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Post A Union of Fifty Independent States?
Created by John Eipper on 05/22/17 11:00 AM

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A Union of Fifty Independent States? (David Duggan, USA, 05/22/17 11:00 am)

Tim Brown wrote on May 22nd: "The United States [is] named the United States precisely because it was created by independent states coming together and agreeing to give part, but not all, their sovereignty to a collective government in return for forming what we call 'a more perfect union,' while not being homogenized into one single political lump."

This statement bears some historical analysis. Curiously, delegates from only 12 of the original 13 colonies signed the Constitution. Rhode Island, true to its Roger Williams-dissenter origins, boycotted the affair and did not sign on until 1790 after a Bill of Rights had been submitted to the states for ratification in September 1789. (Recall Washington's response to the Hebrew Congregations of Newport of August 1790: in essence an advertisement for ratification of the Bill of Rights which took place in December 1791.) Of the 37 remaining states, at least four were hived off from existing states and former colonies before the Civil War: Vermont (New York 1791; though during the Revolution it was known as the Vermont Republic); Kentucky (Virginia 1792); Tennessee (North Carolina 1796: though during the period before the Constitution it tried to secure admission to the Confederation as the State of Franklin); and Maine (Massachusetts 1820).

Note that though the Constitution (Art. IV, Sec. 3) provides for state consent when a new state is formed from its territory, there is no mechanism for adjudication of competing colonial territorial claims (i.e., to the area west of the Appalachians). Rather, most of the states of the Confederation (given dignity by reference in Art. VI) had previously ceded their claims to the federal government (e.g., Connecticut's cessation of the northern third of Pennsylvania and swaths of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois in 1786). In a constitutional caveat: "nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State." (Art. IV, Sec. 3, cl. 2). And Art. III confers federal jurisdiction on "Controversies between two or more States" (Sec. 2).

West Virginia was of course hived off from Virginia during the Civil War, and there are at least three states which came into the Union through a form of petition as ostensibly independent areas: Texas, California, and Hawaii. Hence, by my math, 29 of the states derived from territory that was purchased by, or ceded to the federal government by treaty. Although the Constitution guarantees to each State "a Republican Form of Government" (Art. IV, Sec. 4: as opposed to a "direct democracy" or government by plebiscite?), one wonders whether the electors and legislators of these 29 states whose territorial governments petitioned to become states knew that they were buying into a lopsided electoral system which would allow essentially 11 voters to decide the presidency as against the wishes of vast majorities in 39 states. (The electoral college votes of the 11 largest states: CA, TX, NY, FL, IL, PA, OH, MI, GA, NC, and NJ total the necessary 270; imagine that in each of them the winning candidate wins by one vote.)

It's too late now, but as an extreme example of minority control of a majority, we may have to revisit Winston Churchill's wartime paean to the Royal Air Force: never was so much owed by so many to so few (if, for example, Donald Trump had won only those 11 states, thereby preventing "crooked Hillary" from access to the White House, and thereby depriving those of us living off our stock-market assets the benefit of the Trump Bump of more than $3 trillion to our stock portfolios).

JE comments:  An excellent overview of how the States became United.  It was not a one-size-fits-all model.  Texas, for example (I'm in Texas now), sought admission to the Union primarily to liquidate its debts and for protection against Mexico.

Regarding the markets, Trump hasn't Bumped at all since March 1st.

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