Political Divisions of The United States

The primary political unit of the United States is the State. According to numerous decisions of the United States Supreme Court, the 50 individual states and the United States as a whole are each sovereign jurisdictions. The United States was formed when the original 13 States signed the United States Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The 37 additional states were admitted to the Union by acts of the United States Congress, beginning with Vermont in 1791 and ending with Hawaii in 1959. The United States Constitution establishes the authority of the Federal government of the United States and maintains the sovereignty of the individual states, limited only by either the powers that each state has specifically transferred to the federal government via the Constitution or the provisions of the state’s own constitution, which typically sets certain parameters for the exercise of the state’s sovereignty.

The 50 states of the United States of America are as follows:

Map of United States with state border lines. Note that Alaska and Hawaii are shown at different scales, and that the Aleutian Islands and theuninhabited northwestern Hawaiian Islands are omitted from this map.

The Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reinforces this idea of parallel sovereignty, declaring that the powers not delegated to the federal government are retained by the states.

The United States Supreme Court in Texas v. White held that states do not have the right to secede, though it did allow some possibility of the divisibility “through revolution, or through consent of the States.” Under the Constitution of the United States they are not allowed to conduct foreign policy.

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