The Admission to the Union Clause of the United States Constitution, often called the New States Clause, found at Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1, authorizes the Congress to admit new states into the United States beyond the thirteen already in existence at the time the Constitution went into effect.
The Constitution went into effect on June 21, 1788, after ratification by 9 of the 13 states, and the federal government began operations under it on March 4, 1789. Since then, 37 additional states have been admitted into the Union. Each new state has been admitted on an equal footing with those already in existence.
Of the 37 states admitted to the Union by Congress, all but six have been established within an existing U.S. organized incorporated territory. A state so created might encompass all or a portion of a territory. When the people of a territory or a region thereof have grown to a sufficient population and make their desire for statehood known to the federal government, in most cases Congress passed an enabling act authorizing the people of that territory or region to frame a proposed state constitution as a step toward admission to the Union. Although the use of an enabling act was a common historic practice, a number of states were admitted to the Union without one.
In many instances, an enabling act would detail the mechanism by which the territory would be admitted as a state following ratification of their constitution and election of state officers. Although the use of such an act is a traditional historic practice, a number of territories have drafted constitutions for submission to Congress absent an enabling act and were subsequently admitted. The broad outline for this process was established by the Land Ordinance of 1784 and the 1787 Northwest Ordinance, both of which predate the present U.S. Constitution.
The Admission to the Union Clause also forbids the creation of new states from parts of existing states without the consent of both the affected states and Congress. The primary intent of this caveat was to give Eastern states that still had western land claims (there were four at that time) a veto over whether their western counties could become states. This clause has served the same function since, each time a proposal to partition an existing state or states has arisen.
Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1:
New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.
Between 1781 and 1789 the United States was governed by a unicameral Congress, the Congress of the Confederation, which operated under authority granted to it by the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution. The 11th Article authorized Congress to admit new states to the Union provided nine states consented. Under the Articles, each state cast one vote on each proposed measure in Congress.
During this period, the Confederation Congress enacted two ordinances governing the admission of new states into the Union. The first such ordinance was the Land Ordinance of 1784, enacted April 23, 1784. Thomas Jefferson was its principal author. The Ordinance called for the land (recently confirmed as part of the United States by the Treaty of Paris) west of the Appalachian Mountains, north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River to eventually be divided into ten separate states. Once a given area reached 20,000 inhabitants, it could call a constitutional convention and form a provisional government. Then, upon enacting a state constitution which affirmed that the new state would forever be part of the Confederation, would be subject to the Articles of Confederation and acts of Congress, would be subject to payment for federal debts and would not tax federal properties within the state border or tax non-residents at a rate higher than residents, and would have a republican form of government, and also after reaching a population equal to that of the least-populated of the established states, it would be admitted, on an equal footing with all other states, based on a majority vote in Congress. Jefferson's original draft of the ordinance gave names to the proposed states, and also contained a provision that "After the year 1800 there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of them."
The 1784 ordinance was superseded three years later by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Enacted by the Confederation Congress on July 13, 1787, it created the Northwest Territory, the first organized incorporated territory of the United States. The Northwest Ordinance (Article V) provided for the admission of several new states from within its bounds:
There shall be formed in the said territory, not less than three nor more than five States [...] And, whenever any of the said States shall have sixty thousand free inhabitants therein, such State shall be admitted, by its delegates, into the Congress of the United States, on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever, and shall be at liberty to form a permanent constitution and State government: Provided, the constitution and government so to be formed, shall be republican, and in conformity to the principles contained in these articles; and, so far as it can be consistent with the general interest of the confederacy, such admission shall be allowed at an earlier period, and when there may be a less number of free inhabitants in the State than sixty thousand.
Considered one of the most important legislative acts of the Confederation Congress, it established the precedent by which the Federal government would be sovereign and expand westward with the admission of new states, rather than with the expansion of existing states and their established sovereignty under the Articles of Confederation.
No new states were formed in the Northwest Territory under either ordinance. In August, 1789, the ordinance was replaced by the Northwest Ordinance of 1789, in which the new Congress (under the present Constitution) reaffirmed the Ordinance with slight modifications. The territory itself remained in existence until 1803, when the southeastern portion of it was admitted to the Union as the State of Ohio, and the remainder was reorganized.
While the articles of Confederation were in effect, the Congress considered various ordinances admitting particular new states into the Union, none of which were approved:
At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, a proposal to include the phrase, "new States shall be admitted on the same terms with the original States", in the new states clause was defeated. That proposal would have taken the policy articulated in the Ordinance of 1784 and made it a constitutional imperative. Many delegates objected to including the phrase however, fearing that the political power of future new western states would ultimately overwhelm that of the established eastern states.
Delegates, understanding that the number of states would inevitably increase, did agree to include wording into this clause to preclude formation of a new state out of an established one without the consent of the established state as well as the Congress. It was anticipated that Kentucky (which was a part of Virginia), Franklin (which was a part of North Carolina, and later became part of the Southwest Territory), Vermont (to which New York asserted a disputed claim), and Maine (which was a part of Massachusetts), would become states. As a result of this compromise, new breakaway states are permitted to join the Union, but only with the proper consents.
Shortly after the new Constitution went into effect Congress admitted Vermont and Kentucky on equal terms with the existing 13 states, and thereafter formalized the condition in its acts of admission for subsequent states. Thus the Congress, utilizing the discretion allowed by the framers, adopted a policy of equal status for all newly admitted states. The constitutional principle derived from these actions is known as the equal footing doctrine. With the growth of states' rights advocacy during the antebellum period, the Supreme Court asserted, in Lessee of Pollard v. Hagan (1845), that the Constitution mandated admission of new states on the basis of equality.
Historically, most new states brought into being by Congress have been established from an organized incorporated U.S. territory, created and governed by Congress in accord with its plenary power under Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the Constitution. In some cases, an entire territory became a state; in others some part of a territory became a state. In most cases, the organized government of a territory made known the sentiment of its population in favor of statehood, usually by referendum. Congress then directed that government to organize a constitutional convention to write a state constitution. Upon acceptance of that constitution, by the people of the territory and then by Congress, Congress would adopt a joint resolution granting statehood and the President would issue a proclamation announcing that a new state has been added to the Union. While Congress, which has ultimate authority over the admission of new states, has usually followed this procedure, there have been occasions (due to unique case-specific circumstances) where it did not.
Congress is under no obligation to admit states, even in those areas whose population expresses a desire for statehood. In one instance, Mormon pioneers in Salt Lake City sought to establish the state of Deseret in 1849. It existed for slightly over two years and was never approved by the United States Congress. In another, leaders of the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole) in Indian Territory proposed to establish the state of Sequoyah in 1905, as a means to retain control of their lands. The proposed constitution ultimately failed in the U.S. Congress. Instead, the Indian Territory was incorporated into the new state of Oklahoma in 1907.
Some U.S. territories existed only a short time before becoming states, while others remained territories for decades. The shortest-lived was Alabama Territory at 2 years, while New Mexico and Hawaii territories both were in existence for more than 50 years. The entry of several states into the Union has been delayed due to complicating factors. Among them, Michigan Territory, which petitioned Congress for statehood in 1835, was not admitted to the Union until 1837, due to a boundary dispute with the adjoining state of Ohio. The Republic of Texas requested annexation to the United States in 1837, but fears about potential conflict with Mexico delayed the admission of Texas for nine years. Also, statehood for Kansas Territory was held up for several years (1854–61) due to a series of internal violent conflicts involving anti-slavery and pro-slavery factions.
Once established, most state borders have, with few exceptions, been generally stable. Notable exceptions include: the various portions (the Western land claims) of several original states ceded over a period of several years to the federal government, which in turn became the Northwest Territory, Southwest Territory, and Mississippi Territory; the 1791 cession by Maryland and Virginia of land to create the District of Columbia (Virginia's portion was returned in 1847); and the creation, on at least three separate occasions, of a new state (Kentucky, Maine and West Virginia) from a region of an existing state (Vermont was created from what was disputedly claimed to be a part of New York and was not admitted until New York consented); two large additions to Nevada, which became a state in 1864, were made in 1866 and 1867. However, there have been numerous minor adjustments to state boundaries over the years due to improved surveys, resolution of ambiguous or disputed boundary definitions, or minor mutually agreed boundary adjustments for administrative convenience or other purposes. One notable example is the case New Jersey v. New York, in which New Jersey won roughly 90% of Ellis Island from New York in 1998.
In addition to the original 13, six subsequent states were never part of an organized incorporated U.S. territory. Kentucky, Maine, and West Virginia were each set off from already existing states. Texas and Vermont both entered the Union after having been sovereign states (only de facto sovereignty in Vermont's case, as the region was claimed by New York). California was set off from unorganized land ceded to the United States by Mexico in 1848 at the end of the Mexican–American War.
|State||Date of admission||Formed from|
|California||September 9, 1850||Unorganized territory[a] (part)|
|Kentucky||June 1, 1792||Virginia (District of Kentucky: Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln counties)[b]|
|Maine||March 15, 1820||Massachusetts (District of Maine)[c]|
|Texas||December 29, 1845||Republic of Texas|
|Vermont||March 4, 1791||Vermont Republic (earlier known as the New Hampshire Grants)[d]|
|West Virginia||June 20, 1863||Virginia (Trans-Allegheny region counties)[e]|
Louisiana held its first United States House of Representatives elections following its April 1812 admission to the Union on September 28–30, 1812. A special election for a seat in the 12th Congress (that convened in 1811) and a general election for a seat in the 13th Congress (to convene in 1813) were held at the same time, and had nearly-identical results.1848 United States presidential election in Wisconsin
The 1848 United States presidential election in Wisconsin was held on November 7, 1848. It was the first presidential election held in the state since its admission to the Union in May, earlier the same year. Democratic candidate Lewis Cass won the state of Wisconsin with 38% of the vote, carrying the state's 4 electoral votes.
With 26.6% of the popular vote, Wisconsin would prove to be Van Buren's third strongest state after Vermont and Massachusetts.Alabama Day
Alabama Day is a holiday celebrated on December 14. It commemorates Alabama's admission to the Union as the 22nd state on December 14, 1819. The Alabama Legislature adopted a resolution calling for the observance of the day in 1923, at the urging of the Alabama Department of Education and Alabama Department of Archives and History.Capital punishment in Wisconsin
Capital punishment in Wisconsin was abolished in 1853. Wisconsin was one of the earliest United States states to abolish the death penalty, and is the only state that has performed only one execution in its history.
Since its admission to the Union in 1848, as the 30th State, the only execution carried out in Wisconsin was that of immigrant farmer John McCaffary, who was hanged on August 21, 1851 in Kenosha County for drowning his wife in a backyard cistern.Wisconsin abolished the death penalty in 1853, just two years after McCaffary's execution, becoming the first state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes.In 2006, an advisory referendum showed 55.5% of Wisconsin voters were in favor of reinstating capital punishment. The state legislature did not adopt any statute to apply the popular vote.Constitution of Vermont
The Constitution of the State of Vermont is the fundamental body of law of the U.S. state of Vermont. It was adopted in 1793 following Vermont's admission to the Union in 1791 and is largely based upon the 1777 Constitution of the Vermont Republic which was ratified at Windsor in the Old Constitution House and amended in 1786. At 8,295 words, it is the shortest U.S. state constitution.Fascist Union of Youth
The Fascist Union of Youth (Russian: Союз Фашистской Молодёжи, Soyuz Fashistskoy Molodyozhi) was the youth organization of the Russian Fascist Party. It was founded in 1936 in Harbin, Manchukuo, which consisted of all automatic members of the organizations VFP from ages 16 to 25.Ideology and tactics of the Union is entirely determined by ideology and tactics of the Russian Fascist Party.
Admission to the Union was carried out automatically: all members of the organization VFP appropriate age, regardless of gender. Members of the Union remained part of the VFP.The Union was divided into two groups, Junior and Senior, each of which had two levels, Second Level (Young Fascist) and First Level (Avangardisty). Members had to pass certain exams to advance to a higher level. Those who successfully passed to the second stage of the Union were enrolled in the Stolypin Fascist Academy.
The Union had cultural, educational, dramatic and philosophical circles, as well as sewing and language schools. The military and political sections were the most important ones in the Union. Structural units of the Union were branches of the Department of the VFP. The head of the Union was appointed by the Head of the VFP and the remaining leaders were appointed by the head of the Union.History of slavery in Vermont
Adult slavery was abolished in Vermont in July 1777 by a provision in that state's Constitution that male slaves become free at the age of 21 and females at the age of 18. However, violations of the law against adult slavery were not unusual.Chapter I of the Constitution, titled "A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the State of Vermont" said:
... no male person, born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person, as a servant, slave or apprentice, after he arrives to the age of twenty-one Years, nor female, in like manner, after she arrives to the age of eighteen years, unless they are bound by their own consent, after they arrive to such age, or bound by law, for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.
The state of Vermont was created in 1777 by politicians in Vermont defying New York, which then claimed Vermont was legally a part of New York, and creating a popular government that represented their interests, among them abolishing slavery. After 1777, Vermont was repeatedly denied admission to the Union and existed as a largely unrecognized state until it was admitted to the Union as the fourteenth state in 1791. Vermont's admission to the Union made the state subject to the Fugitive Slave Clause of the Constitution of the United States (Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3) requiring fugitive slaves fleeing into a state whose laws forbid slavery to be returned. Later the state was subject to the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850, allowing slave owners to recover fugitive slaves who fled to Vermont.
Harvey Amani Whitfield's book, The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, reports that among those violating the abolition of slavery were Vermont Supreme Court Judge Stephen Jacob and Levi Allen, brother of the military leader Ethan Allen.The 1790 census counted 16 slaves in Vermont, all in Bennington County. In 1870, the chief clerk of the Census Bureau, who was from Vermont, changed the reported status of the 16 to "Free Other", alleging that the original report was a mistake. Whether it was really a mistake is a matter of some dispute. (The 1790 census of the United States did not reach Vermont until the following year, 1791, because the government of Vermont took the position that Vermont was not a part of the United States until its admission to the Union in 1791.)Indiana Day
Indiana Day is a legal holiday in the state of Indiana in the United States, commemorating the state's 1816 admission to the Union. It was first instituted in 1925 by the Indiana General Assembly. The Indiana Code directs the governor to issue an annual proclamation to observe December 11 as the day statehood was granted to Indiana by the United States Congress and the state's admission to the Union. The law also requires state schools to hold appropriate events to commemorate the event and authorizes public celebrations to be held. Historically the day is commemorated in Indianapolis with speeches and events in the Indiana Statehouse. The day is not a paid holiday, and government employees work on the day.Kansas Day
Kansas Day is a holiday in the state of Kansas in the United States. It is celebrated annually on January 29 to commemorate the anniversary of the state's 1861 admission to the Union. It was first celebrated in 1877 by schoolchildren in Paola.Annual Kansas Day celebrations include school field trips and special projects to study the history of Kansas, pioneer-style meals, special visits by students to the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas, performances of Home on the Range, the Kansas State Song, and special proclamations by the Governor of Kansas and members of the Kansas Legislature.List of U.S. states by date of admission to the Union
A state of the United States is one of the 50 constituent entities that shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Americans are citizens of both the federal republic and of the state in which they reside, due to the shared sovereignty between each state and the federal government. Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.
States are the primary subdivisions of the United States. They possess all powers not granted to the federal government, nor prohibited to them by the United States Constitution. In general, state governments have the power to regulate issues of local concern, such as: regulating intrastate commerce, running elections, creating local governments, public school policy, and non-federal road construction and maintenance. Each state has its own constitution grounded in republican principles, and government consisting of executive, legislative, and judicial branches.All states and their residents are represented in the federal Congress, a bicameral legislature consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Each state is represented by two Senators, and at least one Representative, while the size of a state's House delegation depends on its total population, as determined by the most recent constitutionally-mandated decennial census. Additionally, each state is entitled to select a number of electors to vote in the Electoral College, the body that elects the President of the United States, equal to the total of Representatives and Senators in Congress from that state.Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1 of the Constitution grants to Congress the authority to admit new states into the Union. Since the establishment of the United States in 1776, the number of states has expanded from the original 13 to 50. Each new state has been admitted on an equal footing with the existing states.The following table is a list of all 50 states and their respective dates of statehood. The first 13 became states in July 1776 upon agreeing to the United States Declaration of Independence, and each joined the first Union of states between 1777 and 1781, upon ratifying the Articles of Confederation, its first constitution. (A separate table is included below showing AoC ratification dates.) These states are presented in the order in which each ratified the 1787 Constitution, thus joining the present federal Union of states. The date of admission listed for each subsequent state is the official date set by Act of Congress.Lotus, California
Lotus (formerly, Marshall and Uniontown) is an unincorporated community in El Dorado County, California. It is located 1 mile (1.6 km) west of Coloma, at an elevation of 722 feet (220 m).The settlement was established in 1849 and named for James W. Marshall, discoverer of gold. In 1850, the name was changed to Uniontown to commemorate California's admission to the Union. The name was changed to Lotus with the arrival of the post office in 1881.Montana Territory's at-large congressional district
Montana Territory's At-large congressional district is an obsolete congressional district that encompassed the area of the Montana Territory, which was split off from the Idaho Territory in 1864. After Montana's admission to the Union as the 41st state by act of Congress on November 8, 1889, this district was dissolved and replaced by Montana's At-large congressional district.Nevada Day
Nevada Day is a legal holiday in the state of Nevada in the United States. It commemorates the state's October 31, 1864 admission to the Union. The first known observance of Nevada Day (originally known as Admission Day) was by the Pacific Coast Pioneer society during the 1870s. The Nevada Legislature established it as a state holiday in 1933.New Mexico Territory's at-large congressional district
New Mexico Territory's At-large congressional district is an obsolete congressional district representing the New Mexico Territory, which was created in 1850. After New Mexico's admission to the Union as the 47th state by act of Congress on January 6, 1912, this district was dissolved and replaced by New Mexico's At-large congressional district.Seal of Wyoming
The Great Seal of the State of Wyoming was adopted by the second legislature in 1893, and revised by the sixteenth legislature in 1921.
The two dates on the Great Seal, 1869 and 1890, commemorate the organization of the territorial government and Wyoming's admission to the Union. The draped figure in the center holds a staff from which flows a banner bearing the words, "Equal Rights." The banner symbolizes the political status women have enjoyed in Wyoming since the passage of the territorial suffrage amendment in 1869. The male figures typify the livestock and mining industries of the state. The number 44 on the five-pointed star signifies that Wyoming was the 44th state admitted to the Union. On top of the pillars rest lamps from which burn the Light of Knowledge. Scrolls encircling the two pillars bear the words, Oil, Mines, Livestock, and Grain, four of Wyoming's major industries.The state seal is displayed in stained glass in the ceilings of both the Wyoming's House of Representatives Chamber and the Wyoming Senate Chamber in the state capital. The seal is also incorporated into the design of the flag of Wyoming, which prominently features the seal set against the silhouette of an American Bison.Statehood Day (Hawaii)
Statehood Day or Admission Day is a legal holiday in Hawaii state|state]] of Hawaii in the United States. It is celebrated annually on the third Friday in August to commemorate the anniversary of the state's 1959 admission to the Union. It was first celebrated in 1969.Statehood bills for Hawaii were introduced into the U.S. Congress as early as 1919 by Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, the non-voting delegate sent by the Territory of Hawaii to the U.S. Congress. Additional bills were introduced in 1935, 1947 and 1950. In 1959, the U.S. Congress approved the statehood bill, the Hawaii Admission Act. This was followed by a referendum in which Hawaiian residents voted 94% in support of statehood (the ballot question was: "Shall Hawaii immediately be admitted into the Union as a state?"), and on August 21, 1959 (the third Friday in August), President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a proclamation making Hawaii the 50th state.Utah Territory's at-large congressional district
Utah Territory's At-large congressional district is an obsolete congressional district that encompassed the area of the Utah Territory. After Utah's admission to the Union as the 45th state by act of Congress on January 4, 1896, this district was dissolved and replaced by Utah's At-large congressional district.Valley View Ferry
The Valley View Ferry provides passage over the Kentucky River in rural central Kentucky. Located on Kentucky Route 169, this ferry service connects auto traffic between the county seats of Richmond in Madison County and Nicholasville in Jessamine County. The ferry was founded in 1780, predating Kentucky's admission to the Union in 1792. It is widely regarded as the commonwealth's oldest continually operating business.John Craig, a Virginia veteran of the Revolutionary War, acquired land in the area in 1780 through a military warrant. In 1785, the Virginia General Assembly granted Craig "a perpetual and irrevocable" franchise to operate a ferry. Daniel Boone, Henry Clay and Ulysses S. Grant were among its passengers. The ferry remained a privately owned business for more than 200 years, passing through the hands of seven successive families until 1991. It was then purchased jointly by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and Madison and Jessamine counties for $60,000.The rudderless ferry is guided by cables stretching between four 55-foot towers. The current boat, named the "John Craig" after the franchise's original owner, dates to 1996. The vessel it replaced sustained heavy damage after sinking under the weight of a heavy snowfall and then as a result of salvage efforts. The entire ferry site was renovated in 1998, when authorities replaced the four towers and their cables. Two years later, the ferry authority received a federal grant allowing an upgrade of the barge. The new vessel, longer than its predecessor by ten feet, enables the ferry to carry three cars instead of two.The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet funds the ferry as a free service. On average it transports 250 cars a day.West Virginia Day
West Virginia Day is a state holiday in the US state of West Virginia. Celebrated annually on June 20, the day celebrates the state's 1863 admission to the Union as a result of the secession of several northwestern counties of Virginia during the American Civil War.
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