List of capitals in the United States
Washington, D.C. has been the capital of the United States since 1800. Eight other cities have served as the meeting place for the U.S. Congress and are therefore considered to have once been the capital of the United States. In addition, each of the fifty U.S. states and the five principal territories of the United States maintains its own capital.
In 33 of the 50 U.S. states, the state capital is not the state's most populous city. Only two of the state capitals — Trenton, New Jersey, and Carson City, Nevada — border another state, while Juneau, Alaska, shares a border with the Canadian province of British Columbia.[a] The dates listed in the following table indicate the year in which the city started to continuously serve as the state's sole capital. Most states have changed their capital city at least once--see Historical state capitals for details.
|State||Abr.||Date of statehood||Capital||Capital since||Land area (mi²)||Most populous city?||Municipal population||Metropolitan population||Notes|
|Alabama||AL||1819||Montgomery||1846||155.4||No||205,764||374,536||Birmingham is the state's largest city|
|Alaska||AK||1959||Juneau||1906||2716.7||No||31,275||Juneau is the largest capital by land area. Anchorage is the state's largest city.|
|Arizona||AZ||1912||Phoenix||1889||474.9||Yes||1,445,632||4,192,887||Phoenix is the most populous U.S. state capital and only capital with more than 1 million citizens|
|Arkansas||AR||1836||Little Rock||1821||116.2||Yes||193,524||877,091||Little Rock is the Capital of Arkansas, Pulaski County, Arkansas Seat as well as the Township Seat.|
|California||CA||1850||Sacramento||1854||97.2||No||466,488||2,527,123||The Supreme Court of California is headquartered in San Francisco. Los Angeles is the state's largest city.|
|Colorado||CO||1876||Denver||1867||153.4||Yes||600,158||2,552,195||Denver was called Denver City until 1882.|
|Connecticut||CT||1788||Hartford||1875||17.3||No||124,512||1,212,381||Bridgeport is the state's largest city, but Hartford is the largest metro area.|
|Delaware||DE||1787||Dover||1777||22.4||No||36,047||162,310||Longest-serving capital in terms of statehood. Wilmington is the state's largest city.|
|Florida||FL||1845||Tallahassee||1824||95.7||No||181,412||367,413||Jacksonville is the largest city, and Miami has the largest metro area.|
|Illinois||IL||1818||Springfield||1837||54.0||No||116,250||208,182||Chicago is the state's largest city.|
|Indiana||IN||1816||Indianapolis||1825||361.5||Yes||829,718||1,756,221||In addition to being the second-largest state capital, Indianapolis is also the second largest city in the Midwest.|
|Kansas||KS||1861||Topeka||1856||56.0||No||127,473||230,824||Wichita is the state's largest city.|
|Kentucky||KY||1792||Frankfort||1792||14.7||No||25,527||70,758||Louisville is the state's largest city. Frankfort ranks as the twelfth most populous city in the state.|
|Louisiana||LA||1812||Baton Rouge||1880||76.8||No||229,553||802,484||New Orleans is the state's largest city and home to the Louisiana Supreme Court.|
|Maine||ME||1820||Augusta||1832||55.4||No||19,136||117,114||Augusta was officially made the capital 1827, but the legislature did not sit there until 1832. Portland is the state's largest city.|
|Maryland||MD||1788||Annapolis||1694||6.73||No||38,394||Annapolis is the third-longest serving capital in the United States after Santa Fe and Boston. Its capitol building is the oldest still in use. It is also the smallest capital by land area. Baltimore is the state's largest city.|
|Massachusetts||MA||1788||Boston||1630||48.4||Yes||617,594||4,522,858||Boston is the longest continuously serving capital in the United States. The Boston-Worcester-Manchester Combined Statistical Area encompasses the state capitals of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.|
|Michigan||MI||1837||Lansing||1847||35.0||No||114,297||464,036||Lansing is the only state capital that is not also the county seat of the county in which it is situated.Detroit is the state's largest city.|
|Minnesota||MN||1858||Saint Paul||1849||52.8||No||285,068||3,502,891||Minneapolis is the state's largest city; it and Saint Paul form the core of the state's largest metropolitan area.|
|Missouri||MO||1821||Jefferson City||1826||27.3||No||43,079||149,807||Kansas City is the state's largest city, and Greater St. Louis is the state's largest metropolitan area.|
|Montana||MT||1889||Helena||1875||14.0||No||28,190||74,801||Billings is the state's largest city.|
|Nebraska||NE||1867||Lincoln||1867||74.6||No||258,379||302,157||Omaha is the state's largest city.|
|Nevada||NV||1864||Carson City||1861||143.4||No||55,274||Las Vegas is the state's largest city.|
|New Hampshire||NH||1788||Concord||1808||64.3||No||42,695||Manchester is the state's largest city.|
|New Jersey||NJ||1787||Trenton||1784||7.66||No||84,913||366,513||Newark is the state's largest city. Trenton served as the US capital for a short period in the late 18th century.|
|New Mexico||NM||1912||Santa Fe||1610||37.3||No||75,764||183,732||Santa Fe is the longest serving capital in the United States. El Paso del Norte served as the capital of the Santa Fe de Nuevo México colony-in-exile during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680–1692. Santa Fe has the highest elevation of any state capital. Albuquerque is the state's largest city.|
|New York||NY||1788||Albany||1797||21.4||No||97,856||857,592||New York City is the state's largest city.|
|North Carolina||NC||1789||Raleigh||1794||114.6||No||403,892||1,130,490||Charlotte is the state's largest city.|
|North Dakota||ND||1889||Bismarck||1883||26.9||No||61,272||108,779||Fargo is the state's largest city.|
|Ohio||OH||1803||Columbus||1816||210.3||Yes||787,033||1,836,536||Columbus is Ohio's largest city, and the fourth-largest state capital, but the Cincinnati and Cleveland metropolitan areas are both larger.|
|Oklahoma||OK||1907||Oklahoma City||1910||607.0||Yes||580,000||1,252,987||Oklahoma City is the shortest serving current state capital in the United States.|
|Oregon||OR||1859||Salem||1855||45.7||No||154,637||390,738||Portland is the state's largest city.|
|Pennsylvania||PA||1787||Harrisburg||1812||8.11||No||49,528||647,390||Philadelphia is the state's largest city.|
|Rhode Island||RI||1790||Providence||1900||18.5||Yes||178,042||1,630,956||Providence also served as the capital 1636–1686 and 1689–1776. It was one of five co-capitals 1776–1853, and one of two co-capitals 1853–1900.|
|South Dakota||SD||1889||Pierre||1889||13.0||No||13,646||Sioux Falls is the state's largest city.|
|Tennessee||TN||1796||Nashville||1826||473.3||No||635,710||1,582,264||Memphis is the state's largest city, and Nashville is the largest metro area.|
|Texas||TX||1845||Austin||1839||251.5||No||790,390||1,716,291||Houston is the state's largest city and the previous capital, and Dallas–Fort Worth is the largest metro area. Austin is the largest state capital that is not also the state's largest city.|
|Utah||UT||1896||Salt Lake City||1858||109.1||Yes||186,440||1,124,197|
|Vermont||VT||1791||Montpelier||1805||10.2||No||7,855||Montpelier is the least populous U.S. state capital. Burlington is the state's largest city.|
|Virginia||VA||1788||Richmond||1780||60.1||No||204,214||1,231,675||Virginia Beach is the state's largest city, and Northern Virginia is the state's largest metro area.|
|Washington||WA||1889||Olympia||1853||16.7||No||46,478||234,670||Seattle is the state's largest city.|
|Wisconsin||WI||1848||Madison||1838||68.7||No||233,209||561,505||Milwaukee is the state's largest city.|
Insular area capitals
An insular area is a United States territory that is neither a part of one of the fifty states nor a part of the District of Columbia, the nation's federal district. Those insular areas with territorial capitals are listed below...
|American Samoa||1899||Pago Pago||De facto capital of the Territory of American Samoa.|
|1967||Fagatogo||Official seat of government stated in the territory's constitution.|
|Guam||1898||Hagåtña||Dededo is the area's largest village.|
|Northern Mariana Islands||1947||Saipan|
|Puerto Rico||1898||San Juan||The city of San Juan was originally called Puerto Rico while the island was called San Juan Bautista. When Ponce de León landed here it was originally named Borínquen.|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||1917||Charlotte Amalie|
Former national capitals
From 1774 to 1800, Congress met in numerous locations; therefore, the following cities can be said to have once been the United States capital:
- Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: May 10, 1775 to December 12, 1776
- Henry Fite House, Baltimore, Maryland: December 20, 1776 to February 27, 1777
- Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: March 4, 1777 to September 18, 1777
- Court House, Lancaster, Pennsylvania: September 27, 1777 (one day)
- Court House, York, Pennsylvania: September 30, 1777 to June 2, 1778
- Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: July 27, 1778 to March 1, 1781
- Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: March 1, 1781 to June 21, 1783[b]
- Nassau Hall, Princeton, New Jersey: June 30, 1783 to November 4, 1783
- Maryland State House, Annapolis, Maryland: November 26, 1783 to August 19, 1784
- French Arms Tavern, Trenton, New Jersey: November 1, 1784 to December 24, 1784
- City Hall (Federal Hall), New York City, New York: January 11, 1785 to Autumn 1788
- Federal Hall, New York City, New York: March 4, 1789 to December 5, 1790
- Congress Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: December 6, 1790 to May 14, 1800
- United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.: November 17, 1800 to December 8, 1815
- Old Brick Capitol, Washington, D.C.: December 8, 1815 to 1825
- United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.: 1825 to present[c]
Before joining the United States as the fourteenth state, Vermont was an independent republic known as the Vermont Republic. Two cities served as the capital of the Republic:
Prior to becoming a territory of the United States in 1898, Hawaii was an independent nation. Five sites served as its capital:
- Waikīkī. Served as the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, 1795–1796
- Hilo. Served as the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, 1796–1803
- Kailua-Kona. Served as the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, 1812–1820
- Lahaina. Served as the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, 1820–1845.
- Served as the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, 1803–1812.
- Served as the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, 1845–January 17, 1893.
- Served as the seat of the Provisional Government of Hawaii after the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, January 17, 1893–July 4, 1894.
- Served as the capital of the Republic of Hawaii when it was established on July 4, 1894 until the Republic was annexed by the United States on July 7, 1898 under the Newlands Resolution to become the Territory of Hawaii. On becoming a state in 1959, Honolulu became the capital of the State of Hawaii.
Unrecognized national capitals
There have been a handful of nations within the current borders of the United States which were never officially recognized as legally independent sovereign entities; however these nations did have de facto control over their respective regions during their existence. It must be emphasized that exercising de facto military control over a defined geographic area is not equal to being a nation. The term "nation" as used here is best understood as being used loosely, i.e., as if within quotation marks.
The Confederate States of America had three capitals during its existence.
- Montgomery, Alabama, February 4, 1861 – May 29, 1861
- Richmond, Virginia, May 6, 1861 (declared) – April 3, 1865
- Danville, Virginia, April 3, 1865 – April 10, 1865
The Confederate constitutional convention was held in Montgomery, Alabama, in December 1860 because it was the largest and most influential city in the geographic center of the original seven Confederate states (South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas) that planned to secede from the Union. The first Confederate capital was established on February 4, 1861 in Montgomery and remained there until it was moved to Richmond after Virginia joined the Confederacy on May 23, 1861. As the Army of Northern Virginia was pushed farther south and Richmond fell under the Federal guns in early 1865, the Confederate government fled using the only viable railroad line available on April 2, 1865 to Danville, Virginia.
The CSA state capitals remained the same as when each state seceded from the Union. Some of the capitals were moved temporarily in an effort to stay ahead of the advancing Federals. As Confederate areas were occupied, the U.S. Army established military districts to govern each area.
Following the surrender of General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in Appomattox Court House, Virginia, which ended the American Civil War on April 9, 1865, the eleven southern states that seceded from the United States of America to create the Confederate States of America, gradually had their Senators and Representatives recognized and seated by Congress starting with Tennessee on July 24, 1866, then Arkansas on June 22, 1868, Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina on June 25, 1868, then Alabama on July 14, 1868, then Virginia on January 26, 1870, then Mississippi on February 23, 1870, then Texas on March 30, 1870 and finally Georgia on July 15, 1870.
There is some disagreement over whether this recognition by Congress is what determines the status of "statehood". The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Texas v. White raises questions on this point where the court ruled that Texas never left the Union, and essentially that once a territory is admitted and recognized as a state, it is in perpetuity a state in the Union. The court did allow some possibility of divisibility of the union "through revolution, or through consent of the States."
State of Franklin
The State of Franklin was an autonomous, secessionist United States territory created, not long after the end of the American Revolution, from territory that later was ceded by North Carolina to the federal government. Franklin's territory later became part of the state of Tennessee. Franklin was never officially admitted into the Union of the United States and existed for only four years.
State of Muskogee
Republic of West Florida
Republic of Indian Stream
- Pittsburg, New Hampshire, 1832–1835
Before being annexed by the United States in 1848 (following the Mexican–American War), a small portion of north-central California declared itself the California Republic, in an act of independence from Mexico, in 1846 (see Bear Flag Revolt). The republic only existed a month before it disbanded itself, to join the advancing American army and therefore became part of the United States.
The very short-lived California Republic was never recognized by the United States, Mexico or any other nation. There was one de facto capital of the California Republic:
- Sonoma, 1846
Historical state capitals
Most of the original Thirteen Colonies had their capitals occupied or attacked by the British during the American Revolution. State governments operated where and as they could. The City of New York was occupied by British troops from 1776 to 1783. A similar situation occurred during the War of 1812, during the American Civil War in many Confederate states, and during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680–1692 in New Mexico.
Twenty-two state capitals have been a capital longer than their state has been a state, since they served as the capital of a predecessor territory, colony, or republic. Boston, Massachusetts, has been a capital city continuously since 1630, making it the longest-running U.S. capital. Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been a capital city the longest having become capital in 1610 and interrupted only by the Pueblo Revolt of 1680–1692.
The table below includes the following information:
- The state, the year in which statehood was granted, and the state's capital (as of 2010) are shown in bold.
- The year listed for each capital is the starting date; the ending date is the starting date for the successor unless otherwise indicated.
- In many cases, former capital cities of states are outside the current state borders. These cities are indicated with the abbreviated name of the state in which the city is located (as of 2010).
^[a] Even though the urbanized area of Carson City is about 15 miles (24 km) from the California border, the larger Consolidated Municipality of Carson City does form part of the Nevada state border. Similarly, the City and Borough of Juneau extends eastward to British Columbia, although the urbanized area of Juneau is about 35 miles (56 km) from the Canadian border. See:
^[b] Congress was forced to move from Philadelphia due to a riot of angry soldiers. See: Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783
^[c] President James Madison fled to the home of Caleb Bentley in Brookeville, Maryland following the burning of Washington on August 24–25, 1814. As such, the town claims to have been the "U.S. Capital for a Day" despite the fact that Congress never met there. See: "A Brief History". Town of Brookeville, Maryland. 2006. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
^[d] Due to flooding in Sacramento, San Francisco served as a temporary capital from January 24, 1862 to May 15, 1862. See "California’s State Capitols 1850–present"..
- The Nine Capitals of the United States. United States Senate Historical Office. Accessed June 9, 2005. Based on Fortenbaugh, Robert, The Nine Capitals of the United States, York, PA: Maple Press, 1948.
- Aleksandar Pavković, Peter Radan, Creating New States: Theory and Practice of Secession, p. 222, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007.
- Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1868) at Cornell University Law School Supreme Court collection.
- The State of Muskogee, State Flags of Florida, Cultural, Historical and Information Programs, Office of Cultural and Historical Programs website, Florida Department of State, Government of Florida, retrieved October 31, 2007.
- Capitals of Alabama. Alabama Department of Archives and History. Updated October 29, 2001. Accessed June 9, 2005.
- The Spanish name la Florida originally referred to all of the American continent north of Mexico. As other European nations colonized North America, the extent of la Florida shrank to encompass only the Spanish territorial claims in the southeastern portion of the present United States.
- Frequently Asked Questions About Alaska. Statewide Library Electronic Doorway. Updated September 21, 2004. Accessed June 9, 2005; based on Alaska Blue Book 1993–94, 11th ed., Juneau, Department of Education, Division of State Libraries, Archives & Museums. ExploreNorth: The History of Sitka. Department of Community and Economic Development, Alaska Community Database Online. Accessed June 9, 2005.
- Capitals before the Capitol. Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. Accessed June 9, 2005.
- Educational Materials: Facts. Arkansas Secretary of State. Accessed June 9, 2005. Washington State Park 19th century village in SW Arkansas. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, Confederate Capital Old Division of State Parks. 2003. Accessed June 9, 2005.
- The name Arkansas has been pronounced and spelled in a variety of fashions. The region was organized as the Territory of Arkansaw on July 4, 1819, but the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Arkansas on June 15, 1836. The name was historically pronounced //, //, and several other variants. In 1881, the Arkansas General Assembly passed the following concurrent resolution (Arkansas Statutes, Title 1, Chapter 4, Section 105):
Whereas, confusion of practice has arisen in the pronunciation of the name of our state and it is deemed important that the true pronunciation should be determined for use in oral official proceedings.
And, whereas, the matter has been thoroughly investigated by the State Historical Society and the Eclectic Society of Little Rock, which have agreed upon the correct pronunciation as derived from history, and the early usage of the American immigrants.
Be it therefore resolved by both houses of the General Assembly, that the only true pronunciation of the name of the state, in the opinion of this body, is that received by the French from the native Indians and committed to writing in the French word representing the sound. It should be pronounced in three (3) syllables, with the final "s" silent, the "a" in each syllable with the Italian sound, and the accent on the first and last syllables. The pronunciation with the accent on the second syllable with the sound of "a" in "man" and the sounding of the terminal "s" is an innovation to be discouraged.
- Ebbert (Chief Editor), Brian S.; E. Dotson Wilson, Chief Clerk of the Assembly (2006). California's Legislature. Sacramento, California: State of California. pp. 157–165. Retrieved 2006-10-03.
- Early Capitol and Legislative Assembly Locations Colorado State Archives, Colorado State Capitol Virtual Tour. Updated June 20, 2003. Accessed June 9, 2005.
- From December 3, 1859, to December 3, 1861, Denver City was formally the City of Denver, Auraria, and Highland.
- On November 15, 1902, the City of Denver became the City and County of Denver.
- Florida State History. Florida Division of Historical Resources.
- Jackson, Edwin L. Story of Georgia's Capitols and Capital Cities. Carl Vinson Institute of Government. University of Georgia. 1988
- Chronological History of Idaho. Idaho Office of the Governor. Created 2000. Accessed June 9, 2005.
- Clarke, S.A. (1905). Pioneer Days of Oregon History. J.K. Gill Company.
- Past Capitols; based on Illinois Bluebook, 1975–1976. Created March 5, 2005. Accessed June 10, 2005.
- Sabin, Henry. Making of Iowa, chapter 24: Locating a Capital. Originally published 1900 by A. Flanagan Co. of Chicago and New York; published online by Iowa History Project, posted August 25, 2004. Accessed June 10, 2005.
- Harding, Eldon. Stories from the Kansas State Capital: Choosing a Capital City--Why Topeka?. Kansas State Historical Society. April 2001. Accessed June 10, 2005.
- Kentucky's State Capitols. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Accessed July 24, 2006.
- Note: The Louisiana Capitals information may be incorrect or incomplete. See http://www.state.la.us/about_history2.htm and elsewhere.
- Students Questions Frequently Ask. Maine State Senate. Accessed June 10, 2005.
- Historical Chronology. Maryland State Archives. Accessed July 24, 2006.
- Michigan in Brief State of Michigan. Updated March 7, 2005. Accessed June 10, 2005.
- Saint Paul's 150th birthday. City of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Accessed June 9, 2005.
- Bunn, Mike and Clay Williams, Capitals and Capitols: The Places and Spaces of Mississippi's Seat of Government. Mississippi History Now. Mississippi Historical Society Online. Posted September 2003. Accessed June 10, 2005.
- Lambert, Kirby. Montana's crown jewel of architecture: The Montana state capitol Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Montana Historical Society. Summer 2002. Accessed June 10, 2005.
- Rocha, Guy Nevada State Archives Historical Myth a Month: Myth #28, Las Vegas: Nevada's Next State Capital. Updated July 14, 2003. Accessed June 9, 2005; originally published as Sierra Sage, Carson City/Carson Valley, Nevada. May 1998 edition.
- New Hampshire Senate Page For Kids. New Hampshire General Court. Accessed June 9, 2005. New Hampshire History in Brief. New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources. Created 1989. Accessed June 9, 2005.
- Oregon Legislative Assembly History. Oregon State Archives. Accessed February 17, 2012.
- The History of Pennsylvania's Capital. Pennsylvania Department of Education. Accessed July 24, 2006.
- Capital Cities. Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. 2002. Accessed March 12, 2006.
- Early History of Montpelier, Vermont. Vermont Historical Society. Accessed June 9, 2005; adapted from Esther Munroe Swift, Vermont Place-Names: Footprints of History, 1977, 1996, and Montpelier Heritage Group, Three Walking Tours of Montpelier, Vt., 1991.
- About Our Capital. Virginia General Assembly. Accessed July 20, 2006.
- The History of Olympia. City of Olympia. Accessed June 9, 2005.
- Cravens, Stanley H."Capitals and Capitols in Early Wisconsin". Wisconsin Blue Book, 1983–1984 edition.
- Saban, Mary Thompson, Wyoming Sage: Brief History of Wyoming. Updated January 17, 2004. Accessed June 10, 2005.
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