Saffold, of the University of Alabama (Audemus jura nostra defendere).