State capitals

What is now the United States of America, including all 50 states and the state capitals, was home to native populations long before the the earliest settlers arrived. The Mayflower, a ship only 100 feet long, left Plymouth, on the south coast of England, in September of 1620 with 102 passengers aboard and a crew of thirty men.

Many of the passengers were Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution, but others were variously farmers, hired hands and servants recruited by London merchants, and their original destination was Virginia, an English colony that had been established during the 16th century.

When they arrived in the New World, however, strong winds interfered with their attempts to sail south from Cape Cod, so they settled where they had landed. During that first harsh winter, with just what they had brought with them to work with, and trying to scrape a living in a totally alien environment, almost half of the settlers died, and about half the crew.

A map of the USA states, and their capitals

map of the USA

All 50 states and their capital cities. Note: Alaska and Hawaii are NOT to scale.

Birth of a nation

Eventually, struggling against the odds, those first few settlers, together with others that followed, started the process that eventually formed an embryonic government and built a nation. The story of their struggles has been told and retold in countless films and documentaries.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of those early years was the Constitution of the United States, which not only forged a bond between disparate states, but formed the basis of democracy and federal government for the whole of the New World.

The Constitution is also important in that it defends the ‘God-given’ rights of the people. The Bill of Rights also states that, even if a right is not specifically listed, you still retain that right. It does not bestow rights, it merely recognises and defends them. It also limits the powers of the government, by granting it specific powers that are carefully listed in the Constitution.

The Constitution of the United States of America

The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. The Constitution was adopted in 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and went into effect in 1789. The Constitution has been amended a total of 27 times, and its principles are applied in courts of law by judicial review.

The Constitution is the backbone of the US legal system, and is the highest law in the country. It defines the stucture of the government, guarantees rights to the citizens, and provides the basis on which all American laws are made.

The Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the Constitution. These serve to protect the natural rights to liberty and property. They guarantee certain specific freedoms and limit the government’s power in judicial and other proceedings. Originally, the Bill of Rights was understood to only apply to white men. Native Americans and ‘black’ men (now referred to as African Americans), and women, were understood to be excluded. Over the years, these exclusions
have been eroded until now all men and women are seen
as free and equal in the eyes of the law.

List of states and their capitals

If you’d like to learn the state capitals, the table below should prove useful to you. It lists all 50 states and their capitals, together with each state’s abbreviation, the year it attained statehood, and the year the city became the state capital.

U.S. STATE CAPITALS
STATEABBRSTATE SINCESTATE CAPITALCAPITAL SINCE
AlabamaAL1819Montgomery1846
AlaskaAK1859Juneau1906
ArizonaAZ1912Phoenix1889
ArkansasAR1836Little Rock1821
CaliforniaCA1850Sacramento1854
ColoradoCO1876Denver1876
ConnecticutCT1788Hartford1875
DelawareDE1787Dover1777
FloridaFL1845Tallahassee1824
GeorgiaGA1788Atlanta1868
HawaiiHI1959Honolulu1845
IdahoID1890Boise1865
IllinoisIL1818Springfield1837
IndianaIN1816Indianapolis1825
IowaIA1846Des Moines1857
KansasKS1861Topeka1856
KentuckyKY1792Frankfort1792
LouisianaLA1812Baton Rouge1880
MaineME1820Augusta1832
MarylandMD1788Annapolis1694
MassachusettsMA1788Boston1630
MichiganMI1837Lansing1847
MinnesotaMN1858St Paul1849
MississippiMS1817Jackson1821
MissouriMO1821Jefferson City1826
MontanaMT1889Helena1875
NebraskaNE1867Lincoln1867
NevadaNV1864Carson City1861
New HampshireNH1788Concord1808
New JerseyNJ1787Trenton1784
New MexicoNM1912Santa Fe1610
New YorkNY1788Albany1797
North CarolinaNC1789Raleigh1794
North DakotaND1889Bismarck1883
OhioOH1803Columbus1816
OklahomaOK1907Oklahoma City1910
OregonOR1859Salem1855
PennsylvaniaPA1787Harrisburg1812
Rhode IslandRI1790Providence1900
South CarolinaSC1788Columbia1786
South DakotaSD1889Pierre1889
TennesseeTN1796Nashville1826
TexasTX1845Austin1839
UtahUT1896Salt Lake City1858
VermontVT1791Montpelier1805
VirginiaVA1788Richmond1780
WashingtonWA1889Olympia1853
West VirginiaWV1863Charleston1885
WisconsinWI1848Madison1838
WyomingWY1890Cheyenne1869

Map puzzles to help you learn the state capitals

There’s a terrific site that can help you learn the state capitals (and a lot more besides), and it’s well worth a visit. If you go to the map puzzles section of YourChildLearns.com, you’ll have the opportunity to learn the capitals interactively, and test yourself on your knoweldge.

You can choose to try to place the states with their outlines in place on the map, or (much harder!) to put the states in place without the outlines to help you. You can also test yourself  to see if you really did learn the state capitals. This is a brilliant learning resource, and I highly recommend it. I would imagine it would present quite a challenge even for U.S residents. And to make it even more interesting, the tests are timed, so you can see how long you took, and whether you beat your earlier time.

SOME ODD FACTS ABOUT THE STATES AND STATE CAPITALS
blue check mark-30Washington, D.C. has been the capital of the United States since 1800.
blue check mark-30Alaska has a longer coastline than all the other states put together!
blue check mark-30Most states have changed their capital city at least once.
blue check mark-30Wyoming has a population of only about half a million, or about 5 people per sq mile.
blue check mark-30In 33 of the 50 U.S. states, the state capital is not the state's most populous city.
blue check mark-30Juneau (Alaska) is the largest capital by land area at over 3,000 sq miles (that's bigger than the state of Delaware!)
blue check mark-30Juneau is unusual among U.S. capitals in that there are no roads connecting it to the rest of Alaska or indeed to the rest of North America
blue check mark-30Phoenix is the most populous U.S. state capital with a population of approx. 1.5 million.
blue check mark-30California has the highest population, with over 36 million, or over 230 per sq mile.
blue check mark-30The smallest state is Rhode Island, at only 1,045 square miles.
blue check mark-30Alaska is the largest state, with a land area of 571,951 sq miles (in comparison, Great Britain covers about 80,000 sq miles).
blue check mark-30The 10 largest states (possibly more) each have a bigger land area than Britain.
blue check mark-30Denver (Colorado) was called Denver City until 1882.
blue check mark-30Alaska is more than 420 times larger than Rhode Island, but Rhode Island has a much higher population.
blue check mark-30Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States.
blue check mark-30Salt Lake City is the only state capital with three words in its name.
blue check mark-30Kansas City isn't the state capital of Kansas. It isn't even in Kansas, it's in Missouri (although it borders Kansas).

The largest city is not necessarily the state capital

The largest city in a state is not not automatically the state capital. The following table shows some cities that are the largest in their respective states, but are NOT among the list of the state capitals (although often assumed to be).

LARGEST CITIES THAT ARE NOT THE STATE CAPITALS
CITYSTATECITYSTATE
BirminghamALManchesterNH
AnchorageAKNewarkNJ
BridgeportCTAlbuquerqueNM
JacksonvilleFLNew York CityNY
ChicagoILCharlotteNC
WichitaKSFargoND
LouisvilleKYPortlandOR
New OrleansLAPhiladelphiaPA
PortlandMESioux FallsSD
BaltimoreMDMemphisTN
MinneapolisMNHoustonTX
Kansas CityMOBurlingtonVT
BillingsMTVirginia BeachVA
OmahaNESeattleWA
Las VegasNVMilwaukeeWI
NOTE: These are NOT the state capitals!

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