States ranked by their entry into America
It’s amazing to see how much America has grown in just 242 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. From 13 original colonies to 50 individual states that serve as one cohesive nation, the United States of America is filled with people of all types from coast to coast who are proud to be Americans.
While some Americans live on a peninsula jutting out from the southeastern tip of the country (Florida) and others live in a frozen tundra purchased from Russia (Alaska), it is those differences in location and population that make the nation as a whole greater than its individual states.
The story of how each state entered the Union is the story of America itself, filled with battles, diplomatic compromises, and a desire for democracy and freedom that unites all citizens of this great nation. This list is ranked by each state’s entry into America and sorted by the date each state was recognized—be it through ratification as part of the 13 original colonies, or as one of the 37 subsequent territories to achieve statehood over the years.
Read through to discover exactly how the United States were formed to be a more perfect union via geographic and demographic diversity.
RELATED: Do you know your state flag?
Date entered Union: Dec. 7, 1787 (ratified)
Delaware earned its nickname as the “First State” when it was the first colony to ratify the U.S. Constitution on Dec. 7, 1787. It originally existed as a colony and was connected to Pennsylvania starting in 1682, but announced its independence of both Britain and Pennsylvania in 1776. The name of the state comes from the Delaware River, which was initially named in 1610 in honor of Thomas West, the governor of the Virginia colony, who was also known as Baron De La Warr.
Date entered Union: Dec. 12, 1787 (ratified)
The second official state in the newly formed United States was Pennsylvania, named after William Penn, who created the colony as a safe place for Quakers to live and practice their religion without persecution. Penn was granted the charter for his colony in 1681, and it grew to be the third largest English colony in America by 1776. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania played a considerable role in American history. Both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were created and signed in Philadelphia, the state’s capital.
#3. New Jersey
Date entered Union: Dec. 18, 1787 (ratified)
While New Jersey became a British colony in 1664, it was first known as part of New Netherlands, a Dutch territory established in 1609. During the Revolutionary War, New Jersey proved to be a crucial battleground: More than 100 battles were fought there, including the pivotal Battle of Trenton. Not only did New Jersey become the third state to ratify the Constitution in 1787, but they were also the first state to sign the Bill of Rights.
Date entered Union: Jan. 2, 1788 (ratified)
The state of Georgia began as a colony in 1732 when it was founded by James Oglethorpe, who intended the land to be a haven for the poor and previously imprisoned debtors. The youngest of all the colonies, Georgia served as a buffer between the Spanish-dominated territories of Florida and the other British colonies. Like the rest of its colonial brethren, Georgia became a state when it ratified the Constitution just after New Year’s Day in 1788.
Date entered Union: Jan. 9, 1788 (ratified)
Connecticut was founded by English Puritans who came not from Britain itself, but from Massachusetts. Major figures from the Revolutionary War, such as Nathan Hale and Gen. Israel Putnam, called Connecticut home, and the state was key in providing supplies to Washington’s armies. It was the Connecticut delegation that proposed America’s bicameral legislative system via the “Connecticut Compromise” and cleared the path for the Constitution to be approved and, eventually, ratified.
Date entered Union: Feb. 6, 1788 (ratified)
One of the most important colonies during the American Revolution, Massachusetts was home to Paul Revere’s famous ride, the Boston Tea Party, and numerous other events that changed the course of American history. The state still celebrates its Revolutionary history with a legal holiday called Patriots’ Day, which is observed on the third Monday of April every year. The colony became an official state/commonwealth when it ratified the Constitution in February 1788.
Date entered Union: Apr. 28, 1788 (ratified)
The colony of Maryland was first granted to the Baron of Baltimore in 1632 and was named for Queen Henrietta Maria, the spouse of King Charles I. In 1750, two surveyors were charged with creating boundaries for the colony to separate it from Pennsylvania. The resulting Mason-Dixon Line, named for the surveyors, also became the boundary between the free states and the slave states in the 19th century. In April of 1788, Maryland ratified the Constitution to become the seventh American state.
#8. South Carolina
Date entered Union: May. 23, 1788 (ratified)
South Carolina officially became a state in May 1788, almost six months before its northern neighbor North Carolina achieved statehood. The Carolinas were joined as one until 1712 and officially split in 1729 when the Carolina Colony was formally dissolved. Once it became a state, South Carolina adopted a state flag that features the palmetto, a tree that figured into the historic Battle of Sullivan’s Island that is celebrated each year in June on Carolina Day.
#9. New Hampshire
Date entered Union: Jun. 21, 1788 (ratified)
Originally chartered in 1620 as part of the Charter of New England, New Hampshire was granted its own charter in 1629. Before becoming a state, New Hampshire had a fascinating off-again, on-again relationship with Massachusetts and didn’t have a formalized provincial government of its own until 1741. Nearly 50 years later, the Granite State became formally recognized through their ratification of the Constitution.
Date entered Union: Jun. 25, 1788 (ratified)
When Virginia ratified the U.S. Constitution in 1788, the state was comprised of much more land. That’s because it included the area that is currently West Virginia. Before it was a state, the Jamestown colony in Virginia was the first area of the soon-to-be nation that was permanently settled by the British.2018 All rights reserved.