US States Ranked By Statehood Date
The United States of America
is a federal republic in North America made up of 50 states. 48 of the 50 states are located within the continent’s middle latitude and collectively known as contiguous states. The other two states, Alaska and Hawaii, are located in the Mid-Pacific Ocean. The contiguous states are bounded by Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico
on the south, east by the Atlantic Ocean
, north by Canada, and west by the Pacific Ocean
. Besides the 50 states, the US has dependencies or overseas territories, some of which have expressed the desire to gain statehood.
John Trumbull's painting, Declaration of Independence, being represented to the Congress.
In just over 240 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence
, America has grown from the original 13 states (previously known as Thirteen British Colonies) to the 50 individual states. The states are the main subdivision of the US and share powers with the federal government. While the federal government is in charge of the country’s overall welfare, the state governments are concerned with local state issues, including constructing and maintaining non-federal roads, elections, public or local school policies, and provision of basic services. Each state is guided by both the federal and state constitution, with each state having a unique state constitution.
At the national level, all 50 states are represented in a bicameral parliament known as Congress. The US Congress comprises the Senate or upper chambers and the House of Representatives, also known as the Lower House. Each state elects two senators to the Senate and at least one Representative to the House, depending on the state’s population. However, the total membership to the House is capped at 435. Moreover, each state participates in the presidential election through the Electoral College. The states are assigned EC votes depending on the number of their representatives (Senators and Reps) in the Congress.
Map of the original 13 colonies.
Although the Thirteen Colonies became states in 1776 upon the Declaration of Independence, the statehood dates for all 50 states vary. Stories behind the statehoods are filled with diplomatic negotiations and compromises, battles, and a desire for freedom and democracy by the citizens. The first 13 states gained statehood between 1787 and 1790 through the ratification of the US Constitution, while the other 37 states joined the Union through admission. Through the New States Clause (Admission to the Union) of the US Constitution, the US Congress has powers to admit territories into the Union as new states. However, Congress cannot form new states out of existing ones.
Delaware, also known as “The First State,” was the first to ratify the 1787 Constitution, doing so on December 7, 1787, and becoming the first state to gain statehood. It was followed by Pennsylvania
five days later and New Jersey
on December 18, 1787. Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, and New York were all admitted into the Union on various dates between January and July 1788. Sixteen states had been admitted to the Union by the end of the 18th century. Alaska
(January 3, 1959) and Hawaii
(August 21, 1959) are the latest states to be admitted to the Union.
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