The Info List - Organic Act

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In United States law, an organic act is an act of the United States Congress that establishes a territory of the United States and specifies how it is to be governed, or an agency to manage certain federal lands. In the absence of an organic law a territory is classified as unorganized. The first such act was the Northwest Ordinance, passed in 1787 by the U.S. Congress of the Confederation
Congress of the Confederation
(under the Articles of Confederation, predecessor of the United States Constitution). The Northwest Ordinance
Northwest Ordinance
created the Northwest Territory
Northwest Territory
in the land west of Pennsylvania
and northwest of the Ohio River
Ohio River
and set the pattern of development that was followed for all subsequent territories. The Northwest Territory
Northwest Territory
covered more than 260,000 square miles and included all of the modern states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the northeastern part of Minnesota. The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801
District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801
incorporated Washington, D.C. and placed it under the exclusive control of the United States Congress. The Organic Act for the Territory of New Mexico
Territory of New Mexico
was part of the Compromise of 1850, passed September 9, 1850. Primarily concerned with slavery, the act organized New Mexico as a territory, with boundaries including the areas now embraced in New Mexico, Arizona, and southern Colorado. List of organic acts[edit] Territorial organic acts have included, in chronological order): Areas now part of a U.S. state
U.S. state
or D.C.:

The Northwest Ordinance The Indiana
Territory Organic Act The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801 The Organic Act of 1804, with respect to the Territory of Orleans The Michigan
Territory Organic Act (1805) The Illinois
Territory Organic Act (1809) The Organic Act of 1848, created the Territory of Oregon The Utah Territory
Utah Territory
Organic Act The New Mexico Territory
New Mexico Territory
Organic Act The Kansas-Nebraska Act
Kansas-Nebraska Act
created Kansas Territory
Kansas Territory
and Nebraska Territory The Colorado Organic Act, 1861, created the Territory of Colorado
Territory of Colorado
out of eastern Utah Territory, western Kansas Territory, southwestern Nebraska Territory, and a small portion of northeastern New Mexico Territory The Nevada Territory
Nevada Territory
Organic Act, 1861 The Dakota Organic Act of 1861 The Arizona Organic Act, created the Territory of Arizona
Territory of Arizona
in 1863 from western New Mexico Territory The Montana Organic Act, created the Territory of Montana
Territory of Montana
in 1864 The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871, amalgamated Anacostia, Georgetown and Tenley Town to the City of Washington; and consolidated the County of Washington, City of Washington and District of Columbia into one governmental unit The First Organic Act for Alaska, 1884 The Oklahoma Organic Act
Oklahoma Organic Act
of 1889, established the Oklahoma Territory The Hawaiian Organic Act, enacted in 1900, established a government for the Territory of Hawaii The Second Organic Act for Alaska, 1912

Current overseas territories of the United States, known as insular areas:

Location of the insular areas:   The United States   Incorporated unorganized territory   Unincorporated organized territory   Commonwealth status   Unincorporated unorganized territory

The Foraker Act or Organic Act of 1900, established civilian government in Puerto Rico. It has since been superseded by the Constitution of Puerto Rico. The Organic Act of the Virgin Islands of the United States
Organic Act of the Virgin Islands of the United States
of 1936 (Pub.L. 74–749, 49 Stat. 1807, enacted June 22, 1936) established a government for the U.S. Virgin Islands, replacing previous temporary provisions (Pub.L. 64–389, 39 Stat. 1132, enacted March 3, 1917). It was replaced in 1954. The Guam
Organic Act of 1950, transferred Guam
to the United States Department of the Interior as an unincorporated territory. The Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands
Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands
of 1954 repealed and replaced the previous Organic Act of the Virgin Islands.(Pub.L. 83–517, 68 Stat. 497, enacted July 22, 1954)

The Philippines:

The Philippine Organic Act (1902), creation of an elected Philippine Assembly. The Jones Law (Philippines), replaced the 1902 act in 1916 and created a fully elected Philippine Legislature.


Organic Act of Feb, 10, 1807, founding the Survey of the Coasts (National Ocean Service) The National Park Service
National Park Service
Organic Act, establishing the National Park Service and the National Park System
National Park System
in 1916 The Federal Land Use Policy Act of 1976, the organic act establishing the Bureau of Land Management

See also[edit]

Organic law Organic Laws of Oregon
Organic Laws of Oregon
of 1843

v t e

State constitution (United States)


Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming

Federal district

Washington, D.C.

Insular areas

American Samoa Guam Northern Mariana Islands Puerto Rico U