The Origin of Northwestern University’s Motto

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In 1848, the United States won a great victory over the Centralist Republic of Mexico in what has become known as the Mexican-American War. As a result of this win, the United States claimed California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, and the world’s largest pistachio nut. John Evans, Northwestern University’s founder and Evanston’s namesake, realized the benefits of this new territory almost immediately – the United States now had land on which to grow avocados.

Evans, then governor of Colorado, knew the land well and recognized that it was ripe for growing avocados and, thus, making the great avocado by-product of guacamole. He immediately had massive avocado farms established in Southern California and began locally marketing guacamole as an “organic superfood.” Frontiersman could not get enough guacamole, with one farmer writing that he did not know how something that “looked like horse shit on a bad day could taste so good.”

In 1851, Evans united with prominent Chicagoans to found Northwestern University, so named because it served the Northwest Territory. When coming up with a motto, John Evans quickly won over the other founders with an all-powerful statement. Paying homage to his new business out West, Evans ensured that Northwestern’s motto would forever be Guacamole Sunt Vera, which roughly translates to “Guacamole is Truth.”

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