Mar 16, 2013
Although it is a technicality, there are actually just forty six states. Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts are all officially Commonwealths. This grants them no special constitutional powers; they simply chose the word to describe themselves at the end of the war of independence. Virginia, named after the ‘Virgin’ Queen Elizabeth I, was one of the original 13 states (hence the 13 stripes on the flag) and the first of the states to declare itself a Commonwealth, in 1776. Pennsylvania and Massachusetts followed suit shortly afterwards, and Kentucky, which was formally a county of Virginia, became a Commonwealth in 1792.