U.S. State History

What began as thirteen colonies in the earliest years has grown to be 50 states within the United States.

The process of adding states has been long and involved and grew based on the expansion into the various areas of the continent and the people that chose to live and thrive there.

Getting the approval of a state is not an easy thing and once the country reached 50 states, any additional areas outside of the continent are considered to be territories.

13 Colonies as the First 13 States

The American Revolution was a rebellion against the British Crown and the results brought about a condition of independence.

When the war was over, the thirteen original colonies created the U.S. Constitution and with the signatures of their representatives, formed an entirely new and independent government.

Each of the colonies voted to ratify the Constitution and in doing so became the first thirteen states of the United States. The first state on the list for ratification was Delaware, on Dec. 7, 1787.

Expansion into the Northwest Territory

As the country grew, so did the demand for land. The Revolutionary War created a situation where the United States now had control over large frontier areas that were to the west of the thirteen colonies.

Originally these sections of land were divided into large territories, but as time passed they became the states of Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.

The Huge Benefit of the Louisiana Purchase

Up until 1803, the French had claim to much of the Southeastern portion of the continent. This are included a major seaport that was incorporated by the Mississippi River and offered a critical access for new businesses that were growing and prospering.

While the French Emperor Napoleon originally wanted to maintain the area as part of his world empire, he had a lot of financial problems and finally agreed to sell the land.

President Thomas Jefferson finalized the deal in what is known as the Louisiana Purchase, which almost doubled the size of the country, adding 828,000 acres. These eventually became 15 new states in the U.S.

Moving West

There was still quite a bit of land in the continent that belonged to Mexico, but it took what is now known as Texas to declare its independence from Mexico and that started the Mexican-American War.

Fighting continued until Mexico conceded with the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo. The land that became part of the United States is now part of or all of ten additional states, including Texas, California, Colorado, and New Mexico.

The Attraction of the Northwest

The Northwestern area of the continent was really claimed by both the U.S. and Great Britain.

It was a confusing situation until the 1840’s when both countries agreed to the Oregon Treaty in 1846.

The treaty opened up the Northwest Territories that eventually became the states of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and parts of Montana and Wyoming.

Only the South West Remained

To complete the continent there were additional areas of the Southwest that needed to be added. The 1853 Gadsden Purchase gained the southern portions of what is now the states of Arizona and New Mexico.

Hawaii and Alaska

The Alaskan territory was a critical stretch of land as it connected what was then, Russia, with Canada and made it important to have as part of the United States.

The U.S. government purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, making it the 49th state. Hawaii agreed to become a state in 1959 and this addition totaled to the current 50 states.

Facts about the U.S. State History:

  • Alaska is known for its extreme and bitter cold, but it also has extended time daylight. Thanks to the often 20 hours of sunshine during the summer days, they can grow produce bigger than in almost any other state.
  • Arkansas is part of the Southern Bible Belt and a large farming community. However, when Arkansas became a state they didn’t know that it had hidden diamonds. The largest diamond ever found in the U.S. was an 8.52-carat Esperanza gem in 2015, valued at $1 million. In 1924 they found a 40.23 carat Uncle Sam diamond in Arkansas Crater of Diamonds State Park.
  • The native Hawaiian language is called “olelo pai ai”. It contains only thirteen letters, 5 vowels and 8 consonants. There are only four rules in their language: all of the words end in a vowel, every consonant is followed by at least one vowel; and every syllable ends in a vowel.
  • Iowa is overrun with an enormous number of ancient creatures. Areas such as Mahaska County contains more mammoth bones than anywhere else in the country.
  • The State of Kentucky was once only a county in the state of Virginia. The citizens in that western state area became very bothered by the fact that Richmond, the capital of their state was such a long distance. They petitioned Virginia to become their own state and in 1792, they became the 15th state of the United States.
  • Many of the states in the U.S. are oddly shaped. The reasons for this vary from citizens that wanted to remain as part of a state all the way to ensuring that each state had a connection to a waterway.