HOME

TheInfoList




In the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, a state is a
constituent Constituent or constituency may refer to: In politics * Electoral district An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) precinct, electoral ar ...
political entity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between indi ...
, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a
political union A political union is a type of political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social relation, social re ...
, each state holds
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...

government
al jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory where it shares its
sovereignty Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the person, body, or institution that has the ultimate a ...
with the
federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized ...
. Due to this shared sovereignty,
Americans Americans are the citizens Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recogn ...
are
citizens Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and t ...
both of the
federal republic A federal republic is a federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of I ...
and of the state in which they
reside
reside
. 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 Parole is the early release of a prisoner A prisoner (also known as an inmate or detainee) is a person who is deprived of liberty against their will. This can be by confinement, captivity, or forcible restraint. The term applies particul ...
convicts and
children Biologically, a child (plural children) is a being between the stages of and , or between the of and puberty. The legal definition of ''child'' generally refers to a , otherwise known as a person younger than the . Children generally have ...
of divorced spouses who are sharing custody). State governments are allocated power by the people (of each respective state) through their individual
constitutions A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...
. All are grounded in republican principles, and each provides for a government, consisting of three branches, each with separate and independent powers:
executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administration of state bureaucracy * Executive, a senior management role in an organization ** Chief exec ...
,
legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure ...
, and
judicial The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government i ...
. States are divided into
counties A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposes Chambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain modern nations. The term is derived from the Old French ...
or county-equivalents, which may be assigned some local governmental authority but are not sovereign. County or county-equivalent structure varies widely by state, and states also create other
local governments Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration Public administration is the implementation of government policy Public policy is a course of action created and/or enacted, typically by a government ...
. States, unlike
U.S. territories The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all ...
, possess many powers and rights under the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or orga ...

United States Constitution
. States and their citizens are represented in the
United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicameralism, bicameral, comprising a lower body, the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives, and an upper body, t ...

United States Congress
, a
bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interac ...
legislature consisting of the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
and the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...
. 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 An electoral college is a set of Voting, electors who are selected to elect a candidate to particular offices. Often these represent different organizations, political parties or Legal entity, entities, with each organization, political party or ...
, the body that directly elects the
president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of ...

president of the United States
. Additionally, each state has the opportunity to
ratify Ratification is a principal Principal may refer to: Title or rank * Principal (academia) The principal is the chief executive and the chief academic officer of a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational insti ...
constitutional amendments A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

constitutional amendments
, and, with the consent of Congress, two or more states may enter into
interstate compact In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washin ...
s with one another. The police power of each state is also recognized. Historically, the tasks of local
law enforcement 'Law enforcement'' is the activity of some members of government who act in an organized manner to enforce the law by discovering, deterrence (legal), deterring, rehabilitation (penology), rehabilitating, or punishment, punishing people who viol ...

law enforcement
,
public education State schools ( British English) or public schools ( North American English) are generally primary or secondary educational institution, schools that educate all children without charge. They are funded in whole or in part by taxation. State fu ...

public education
,
public health Public health has been defined as "the science and art of preventing disease", prolonging life and improving quality of life Quality of life (QOL) is defined by the World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a s ...
, intrastate commerce regulation, and local
transportation Transport (in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval Engl ...
and
infrastructure Infrastructure is the set of fundamental facilities and systems that support the sustainable functionality of households and firms. Serving a country, city, or other area, including the services and facilities necessary for its economy An eco ...

infrastructure
, in addition to local, state, and federal elections, have generally been considered primarily state responsibilities, although all of these now have significant federal funding and regulation as well. Over time, the Constitution has been amended, and the interpretation and application of its provisions have changed. The general tendency has been toward centralization and
incorporation Incorporation may refer to: * Incorporation (business), the creation of a corporation * Incorporation of a place, creation of municipal corporation such as a city or county * Incorporation (academic), awarding a degree based on the student having a ...
, with the federal government playing a much larger role than it once did. There is a continuing debate over
states' rights In United States, American politics of the United States, political discourse, states' rights are political powers held for the state governments of the United States, state governments rather than the federal government of the United States, fed ...
, which concerns the extent and nature of the states' powers and sovereignty in relation to the federal government and the rights of individuals. The Constitution grants to Congress the authority to admit new states into the Union. Since the establishment of the United States in 1776 by
Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America. Founded in the 17th and 18th centuries, th ...
, the number of states has expanded from the original 13 to 50. Each new state has been admitted on an
equal footing The equal footing doctrine, also known as equality of the states, is the principle in United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, pr ...
with the existing states. While the Constitution does not explicitly discuss the issue of whether states have the power to
secede Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, ...
from the Union, shortly after the
Civil War A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independen ...
, the
U.S. Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a coun ...

U.S. Supreme Court
, in '' Texas v. White'', held that a state cannot unilaterally do so.


States of the United States

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


Background

The 13 original states came into existence in July 1776 during the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirteen Colonies, thirteen American colonies of British America in Continental Congress ...
(1775–1783), as the successors of the
Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America. Founded in the 17th and 18th centuries, th ...
, upon agreeing to the
Lee Resolution Richard Henry Lee proposed the resolution on June 7, 1776. The Lee Resolution (also known as "The Resolution for Independence") was the formal assertion passed by the Second Continental Congress on July 2, 1776 which resolved that the Thirteen Co ...

Lee Resolution
and signing the
United States Declaration of Independence The United States Declaration of Independence is the pronouncement adopted by the Second Continental Congress The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies in America which united in the American Re ...

United States Declaration of Independence
. Prior to these events each
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
had been a
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and common culture * British English, ...

British
colony In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, ...

colony
; each then joined the first Union of states between 1777 and 1781, upon ratifying the
Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America ...
, the first U.S. constitution. Also during this period, the newly independent states developed their own individual state constitutions, among the earliest written constitutions in the world. Although different in detail, these state constitutions shared features that would be important in the American constitutional order: they were
republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associated with the rule of law. ** Republicanism, the ideology in support of republics or against ...
in form, and separated power among three branches, most had bicameral legislatures, and contained statements of, or a bill of rights. Later, from 1787 to 1790, each of the states also ratified a new federal frame of government in the
Constitution of the United States The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or orga ...
. In relation to the states, the U.S. Constitution elaborated concepts of
federalism Federalism is a mixed or compound mode of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Maga ...
.


Governments

Under U.S. constitutional law, the 50 individual states and the United States as a whole are each sovereign jurisdictions. Radan, 2007, p. 12 The states are ''not'' administrative divisions of the country; the
Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution The Tenth Amendment (Amendment X) to the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. This founding document, originally comprising seven articles, delineates th ...
allows states to exercise all powers of government not delegated to the federal government. 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 and the Republican Guarantee enforced by Congress) deemed appropriate by its people, and to exercise all powers of government not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution. 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. As a result, while the governments of the various states share many similar features, they often vary greatly with regard to form and substance. No two state governments are identical.


Constitutions

The government of each state is structured in accordance with its individual constitution. Many of these documents are more detailed and more elaborate than their federal counterpart. The
Constitution of Alabama The Constitution of the State of Alabama is the basic governing document of the U.S. state of Alabama. It was adopted in 1901 and is Alabama's sixth constitution. At 310,296 words, the document is 12 times longer than the average State constitut ...
, for example, contains 310,296 words – more than 40 times as many as the U.S. Constitution. In practice, each state has adopted a three-branch frame of government: executive, legislative, and judicial (even though doing so has never been required). Early on in American history, four state governments differentiated themselves from the others in their first constitutions by choosing to self-identify as
Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existenc ...
s rather than as
states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
:
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), '' ...

Virginia
, in 1776;
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
, in 1777;
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ...

Massachusetts
, in 1780; and
Kentucky Kentucky ( , ), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...
, in 1792. Consequently, while these four are states like the other states, each is formally a commonwealth because the term is contained in its constitution. The term, ''commonwealth'', which refers to ''a state in which the supreme power is vested in the people'', was first used in
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), '' ...
during the
Interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order. Archetypally, it was the period of time between the reign of one monarch and the next (coming from Latin ''i ...
, the 1649–60 period between the reigns of
Charles ICharles I may refer to: Kings and emperors * Charlemagne (742–814), numbered Charles I in the lists of French and German kings * Charles I of Anjou (1226–1285), also king of Albania, Jerusalem, Naples and Sicily * Charles I of Hungary (1288 ...

Charles I
and during which parliament's
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English general and statesman who, first as a subordinate and later as Commander-in-Chief, led armies An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" e ...

Oliver Cromwell
as
Lord Protector Lord Protector (plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full ...
established a
republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associated with the rule of law. ** Republicanism, the ideology in support of republics or against ...
government known as the
Commonwealth of England The Commonwealth was the political structure during the period from 1649 to 1660 when England and Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is Countries of the United Kingdom, part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to t ...
. Virginia became a royal colony again in 1660, and the word was dropped from the full title; it went unused until reintroduced in 1776.


Executive

In each state, the chief executive is called the governor, who serves as both
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional ch ...
and
head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administrat ...
. All governors are chosen by
direct election Direct election is a system of choosing political officeholders in which the voters directly cast ballots for the persons or political party that they desire to see elected. The method by which the winner or winners of a direct election are chose ...
. The governor may approve or
veto A veto (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Re ...
bills passed by the state legislature, as well as recommend and work for the passage of bills, usually supported by their political party. In 44 states, governors have
line item veto The line-item veto, also called the partial veto, is a special form of veto, veto power that authorizes a chief executive to reject particular provisions of a bill enacted by a legislature without vetoing the entire bill. Many countries have diff ...
power. Most states have a plural executive, meaning that the governor is not the only government official in the state responsible for its
executive branch The executive (short for executive branch or executive power) is the part of government that enforces law, and has Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (polity), state. In political systems based on the principle ...
. In these states, executive power is distributed amongst other officials, elected by the people independently of the governor—such as the
lieutenant governor A lieutenant governor, lieutenant-governor, or vice governor is a high officer of state, whose precise role and rank vary by jurisdiction. Often a lieutenant governor is the deputy, or lieutenant A lieutenant ( or abbreviated Lt., Lt, LT, L ...
,
attorney general #REDIRECT Attorney general In most common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinio ...
,
comptroller A comptroller is a management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization, whether it is a business, a not-for-profit, non-profit organization, or a government body. It is the art and science of managing resources. Man ...

comptroller
, secretary of state, and others. 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 A recall election (also called a recall referendum, recall petition or representative recall) is a procedure by which, in certain polities A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who ar ...
. Each state follows its own procedures for recall elections, and sets its own restrictions on how often, and how soon after a
general election A general election is a political voting election where generally all or most members of a given political body are chosen. These are usually held for a nation, state, or territory's primary legislative body, and are different from by-election ...
, they may be held. In all states, the legislatures can remove state executive branch officials, including governors, who have committed serious abuses of their power from office. The process of doing so includes
impeachment Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...
(the bringing of specific charges), and a trial, in which legislators act as a jury.


Legislative

The primary responsibilities of state legislatures are to enact state laws and appropriate money for the administration of public policy. 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 A supermajority, supra-majority, qualified majority, or special majority is a requirement for a proposal to gain a specified level of support which is greater than the threshold of more than one-half used for a majority A majority, also calle ...
in each chamber. 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. The exception is the
unicameral In government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by ...
Nebraska Legislature The Nebraska Legislature (also called the Unicameral) is the unicameral state legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, countr ...

Nebraska Legislature
, which has only a single chamber. Most states have a part-time legislature (traditionally called a citizen legislature). Ten state legislatures are considered full-time; these bodies are more similar to the U.S. Congress than are the others. Members of each state's legislature are chosen by direct election. In ''
Baker v. Carr ''Baker v. Carr'', 369 U.S. 186 (1962), was a landmark United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of ...
'' (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 One man, one vote (or one person, one vote) expresses the principle that individuals should have equal representation in voting. This slogan is used by advocates of political equality to refer to such electoral reforms as universal suffrage Uni ...
standard). In practice, most states elect legislators from
single-member district A single-member district is an electoral district An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) precinct, electoral area, circumscription, or ...
s, each of which has approximately the same population. Some states, such as Maryland and Vermont, divide the state into single- and multi-member districts. In this 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. The
voting systems An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and referendums are conducted and how their results are determined. Political electoral systems are organized by governments, while non-political elections may ta ...
used across the nation are:
first-past-the-post In a first-past-the-post electoral system (FPTP or FPP; sometimes formally called single-member plurality voting or SMP; sometimes called choose-one voting for single-member districts, in contrast to ranked voting, ranked-choice voting), voter ...
in single-member districts, and
multiple non-transferable vote Multiple non-transferable vote (MNTV), also known as plurality-at-large voting or block vote, is a non- proportional voting system An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and referendums are conducted ...
in multi-member districts. In 2013, there were a total of 7,383 legislators in the 50 state legislative bodies. They earned from $0 annually (New Mexico) to $90,526 (California). There were various per diem and mileage compensation.


Judicial

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 Due process is the legal requirement that the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspa ...
. Most have a trial-level court, generally called a ,
Superior Court In common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution ...
or
Circuit Court Circuit courts are court systems in several common law jurisdictions. The core concept of circuit courts requires judges to travel to different locales to ensure wide visibility and understanding of cases in a region. More generally, some modern ...
, a first-level
appellate court An appellate court, commonly called an ''appeals court'', ''court of appeals'' (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics ...

appellate court
, generally called a Court of Appeal (or Appeals), and a
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of just ...
. However, Oklahoma and Texas have separate highest courts for criminal appeals. In New York State, the trial court is called the Supreme Court; appeals go up first to the Supreme Court's Appellate Division, and from there to the Court of Appeals. State court systems exercise broad, plenary, and general jurisdiction, in contrast to the federal courts, which are courts of limited jurisdiction. The overwhelming majority of criminal and civil cases in the United States are heard in state courts. Each year, roughly 30 million new cases are filed in state courts and the total number of judges across all state courts is about 30,000—for comparison, 1 million new cases are filed each year in federal courts, which have about 1,700 judges. Most states base their legal system on English
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
(with substantial indigenous changes and incorporation of certain civil law innovations), with the notable exception of Louisiana, a former
French colony From the 16th to the 17th centuries, the First French colonial empire stretched from a total area at its peak in 1680 to over , the second largest empire in the world at the time behind only the Spanish Empire. During the 19th and 20th centurie ...
, which draws large parts of its legal system from French
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
. Only a few states choose to have the judges on the state's courts serve for life terms. In most 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.


States as unitary systems

All states are unitary governments, not federations or aggregates of
local governments Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration Public administration is the implementation of government policy Public policy is a course of action created and/or enacted, typically by a government ...
. 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. State governments commonly delegate some authority to local units and channel policy decisions down to them for implementation. In a few states, local units of government are permitted a degree of
home rule Home rule is government of a colony, dependent country, or region by its own citizens. It is thus the power of a part (administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative ...

home rule
over various matters. The prevailing legal theory of state preeminence over local governments, referred to as Dillon's Rule, holds that, Each state defines for itself what powers it will allow local governments. Generally, four categories of power may be given to local jurisdictions:


Relationships


Among states

Each state admitted to the Union by Congress since 1789 has entered it on an
equal footing The equal footing doctrine, also known as equality of the states, is the principle in United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, pr ...
with the original states in all respects. With the growth of
states' rights In United States, American politics of the United States, political discourse, states' rights are political powers held for the state governments of the United States, state governments rather than the federal government of the United States, fed ...
advocacy during the
antebellum period The Antebellum South (also known as the antebellum era or plantation A plantation is a large-scale estate, generally centered on a plantation house, meant for farming that specializes in cash crops. The crops that are grown include cotton, ...
, the Supreme Court asserted, in ''Lessee of Pollard v. Hagan'' (1845), that the Constitution mandated admission of new states on the basis of equality. With the consent of Congress, states may enter into
interstate compact In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washin ...
s, agreements between two or more states. Compacts are frequently used to manage a shared resource, such as transportation infrastructure or water rights. Under Article IV of the Constitution, which outlines the relationship between the states, each state is required to give
full faith and credit Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the Supremacy Clause, supreme law of the United States, United States of America. This founding document, originally comprising seven arti ...

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. Under the
Extradition Clause The Extradition Clause or Interstate Rendition Clause of the United States Constitution is Article IV, Section 2, Clause 2, which provides for the extradition of a criminal back to the state where they allegedly committed a crime. Text Article IV ...
, a state must
extradite Extradition is an action wherein one jurisdiction delivers a person accused or convicted of committing a crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in moder ...
people located there who have fled charges of "treason, felony, or other crimes" in another state if the other state so demands. The principle of
hot pursuit Hot pursuit (also known as fresh or immediate pursuit) refers to the urgent and direct pursuit of a criminal suspect by law enforcement officers, or by belligerents under international rules of engagement for military forces. Such a situation gr ...
of a presumed felon and arrest by the law officers of one state in another state are often permitted by a state. 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. Such legal acts are nevertheless often recognized state-to-state according to the common practice of
comity In law, comity is "a practice among different political entities (as countries, states, or court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Part ...
. States are prohibited from discriminating against citizens of other states with respect to their
basic rights Fundamental rights are a group of rights that have been recognized by a high degree of protection from encroachment. These rights are specifically identified in a Constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or establ ...
, under the
Privileges and Immunities Clause The Privileges and Immunities Clause (U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1, also known as the Comity Clause) prevents a state from treating citizens of other states in a discriminatory manner. Additionally, a right of interstate ...
.


With the federal government

Under Article IV, each state is guaranteed a form of government that is grounded in republican principles, such as the
consent of the governed Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another. It is a term of common speech, with specific definitions as used in such fields as the law, medicine, research, and sexual relationships. Consent as understo ...
. This guarantee has long been at the forefront of the debate about the rights of citizens vis-à-vis the government. 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. This provision was discussed during the 1967 Detroit riot but was not invoked. The
Supremacy Clause The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution of the United States The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the lega ...
( Article VI, Clause 2) establishes that the
Constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

Constitution
, federal laws made pursuant to it, and
treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relati ...

treaties
made under its authority, constitute the supreme law of the land. 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. Even state constitutions are subordinate to federal law.
States' rights In United States, American politics of the United States, political discourse, states' rights are political powers held for the state governments of the United States, state governments rather than the federal government of the United States, fed ...
are understood mainly with reference to the Tenth Amendment. The Constitution delegates some powers to the national government, and it forbids some powers to the states. The Tenth Amendment reserves all other powers to the states, or to the people. Powers of the
U.S. Congress The United States Congress or U.S. Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States and consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Wa ...
are enumerated in Article I, Section 8, for example, the power to declare war. Making treaties is one power forbidden to the states, being listed among other such powers in Article I, Section 10. Among the Article I enumerated powers of Congress is the power to regulate commerce. Since the early 20th century, the Supreme Court's interpretation of this "
Commerce Clause The Commerce Clause describes an listed in the (). The clause states that the shall have power " regulate with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." Courts and commentators have tended to discuss each of ...
" has, over time, greatly expanded the scope of federal power, at the expense of powers formerly considered purely states' matters. 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." In 1941, the Supreme Court in '' U.S. v. Darby'' upheld the
Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) is a United States labor law that creates the right to a minimum wage, and "time-and-a-half" overtime pay when people work over forty hours a week. It also prohibits employment of Minor (law), minors i ...
, holding that Congress had the power under the Commerce Clause to regulate employment conditions. Then, one year later, in ''
Wickard v. Filburn ''Wickard v. Filburn'', 317 U.S. 111 (1942), is a United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America ...
'', 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. 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. 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." 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 The Civil Rights Act of 1964 () is a landmark civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights Rights are law, legal, social, or ethics, ethical principles of Liberty, freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fund ...
. Only within the past couple of decades, through decisions in cases such as those in '' U.S. v. Lopez'' (1995) and '' U.S. v. Morrison'' (2000), has the Court tried to limit the Commerce Clause power of Congress. Another enumerated congressional power is its taxing and spending power. An example of this is the system of federal aid for highways, which include the
Interstate Highway System The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, commonly known as the Interstate Highway System, is a network of controlled-access highway network. A controlled-access highway is a type of highway that has ...
. The system is mandated and largely funded by the federal government and serves the interests of the states. By threatening to withhold
federal highwayFederal Highways and Federal Routes can be found in: *Australia: Federal Highway *Germany: '' Bundesstraßen'' *Malaysia: Federal Highway and Malaysian Federal Roads System *Mexico: Mexican Federal Highway *Russia: Russian federal highways * ...
funds, Congress has been able to pressure state legislatures to pass various laws. An example is the nationwide legal drinking age of 21, enacted by each state, brought about by the
National Minimum Drinking Age Act The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 () was passed by the United States Congress The United States Congress or U.S. Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States and consists of the House ...
. 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'' . 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. Both senators and representatives are chosen in direct popular elections in the various states. (Prior to 1913, senators were elected by state legislatures.) There are presently 100 senators, who are elected
at-large At-large is a description for members of a governing body who are elect An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold public office.
to staggered terms of six years, with one-third of them being chosen every two years. Representatives are elected at large or from
single-member district A single-member district is an electoral district An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) precinct, electoral area, circumscription, or ...
s to terms of two years (not staggered). The size of the House—presently 435 voting members—is set by
federal statute The Code of Laws of the United States of America (variously abbreviated to Code of Laws of the United States, United States Code, U.S. Code, U.S.C., or USC) is the official compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal statu ...
. Seats in the House are
distributedDistribution may refer to: Mathematics *Distribution (mathematics) Distributions, also known as Schwartz distributions or generalized functions, are objects that generalize the classical notion of functions in mathematical analysis. Distr ...
among the states in proportion to the most recent constitutionally mandated decennial
census A census is the procedure of systematically calculating, acquiring and recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In ...
. The borders of these districts are established by the states individually through a process called
redistricting Redistricting in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country in . It consists of 50 , a , five major , 326 , and some . At , it is the world' ...
, and within each state all districts are required to have approximately equal populations. Citizens in each state plus those in the
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscape ...

District of Columbia
indirectly elect the President of the United States, president and Vice President of the United States, vice president. When casting ballots in United States presidential election, presidential elections they are voting for Electoral College (United States), presidential electors, who then, using procedures provided in the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 12th amendment, elect the president and vice president. There were 538 electors for the most recent presidential election in 2020 United States presidential election, 2020; the allocation of electoral votes was based on the 2010 United States Census, 2010 census. 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. 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. All elections—federal, state, and local—are administered by the individual states, and some voting rules and procedures may differ among them. Article Five of the United States Constitution, Article V of the Constitution accords states a key role in the process of amending the U.S. Constitution. Amendments may be proposed either by Congress with a supermajority, two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate, or by a Convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution, constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the state legislatures. 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. 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.


With other countries

U.S. states are not sovereign in the Westphalian sovereignty, Westphalian sense in international law which says that each State has sovereignty over its territory and domestic affairs, to the exclusion of all external powers, on the principle of non-interference in another State's domestic affairs, and that each State (no matter how large or small) is equal in international law. Additionally, the 50 U.S. states do not possess international legal sovereignty, meaning that they are not recognized by other sovereign States such as, for example, France, Germany or the United Kingdom. The federal government is responsible for international relations, but state and local government leaders do occasionally travel to other countries and form economic and cultural relationships.


Admission into the Union

Article IV also 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 Thirteen Colonies, the original 13 to 50. Each new state has been admitted on an equal footing with the existing states. Article IV also forbids the creation of new states from parts of existing states without the consent of both the affected states and Congress. This caveat was designed to give Eastern states that still had State cessions, Western land claims (including Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia), to have a
veto A veto (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Re ...
over whether their western counties could become states, and has served this same function since, whenever a List of U.S. state partition proposals, 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. Most of the states admitted to the Union after the original 13 were formed from an organized incorporated territories of the United States, organized territory established and governed by Congress in accord with its plenary power under Article IV, Section 3, Article Four of the United States Constitution#Clause 2: Property Clause, Clause 2. The outline for this process was established by the Northwest Ordinance (1787), which predates the ratification of the Constitution. In some cases, an entire territory has become a state; in others some part of a territory has. 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 (political meeting), constitutional convention to write a state constitution as a step towards admission to the Union. 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. 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. Upon acceptance of that constitution and meeting any additional Congressional stipulations, Congress has always admitted that territory as a state. 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. Three were set off from an already existing state, two entered the Union after having been sovereign states, and one was established from Territories of the United States#Formerly unorganized territories, unorganized territory: * California, 1850, from land Mexican Cession, ceded to the United States by Mexico in 1848 under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. * Kentucky, 1792, from Virginia (District of Kentucky: Fayette County, Kentucky, Fayette, Jefferson County, Kentucky, Jefferson, and Lincoln County, Kentucky, Lincoln counties) * Maine, 1820, from Massachusetts (District of Maine) * Texas, 1845, previously the Republic of Texas * Vermont, 1791, previously the Vermont Republic (also known as the New Hampshire Grants and claimed by New York) * West Virginia, 1863, from Restored Government of Virginia, Virginia (Trans-Allegheny Mountains, Allegheny region counties) during the
Civil War A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independen ...
Congress is under no obligation to admit states, even in those areas whose population expresses a desire for statehood. Such has been the case numerous times during the nation's history. In one instance, Mormon pioneers in Salt Lake City sought to establish the state of State of Deseret, Deseret in 1849. It existed for slightly over two years and was never approved by the
United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicameralism, bicameral, comprising a lower body, the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives, and an upper body, t ...

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 State of Sequoyah, 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 and Oklahoma Territory were both incorporated into the new state of Oklahoma in 1907. The first instance occurred while the nation still operated under the Articles of Confederation. 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. The territory comprising Franklin later became part of the Southwest Territory, and ultimately of the state of Tennessee. Additionally, the entry of several states into the Union was delayed due to distinctive complicating factors. Among them, Michigan Territory, which petitioned Congress for statehood in 1835, was not admitted to the Union until 1837, due to a Toledo War, 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. Statehood for Kansas Territory was held up for several years (1854–61) due to a series of internal Bleeding Kansas, violent conflicts involving Free-Stater (Kansas), anti-slavery and Border Ruffian, pro-slavery factions. West Virginia's bid for statehood was also delayed over slavery and was settled when it agreed to adopt a gradual abolition plan.


Possible new states


Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, an Unincorporated territories of the United States, unincorporated U.S. territory, refers to itself as the "Commonwealth (U.S. insular area), Commonwealth of Puerto Rico" in the English version of its Constitution of Puerto Rico, constitution, and as "Estado Libre Asociado" (literally, Associated Free State) in the Spanish version. As with all U.S. territories, its residents do not have full representation in the United States Congress. Puerto Rico has limited representation in the U.S. House of Representatives in the form of a Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, Resident Commissioner, a delegate with limited voting rights in the Committee of the Whole (United States House of Representatives), Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, but no voting rights otherwise. 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. Sixty one percent (61%) of voters chose the statehood option, while one third of the ballots were submitted blank. On December 11, 2012, the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico enacted a concurrent resolution requesting the President of the United States, 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. Another Puerto Rican status referendum, 2017, status referendum was held on June 11, 2017, in which 97% percent of voters chose statehood. 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. On June 27, 2018, the H.R. 6246 Act was introduced on the U.S. House with the purpose of responding 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. The act has 37 original cosponsors between Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. On November 3, 2020, Puerto Rico held another 2020 Puerto Rican status referendum, referendum. In the non-binding referendum, Puerto Ricans voted in favor of becoming a state. They also voted for a pro-statehood Governor of Puerto Rico, governor, Pedro Pierluisi.


Washington, D.C.

The intention of the Founding Fathers of the United States, 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. As it is not a state, the district does not have representation in the Senate and has a Delegate (United States Congress), non-voting delegate in the House; neither does it have a sovereign elected government. Additionally, before ratification of the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution, 23rd Amendment in 1961, district citizens did not get the Voting rights in the United States, right to vote in presidential elections. The strong majority of 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 (United States), federal jurisdiction. In November 2016, Washington, D.C. residents voted in a District of Columbia statehood referendum, 2016, statehood referendum in which 86% of voters supported statehood for Washington, D.C. For statehood to be achieved, it must be approved by Congress.


Others

Other possible new states are Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, both of which are Territories of the United States#Incorporated and unincorporated territories, unincorporated organized territories of the United States. Also, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa, an unorganized, unincorporated territory, could seek statehood.


Secession from the Union

The Constitution is silent on the issue of whether a state can
secede Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, ...
from the Union. Its predecessor, the
Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America ...
, stated that the United States "shall be Perpetual Union, perpetual." The question of whether or not individual states held the unilateral right to secession was a passionately debated feature of the nations' political discourse from early in its history and remained a difficult and divisive topic until the American Civil War. In 1860 and 1861, 11 southern states each declared secession from the United States and joined to form the Confederate States of America (CSA). Following the defeat of Confederate forces by Union armies in 1865, those states were brought back into the Union during the ensuing Reconstruction era. The federal government never recognized the sovereignty of the CSA, nor the validity of the ordinances of secession adopted by the seceding states. 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. Drawing on the Preamble to the United States Constitution, 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. 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.


Origins of states' names

The 50 states have taken their names from a wide variety of languages. Twenty-four state names originate from Indigenous languages of the Americas, Native American languages. 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. Hawaii's name is derived from the Polynesian languages, Polynesian Hawaiian language. Of the remaining names, 22 are from European languages. Seven are from Latin (mainly Latinisation (literature), Latinized forms of English names) and the rest are from English, Spanish and French. Eleven states are Eponym, named after individual people, including seven named for royalty and one named after a President of the United States. The origins of six state names are unknown or disputed. Several of the states that derive their names from ethnonym, names used for Native peoples have retained the plural ending of "s".


Geography


Borders

The borders of the 13 original states were largely determined by British colonization of the Americas, colonial charters. Their western boundaries were subsequently modified as the states ceded their western land claims to the Federal government during the 1780s and 1790s. 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. Territorial and new state lines often followed various geographic features (such as List of river borders of U.S. states, rivers or mountain range peaks), and were influenced by settlement or transportation patterns. 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. In the West, relatively arbitrary straight lines following latitude and longitude often prevail due to the sparseness of settlement west of the Mississippi River. Once established, most state borders have, with few exceptions, been generally stable. Only two states, Missouri (Platte Purchase) and Nevada grew appreciably after statehood. Several of the original states State cessions, ceded land, over a several-year period, to the Federal government, which in turn became the Northwest Territory, Southwest Territory, and Mississippi Territory. In 1791, Maryland and Virginia ceded land to create the
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscape ...

District of Columbia
(Virginia's portion was District of Columbia retrocession, returned in 1847). In 1850, Texas ceded a large swath of land to the federal government. Additionally, Massachusetts and Virginia (on two occasions), have lost land, in each instance to form a new state. 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. Occasionally, either Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court has had to settle state border disputes. One notable example is the case ''New Jersey v. New York'', in which New Jersey won roughly 90% of Ellis Island from New York (state), New York in 1998. Once a Territories of the United States, territory is admitted by Congress as a state of the Union, the state must consent to any changes pertaining to the jurisdiction of that state and Congress. The only potential violation of this occurred when the legislature of
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), '' ...

Virginia
declared the Confederate States of America, secession of Virginia from the United States at the start of the American Civil War and a newly formed alternative Virginia legislature, recognized by the federal government, consented to have West Virginia secede from Virginia.


Regional grouping

States may be grouped in regions; there are many variations and possible groupings. Many are defined in law or regulations by the federal government. For example, the United States Census Bureau defines four statistical regions, with nine divisions. The Census Bureau region definition (Northeastern United States, Northeast, Midwest, Southern United States, South, and Western United States, West) is "widely used ... for data collection and analysis,""The National Energy Modeling System: An Overview 2003" (Report #:DOE/EIA-0581, October 2009). United States Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. and is the most commonly used classification system."(M)ost demographic and food consumption data are presented in this four-region format." Pamela Goyan Kittler, Kathryn P. Sucher,
Food and Culture
', Cengage Learning (2008): p.475.
Other multi-state regions are unofficial, and defined by geography or cultural affinity rather than by state lines.


See also

* Insular area * ISO 3166-2:US * Local government in the United States


References


Further reading

* Stein, Mark, ''How the States Got Their Shapes'', New York : Smithsonian Books/Collins, 2008.


External links


Information about All States
from ''UCB Libraries GovPubs''
State Resource Guides, from the Library of Congress


* [http://webarchive.loc.gov/all/20090403030000/http://factfinder.census.gov/bf/_lang=en_vt_name=DEC_2000_SF1_U_GCTPH1_US9_geo_id=01000US.html Tables with areas, populations, densities and more (alphabetical)]
State and Territorial Governments on USA.gov

StateMaster – statistical database for U.S. states

50states.com – States and Capitals
{{DEFAULTSORT:U.S. State Administrative divisions in North America, United States 1 First-level administrative divisions by country, States, United States States of the United States, Political divisions of the United States, State Types of administrative division, States, United S