Thursday, August 8, 2013

First US State

Which United Colony became the First U.S. State?


ETATS UNIS DE L'AMERIQUE SEPTENTRIONALE avec le Canada et la Floride, an original 18th century copperplate engraved 1783 map of The United States Of America Following the Peace Treaty of 1783 that was dedicated and presented to his Excellence Mr. Benjamin Franklin, Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America at the Court of France.  - Image from the Historic.us Collection

Is Delaware the First State?  The answer can be found on the "state quarter," issued by the US Mint, that heralds Delaware as the first state. The coin depicts Continental Congress Delegate Caesar Rodney riding his horse to Independence Hall to break the state’s 1 to 1 tie vote on Independence.


On July 2, 1776, Delaware, voting two Delegates to one, joined the 11 other Colonies in declaring independence from Great Britain. 

Continental Congress Resolution for Independency title section, courtesy of the Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1783; Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789, Record Group 360; National Archives -  
Two days later, on July 4th, these 12 states, with New York still abstaining, passed a second resolution declaring independence  that  named their new republic, the United States of America.   

Declaration of Independence Broadside – that is the rare John Dunlap facsimile printing of the Declaration of Independence called the "Lost Copy," which was discovered in 1968 on the dusty shelves of Leary's Book Store in Philadelphia during the closing of that establishment after 132 years in business. This printing was featured by the Freedom Train on its nationwide tour from April 1975 - December 1976 and was seen in 76 cities in the 48 contiguous states during the Bi-Centennial celebration. Notice the heading does not include the word unanimous because New York had agreed to Independency on July 4th - Image from the Historic.us Collection
This second independence resolution, the Declaration of Independence, was ordered to be engrossed on July 17th, 1776 after New York approved independence in White Plains, NY on July 9th, 1776.  On August 2nd, 1776 the delegates reassembled at the Philadelphia State House and signed the one and only engrossed Declaration of Independence, which has become an international icon that herald’s not only the birth of the United States but the immortal words:   
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

Declaration of Independence William J. Stone 1824 engraving  - Image from the Historic.us Collection
To this day, all 50 states mark July 4th, 1776 as the birth date of the United States of America.  Therefore, it stands to reason that the first state that voted for independence has the right to claim it is the first state to form the new United States of America Republic.


Continental Congress Resolution for Independency complete image, courtesy of the Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1783; Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789, Record Group 360; National Archives  
The July 2nd, 1776 manuscript, used on the floor at Independence Hall to tally the 12 States’ votes, reports the order in which each state declared its independence.


Continental Congress Resolution for Independency complete image, courtesy of the Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1783; Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789, Record Group 360; National Archives  
It was the colony of New Hampshire, not Delaware that was the first to vote for Independence, thus the first state to join the new republic of 12 independent states united in a Continental Congress.  100 years later,  the official publications US Centennial's publications and the World's Fair would  list New Hampshire as the “first state” to declare its independence from Great Britain.


- Image from the Historic.us Collection



The centennial book of the signers: being fac-simile letters of each signer of the Declaration of independence, Brotherhead, William, United States Centennial Exhibition  1876: Philadelphia, Pa. - New Hampshire page - Image from the Historic.us Collection
Now proponents for Delaware argue that their state also voted for independence on July 2nd, 1776 so the true statehood order falls to the state ratifications of the US Constitution in 1787-1789 and not in the order the States voted for the Resolution for Independency.  These proponents correctly note that Delaware was the first state to ratify the US Constitution of 1787 on December 7th, 1787 and therefore Delaware is the first state. 


US Constitution Ratification Table for the American Museum, July 1788 issue - Image from the Historic.us Collection
The challenge to this argument is rooted in the fact that the US Constitution of 1787, ratified first by Delaware, was not the first constitution of the United States of America.


Journals of Congress Containing The Proceedings In The Year, 1777 Published by Order of Congress by John Dunlap: Philadelphia: 1778. - Image from the Historic.us Collection
On November 15th, 1777, 13 states united in the US Continental Congress approved the Articles of Confederation, the US Constitution of 1777,  Unlike the July 2, 1776 Resolution For independency, the Articles required unanimous ratification by all the states for enactment.  


Articles of Confederation Manuscript front page courtesy of the Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1783; Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789,  National Archives 
On December 16, 1777 the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation was Virginia.

 Therefore if one is going to discard the July 2, 1776 Resolution For Independence voting order for a US Constitutional order, Virginia, not Delaware, that has the right to claim it was the first state under the first US Constitution, which was enacted on March 1, 1781. 


Articles of Confederation Manuscript signature page -  courtesy of the Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1783; Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789,  National Archives
Note in this Articles of Confederation ratification chart that New Hampshire the first state under the 1776 Resolution for Independency, ratified the Articles 7th on March 4th, 1778 while Delaware, the first state under the US Constitution of 1787, was the 12th State ratifying the Articles on February 1, 1779. 


Articles of Confederation ratification table - Image from America's Four Republics: The More or Less United States, by Stan Klos
The reason for this first state confusion is exemplified in the Delaware state Quarter showing Caesar Rodney riding to formulate the United States in 1776 while claiming Delaware’s ratification of the US Constitution of 1787, 11 years later on December 7, 1787, gives them the right to claim first state status.  


In these 11 years the United States of America waged and won their war for Independence, enacted numerous treaties on behalf of the nation, and even enacted the Northwest Ordinance that, among other land mark laws, setup the mechanism to add new States to the union.  This all occurred under the Articles of Confederation all before the current Constitution of 1787 was ever conceived.



Northwest Ordinance Article V designating the law for eventually forming the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin - Image from the Historic.us Collection
This confusion stems from the fact that the United States was actually the product of four different republics.  The First United American Republic, the United Colonies of North America governed by a Colonial Continental Congress.  

Articles Of Association names the Continental Congress pass on October 20, 1774  - Image from the Historic.us Collection
This First United American Republic, which printed its own currency, organized an army for its common defense, and elected both a Commander-in-Chief and a President to lead the 13 united colonies politically and militarily, had no first state as the colonies remained loyal to the crown despite their differences.


 

The Second United American Republic, the United States of America which was birthed with the passage of the Resolution for Independency on July 2, 1776.  This republic was governed by the United States Continental Congress its “first state” was New Hampshire.


 


The Third United American Republic, the Perpetual Union of the United States of America governed by the United States in Congress Assembled under the Articles of Confederation also had a first state and it was Virginia.



  


Finally, the Fourth United American Republic, the current United States of America, is governed by the U.S. House and Senate in Congress Assembled, he U.S. President and the U.S. Supreme Court under the Constitution of 1787, also had a first state and it was Delaware. 


July 2, 1776 Resolution For Independency  vote table - Image from America's Four Republics: The More or Less United States, by Stan Klos  

So if you are inclined to believe the United States Republic commenced in 1776, then New Hampshire has the bragging rights of being the 1st State. 


The centennial book of the signers: being fac-simile letters of each signer of the Declaration of independence, Brotherhead, William, United States Centennial Exhibition  1876: Philadelphia, Pa. - Virginia page - Image from the Historic.us Collection
If, however, you maintain that the United States of America commenced under the Articles of Confederation on March 1, 1781  , then Virginia is your choice for the first State. 


Constitution of 1787 ratification table - Image from America's Four Republics: The More or Less United States, by Stan Klos  
Finally, if you are of the mind that the USA commenced with the enactment of the Constitution of 1787 on March 4, 1789, then Delaware is definitely the first state.


Official Web page of the State of Delaware  

I for one, maintain that the birth of the United States of America occurred 1776 and that New Hampshire, be it only for a minute, was the first colony to declare its independence from Great Britain.





Official Web page of the State of New Hampshire 

There is reason for New Hampshire to step-up and claim its first state mantra.  Additionally,  questions like:  Why was New Hampshire called on first?   What was the strategy behind President Hancock’s, which was solely his prerogative, roll call order?   Is not the back of the Delaware Quarter misleading showing Caesar Rodney making his famous 1776 ride while bestowing upon Delaware its  “First State”  status for a vote that occurred in 1787?



Personally, I believe that New Hampshire challenging Delaware on its purporting this urban legend would only result in some positive media and eventually text book attention that would be well received by the public and educators alike.  New Hampshire, not Delaware, was the first State and that is a historical fact, which should be proudly acknowledged by 21st Century Granite Staters.  

Below is the correct order of US Statehood:


#
State
Statehood
1
New Hampshire
July 2, 1776
2
Massachusetts
July 2, 1776
3
Rhode Island
July 2, 1776
4
Connecticut
July 2, 1776
5
New Jersey
July 2, 1776
6
Pennsylvania
July 2, 1776
7
Delaware
July 2, 1776
8
Virginia
July 2, 1776
9
North Carolina
July 2, 1776
10
South Carolina
July 2, 1776
11
Georgia
July 2, 1776
12
Maryland
July 2, 1776
13
New York
July 9, 1776
14
Vermont
March 4, 1791
15
Kentucky
June 1, 1792
16
Tennessee
June 1, 1796
17
Ohio
March 1, 1803
18
Louisiana
April 30, 1812
19
Indiana
December 11, 1816
20
Mississippi
December 10, 1817
21
Illinois
December 3, 1818
22
Alabama
December 14, 1819
23
Maine
March 15, 1820
24
Missouri
August 10, 1821
25
Arkansas
June 15, 1836
26
Michigan
January 26, 1837
27
Florida
March 3, 1845
28
Texas
December 29, 1845
29
Iowa
December 28, 1846
30
Wisconsin
May 29, 1848
31
California
September 9, 1850
32
Minnesota
May 11, 1858
33
Oregon
February 14, 1859
34
Kansas
January 29, 1861
35
West Virginia
June 20, 1863
36
Nevada
October 31, 1864
37
Nebraska
March 1, 1867
38
Colorado
August 1, 1876
39
North Dakota
November 2, 1889
40
South Dakota
November 2, 1889
41
Montana
November 8, 1889
42
Washington
November 11, 1889
43
Idaho
July 3, 1890
44
Wyoming
July 10, 1890
45
Utah
January 4, 1896
46
Oklahoma
November 16, 1912
47
New Mexico
January 6, 1912
48
Arizona
February 14, 1912
49
Alaska
January 3, 1959
50
Hawaii
August 21, 1959

For more on US firsts visit our primary source exhibits at www.Historic.us.


By: Stanley Yavneh Klos

  • First United American Republic: United Colonies of North America: 13 British Colonies United in Congress was founded by 12 colonies on September 5th, 1774 (Georgia joined in 1775)  and governed through a British Colonial Continental Congress.  Peyton Randolph and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief;
  • Second United American Republic: The United States of America: 13 Independent States United in Congress was founded by 12 states on July 2nd, 1776 (New York abstained until July 9th), and governed through the United States Continental CongressJohn Hancock and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief; 
  • Third United American Republic: The United States of America: A Perpetual Union was founded by 13 States on March 1st, 1781, with the enactment of the first U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and governed through the United States in Congress Assembled.  Samuel Huntington and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief; 
  • Fourth United American Republic: The United States of America: We the People  was formed by 11 states on March 4th, 1789 (North Carolina and Rhode Island joined in November 1789 and May 1790, respectively), with the enactment of the U.S. Constitution of 1787. The fourth and current United States Republic governs through  the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in Congress Assembled, the U.S. President and Commander-in-Chief, and the U.S. Supreme Court.  George Washington served as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief.


 Resolution for Independency   which  was passed on July 2, 1776.   



Dad, why are you a Republican?