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 capitals
- Insular area capitals
- Former national capitals
- Kingdom and Republic of Hawaii
- Republic of Texas
- Native American Capitals
- Cherokee Nation
- Muscogee Creek Nation
- Iroquois Confederacy
- Seneca Nation of Indians
- Unrecognized national capitals
- Vermont Republic
- Confederate States of America
- State of Franklin
- State of Muskogee
- Republic of West Florida
- Republic of Indian Stream
- California Republic
- Historical state colonial and territorial capitals
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.
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:
Kingdom and Republic of Hawaii
Prior to becoming a territory of the United States in 1898, Hawaii was an independent country. Five sites served as its capital:
Republic of Texas
Before joining the United States under the Texas Annexation in 1845, Texas was an independent nation known as the Republic of Texas. Seven cities served as its capital:
Native American Capitals
Some Native American tribes, in particular the Five Civilized Tribes, organized their states with constitutions and capitals in Western style. Others, like the Iroquois, had long-standing, pre-columbian traditions of a 'capitol' longhouse where wampum and council fires were maintained with special status. Since they did business with the U.S. Federal Government, these capitals can be seens as officially recognized in some sense.
New Echota, now near Calhoun, Georgia was founded in 1825, realizing the dream and plans of Cherokee Chief Major Ridge. Major Ridge chose the site because of its centrality in the Cherokee Nation which spanned parts of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama, and because it was near the confluence of the Conasauga and Coosawattee rivers. The town's layout was partly inspired by Ridge's many visits to Washington D.C. and to Baltimore, but also invoked traditional themes of the Southeastern ceremonial complex. Complete with the Council House, Supreme Court, Cherokee syllabary printing press, and the houses of several of the Nation's constitutional officers, New Echota served as the capital until 1832 when the state of Georgia outlawed Native American assembly in an attempt to undermine the Nation. Thousands of Cherokee would gather in New Echota for the annual National Councils, camping along the nearby rivers and holding long stomp dances in the park-like woods that were typical of many Southeastern Native American settlements.
The Cherokee National council grounds were moved to Red Clay Tennessee on the Georgia state line in order to evade the Georgia state militia. The log cabins, limestone springs and park-like woods of Red Clay severed as the capital until the Cherokee Nation was removed to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) on the Trail of Tears.
Tahlequah, in present-day Oklahoma, served as the capital of the Cherokee Nation after Removal. After the Civil War, a turbulent period for the Nation which was involved in its own civil war resulting from pervasive anger and disagreements over removal from Georgia, the Cherokee Nation built a new National Capitol in Tahlequah out of brick. The building served as the capitol until 1907, when the Dawes Act finally dissolved the Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah became the county seat of Cherokee County Oklahoma. The Cherokee National government was re-established in 1938 and Tahlequah remains the capital of the modern Cherokee Nation.
Muscogee Creek Nation
After Removal from their Alabama-Georgia homeland, the Creek national government met near Hot Springs which was then part of their new territory as prescribed in the Treaty of Cusseta. However, the Union forced the Creeks to cede over three million acres (half of their land) of what is now Arkansas, after some Creeks fought with the Confederacy in the American Civil War.
Served as the National capital after the American Civil War. It was probably named after Ocmulgee, on the Ocmulgee river in Macon, a principle Coosa and later Creek town built with mounds and functioning as part of the Southeastern ceremonial complex. However, there were other traditional Creek "mother-towns" before removal. The Ocmulgee mounds were ceded illegally in 1821 with the Treaty of Indian Springs.
The Iroquois Confederacy or Haudenosaunee, which means "People of the Longhouse," was an alliance between the Five and later Six-Nations of Iroquoian language and culture of upstate New York. These include the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and, after 1722, the Tuscarora Nations. Since the Confederacy's formation around 1450, the Onondaga Nation has held privilege of hosting the Iroquois Grand Council and the status of Keepers of the Fire and the Wampum —which they still do at the official Longhouse on the Onondaga Reservation. Now spread over reservations in New York and Ontario, the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee preserve this arrangement to this day in what they claim to be the "world's oldest representative democracy."
Seneca Nation of Indians
The Seneca Nation republic was founded in 1848 and has two capitals that rotate responsibilities every two years. Jimerson Town was founded in the 1960s following the formation of the Allegheny Reservoir. The Senecas also have an administrative longhouse in Steamburg but do not consider that location to be a capital.
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.
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:
The current capital of the State of Vermont is Montpelier.
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America had two capitals during its existence. The first capital was established on February 4, 1861 in Montgomery, Alabama and remained there until it was moved to Richmond on May 29, 1861. The Confederate state capitals remained the same as in the Union, although as advancing Federals used the same capitals for military districts, some of the Confederate governments were relocated or they moved out of state, traveling along with rebel armies.
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
The State of Muskogee was a short-lived Native American state in Florida. It consisted of several tribes of Creeks and Seminoles. It existed from 1799 to 1803. It had one capital:
Republic of West Florida
The Republic of West Florida was a short-lived republic consisting of parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama.
Republic of Indian Stream
The Republic of Indian Stream was an unrecognized independent nation within the present state of New Hampshire.
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:
Historical state, colonial, and territorial 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 2014) 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).