U.S. state

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U.S. state_table_infobox_0

StateU.S. state_header_cell_0_0_0
CategoryU.S. state_header_cell_0_1_0 Federated stateU.S. state_cell_0_1_1
LocationU.S. state_header_cell_0_2_0 United StatesU.S. state_cell_0_2_1
NumberU.S. state_header_cell_0_3_0 50U.S. state_cell_0_3_1
PopulationsU.S. state_header_cell_0_4_0 Smallest: Wyoming, 578,759

Largest: California, 39,512,223U.S. state_cell_0_4_1

AreasU.S. state_header_cell_0_5_0 Smallest: Rhode Island, 1,545 square miles (4,000 km)

Largest: Alaska, 665,384 square miles (1,723,340 km)U.S. state_cell_0_5_1

GovernmentU.S. state_header_cell_0_6_0 State governmentU.S. state_cell_0_6_1
SubdivisionsU.S. state_header_cell_0_7_0 County (or equivalent)U.S. state_cell_0_7_1

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. U.S. state_sentence_0

Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. U.S. state_sentence_1

Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. U.S. state_sentence_2

State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders (such as paroled convicts and children of divorced spouses who are sharing custody). U.S. state_sentence_3

State governments are allocated power by the people (of each respective state) through their individual constitutions. U.S. state_sentence_4

All are grounded in republican principles, and each provides for a government, consisting of three branches, each with separate and independent powers: executive, legislative, and judicial. U.S. state_sentence_5

States are divided into counties or county-equivalents, which may be assigned some local governmental authority but are not sovereign. U.S. state_sentence_6

County or county-equivalent structure varies widely by state, and states also create other local governments. U.S. state_sentence_7

States, unlike U.S. U.S. state_sentence_8 territories, possess a number of powers and rights under the United States Constitution. U.S. state_sentence_9

States and their citizens are represented in the United States Congress, a bicameral legislature consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. U.S. state_sentence_10

Each state is also entitled to select a number of electors (equal to the total number of representatives and senators from that state) to vote in the Electoral College, the body that directly elects the President of the United States. U.S. state_sentence_11

Additionally, each state has the opportunity to ratify constitutional amendments, and, with the consent of Congress, two or more states may enter into interstate compacts with one another. U.S. state_sentence_12

The police power of each state is also recognized. U.S. state_sentence_13

Historically, the tasks of local law enforcement, public education, public health, regulating intrastate commerce, and local transportation and infrastructure have generally been considered primarily state responsibilities, although all of these now have significant federal funding and regulation as well. U.S. state_sentence_14

Over time, the Constitution has been amended, and the interpretation and application of its provisions have changed. U.S. state_sentence_15

The general tendency has been toward centralization and incorporation, with the federal government playing a much larger role than it once did. U.S. state_sentence_16

There is a continuing debate over states' rights, which concerns the extent and nature of the states' powers and sovereignty in relation to the federal government and the rights of individuals. U.S. state_sentence_17

The Constitution grants to Congress the authority to admit new states into the Union. U.S. state_sentence_18

Since the establishment of the United States in 1776 by Thirteen British Colonies, the number of states has expanded from the original 13 to 50. U.S. state_sentence_19

Each new state has been admitted on an equal footing with the existing states. U.S. state_sentence_20

The Constitution is silent on the question of whether states have the power to secede (withdraw) from the Union. U.S. state_sentence_21

Shortly after the Civil War, the U.S. U.S. state_sentence_22 Supreme Court, in Texas v. White, held that a state cannot unilaterally do so. U.S. state_sentence_23

States of the United States U.S. state_section_0

Further information on each U.S. state: List of states and territories of the United States U.S. state_sentence_24

See also: List of U.S. state abbreviations U.S. state_sentence_25

The 50 U.S. states, in alphabetical order, along with each state's flag: U.S. state_sentence_26

Background U.S. state_section_1

The 13 original states came into existence in July 1776 during the American Revolutionary War, as the successors of the Thirteen Colonies, upon agreeing to the Lee Resolution and signing the United States Declaration of Independence. U.S. state_sentence_27

Prior to these events each state had been a British colony; each then joined the first Union of states between 1777 and 1781, upon ratifying the Articles of Confederation, the first U.S. constitution. U.S. state_sentence_28

Also during this period, the newly independent states developed their own individual state constitutions, among the earliest written constitutions in the world. U.S. state_sentence_29

Although different in detail, these state constitutions shared features that would be important in the American constitutional order: they were republican in form, and separated power among three branches, most had bicameral legislatures, and contained statements of, or a bill of rights. U.S. state_sentence_30

Later, from 1787 to 1790, each of the states also ratified a new federal frame of government in the Constitution of the United States. U.S. state_sentence_31

In relation to the states, the U.S. Constitution elaborated concepts of federalism. U.S. state_sentence_32

Governments U.S. state_section_2

Main article: State governments of the United States U.S. state_sentence_33

Further information: Comparison of U.S. state governments U.S. state_sentence_34

States are not mere administrative divisions of the United States, as their powers and responsibilities are not assigned to them from above by federal legislation or federal administrative action or the federal Constitution. U.S. state_sentence_35

Consequently, each of the 50 states reserves the right to organize its individual government in any way (within the broad parameters set by the U.S. Constitution) deemed appropriate by its people, and to exercise all powers of government not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution. U.S. state_sentence_36

A state, unlike the federal government, has un-enumerated police power, that is the right to generally make all necessary laws for the welfare of its people. U.S. state_sentence_37

As a result, while the governments of the various states share many similar features, they often vary greatly with regard to form and substance. U.S. state_sentence_38

No two state governments are identical. U.S. state_sentence_39

Constitutions U.S. state_section_3

The government of each state is structured in accordance with its individual constitution. U.S. state_sentence_40

Many of these documents are more detailed and more elaborate than their federal counterpart. U.S. state_sentence_41

The Constitution of Alabama, for example, contains 310,296 words – more than 40 times as many as the U.S. Constitution. U.S. state_sentence_42

In practice, each state has adopted a three-branch frame of government: executive, legislative, and judicial (even though doing so has never been required). U.S. state_sentence_43

Early on in American history four state governments differentiated themselves from the others in their first constitutions by choosing to self-identify as commonwealths rather than as states: Virginia, in 1776; Pennsylvania, in 1777; Massachusetts, in 1780; and Kentucky, in 1792. U.S. state_sentence_44

Consequently, while these four are states like the other states, each is formally a commonwealth because the term is contained in its constitution. U.S. state_sentence_45

The term, commonwealth, which refers to a state in which the supreme power is vested in the people, was first used in Virginia during the Interregnum, the 1649–60 period between the reigns of Charles I and Charles II during which parliament's Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector established a republican government known as the Commonwealth of England. U.S. state_sentence_46

Virginia became a royal colony again in 1660, and the word was dropped from the full title; it went unused until reintroduced in 1776. U.S. state_sentence_47

Executive U.S. state_section_4

Further information: Governor (United States) U.S. state_sentence_48

In each state, the chief executive is called the governor, who serves as both head of state and head of government. U.S. state_sentence_49

All governors are chosen by direct election. U.S. state_sentence_50

The governor may approve or veto bills passed by the state legislature, as well as recommend and work for the passage of bills, usually supported by their political party. U.S. state_sentence_51

In 44 states, governors have line item veto power. U.S. state_sentence_52

Most states have a plural executive, meaning that the governor is not the only government official in the state responsible for its executive branch. U.S. state_sentence_53

In these states, executive power is distributed amongst other officials, elected by the people independently of the governor—such as the lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, secretary of state, and others. U.S. state_sentence_54

The constitutions of 19 states allow for citizens to remove and replace an elected public official before the end of their term of office through a recall election. U.S. state_sentence_55

Each state follows its own procedures for recall elections, and sets its own restrictions on how often, and how soon after a general election, they may be held. U.S. state_sentence_56

In all states, the legislatures can remove state executive branch officials, including governors, who have committed serious abuses of their power from office. U.S. state_sentence_57

The process of doing so includes impeachment (the bringing of specific charges), and a trial, in which legislators act as a jury. U.S. state_sentence_58

Legislative U.S. state_section_5

Further information: State legislature (United States) U.S. state_sentence_59

The primary responsibilities of state legislatures are to enact state laws and appropriate money for the administration of public policy. U.S. state_sentence_60

In all states, if the governor vetoes a bill (or a portion of one), it can still become law if the legislature overrides the veto (repasses the bill), which in most states requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber. U.S. state_sentence_61

In 49 of the 50 states the legislature consists of two chambers: a lower house (variously called the House of Representatives, State Assembly, General Assembly or House of Delegates) and a smaller upper house, in all states called the Senate. U.S. state_sentence_62

The exception is the unicameral Nebraska Legislature, which has only a single chamber. U.S. state_sentence_63

Most states have a part-time legislature (traditionally called a citizen legislature). U.S. state_sentence_64

Ten state legislatures are considered full-time; these bodies are more similar to the U.S. Congress than are the others. U.S. state_sentence_65

Members of each state's legislature are chosen by direct election. U.S. state_sentence_66

In Baker v. Carr (1962) and Reynolds v. Sims (1964), the U.S. Supreme Court held that all states are required to elect their legislatures in such a way as to afford each citizen the same degree of representation (the one person, one vote standard). U.S. state_sentence_67

In practice, most states elect legislators from single-member districts, each of which has approximately the same population. U.S. state_sentence_68

Some states, such as Maryland and Vermont, divide the state into single- and multi-member districts, in which case multi-member districts must have proportionately larger populations, e.g., a district electing two representatives must have approximately twice the population of a district electing just one. U.S. state_sentence_69

The voting systems used across the nation are: first-past-the-post in single-member districts, and multiple non-transferable vote in multi-member districts. U.S. state_sentence_70

In 2013, there were a total of 7,383 legislators in the 50 state legislative bodies. U.S. state_sentence_71

They earned from $0 annually (New Mexico) to $90,526 (California). U.S. state_sentence_72

There were various per diem and mileage compensation. U.S. state_sentence_73

Judicial U.S. state_section_6

Further information: State court (United States) U.S. state_sentence_74

States can also organize their judicial systems differently from the federal judiciary, as long as they protect the federal constitutional right of their citizens to procedural due process. U.S. state_sentence_75

Most have a trial level court, generally called a District Court, Superior Court or Circuit Court, a first-level appellate court, generally called a Court of Appeal (or Appeals), and a Supreme Court. U.S. state_sentence_76

However, Oklahoma and Texas have separate highest courts for criminal appeals. U.S. state_sentence_77

In New York State the trial court is called the Supreme Court; appeals are then taken to the Supreme Court's Appellate Division, and from there to the Court of Appeals. U.S. state_sentence_78

State court systems provide general courts with broad jurisdiction. U.S. state_sentence_79

The overwhelming majority of criminal and civil cases in the United States are heard in state courts. U.S. state_sentence_80

The annual number of cases filed in state courts is around 30,000,000 and the number of judges in state courts is about 30,000—by comparison, federal courts see some 1,000,000 filed cases with about 1700 judges. U.S. state_sentence_81

Most states base their legal system on English common law (with substantial indigenous changes and incorporation of certain civil law innovations), with the notable exception of Louisiana, a former French colony, which draws large parts of its legal system from French civil law. U.S. state_sentence_82

Only a few states choose to have the judges on the state's courts serve for life terms. U.S. state_sentence_83

In most of the states the judges, including the justices of the highest court in the state, are either elected or appointed for terms of a limited number of years, and are usually eligible for re-election or reappointment. U.S. state_sentence_84

States as unitary systems U.S. state_section_7

All states are unitary governments, not federations or aggregates of local governments. U.S. state_sentence_85

Local governments within them are created by and exist by virtue of state law, and local governments within each state are subject to the central authority of that particular state. U.S. state_sentence_86

State governments commonly delegate some authority to local units and channel policy decisions down to them for implementation. U.S. state_sentence_87

In a few states, local units of government are permitted a degree of home rule over various matters. U.S. state_sentence_88

The prevailing legal theory of state preeminence over local governments, referred to as Dillon's Rule, holds that, U.S. state_sentence_89

Each state defines for itself what powers it will allow local governments. U.S. state_sentence_90

Generally, four categories of power may be given to local jurisdictions: U.S. state_sentence_91

Relationships U.S. state_section_8

Among states U.S. state_section_9

Each state admitted to the Union by Congress since 1789 has entered it on an equal footing with the original states in all respects. U.S. state_sentence_92

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. U.S. state_sentence_93

With the consent of Congress, states may enter into interstate compacts, agreements between two or more states. U.S. state_sentence_94

Compacts are frequently used to manage a shared resource, such as transportation infrastructure or water rights. U.S. state_sentence_95

Under Article IV of the Constitution, which outlines the relationship between the states, each state is required to give full faith and credit to the acts of each other's legislatures and courts, which is generally held to include the recognition of most contracts and criminal judgments, and before 1865, slavery status. U.S. state_sentence_96

Under the Extradition Clause, a state must extradite people located there who have fled charges of "treason, felony, or other crimes" in another state if the other state so demands. U.S. state_sentence_97

The principle of hot pursuit of a presumed felon and arrest by the law officers of one state in another state are often permitted by a state. U.S. state_sentence_98

The full faith and credit expectation does have exceptions, some legal arrangements, such as professional licensure and marriages, may be state-specific, and until recently states have not been found by the courts to be required to honor such arrangements from other states. U.S. state_sentence_99

Such legal acts are nevertheless often recognized state-to-state according to the common practice of comity. U.S. state_sentence_100

States are prohibited from discriminating against citizens of other states with respect to their basic rights, under the Privileges and Immunities Clause. U.S. state_sentence_101

With the federal government U.S. state_section_10

Further information: Federalism in the United States U.S. state_sentence_102

Under Article IV, each state is guaranteed a form of government that is grounded in republican principles, such as the consent of the governed. U.S. state_sentence_103

This guarantee has long been at the fore-front of the debate about the rights of citizens vis-à-vis the government. U.S. state_sentence_104

States are also guaranteed protection from invasion, and, upon the application of the state legislature (or executive, if the legislature cannot be convened), from domestic violence. U.S. state_sentence_105

This provision was discussed during the 1967 Detroit riot, but was not invoked. U.S. state_sentence_106

The Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2) establishes that the Constitution, federal laws made pursuant to it, and treaties made under its authority, constitute the supreme law of the land. U.S. state_sentence_107

It provides that state courts are bound by the supreme law; in case of conflict between federal and state law, the federal law must be applied. U.S. state_sentence_108

Even state constitutions are subordinate to federal law. U.S. state_sentence_109

States' rights are understood mainly with reference to the Tenth Amendment. U.S. state_sentence_110

The Constitution delegates some powers to the national government, and it forbids some powers to the states. U.S. state_sentence_111

The Tenth Amendment reserves all other powers to the states, or to the people. U.S. state_sentence_112

Powers of the U.S. U.S. state_sentence_113 Congress are enumerated in Article I, Section 8, for example, the power to declare war. U.S. state_sentence_114

Making treaties is one power forbidden to the states, being listed among other such powers in Article I, Section 10. U.S. state_sentence_115

Among the Article I enumerated powers of Congress is the power to regulate Commerce. U.S. state_sentence_116

Since the early 20th century, the Supreme Court's interpretation of this "Commerce Clause" has, over time, greatly expanded scope of federal power, at the expense of powers formerly considered purely states' matters. U.S. state_sentence_117

The Cambridge Economic History of the United States says, "On the whole, especially after the mid-1880s, the Court construed the Commerce Clause in favor of increased federal power." U.S. state_sentence_118

In 1941, the Supreme Court in U.S. U.S. state_sentence_119 v. Darby upheld the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, holding that Congress had the power under the Commerce Clause to regulate employment conditions. U.S. state_sentence_120

Then, one year later, in Wickard v. Filburn, the Court expanded federal power to regulate the economy by holding that federal authority under the commerce clause extends to activities which may appear to be local in nature but in reality effect the entire national economy and are therefore of national concern. U.S. state_sentence_121

For example, Congress can regulate railway traffic across state lines, but it may also regulate rail traffic solely within a state, based on the reality that intrastate traffic still affects interstate commerce. U.S. state_sentence_122

Through such decisions, argues law professor David F. Forte, "the Court turned the commerce power into the equivalent of a general regulatory power and undid the Framers' original structure of limited and delegated powers." U.S. state_sentence_123

Subsequently, Congress invoked the Commerce Clause to expand federal criminal legislation, as well as for social reforms such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. U.S. state_sentence_124

Only within the past couple of decades, through decisions in cases such as those in U.S. U.S. state_sentence_125 v. Lopez (1995) and U.S. U.S. state_sentence_126 v. Morrison (2000), has the Court tried to limit the Commerce Clause power of Congress. U.S. state_sentence_127

Another enumerated congressional power is its taxing and spending power. U.S. state_sentence_128

An example of this is the system of federal aid for highways, which include the Interstate Highway System. U.S. state_sentence_129

The system is mandated and largely funded by the federal government, and also serves the interests of the states. U.S. state_sentence_130

By threatening to withhold federal highway funds, Congress has been able to pressure state legislatures to pass a variety of laws. U.S. state_sentence_131

An example is the nationwide legal drinking age of 21, enacted by each state, brought about by the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. U.S. state_sentence_132

Although some objected that this infringes on states' rights, the Supreme Court upheld the practice as a permissible use of the Constitution's Spending Clause in South Dakota v. Dole 483 U.S. U.S. state_sentence_133

(1987). U.S. state_sentence_134

As prescribed by Article I of the Constitution, which establishes the U.S. Congress, each state is represented in the Senate (irrespective of population size) by two senators, and each is guaranteed at least one representative in the House. U.S. state_sentence_135

Both senators and representatives are chosen in direct popular elections in the various states. U.S. state_sentence_136

(Prior to 1913, senators were elected by state legislatures.) U.S. state_sentence_137

There are presently 100 senators, who are elected at-large to staggered terms of six years, with one-third of them being chosen every two years. U.S. state_sentence_138

Representatives are elected at-large or from single-member districts to terms of two years (not staggered). U.S. state_sentence_139

The size of the House—presently 435 voting members—is set by federal statute. U.S. state_sentence_140

Seats in the House are distributed among the states in proportion to the most recent constitutionally mandated decennial census. U.S. state_sentence_141

The borders of these districts are established by the states individually through a process called redistricting, and within each state all districts are required to have approximately equal populations. U.S. state_sentence_142

Citizens in each state plus those in the District of Columbia indirectly elect the president and vice president. U.S. state_sentence_143

When casting ballots in presidential elections they are voting for presidential electors, who then, using procedures provided in the 12th amendment, elect the president and vice president. U.S. state_sentence_144

There were 538 electors for the most recent presidential election in 2020; the allocation of electoral votes was based on the 2010 census. U.S. state_sentence_145

Each state is entitled to a number of electors equal to the total number of representatives and senators from that state; the District of Columbia is entitled to three electors. U.S. state_sentence_146

While the Constitution does set parameters for the election of federal officials, state law, not federal, regulates most aspects of elections in the U.S., including: primaries, the eligibility of voters (beyond the basic constitutional definition), the running of each state's electoral college, as well as the running of state and local elections. U.S. state_sentence_147

All elections—federal, state and local—are administered by the individual states, and some voting rules and procedures may differ among them. U.S. state_sentence_148

Article V of the Constitution accords states a key role in the process of amending the U.S. Constitution. U.S. state_sentence_149

Amendments may be proposed either by Congress with a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate, or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the state legislatures. U.S. state_sentence_150

To become part of the Constitution, an amendment must be ratified by either—as determined by Congress—the legislatures of three-quarters of the states or state ratifying conventions in three-quarters of the states. U.S. state_sentence_151

The vote in each state (to either ratify or reject a proposed amendment) carries equal weight, regardless of a state's population or length of time in the Union. U.S. state_sentence_152

Admission into the Union U.S. state_section_11

Main article: Admission to the Union U.S. state_sentence_153

Article IV also grants to Congress the authority to admit new states into the Union. U.S. state_sentence_154

Since the establishment of the United States in 1776, the number of states has expanded from the original 13 to 50. U.S. state_sentence_155

Each new state has been admitted on an equal footing with the existing states. U.S. state_sentence_156

Article IV also forbids the creation of new states from parts of existing states without the consent of both the affected states and Congress. U.S. state_sentence_157

This caveat was designed to give Eastern states that still had Western land claims (including Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia), to have a veto over whether their western counties could become states, and has served this same function since, whenever a proposal to partition an existing state or states in order that a region within might either join another state or to create a new state has come before Congress. U.S. state_sentence_158

Most of the states admitted to the Union after the original 13 were formed from an organized territory established and governed by Congress in accord with its plenary power under Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2. U.S. state_sentence_159

The outline for this process was established by the Northwest Ordinance (1787), which predates the ratification of the Constitution. U.S. state_sentence_160

In some cases, an entire territory has become a state; in others some part of a territory has. U.S. state_sentence_161

When the people of a territory make their desire for statehood known to the federal government, Congress may pass an enabling act authorizing the people of that territory to organize a constitutional convention to write a state constitution as a step towards admission to the Union. U.S. state_sentence_162

Each act details the mechanism by which the territory will be admitted as a state following ratification of their constitution and election of state officers. U.S. state_sentence_163

Although the use of an enabling 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. U.S. state_sentence_164

Upon acceptance of that constitution, and upon meeting any additional Congressional stipulations, Congress has always admitted that territory as a state. U.S. state_sentence_165

In addition to the original 13, six subsequent states were never an organized territory of the federal government, or part of one, before being admitted to the Union. U.S. state_sentence_166

Three were set off from an already existing state, two entered the Union after having been sovereign states, and one was established from unorganized territory: U.S. state_sentence_167

U.S. state_unordered_list_0

Congress is under no obligation to admit states, even in those areas whose population expresses a desire for statehood. U.S. state_sentence_168

Such has been the case numerous times during the nation's history. U.S. state_sentence_169

In one instance, Mormon pioneers in Salt Lake City sought to establish the state of Deseret in 1849. U.S. state_sentence_170

It existed for slightly over two years and was never approved by the United States Congress. U.S. state_sentence_171

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. U.S. state_sentence_172

The proposed constitution ultimately failed in the U.S. Congress. U.S. state_sentence_173

Instead, the Indian Territory, along with Oklahoma Territory were both incorporated into the new state of Oklahoma in 1907. U.S. state_sentence_174

The first instance occurred while the nation still operated under the Articles of Confederation. U.S. state_sentence_175

The State of Franklin existed for several years, not long after the end of the American Revolution, but was never recognized by the Confederation Congress, which ultimately recognized North Carolina's claim of sovereignty over the area. U.S. state_sentence_176

The territory comprising Franklin later became part of the Southwest Territory, and ultimately of the state of Tennessee. U.S. state_sentence_177

Additionally, the entry of several states into the Union was delayed due to distinctive complicating factors. U.S. state_sentence_178

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. U.S. state_sentence_179

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. U.S. state_sentence_180

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. U.S. state_sentence_181

West Virginia's bid for statehood was also delayed over slavery, and was settled when it agreed to adopt a gradual abolition plan. U.S. state_sentence_182

Further information: Historic regions of the United States and List of U.S. state partition proposals U.S. state_sentence_183

Possible new states U.S. state_section_12

Further information: 51st state U.S. state_sentence_184

Puerto Rico U.S. state_section_13

Main articles: Political status of Puerto Rico and Proposed political status for Puerto Rico U.S. state_sentence_185

Puerto Rico, an unincorporated U.S. territory, refers to itself as the "Commonwealth of Puerto Rico" in the English version of its constitution, and as "Estado Libre Asociado" (literally, Associated Free State) in the Spanish version. U.S. state_sentence_186

As with all U.S. territories, its residents do not have full representation in the United States Congress. U.S. state_sentence_187

Puerto Rico has limited representation in the U.S. House of Representatives in the form of a Resident Commissioner, a delegate with limited voting rights in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, but no voting rights otherwise. U.S. state_sentence_188

A non-binding referendum on statehood, independence, or a new option for an associated territory (different from the current status) was held on November 6, 2012. U.S. state_sentence_189

Sixty one percent (61%) of voters chose the statehood option, while one third of the ballots were submitted blank. U.S. state_sentence_190

On December 11, 2012, the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico enacted a concurrent resolution requesting the President and the Congress of the United States to respond to the referendum of the people of Puerto Rico, held on November 6, 2012, to end its current form of territorial status and to begin the process to admit Puerto Rico as a State. U.S. state_sentence_191

Another status referendum was held on June 11, 2017, in which 97% percent of voters chose statehood. U.S. state_sentence_192

Turnout was low, as only 23% of voters went to the polls, with advocates of both continued territorial status and independence urging voters to boycott it. U.S. state_sentence_193

On June 27, 2018, the H.R. 6246 Act was introduced on the U.S. U.S. state_sentence_194 House with the purpose of respond to, and comply with, the democratic will of the United States citizens residing in Puerto Rico as expressed in the plebiscites held on November 6, 2012, and June 11, 2017, by setting forth the terms for the admission of the territory of Puerto Rico as a State of the Union. U.S. state_sentence_195

The act has 37 original cosponsors between Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. state_sentence_196

On November 3, 2020, Puerto Rico held another referendum. U.S. state_sentence_197

In the non-binding referendum, Puerto Ricans voted in favor of becoming a state. U.S. state_sentence_198

They also voted for a pro-statehood governor, Pedro Pierluisi. U.S. state_sentence_199

Washington, D.C. U.S. state_section_14

Main article: District of Columbia statehood movement U.S. state_sentence_200

The intention of the Founding Fathers was that the United States capital should be at a neutral site, not giving favor to any existing state; as a result, the District of Columbia was created in 1800 to serve as the seat of government. U.S. state_sentence_201

As it is not a state, the district does not have representation in the Senate and has a non-voting delegate in the House; neither does it have a sovereign elected government. U.S. state_sentence_202

Additionally, prior to ratification of the 23rd Amendment in 1961, district citizens did not get the right to vote in Presidential elections. U.S. state_sentence_203

Some residents of the District support statehood of some form for that jurisdiction – either statehood for the whole district or for the inhabited part, with the remainder remaining under federal jurisdiction. U.S. state_sentence_204

In November 2016, Washington, D.C. residents voted in a statehood referendum in which 86% of voters supported statehood for Washington, D.C. For statehood to be achieved, it must be approved by Congress. U.S. state_sentence_205

Others U.S. state_section_15

Other possible new states are Guam and the U.S. U.S. state_sentence_206 Virgin Islands, both of which are unincorporated organized territories of the United States. U.S. state_sentence_207

Also, either the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or American Samoa, an unorganized, unincorporated territory, could seek statehood. U.S. state_sentence_208

Secession from the Union U.S. state_section_16

Main article: Secession in the United States U.S. state_sentence_209

The Constitution is silent on the issue of whether a state can secede from the Union. U.S. state_sentence_210

Its predecessor, the Articles of Confederation, stated that the United States "shall be perpetual." U.S. state_sentence_211

The question of whether or not individual states held the unilateral right to secession was a passionately debated feature of the nations's political discourse from early in its history, and remained a difficult and divisive topic until the American Civil War. U.S. state_sentence_212

In 1860 and 1861, 11 southern states each declared secession from the United States, and joined together to form the Confederate States of America (CSA). U.S. state_sentence_213

Following the defeat of Confederate forces by Union armies in 1865, those states were brought back into the Union during the ensuing Reconstruction Era. U.S. state_sentence_214

The federal government never recognized the sovereignty of the CSA, nor the validity of the ordinances of secession adopted by the seceding states. U.S. state_sentence_215

Following the war, the United States Supreme Court, in Texas v. White (1869), held that states did not have the right to secede and that any act of secession was legally void. U.S. state_sentence_216

Drawing on the Preamble to the Constitution, which states that the Constitution was intended to "form a more perfect union" and speaks of the people of the United States in effect as a single body politic, as well as the language of the Articles of Confederation, the Supreme Court maintained that states did not have a right to secede. U.S. state_sentence_217

However, the court's reference in the same decision to the possibility of such changes occurring "through revolution, or through consent of the States," essentially means that this decision holds that no state has a right to unilaterally decide to leave the Union. U.S. state_sentence_218

Origins of states' names U.S. state_section_17

Further information: List of state and territory name etymologies of the United States U.S. state_sentence_219

The 50 states have taken their names from a wide variety of languages. U.S. state_sentence_220

Twenty-four state names originate from Native American languages. U.S. state_sentence_221

Of these, eight are from Algonquian languages, seven are from Siouan languages, three are from Iroquoian languages, one is from Uto-Aztecan languages and five others are from other indigenous languages. U.S. state_sentence_222

Hawaii's name is derived from the Polynesian Hawaiian language. U.S. state_sentence_223

Of the remaining names, 22 are from European languages: Seven from Latin (mainly Latinized forms of English names), the rest are from English, Spanish and French. U.S. state_sentence_224

Eleven states are named after individual people, including seven named for royalty and one named after a President of the United States. U.S. state_sentence_225

The origins of six state names are unknown or disputed. U.S. state_sentence_226

Several of the states that derive their names from (corrupted) names used for Native peoples, have retained the plural ending of "s". U.S. state_sentence_227

Geography U.S. state_section_18

Borders U.S. state_section_19

The borders of the 13 original states were largely determined by colonial charters. U.S. state_sentence_228

Their western boundaries were subsequently modified as the states ceded their western land claims to the Federal government during the 1780s and 1790s. U.S. state_sentence_229

Many state borders beyond those of the original 13 were set by Congress as it created territories, divided them, and over time, created states within them. U.S. state_sentence_230

Territorial and new state lines often followed various geographic features (such as rivers or mountain range peaks), and were influenced by settlement or transportation patterns. U.S. state_sentence_231

At various times, national borders with territories formerly controlled by other countries (British North America, New France, New Spain including Spanish Florida, and Russian America) became institutionalized as the borders of U.S. states. U.S. state_sentence_232

In the West, relatively arbitrary straight lines following latitude and longitude often prevail, due to the sparseness of settlement west of the Mississippi River. U.S. state_sentence_233

Once established, most state borders have, with few exceptions, been generally stable. U.S. state_sentence_234

Only two states, Missouri (Platte Purchase) and Nevada, grew appreciably after statehood. U.S. state_sentence_235

Several of the original states ceded land, over a several year period, to the Federal government, which in turn became the Northwest Territory, Southwest Territory, and Mississippi Territory. U.S. state_sentence_236

In 1791, Maryland and Virginia ceded land to create the District of Columbia (Virginia's portion was returned in 1847). U.S. state_sentence_237

In 1850, Texas ceded a large swath of land to the federal government. U.S. state_sentence_238

Additionally, Massachusetts and Virginia (on two occasions), have lost land, in each instance to form a new state. U.S. state_sentence_239

There have been numerous other 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. U.S. state_sentence_240

Occasionally, either Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court has had to settle state border disputes. U.S. state_sentence_241

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. U.S. state_sentence_242

Regional grouping U.S. state_section_20

Further information: List of regions of the United States U.S. state_sentence_243

States may be grouped in regions; there are many variations and possible groupings. U.S. state_sentence_244

Many are defined in law or regulations by the federal government. U.S. state_sentence_245

For example, the United States Census Bureau defines four statistical regions, with nine divisions. U.S. state_sentence_246

The Census Bureau region definition is "widely used … for data collection and analysis," and is the most commonly used classification system. U.S. state_sentence_247

Other multi-state regions are unofficial, and defined by geography or cultural affinity rather than by state lines. U.S. state_sentence_248

See also U.S. state_section_21

U.S. state_unordered_list_1


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S. state.