The Making of the United States of America - When and How the States Came to be - Eight Came During the First Quarter of the Nineteenth Century
Reprinted with permission of Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services
OhioAdmitted: March 1, 1803
Prior time as territory: 15 years
Journey to statehood: Was opposed by its own territorial governor, Arthur St. Clair, a Federalist who wanted to delay formation of a state populated mostly by rival Democrat-Republicans. President Thomas Jefferson, himself a Democrat-Republican, eventually booted the governor from office to clear the way for statehood. Though Congress approved Ohio statehood, it never formally accepted its constitution or passed an official act of admission.
LouisianaAdmitted: April 30, 1812
Prior time as territory: 8 years
Journey to statehood: Resisted by some in Congress who distrusted the "foreign element" in the former French possession, "With its Creoles, Acadians, Canary Islanders, Spaniards, Germans and Dominicans, a great majority of the population could not speak a coherent English sentence," one historian noted.
IndianaAdmitted: December 11, 1816
Prior time as territory: 16 years
Journey to statehood: Encouraged in Washington as early as 1812, when Congress proposed an enabling act. But admission was delayed by the War of 1812, which diverted Congress, and Indian problems, which preoccupied the territory's residents. A wave of new settlers after the war cleared a smooth trail to a statehood petition, an enabling act, a draft constitution and eventual admission into the Union.
MississippiAdmitted: December 10, 1817
Prior time as territory: 19 years
Journey to statehood: Viewed skeptically by a Congress that saw the territory as too sparsely populated and, geographically, too large. At the time, Mississippi territory included what later became the state of Alabama and was about twice the size of Pennsylvania. A population increase after the War of 1812, as well as the amputation of Alabama allayed those concerns.
IllinoisAdmitted: December 3, 1818
Prior time as territory: 19 years
Journey to statehood: Stalled when several early petitions were ignored by Congress, which had doubts about the state's population. Using techniques later echoed in Chicago machine politics, Illinois literally cheated its way into the Union with a fraudulent census that counted some settlers two or three times and others who were just passing through. The state became the least populous ever to be admitted
AlabamaAdmitted: December 3, 1818
Prior time as territory: 2 years, 9 months
Journey to statehood: Trouble free. After being severed from Mississippi in 1817, the territory requested and was granted a congressional enabling act, held a constitutional convention and drafted a state charter, which in turn was approved by Congress as the final step toward admission.
MaineAdmitted: March 15, 1820
Prior time as territory: Carved from state of Massachusetts
Journey to statehood: Made possible by the "Missouri Compromise" of 1820, designed to preserve the balance between slave and free states in congress. With the admission of Alabama and the pending admission of Missouri, the balance would have tilted toward slavery without the admission of Maine as a free state.
MissouriAdmitted: August 10, 1821
Prior time as territory: 9 years
Journey to statehood: sparked the bitter debate in Congress that resulted in the Missouri Compromise. The House -- dominated by populous Northern states -- sought to prohibit slavery in Missouri. The Senate -- balanced between North and South -- favored admission of Missouri as a slave state. The resulting compromise admitted Maine as a free state, allowed Missouri to enter with no slavery restrictions but barred slavery in all other parts of the Louisiana Purchase north of Missouri's southern boundary.
NOTE: Population is at time of entry into the Union. Date of admission reflects the effective date of each state's admission, rather than the date of congressional passage. While the dates are the same in some cases, such as Florida's, the effective date typically followed the date of passage by several months.
SOURCE: Knight-Ridder Tribune (1993)