The Making of the United States of America - When and How the States Came to be - Seven Came During the Second Quarter of the Nineteenth Century
Reprinted with permission of Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services
Admitted: June 15, 1836
Prior time as territory: 17 years
Journey to statehood: Paralyzed by conflicting interests of non-slave-owning small farmers in northwestern corner of the state and slaveholding cotton growers in the southeastern corner. Followed Tennessee's unmannerly example of holding a statehood convention without congressional authorization but did not take the extra step of electing senators and representatives. Finally admitted as a slave state in a swap for Michigan as a free state.
Admitted: January 26, 1837
Prior time as territory: 32 years
Journey to statehood: Also followed the "Tennessee plan" of electing senators and congressmen with no prior congressional approval. The drive was nearly nixed by Ohio's congressional delegation because of a dispute over control of Toledo. Likewise, southerners objected to admission of another free state. The final deal? Ohio got Toledo. Michigan got to steal the "Upper Peninsula" from Wisconsin. And the South got Arkansas.
Admitted: March 3, 1845
Prior time as territory: 23 years
Journey to statehood: complicated by Seminole Indian wars and political schisms among the western panhandle (favoring annexation to Alabama), the Tallahassee region (favoring statehood) and the atlantic seaboard (favoring neither). The state held an unauthorized convention in 1838 to draft a constitution. Seven years later, Congress paired it for admission as a slave state with Iowa as a free state.
Admitted: December 29, 1845
Prior time as territory: Was independent republic since 1836
Journey to statehood: Launched with war for independence from Mexico. Texas' initial bid for annexation to the United States was defeated because Congress feared western expansion of slavery. Then the United States proclaimed its Manifest Destiny to be master over the entire continent and extended the Missouri Compromise line westward to allay concerns about expanding slavery. Texas was annexed and admitted as a slave state.
Admitted: December 28, 1846
Prior time as territory: 8 years
Journey to statehood: Twice was vetoed by its own populace despite support of early territorial governors. sentiments later shifted and Iowa pushed for statehood Tennessee-style, electing congressmen without prior congressional approval. Then free-staters in Congress tried to shrink the state's area -- presumably to leave more Northern territory open for future free states. Though Iowa's statehood was approved the same day as Florida's, the boundary question delayed formal admission for nearly two years.
Admitted: May 29, 1848
Prior time as territory: 12 years
Journey to statehood: forced upon reluctant settlers, who rejected statehood in four successive plebiscites. But in a fifth vote, residents increasingly angry with paltry federal appropriations turned the tide. The free state's admission encountered little resistance in Congress, where it was seen as a fair swap for slave state Texas.
Admitted: September 9, 1850
Prior time as territory: Under U.S. military rule
Journey to statehood: Paved by the gold rush and population boom of 1849. President Zachary Taylor supported statehood, but southerners complained its admission would upset the 15-to-15 balance between slave and free states. While Washington bickered, California drafted a constitution, elected senators and congressmen and proclaimed itself a state, Tennessee-style. congress later approved admission as a free state, in what was known as the "Compromise of 1850."
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)