Historical Events  Geography
52 US States

52 US States

50 US States

How many US States?

Time for an American history lesson!

Everyone knows there are 50 states - right? Apparently not. Some have a false memory of there being 51 or even 52 states in the past, and that's somehow been changed to the 50 we see today.

Whilst it's understandable there might be some confusion when looking at the details of this, such as Puerto Rico being one of the "extras", and/or Washington DC too, this seems to be more of a Mandela Effect because those experiencing it don't seem to be confused by these two.

Of course, that means the American flag must also have been different to fall in line with this alternative memory, and sure enough the claim is the number of stars has been changed too.

50, 51 or 52 US states?

When people do say something other that 50 states, it's usually 52 but some say 51. Many people outside the US are sure it's 52, and those in the US who believe it are sure they remember being taught that in school.

The US has had 50 states since 1959, and these are represented by the 50 stars on the US flag. The District of Columbia is a federal district, not a state. Some think the number 52 itself is being caught up in the confusion, for example with the number of playing cards in a deck.

Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states in 1959. Before then, the flag had 48 stars and they were all arranged in a grid where the vertical stars aligned, and each row was not offset as they were after 1959 and can be seen this way today. Photographs of the flag from 1912-1959 clearly show this. Prior to 1912, there were 46 states and the vertical stars were not aligned.

Counting the number of stars on the flag over time might seem strange, but its an unexpected historical record for those who are claiming the number of states isn't as recorded.