States of the Union #7
Continuing the ten-part series covering all of the fifty States of the Union comprising the United States of America, here we are at #7. I am a proud American, particularly regarding our remarkable history, so for ten consecutive Wednesdays each blog post will spotlight FIVE States (chosen at random). There will be some trivia, facts and data, a map, occasional vocabulary lessons, and naturally a wee bit of history. Links to the previous blogs are below.
Abbreviation — GA
Capital — Atlanta
Statehood — December 14, 1819
State Motto — “Wisdom, justice, and moderation”
State Nickname — Peach State
State Bird — Brown Thrasher
State Flower — Cherokee Rose
- Saint Marys is the second oldest city in the nation.
- Fort Benning in Columbus is the largest infantry camp in the world.
- Georgia is the nation’s number one producer of peanuts, pecans, and peaches. The latter crop is where the nickname Peach State derives, however the official State Crop is the peanut.
- Headquarters for The Weather Channel is in Atlanta.
- Coca-Cola was invented in May 1886 by John Pemberton in Atlanta.
- Stone Mountain located east of Atlanta is a massive quartz dome with the world’s largest bas-relief sculpture on one side. The Confederate Memorial Carving depicts three great Confederate leaders on horseback: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
- The worst defeat in college football history was when Georgia Tech beat Cumberland University 222 to 0.
FAMOUS GEORGIANS: President Jimmy Carter – James Bowie (scout, soldier) – Clarence Thomas (Supreme Court Justice) – James Brown, Ray Singer, Alan Jackson, Gladys Knight, Travis Tritt, Trisha Yearwood, Kanye West (singers) – Oliver Hardy (comedian) – Margaret Mitchell (author) – Martin Luther King, Jr. (Civil Rights leader) – Burt Reynolds, Joanne Woodward, Julie Roberts (actors) – Jackie Robinson, Ty Cobb (baseball).
BRIEF HISTORY & THE NAME:
Cherokee and Creek Indians lived in present-day Georgia when Hernando de Soto explored the region for Spain in 1540. Not colonized until 1732, by British MP James Edward Oglethorpe, Georgia was the last of the original thirteen colonies. The state is named in honor of England’s King George II.
Abbreviation — WV
Capital — Charleston
Statehood — June 20, 1863
State Motto — “Mountaineers are always free”
State Nickname — Mountain State
State Bird — Cardinal
State Flower — Rhododendron
- Declared a state by President Abraham Lincoln, West Virginia is the only state to be designated by Presidential Proclamation.
- Nicknamed the Mountain State due to the numerous mountain ranges —75% of the entire state is covered by forests— West Virginia is also casually referred to as “the Switzerland of the United States.”
- Mother’s Day was first observed at Andrews Church in Grafton on May 10, 1908.
- The New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville is the second highest steel arch bridge in the US, and is also the longest steel arch bridge (1,700 feet) in the world.
- The first steamboat was launched by James Rumsey in the Potomac River at New Mecklensburg (Shepherdstown) on December 3, 1787.
- The first brick street in the world was laid on Summers Street in Charleston on October 23, 1870.
FAMOUS WEST VIRGINIANS: Stonewall Jackson (Confederate General) – Don Knotts (comedian) – Chuck Yeager (test pilot) – Mary Lou Retton (Olympic gold medal gymnast) – Brad Paisley (singer).
BRIEF HISTORY & THE NAME:
In 1731, the first permanent white settlement was established on Mill Creek in present-day Berkeley County. Once a part of Virginia, in 1861 as succession from the Union was being voted on, delegates of the 40 western counties opposed secession. Instead, those 40 counties formed their own government, remained in the Union, and as West Virginia were granted statehood in 1863 by a Presidential Proclamation from Abraham Lincoln.
In late 1861, as lawmakers for the separated counties of Virginia met to create a constitution, a debate arose over what to name the new state. The leading contender was Kanawha, the name of an Indian tribe in the region for which the Kanawha River and Kanawha county were named. While favored, the name was tabled due to expressed concerns of confusion due the odd pronunciation and the presence of a county and river bearing the name. Other possibilities included Vandalia, Augusta, and Allegheny. Even the “West” was challenged by “New Virginia” and “Western Virginia.” The final vote was 30 for West Virginia out of the 44 cast.
Virginia, and thus also West Virginia, was named for England’s Queen Elizabeth I, the “Virgin Queen.”
Abbreviation — MD
Capital — Annapolis
Statehood — April 28, 1788
State Motto — “Strong Deeds, Gentle Words”
State Nickname — Old Line State
State Bird — Baltimore Oriole
State Flower — Black-Eyed Susan
- The Maryland State House in Annapolis served as the nation’s capitol from 1783 to 1784 (the only state capitol to do so), and as a state capitol it is the oldest still in continuous legislative use.
- In 1814, during the British attempt to capture Baltimore, the bombardment of Fort McHenry inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
- The first telegraph message —”what hath God wrought”— was sent from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. on May 24, 1844.
- The Court of Appeals of Maryland is the only court in the United States whose judges wear red robes.
- The Chesapeake Bay produces more seafood —oysters, crabs, clams, fin fish— than any comparable body of water.
- General George Washington bestowed the nickname Old Line State, associating Maryland with its regular line troops, the Maryland Line, who served courageously in many Revolutionary War battles.
- Opened in 1696, King Williams School was the first school in the US.
- The Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore (the first Roman Catholic diocese in the US) is the nation’s first cathedral.
- The U.S. Naval Academy is located in Annapolis.
FAMOUS MARYLANDERS: Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman (abolitionists) – John Wilkes Booth (assassin of President Abraham Lincoln) – Billie Holiday (jazz singer) – Francis Scott Key (poet, writer of The Star Spangled Banner) – Babe Ruth, Cal Ripken Jr. (baseball) – Upton Sinclair (author) – Thurgood Marshall (Supreme Court Justice) – Michael Phelps (Olympic gold medal swimmer).
BRIEF HISTORY & THE NAME:
In 1608, Capt. John Smith explored Chesapeake Bay. England’s King Charles I granted a royal charter for Maryland territory to Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, in 1632. English settlers, many of whom were Roman Catholic, landed on St. Clement’s Island (now Blakistone Island) in 1634.
Maryland was named after Queen Henrietta Maria, the wife of England’s King Charles I.
Abbreviation — CO
Capital — Denver
Statehood — August 1, 1876
State Motto — “Nothing without Providence”
State Nickname — The Centennial State
State Bird — Lark Bunting
State Flower — Rocky Mountain Columbine
- Colorado was admitted to statehood during the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, hence the nickname The Centennial State.
- Colorado is one of the Four Corner states —along with Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico— the only location in the United States where four states intersect at a single point.
- The world’s first rodeo was held on July 4, 1869 in Deer Trail.
- The road to Mt. Evans climbs to 14,258 ft. above sea level, the highest paved road in North America.
- Denver is nicknamed “The Mile High City” because its official elevation is exactly one mile (5,280 feet) above sea level.
- Colorado has the highest elevation of any state, with more than 1,000 Rocky Mountain peaks over 10,000 feet high and 54 towering above 14,000 ft.
- The United States Air Force Academy is located in Colorado Springs.
- The tallest sand dune in America is in Great Sand Dunes National Park, a bizarre 46,000-acre landscape of 700-foot sand peaks.
- The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad has been in continuous operation since 1881.
- The anthem “America the Beautiful” was written by Katherine Lee Bates from atop Pikes Peak overlooking Colorado Springs.
FAMOUS COLORADANS: Tim Allen, Lon Chaney, Douglas Fairbanks (actors) – Jack Dempsey (boxer).
BRIEF HISTORY & THE NAME:
First visited by Spanish explorers in the 1500s, the territory was claimed for Spain by Juan de Ulibarri in 1706. The US obtained eastern Colorado as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the central portion in 1845 with the admission of Texas as a state, and the western part in 1848 as a result of the Mexican War.
Colorado was given its state name after the Colorado River, which Spanish explorers named. “Rio Colorado” means “colored river” in Spanish, a reference to the red silt carried down the river from the mountains.
Abbreviation — TX
Capital — Austin
Statehood — December 29, 1845
State Motto — “Friendship”
State Nickname — Lone Star State
State Bird — Mockingbird
State Flower — Bluebonnet
- Texas has been a member of six different nations: Spain, Mexico, France, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States, and the USA.
- Texas is the only state to enter the United States by treaty instead of territorial annexation.
- The nickname Lone Star State comes from the single star on the Texas flag, a symbol of Texas’ struggle for independence.
- In 1962, NASA began building a Manned Spacecraft Center near Houston. Workers there directed the Apollo 11 flight with the first astronauts to land on the moon, and the first word spoken from the moon on July 20, 1969 was “Houston.”
- On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated during a motorcade through downtown Dallas.
- Dr Pepper was invented in Waco by Charles Alderton in 1885.
- Bracken cave has the single largest concentration of mammals in the world with a population of over 20 million bats.
- The Municipal Rose Garden in Tyler is the world’s largest rose garden with 38,000 rose bushes of 500 varieties in a 22-acre garden.
- The worst natural disaster in US history was caused by a hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900 (long before so-called “climate change”) with over 8000 deaths recorded.
FAMOUS TEXANS: President and Texas Governor George W. Bush – WWII General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower – President Lyndon B. Johnson – Sam Houston (General) – Howard Hughes (industrialist, aviator) – Gene Autry, George Jones, Janis Joplin, Buck Owens, Tex Ritter, Kenny Rogers, Buddy Holly, Beyonce, Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson (singers) – Stevie Ray Vaughan (blues guitarist) – Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey (actors) – Steve Martin (comedian) – Sandra Day O’Connor (Supreme Court Justice).
BRIEF HISTORY & THE NAME:
In 1519, Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Piñeda was the first European to visit Texas. Myths of the golden “Seven Cities of Cibola” brought many Spaniards from Mexico into Texas. Spanish missionaries built the first two missions near El Paso in 1682, and by the late 1730s, missions and forts were built throughout central, east, and southwest Texas.
In 1820, American Moses Austin was granted land in Texas from Spanish officials. In 1821, his son, Stephen Austin, brought 300 families to farm along the Brazos River in Texas. Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821, extended the boundaries of Austin’s colony and granted other Americans land in Texas. However, tensions between Mexico and the Texans resulted in the 1835 Texas Revolution, which included the infamous assault upon the Alamo and capture of San Antonio. Mexican General Santa Anna was defeated on April 21, 1836, Texas gaining their independence. From 1836 to 1845, Texas was an independent nation, entering the United States by treaty.
The name Texas came from the Caddo Indian word tejas, meaning “friends” or “allies.”
Those are the five US States for this week’s blog.
Be sure to read the previous six blogs,
and also be sure to return next Wednesday
for five more States of the Union!