A state of the United States of America is one of the 50 constituent entities that shares its sovereignty with the federal government . Americans are citizens of both the federal republic and of the state in which they reside , due to the shared sovereignty between each state and the federal government. Kentucky , Massachusetts , Pennsylvania , and Virginia use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.

States are the primary subdivisions of the United States and possess a number of powers and rights under the United States Constitution , such as regulating intrastate commerce, running elections , creating local governments , and ratifying constitutional amendments . Each state has its own constitution grounded in republican principles , and government consisting of executive , legislative , and judicial branches.

All states and their residents are represented in the federal Congress , a bicameral legislature consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives . Each state is represented by two Senators, while Representatives are distributed among the states in proportion to the most recent constitutionally mandated decennial census . Additionally, each state is entitled to select a number of electors to vote in the Electoral College , the body that elects the President of the United States , equal to the total of Representatives and Senators in Congress from that state.

Article IV , Section 3, Clause 1 of the Constitution grants to Congress the authority to admit new states into the Union. Since the establishment of the United States in 1776, the number of states has expanded from the original 13 to 50. Each new state has been admitted on an equal footing with the existing states. [2]

The following table is a list of all 50 states and their respective dates of statehood. The first 13 became states in July 1776 upon agreeing to the United States Declaration of Independence , and each joined the first Union of states between 1777 and 1781, upon ratifying the Articles of Confederation , its first constitution. (A separate table is included below showing AoC ratification dates.) These states are presented in the order in which each ratified the 1787 Constitution, thus joining the present federal Union of states. The date of admission listed for each subsequent state is the official date set by Act of Congress.

List of U.S. states

State Date
(admitted or ratified)
Formed from
The order in which the original 13 states ratified the 1787 Constitution, then the order in which the others were admitted to the union
December 7, 1787
(ratified) Crown Colony of Delaware 2 Pennsylvania December 12, 1787 [11]
(ratified) Crown Colony of Pennsylvania 3 New Jersey December 18, 1787 [29]
(ratified) Crown Colony of New Jersey 4 Georgia January 2, 1788
(ratified) Crown Colony of Georgia 5 Connecticut January 9, 1788 [13]
(ratified) Crown Colony of Connecticut 6 Massachusetts February 6, 1788
(ratified) Crown Colony of Massachusetts Bay 7 Maryland April 28, 1788
(ratified) Crown Colony of Maryland 8 South Carolina May 23, 1788
(ratified) Crown Colony of South Carolina 9 New Hampshire June 21, 1788
(ratified) Crown Colony of New Hampshire 10 Virginia June 25, 1788
(ratified) Crown Colony of Virginia 11 New York July 26, 1788 [14]
(ratified) Crown Colony of New York 12 North Carolina November 21, 1789 [15]
(ratified) Crown Colony of North Carolina 13 Rhode Island May 29, 1790
(ratified) Crown Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations 14 Vermont March 4, 1791 [3]
(admitted) Vermont Republic 15 Kentucky June 1, 1792 [20]
(admitted) Virginia (District of Kentucky: Fayette , Jefferson , and Lincoln counties)16 Tennessee June 1, 1796 [20]
(admitted) Southwest Territory 17 Ohio March 1, 1803 [15] [17]
(admitted) Northwest Territory (part)18 Louisiana April 30, 1812 [85]
(admitted) Territory of Orleans 19 Indiana December 11, 1816
(admitted) Indiana Territory 20 Mississippi December 10, 1817 [39]
(admitted) Mississippi Territory 21 Illinois December 3, 1818 [41]
(admitted) Illinois Territory (part)22 Alabama December 14, 1819 [6]
(admitted) Alabama Territory 23 Maine March 15, 1820 [22]
(admitted) Massachusetts ( District of Maine )24 Missouri August 10, 1821 [49]
(admitted) Missouri Territory (part)25 Arkansas June 15, 1836 [30]
(admitted) Arkansas Territory 26 Michigan January 26, 1837 [31]
(admitted) Michigan Territory 27 Florida March 3, 1845
(admitted) Florida Territory 28 Texas December 29, 1845
(admitted) Republic of Texas 29 Iowa December 28, 1846
(admitted) Iowa Territory (part)30 Wisconsin May 29, 1848 [32]
(admitted) Wisconsin Territory (part)31 California September 9, 1850 [19]
(admitted) unorganized territory (part) 32 Minnesota May 11, 1858 [55]
(admitted) Minnesota Territory (part)33 Oregon February 14, 1859
(admitted) Oregon Territory (part)34 Kansas January 29, 1861 [15]
(admitted) Kansas Territory (part)35 West Virginia June 20, 1863 [24]
(admitted) Virginia (Trans- Allegheny region counties)36 Nevada October 31, 1864
(admitted) Nevada Territory 37 Nebraska March 1, 1867
(admitted) Nebraska Territory 38 Colorado August 1, 1876 [39]
(admitted) Colorado Territory 39 North Dakota November 2, 1889 [24]
(admitted) Dakota Territory (part)40 South Dakota November 2, 1889 [24]
(admitted) Dakota Territory (part)41 Montana November 8, 1889 [42]
(admitted) Montana Territory 42 Washington November 11, 1889 [64]
(admitted) Washington Territory 43 Idaho July 3, 1890
(admitted) Idaho Territory 44 Wyoming July 10, 1890
(admitted) Wyoming Territory 45 Utah January 4, 1896 [2]
(admitted) Utah Territory 46 Oklahoma November 16, 1907 [2]
(admitted) Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory 47 New Mexico January 6, 1912
(admitted) New Mexico Territory 48 Arizona February 14, 1912
(admitted) Arizona Territory 49 Alaska January 3, 1959
(admitted) Territory of Alaska 50 Hawaii August 21, 1959
(admitted) Territory of Hawaii

Articles of Confederation ratification dates

The Second Continental Congress approved the Articles of Confederation for ratification by the individual states on November 15, 1777. The Articles of Confederation came into force on March 1, 1781, after being ratified by all 13 states. On March 4, 1789, the general government under the Articles was replaced with the federal government under the present Constitution . [2]

State Date
1 Virginia December 16, 1777
2 South Carolina February 5, 1778
3 New York February 6, 1778
4 Rhode Island February 9, 1778
5 Connecticut February 12, 1778
6 Georgia February 26, 1778
7 New Hampshire March 4, 1778
8 Pennsylvania March 5, 1778
9 Massachusetts March 10, 1778
10 North Carolina April 5, 1778
11 New Jersey November 19, 1778
12 Delaware February 1, 1779
13 Maryland February 2, 1781

See also

  • Enabling Act of 1802 , authorizing residents of the eastern portion of the Northwest Territory to form the state of Ohio
  • Missouri Compromise , 1820 federal statute enabling the admission of Missouri (a slave state ) and Maine (a free state) into the Union
  • Toledo War , 1835–36 boundary dispute between Ohio and the adjoining Michigan Territory, which delayed Michigan's admission to the Union
  • Texas annexation , the 1845 incorporation of the Republic of Texas into the United States as a state in the Union
  • Compromise of 1850 , a package of congressional acts, one of which provided for the admission of California to the Union
  • Bleeding Kansas , a series of violent conflicts in Kansas Territory involving anti-slavery and pro-slavery factions in the years preceding Kansas statehood, 1854–61
  • Enabling Act of 1889 , authorizing residents of Dakota, Montana, and Washington territories to form state governments (Dakota to be divided into two states) and to gain admission to the Union
  • Enabling Act of 1906 authorizing residents of Oklahoma, Indian, New Mexico, and Arizona territories to form state governments (Indian and Oklahoma territories to be combined into one state) and to gain admission to the Union
  • Alaska Statehood Act , admitting Alaska as a state in the Union as of January 3, 1959


  1. This list does not account for the secession of 11 states (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas) during the Civil War to form the Confederate States of America , nor for the subsequent restoration of those states to the Union, or each state's "readmission to representation in Congress" after the war , as the federal government does not give legal recognition to their having left the Union. Also, the Constitution is silent on the question of whether states have the power to secede from the Union, but the Supreme Court held that a state cannot unilaterally do so in Texas v. White (1869). [5]
  2. Also known as the "Three Lower Counties Upon Delaware". Delaware became a state on June 15, 1776, when the Delaware Assembly formally adopted a resolution declaring an end to Delaware's status as a colony of Great Britain and establishing the three counties as an independent state under the authority of "the Government of the Counties of New Castle, Kent and Sussex Upon Delaware". [317]
  3. Between 1749 and 1764 the provincial governor of New Hampshire , Benning Wentworth , issued approximately 135 grants for unoccupied land claimed by New Hampshire west of the Connecticut River (in what is today southern Vermont), territory that was also claimed by New York . The resulting " New Hampshire Grants " dispute led to the rise of the Green Mountain Boys , and the later establishment of the Vermont Republic. New Hampshire's claim upon the land was extinguished in 1764 by royal order of George III , and in 1790 the State of New York ceded its land claim to Vermont for 30,000 dollars .
  4. The Virginia General Assembly adopted legislation on December 18, 1789 separating its "District of Kentucky" from the rest of the State and approving its statehood. [21]
  5. The exact date upon which Ohio became a state is unclear. On April 30, 1802 the 7th Congress had passed an act "authorizing the inhabitants of Ohio to form a Constitution and state government, and admission of Ohio into the Union" (Sess. 1, ch. 40, 2 Stat. ). On February 19, 1803 the same Congress passed an act "providing for the execution of the laws of the United States in the State of Ohio" (Sess. 2, ch. 7, 2 Stat. ). Neither act, however, set a formal date of statehood. An official statehood date for Ohio was not set until 1953, when the 83rd Congress passed a Joint resolution "for admitting the State of Ohio into the Union", (, 67 Stat. , enacted August 7, 1953) which designated March 1, 1803, as that date. [5]
  6. The Massachusetts General Court passed enabling legislation on June 19, 1819 separating the "District of Maine" from the rest of the State (an action approved by the voters in Maine on July 19, 1819 by 17,001 to 7,132); then, on February 25, 1820, passed a follow-up measure officially accepting the fact of Maine's imminent statehood. [21]
  7. On May 13, 1862, the General Assembly of the Restored Government of Virginia passed an act granting permission for creation of West Virginia. [25] Later, by its ruling in Virginia v. West Virginia (1871), the Supreme Court implicitly affirmed that the breakaway Virginia counties did have the proper consents necessary to become a separate state. [26]
  8. When President Benjamin Harrison signed the statehood proclamations for North and South Dakota he shuffled the papers on his desk and covered up all but the signature line of the documents. No one knows which state he signed into existence first. North Dakota's proclamation was published first in the Statutes at Large , as it is first in alphabetical order. [40]
  9. Brought into existence within moments of each other on the same day, North and South Dakota are the nation's only twin-born states.