The path to 50 states took almost 200 years. However, no new states have been added since Hawaii gained statehood in 1959. The statehood movement in Puerto Rico continues, but the island has yet to become the 51st state. Similarly, throughout U.S. history and even in recent decades, several states have been proposed that didn’t make the cut. Here are seven proposed states that never came to be.
A peninsula off the Maryland coast stretches across three states: Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Frustrated by inconsistent government regulations throughout the peninsula, state senators proposed making the area into one state, Delmarva.
Meanwhile, others wanted Maryland and Virginia to cede their lands to Delaware. Ultimately, the three states couldn’t agree on a viable solution, so the proposed state of Delmarva has never come to fruition.
Regardless of the peninsula’s name, you can still enjoy its varied attractions. The Delmarva Peninsula is home to the Assateague Island National Seashore, famous for its wild horses. On any given day, the waters of Delmarva abound with crabs, oysters, trout, clams, and geese. You can also bike along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Scenic Byway and visit more than 35 historical sites along the 125-mile trail.
This state was proposed by Mormons who lived in the Great Basin desert in the mid-1800s. The group originally migrated from the Eastern United States to escape persecution.
Today, this area encompasses Utah, Nevada, and a large chunk of New Mexico and Arizona. You may quite logically think that “Deseret” refers to the desert land the Mormons favored as their proposed state’s location. However, the word actually comes from the Book of Mormon and means “honey bee.”
At the time, the federal government decided that the proposed area was too large. So, it divided the land into what is now present-day New Mexico and Utah. Brigham Young then became Utah’s first governor. Today, Utah is home to Mormons and non-Mormons alike. Tourists who visit expound upon the majestic and panoramic views found in the state’s deserts, plateaus, and canyons.
The Republic of Forgottonia was a fictional joke, conceived and implemented by two men from West Central Illinois. Despite this, fellow citizens shared the gist of the men’s sentiments. Here’s why: in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the citizens of this 14-county area felt neglected by the state and federal government. Forgottonia received little to no support for transportation or infrastructure projects in the region.
So, the Forgottonia movement persisted. Supporters named Vietnam War veteran and university student Neil Gamm as governor and made the town of Fandon the capital. Forgottonia didn’t secede from the Union as intended, but the movement drew the federal government’s attention. In fact, Amtrak returned to the area in 1972 and the government provided funds to repair local infrastructure.
Since the birth of the United States, land that makes up today’s Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan has been repeatedly proposed as its own state.
Thomas Jefferson wanted to call this area Sylvania, while others suggested the name Ontonagon. Many proposals in recent decades suggest the area should be called Superior due to its proximity to Lake Superior. Proposals for a state of Superior began in 1858 as a result of the isolated nature of the UP.
Delegates from the UP, Wisconsin, and Minnesota attended a special meeting at Ontonagon to discuss the viability of a new state. However, the Civil War interrupted further progress on the matter. Since the 1950s, the UP has been less isolated because the Mackinac Bridge now connects both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas in Michigan.
Yet, recent frustrations with Michigan tax laws have renewed the push for secession. Whether the UP secedes or not, you can always count on enjoying the beautiful landscapes here, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hunting, fishing, boating, snowmobiling, and skiing.
Shortly after the Revolutionary War, residents in what is today’s eastern Tennessee attempted to form its own government.
The area called Franklin almost became the 14th state in the U.S. During this time, eastern Tennessee was actually part of North Carolina. The latter, unfortunately, ceded this land to the United States government after the war. Residents feared the federal government would sell Franklin to France or Spain to pay off war debts.
This led to the proposed state of Franklin. When voting occurred, Franklin came two votes shy of confirmation. As a result, its government folded and the land returned to North Carolina. Today, this area is the gateway to the Cherokee National Forest and the Appalachian Trail.
During the Civil War, Tennessee became a Confederate southern state. Scott County, Tennessee, seceded, however, to support the Union troops of the North. The state didn’t protest the secession or take any other measures to stop Scott County from seceding, but they didn’t recognize the county as an independent entity either. In fact, the Free and Independent State of Scott was forgotten until 1986, its 125th birthday, when it requested readmission to Tennessee. The county then repealed Scott’s independence proclamation and Tennessee welcomed it back to the state.
The last state which never came to be was Transylvania, which was located in today’s western and southeastern Kentucky and Northern Tennessee. The name has no link to the Rocky Horror Picture Show or Bram Stoker’s Dracula, however.
The word sylvan, which means “pleasant woodsy area,” was common during the colonial area and included in the names of many locations. Pennsylvania is an example. Transylvania was actually the brainchild of land speculator and pioneer Richard Henderson, who intended to purchase it in 1775. Virginia and North Carolina claimed the land and killed the deal, however. Additionally, the Continental Congress refused to recognize Transylvania, so it never became a state.