The 13 original states became part of the United States when they consented to the Constitution. The states that joined the country later had to apply for statehood. Most of these states were once U.S. territories. A territory is an area, governed by the United States, that is eligible to become a state.
In 1787, under the Articles of Confederation, Congress passed an important law called the Northwest Ordinance. This law provided a way for territories to join the country as new and equal states.
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Under the Northwest Ordinance (do read this linked article after you’ve finished this page), a territory was eligible to petition Congress for statehood once it had a population of 60,000. If Congress agreed to the request, it asked the territory’s lawmakers to write a state constitution. This constitution had to be approved by the people of the territory and by the U.S. Congress. Congress then voted on whether to admit the territory as a new state.
The United States has admitted 37 states since it became an independent country. In 1959 Hawaii became the 50th state. The United States could grow larger still. U.S. territorial possessions include Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and various Pacific islands. In 1993 and 1998 Puerto Rican voters rejected the opportunity to petition the U.S. Congress for statehood.
Project below, above statements are just for information.
Petition Project: You belong to an imaginary territory that is part of the land mass you know as “The Northwest Territories.” (you can think up your own name). Your territory desires to be admitted into the United States of America.
- You must create a petition in a Word document requesting admittance to the Union based upon the requirements described in the Northwest Ordinance (1787)–see link above. In that petition, you must explain to Congress how your territory has satisfied all the requirements (for instance: how did you come up with the population number? don’t just say you’ve reached that magical figure.)
- Part of that petition is a draft of your state’s future constitution. You only need create the “preamble.” Below are links to the preambles of the listed states’ original constitution. Your preamble should resemble them in tone and language.
Submit this project to your instructor upon completion. This project requires a bit of reading and imagination.