The Nifty Fifty

August 2008


Wisconsin became the thirtieth state on May 29, 1848. Rhode Island achieved statehood on the same date in 1790. Minnesota and South Carolina were the only other May states.


Delaware became the first state on December 7, 1787. I wonder if Japan knew the significance of this date when planning the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 -- attacking the country on the date it symbolically began.


Four states use the official title of commonwealth rather than state: Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.


Eight states entered the Union in 1788, the greatest number to enter in one year. New Hampshire‘s statehood on June 21, 1788, marked the two-thirds quota needed to make the Constitution official. The government was set to begin operations under the new Constitution on March 4, 1789. Although George Washington wasn’t inaugurated until April 30 of the same year, subsequent elected presidents were inaugurated on March 4 until 1941, when FDR was inaugurated on January 20 for his third term.


Two states attained statehood on St. Valentine’s Day, Arizona in 1912 and Oregon in 1859. December is the most popular statehood month, bringing in nine states in three spurts. States 1-3, 19-22, and 28-29. The only October state, Nevada, became so on Halloween in 1864. September claims only one state, California in 1850.


North Dakota and South Dakota both became states on November 2, 1889, as the 39th and 40th states, irrespectively. Five states were admitted to the Union during the twentieth century. Oklahoma in 1907, Arizona and New Mexico in 1912, and Alaska and Hawaii in 1959.


While James Buchanan was president, seven states seceded from the Union and three were admitted as new states. Four more states seceded after Lincoln took office, and two new states were admitted during the War. The Confederacy claimed Missouri and Kentucky as two of the 13 stars on the Rebel flag, but the states never officially seceded from the Union. West Virginia “seceded” from Virginia and became a state in 1863 after differing opinions regarding secession from the Union.


Part of today’s Tennessee existed for four years as the state of Franklin shortly after the Revolutionary War. In 1859, the state of Jefferson was proposed in an area now part of Colorado. Since 1941, another state of Jefferson has been proposed several times in the area of southern Oregon and northern California. In 1869, a southwestern section of Texas was proposed to become the state of Lincoln. As recently 2005, another state of Lincoln was proposed in an area along the Idaho panhandle and Washington border.


Nine states have not been included in this article. Can you name them?