What is the order of states by their date of admission to the Union? A state of the United States is defined as one of the 50 constituent entities that share its sovereignty with the United States federal government. States are the primary subdivisions of the United States. States possess all powers not granted to the federal government and not prohibited by the Constitution of the United States.
Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1 of the Constitution grants Congress the authority to admit new states into the Union. Each new state that has been admitted to the Union since its establishment in 1776 has been admitted on equal footing with existing states. Since 1776, the number of states has expanded from the original 13 colonies to 50 states. The first 13 states were "ratified," and the rest of the states were "admitted."
The United States of America was established in July 1776 when the first 13 states – then known as the 13 colonies – agreed to the United States Declaration of Independence. Each of the first 13 states' names were formed from their previous names formatted as "Crown Colony of (State)" or "Proprietary Province of (State)." Pennsylvania and Maryland were "Proprietary Provinces."
The first state to join the Union was Delaware, which ratified the 1787 Constitution (which created the federal Union of states that exists today) on December 7, 1787. Pennsylvania closely followed it on December 12, 1787, and New Jersey on December 18, 1787. A further ten states along the eastern seaboard made up the original 13 states of the United States of America. Eight states were ratified in 1788, followed by North Carolina in November 1789 and Rhode Island in May 1790.
Over the next 20 years, a further 11 states joined the Union, including Ohio (1803), Louisiana (1812), and Maine (1820). There was then a gap of 15 years before the next state joined – this was Arkansas in June 1836. Two of today's most populous states, Texas and California, joined in 1845 and 1850, respectively. By the end of the 19th century, the majority of the states that make up the current Union had joined. Utah was the last 19th-century state to join in January 1896.
Throughout the 20th century, only a further five states would join the Union. Three of these were Oklahoma in November 1907, New Mexico in January 1912, and Arizona in February 1912, completing the contiguous United States. Alaska was purchased from Russia on March 30, 1867, for $7.2 million. Alaska was admitted to the Union on January 3, 1959. Hawaii was admitted to the Union a few months later, on August 21, 1959. The admission of Alaska and Hawaii to the Union brought the U.S. to 50 total states. Today, Americans are citizens of both the state in which they live and the Federal Republic of the United States. Interestingly, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Kentucky continue to use the term 'commonwealth' rather than the state in their full official names.