Creation of States
Admitted: March 4, 1791
Prior time as territory: Carved from state of New York
Journey to statehood: Complicated by pre- Revolutionary land fight between New York and New Hampshire about the area. During the Revolution, the area declared itself an independent republic - known first as "New Connecticut" and later "Vermont." After much bickering with New York about boundaries, Vermont was admitted as a state, in part to offset the anticipated admission of Kentucky, a Southern slave state.
Admitted: June 1, 1792
Prior time as territory: Carved from state of Virginia.
Journey to statehood: Launched by frontier settlers
who objected to government rule by the faraway capital in
civilized Virginia. After nine conventions held in Kentucky
between 1784 and 1791, and four acts of separation
proposed by the Virginia Legislature, the two states finally
agreed on terms of divorce, which included Kentucky
paying its share of a 1786 expedition against Indians.
Admitted: June 1, 1796
Prior time as territory: 6 years
Journey to statehood: Took place without congressionally approved "enabling act," and in so doing blazed a trail for six future states that would similarly barge into the Union without first being invited. Tennessee's first two "senators" were denied entry to Congress, but the territory later lobbied successfully for admission. Its first officially recognized congressman, Andrew Jackson, was elected in August 1796.
Admitted: March 1, 1803
Prior time as territory: 15 years
Journey to statehood: Was opposed by its own territorial governor, Arthur St. Clair, a Federalist who wanted to delay formation of a state populated mostly by rival Democrat-Republicans. President Thomas Jefferson, himself a Democrat-Republican, eventually booted the governor from office to clear the way for statehood. Though Congress approved Ohio statehood, it never formally accepted its constitution or passed an official act of admission.
Admitted: April 30, 1812
Prior time as territory: 8 years
Journey to statehood: Resisted by some in Congress who distrusted the "foreign element" in the former French possession, "With its Creoles, Acadians, Canary Islanders, Spaniards, Germans and Dominicans, a great majority of the population could not speak a coherent English sentence," one historian noted.
Admitted: December 11, 1816
Prior time as territory: 16 years
Journey to statehood: Encouraged in Washington as early as 1812, when Congress proposed an enabling act. But admission was delayed by the War of 1812, which diverted Congress, and Indian problems, which preoccupied the territory's residents. A wave of new settlers after the war cleared a smooth trail to a statehood petition, an enabling act, a draft constitution and eventual admission into the Union.
Admitted: December 10, 1817
Prior time as territory: 19 years
Journey to statehood: Viewed skeptically by a Congress that saw the territory as too sparsely populated and, geographically, too large. At the time, Mississippi territory included what later became the state of Alabama and was about twice the size of Pennsylvania. A population increase after the War of 1812, as well as the amputation of Alabama allayed those concerns.
Admitted: December 3, 1818
Prior time as territory: 19 years
Journey to statehood: Stalled when several early petitions were ignored by Congress, which had doubts about the state's population. Using techniques later echoed in Chicago machine politics, Illinois literally cheated its way into the Union with a fraudulent census that counted some settlers two or three times and others who were just passing through. The state became the least populous ever to be admitted
Admitted: December 3, 1818
Prior time as territory: 2 years, 9 months
Journey to statehood: Trouble free. After being severed from Mississippi in 1817, the territory requested and was granted a congressional enabling act, held a constitutional convention and drafted a state charter, which in turn was approved by Congress as the final step toward admission.
Admitted: March 15, 1820
Prior time as territory: Carved from state of Massachusetts
Journey to statehood: Made possible by the "Missouri Compromise" of 1820, designed to preserve the balance between slave and free states in congress. With the admission of Alabama and the pending admission of Missouri, the balance would have tilted toward slavery without the admission of Maine as a free state.
Admitted: August 10, 1821
Prior time as territory: 9 years
Journey to statehood: sparked the bitter debate in Congress that resulted in the Missouri Compromise. The House -- dominated by populous Northern states -- sought to prohibit slavery in Missouri. The Senate -- balanced between North and South -- favored admission of Missouri as a slave state. The resulting compromise admitted Maine as a free state, allowed Missouri to enter with no slavery restrictions but barred slavery in all other parts of the Louisiana Purchase north of Missouri's southern boundary.
Admitted: June 15, 1836
Prior time as territory: 17 years
Journey to statehood: Paralyzed by conflicting interests of non-slave-owning small farmers in northwestern corner of the state and slaveholding cotton growers in the southeastern corner. Followed Tennessee's unmannerly example of holding a statehood convention without congressional authorization but did not take the extra step of electing senators and representatives. Finally admitted as a slave state in a swap for Michigan as a free state.
Admitted: January 26, 1837
Prior time as territory: 32 years
Journey to statehood: Also followed the "Tennessee plan" of electing senators and congressmen with no prior congressional approval. The drive was nearly nixed by Ohio's congressional delegation because of a dispute over control of Toledo. Likewise, southerners objected to admission of another free state. The final deal? Ohio got Toledo. Michigan got to steal the "Upper Peninsula" from Wisconsin. And the South got Arkansas.
Admitted: March 3, 1845
Prior time as territory: 23 years
Journey to statehood: complicated by Seminole Indian wars and political schisms among the western panhandle (favoring annexation to Alabama), the Tallahassee region (favoring statehood) and the atlantic seaboard (favoring neither). The state held an unauthorized convention in 1838 to draft a constitution. Seven years later, Congress paired it for admission as a slave state with Iowa as a free state.
Admitted: December 29, 1845
Prior time as territory: Was independent republic since 1836
Journey to statehood: Launched with war for independence from Mexico. Texas' initial bid for annexation to the United States was defeated because Congress feared western expansion of slavery. Then the United States proclaimed its Manifest Destiny to be master over the entire continent and extended the Missouri Compromise line westward to allay concerns about expanding slavery. Texas was annexed and admitted as a slave state.
Admitted: December 28, 1846
Prior time as territory: 8 years
Journey to statehood: Twice was vetoed by its own populace despite support of early territorial governors. sentiments later shifted and Iowa pushed for statehood Tennessee-style, electing congressmen without prior congressional approval. Then free-staters in Congress tried to shrink the state's area -- presumably to leave more Northern territory open for future free states. Though Iowa's statehood was approved the same day as Florida's, the boundary question delayed formal admission for nearly two years.
Admitted: May 29, 1848
Prior time as territory: 12 years
Journey to statehood: forced upon reluctant settlers, who rejected statehood in four successive plebiscites. But in a fifth vote, residents increasingly angry with paltry federal appropriations turned the tide. The free state's admission encountered little resistance in Congress, where it was seen as a fair swap for slave state Texas.
Admitted: September 9, 1850
Prior time as territory: Under U.S. military rule
Journey to statehood: Paved by the gold rush and population boom of 1849. President Zachary Taylor supported statehood, but southerners complained its admission would upset the 15-to-15 balance between slave and free states. While Washington bickered, California drafted a constitution, elected senators and congressmen and proclaimed itself a state, Tennessee-style. congress later approved admission as a free state, in what was known as the "Compromise of 1850."
Admitted: February 14, 1859
Prior time as territory: 11 years
Journey to statehood: Zigzagged through the 1850s. The populace first rejected statehood in three plebiscites, then reversed its decision, drafted a constitution, elected representatives and proclaimed itself a state, Tennessee-style, with no enabling act. Congress eventually went along, after a fight over Oregon's discrimination against free blacks and Chinese.
Admitted: January 29, 1861
Prior time as territory: 7 years
Journey to statehood: The bloodiest in U.S. history. It started with an 1854 territorial act repealing the geographical restrictions of the Missouri Compromise and allowing settlers to decide the slavery question. As a result, both sides stocked the state with partisans, drafted conflicting constitutions and formed rival governments. A civil war broke out. The free-staters eventually prevailed, and "Bleeding Kansas" was admitted as a Tennessee-plan state.
Admitted: June 20, 1863
Prior time as territory: Carved from state of Virginia
Journey to statehood: Rooted in long-standing intrastate political differences brought to a boil with the onset of the Civil War. when Virginia seceded from the Union, 35 counties west of the Shenandoah Valley responded by seceding from Virginia. To conform to the U.S. Constitution -- which required one state's consent before another could be formed within its boundaries -- a rump "Virginia" Legislature loyal to the North gave approval.
Admitted: October 31, 1864
Prior time as territory: 3 years
Journey to statehood: Supported by gold-and silver-hungry newcomers, despite concerns that maintaining a state government might be too costly. President Abraham Lincoln and Republicans in Congress were eager to admit another pro-Union state to ensure passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing slavery.
Admitted: March 1, 1867
Prior time as territory: 13 years
Journey to statehood: Almost derailed at the last minute because of a restrictive provision in the state constitution that allowed only free white males to vote. President Andrew Johnson pocket-vetoed the Nebraska admission act, then vetoed it again outright, not relenting until the offending language was removed.
Admitted: August 1, 1876
Prior time as territory: 15 years
Journey to statehood: Stopped and started repeatedly. In 1859, residents rejected statehood in a plebiscite. In 1863, the territorial delegate introduced a statehood bill that died in committee. In 1864, Congress passed an enabling act, producing a state constitution that was rejected by the people. In 1865, the people approved a constitution and elected "senators" only to have them rejected by President Andrew Johnson. Statehood finally prevailed after the Civil War ended, railroads arrived and Indians were shoved aside.
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North and South Dakota
Admitted: November 2, 1889
Population: 460,000 (combined)
Prior time as territory: 28 years
Journey to statehood: became a political football as Republicans tried to get two states for the price of one by dividing the heavily Republican Dakota territory in half. But a Democratic-controlled Congress wanted to admit it as only one state, in exchange for Democratic New Mexico. A Republican sweep of the White House and Congress in the 1888 elections broke the stalemate, and America wound up with double Dakotas.
Admitted: November 8, 1889
Prior time as territory: 25 years
Journey to statehood: Stuck to the well-trod western path of Indian killings, gold rushes and silver bonanzas followed by an influx of settlers clamoring for statehood. Montana's statehood bid also benefited from the Republican sweep at the polls in 1888. That victory greased the skids for the admission of four GOP "Omnibus" states: the two Dakotas, Montana and Washington.
Admitted: November 11, 1889
Prior time as territory: 36 years
Journey to statehood: Thwarted in 1867, when a territorial petition for statehood was ignored by Congress. Thwarted again in 1878, when an unauthorized state constitution was drafted but then ignored by congress. Thwarted almost annually after that, when Democrats in Congress repeatedly shot down enabling acts introduced by the Washington delegate. Finally successful with the republican electoral sweep of 1888.
Admitted: July 3, 1890
Prior time as territory: 27 years
Journey to statehood: Previously handicapped by erratic population growth, but spurred on by the success of its neighboring "Omnibus" states. Territorial leaders called an unauthorized constitutional convention in 1889, and the resulting charter was approved by residents. Congress approved the constitution the following year, despite objections to some provisions, such as voting restrictions on Mormon men practicing polygamy.
Admitted: July 10, 1890
Population: 60, 705
Prior time as territory: 22 years
Journey to statehood: Faced minimal opposition in Congress, other than concerns about a small population. Some congressmen also didn't like the fact that the territorial legislature had granted equal rights to women, including the right to vote. Like Arkansas, Florida -- and later Hawaii -- Wyoming held a constitutional convention without congressional approval but didn't elect senators or representatives until it had been admitted.
Admitted: January 4, 1896
Prior time as territory: 46 years
Journey to statehood: Stalled for decades because of federal laws against polygamy, which was practiced by the Mormons who settled the territory. The Mormons endured various forms of federal persecution, including the dissolution of their church, confiscation of church property, abolition of women's suffrage and imposition of loyalty oaths for citizens. Statehood was achieved only after the Mormons struck an 1890 deal with the government to outlaw polygamy, establish public schools in the state and relinquish public control over political parties.
Admitted: November 16, 1907
Population: 1.4 million
Prior time as territory: 17 years
Journey to statehood: Rolled right over Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek, Choctaw and Seminole Indians who had been relocated from the Southeast in the 1830s on the "Trails of Tears." In the 1890s, the Indians were put on reservations; their land was sold and settled by whites -- known as "Sooners" -- who literally raced on horseback to claim their plots. The resulting population boom culminated in statehood. One consolation for the Indians was that they were invited to the constitutional convention in 1907.
Admitted: January 6, 1912
Prior time as territory: 62 years
Journey to statehood: Began in 1848, even before it became a territory as part of the Compromise of 1850. Residents craved statehood almost as soon as the ink dried on the 1848 treaty purchasing the area from Mexico. But sparse population, party politics, racism, jingoism and anti-Catholicism in the United States kept New Mexico a territory longer than any other state. It was finally admitted in tandem with Arizona.
Admitted: February 14, 1912
Prior time as territory: 49 years
Journey to statehood: Sidetracked by Congress in 1891 because an unauthorized convention had produced a constitution declaring silver as legal tender. A decade later, a Senate proposal to admit Arizona and New Mexico as a single state was shot down in Arizona. Finally, President William Howard Taft recommended admitting Arizona and New Mexico as separate states, resulting in statehood two years.
Admitted: January 3, 1959
Prior time as territory: 47 years
Journey to statehood: Began with first application for admission in 1916 -- four years after the area attained territorial status and 49 years after it was purchased from Russia. For several decades, opposition centered on small population and remoteness from other states. Residents approved statehood in a 1946 referendum, but efforts to convince Congress fell flat. Alaska finally succeeded with the Tennessee plan -- electing senators and representatives without congressional approval -- and the support of President Dwight Eisenhower.
Admitted: August 21, 1959
Prior time as territory: 59 years
Journey to statehood: Delayed by World War II after getting a boost from a 1940 plebiscite that showed residents supported statehood 2-to-1. The 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor fueled racist concerns about the loyalty of the islands' Japanese and Chinese population. After the war, Democrats in Congress held predominantly Republican Hawaii at bay until predominantly Democratic Alaska was admitted.
The Making of the United States
A Short Course in U. S. History
THE MAKING OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
When and how the states came to be
THE 13 STATES THAN BEGAN IT ALL. . .
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