Age of Majority

U.S.A.  (written in 1977)

In the United States of America the fixing of the age of majority is a matter for the State legislatures subject to whatever restrictions may be imposed by the Constitutions of the individual States. Unless a State has exercised its power to fix an age of majority the age of majority is the common law age of 21 years.


Prior to 1970 the age of majority was 21 years in most of the States. The exceptions were Kentucky where the age was 18, Alaska where it was 19 and Hawaii where it was 20. In Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Utah the age of majority was 21 years for males and 18 for females.


In 1971 the Twenty-Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America became law. This Amendment provides that the right of a citizen of the United States who is eighteen years of age or older to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by any State, on account of age. After this Amendment of the Constitution a number of States altered the age of majority.


At present 31 States - Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming - have fixed the age of majority at 18. In Iowa, Montana and Nebraska the age was fixed at 19, whereas in Hawaii it is 20, as mentioned in para. 2.21 supra