Special Report

How Your State Was Founded

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1. Alabama
> Founding date: December 14, 1819 (22nd state to join)
> First capital city: Cahaba
> First governor: William Wyatt Bibb

After Southerners pressured Congress to add more slave states, the Alabama Territory was carved out of the Mississippi Territory in 1817. Alabama was admitted as a state two years later.

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2. Alaska
> Founding date: January 3, 1959 (49th state to join)
> First capital city: Juneau
> First governor: William Allen Egan

More than 90 years after being purchased from Russia, Alaska was admitted as the 49th state, just ahead of Hawaii.

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3. Arizona
> Founding date: February 14, 1912 (48th state to join)
> First capital city: Phoenix
> First governor: George Wylie Hunt

Arizona first became an officially recognized territory of the Confederacy in 1862, but the Union claimed it as well nearly a year later. Despite petitions from Arizona Territory residents, it didn’t become a state for decades.

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4. Arkansas
> Founding date: June 15, 1836 (25th state to join)
> First capital city: Little Rock
> First governor: James Sevier Conway

Arkansas was first acquired from France in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The state we know today split off from the Missouri Territory when it applied to become a state in 1819. It spent years as its own territory before achieving statehood.

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5. California
> Founding date: September 9, 1850 (31st state to join)
> First capital city: San Jose
> First governor: Peter Hardeman Burnett

After winning the Mexican-American War, the U.S. took over California as well as the land that would become Texas and the Southwest. Shortly before the treaty ending the war was signed, gold was discovered in California. That economic incentive, plus the growing divide in the U.S. over slavery, pushed Congress to admit California as a free state in 1850, bypassing any time spent as a territory.

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