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Is it true that until the Civil War we did not capitalize the U in United States?

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closed as general reference by simchona, Cameron, J.R., jwpat7, Mitch Jul 26 '12 at 20:21

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I think the U was always capitalized, but it was once common, some say before the Civil War, to say the United States are, instead of the United States is. – JLG Jul 21 '12 at 21:51
Did you mean to ask during the Civil War? Just curious. – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Jul 22 '12 at 6:07

The first two lines of the Declaration of Independence are:

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

The first two lines Article I of the Articles of Confederation of 1781 are:


The Stile of this Confederacy shall be "The United States of America".

So united was initially not capitalized, but United States with capitalization was adopted when the Articles were ratified in 1781.

Perhaps you're confusing the Articles of Confederation (confederacy: "a league or compact between two or more persons, bodies of men, or states for mutual support or common action" [M-W Unabridged]) with the secession of the Confederated States of America, which precipitated the Civil War.

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I'm just a New Zealander/Englander but after reading bits of it I think the capitalisation is all over the place - which indicates that possibly there were all forms of writing it at the time.

So it's possible that there were conventions all over the country and the world that where not the same.

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A quick google check shows that in what appears to be the original, "united" is, indeed, uncapitalized, and is written in a significantly smaller hand than "States": standupamericaus.org/sua/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/… – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Jul 22 '12 at 6:30
hahaha - I was recalling it from my last visit years ago! Yes I think I'm wrong. – Preet Sangha Jul 22 '12 at 6:32
Sorry, but this should rather be a comment. – Noah Jul 22 '12 at 12:31

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