Talk:Historic regions of the United States

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In the heading Historical Regions Granted, Annexed, Purchased or Settled, what is the criteria for this list? Some of these are lands purchased by the U.S. government (e.g., Gadsen Purchase, Louisiana Purchase--shouldn't Seward's Folly be there too?) others appear to be purchases by individuals or companies from state or federal government. Seems a bit like mixing apples and oranges. Bkonrad | Talk 17:26, 28 Mar 2004 (UTC)

To the best of my knowledge there's been no effort to make that a comprehensive list. Feel free to amend or update or reorganize. And yes, I suppose Seward's Folly should be there, the question is does it need its own page or should it just be a link to Alaska? Off to see what we've got... jengod 22:40, Mar 28, 2004 (UTC)

I'm not so concerned about the list(s) being comprehensive. Just more that there is some sort of (at least plausibly consistent) rationale behind how it's organized. One the one hand, I'm tempted to throw all the odds and ends into one big list of sorted alphabetically and forget about trying to categorize. I like the heading you came up with of "Historic Land Designations". That could cover just about all the oddball items.

Here are some of the things I can see getting conflated:

  1. Territorial Acquisitions by the federal government (public domain lands)
  2. Indian Lands acquired by federal gov, by purchase or treaty (I think the Platte Purchase falls into this category.
  3. Federal Land Districts, which were sort of overlaid on Territitories, but served a different function. Territories were civil government, Land Districts were for selling land. E.g., Viginia Military District and any of the entries with "district" in the name would be suspect.
  4. Informal terms for regions (e.g., Ohio Country)
  5. Holdover terms from periods of French, British or Spanish rule (e.g., Illinois Country)
  6. Land Grants or Purchases made by private entities

I'm sure there are some I have not recognized. The Yazoo Lands is kind of anomalous. Seems like an informal name for what became the Mississippi Territory. #1 already has a list, of sorts: United States territorial acquisitions. If there is not already, there probably should be a list for #2. #3 might be interesting to develop, but would probably take a lot of would to put it together and verify. As for 4, 5 and 6, I don't have the foggiest how to approach them. Bkonrad | Talk 02:36, 29 Mar 2004 (UTC)

"Acquisition of the Public Domain"[edit]

Fans of this page and United States territorial acquisitions maybe interested in [1] jengod 22:26, Sep 17, 2004 (UTC)

  • And also this higher level listing of other related docs from the same federal agency: [2] olderwiser 22:36, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Help request[edit]

I'm working on a page which explains the western land claims surrended by the original Thirteen Colonies in the early years of the American republic. As I've researched, it's become clear to me that there would be no better way to do this than to have a map. Is there anyone out there who knows how to do this, has software which is helpful, digs cartography or knows where I can find a public domain version of this material? I've found several examples on the web. My vomit draft of the page--did I mention it was a vomit draft?--is at State cessions. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks.

I'd be happy to make a map from scratch. It's been on my to-do list for a while anyway. Give me a week or so. -- Decumanus 19:25, 2004 Nov 24 (UTC)

Independant States ?[edit]

On a separate note, should the list of states that were once independent countries not also include the 13 original states?

To answer your question, I think it would be very hard to claim that the states were ever independent countries. No nation ever recognized them as such. In my understanding, the view of most historians is that the United States existed as single nation from the signing of the Declaration of Independence forward. The Articles of Confederation were not a federation, to be sure, but a single nation nonetheless, with a single foreign recognition, for example by Morroco, France, etc. -- Decumanus 08:32, 2004 Nov 23 (UTC)

Thank you for your responses, Decumanus.


  • I agree that, given the many historical example cited for unofficial relations between the US government and extra-legal entities, my theory does not stand up to historical precedent, so I retract that argument.

I can even add my own examples: the Taliban. The United States did not recognize it, yet it opened communications with that regime to hand over Osama Bin Laden. In the case of North Korea, the US has even entered into official negotiations with an unrecognized government, and in no case does any official diplomatic recognition proceed ipso facto from the mere act of diplomatic communication with a regime that already exists de facto.

  • It is true that the United States under the Articles of Confederation constituted one sovereign nation, under both international and national law, since only the Confederacy had the power to wage war or maintain international diplomatic relations. The Confederacy was by absolutely no means a "loose association" of sovereign nations as is sometimes claimed, for it was, in the words of the Articles, a "Perpetual Union," just that the central government was loosely organized and ineffective, but still held supreme executive, legislative, and judicial authority.
  • While I agree regarding the Articles of Confederation, I strongly disagree with your assertion that the United States was considered "one sovereign nation" from the signing of the Declaration of Independence, or that "most historians" would argue that point of view. One must distinguish between the fight for independence from Britain and the political union of the states, which are two events that definitely overlap chronologically, but are still separate in principle.

Great Britain actually did recognize the states individually in the treaty of Paris, but this was two years after the Articles were ratified, so that "recognition" is moot in that particular context, there being no individual "states" in existence to receive and accept said recognition. But the United States freely interpreted and applied the treaty according to its real political constitution, and since Great Britain did not object and indeed maintained relations within that paradigm, the only objective outcome of the treaty of 1783 was the official recognition of one nation (as far as diplomatic relation are concerned).

But, the Declaration of Independence states:

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

Note that always the "States" are always refered to in the plural with regard to their rights to freedom and independence, and their powers to levy war, etc.

I have never heard of the States refered to by historians as a "single nation" until they were united under the Articles of Confederation. Prior to that, they would have been "United" only in an international military and commercial alliance.

I ask the following:

  • If the United States that declared independence from Great Britain were in fact one sovereign entity, what was their government prior to the ratification of the Articles of Confederation? What body actually conducted the day to day business of exercizing executive, legislative, and judicial powers?

The Continental Congress was a body derived from the colonial House of Burgesses. The CC originally convened to coordinate policy towards Great Britain, including resistance, but not independence. Later, it convened to coordinate armed rebellion and declare independence, but did not function as a "government" per se.

  • Did the Continental Congress ever exercize any legislative power other than to create the Continental Army and to sanction the Articles of Confederation? The "Unites States of America in Congress Assembled," in contrast, although a relatively weak body, did possess supreme executive, legislative, and judicial powers. It could, with a unanimous vote, and thus within the existing framwork, modify its governing structure in any manner fitting. This proved nearly impossible in practice, but the authority of the central government remained in principle. Did the Continental Congress ever pretend to hold such legislative power? Did it not see itself only as a body representing and acting on the consensus of the fully sovereign states, much like the European Union?
  • Finally, I ask not argumentatively, but directly, since I do not know the exact answer, what nations recognized the United States before the Articles of Confederation were ratified in 1781? When did France, the Netherlands, Spain, etc., extend such recognition? What was the nature of that recognition, and what part of the text supports any particular interpretation?
Well you've obviously thought about these things a lot. I cannot answer all your questions. It's my understanding that Morocco was the first to recognize the U.S. -- in 1777 [3]. -- Decumanus 06:29, 2004 Nov 24 (UTC)
France recognized the independence of the United States as part of its treaty of alliance, signed in February 1778. To my knowledge it was full recognition of independence (probably not that surprising, given that the French fought on the side of the new American nation against its old colonial master.) Funnyhat 19:41, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)


Rather than ranging across all of American diplomatic history, let's just address Vermont. I've seen it described as "extra-legally self-governing" and I believe it's independence was more an escape from New Hampshire and New York hegemony than a vigorous attempt to become a free-standing nation-state. See: New Hampshire Grants and Vermont Republic. jengod 18:34, Nov 24, 2004 (UTC)

I agree strongly. I've split the previous section and moved some material to Talk:Vermont Republic. Lou I 14:11, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Vermont was recognized by The United States, the Netherlands and France as being an independent state. That alone is the definition of an independent country. George Washington wrote it would be in the nation's best interest to overthrow the government. Whatever the the feeling is the fact is solid, Vermont was an independent state. Whether it wanted this or it was simply a matter of chance, doesn't change the fact it was self-ruling and internationally recognized and should be listed as such —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 30 October 2006.

Whoa, Nelly!/California Republic[edit]

Which other nation-states recognized the Bear Flag Republic. It existed for about two months, which was barely enough time for the news to hit the East Coast that it even existed, much less go to foreign capitals and warrant formal diplomatic recognition? jengod 22:37, Dec 13, 2004 (UTC)

If we're going to add nations that became states, I think that the California Republic should be added. In a sense, it still exists, as the Califonia Republic's constitution was never repealed, overturned or officially cancelled when it became a state (in fact, it became the basis for California's state constitution). I would have added it directly, but I figured I'd get some opinions about that first, and I see I'm not alone. --Mitsukai 05:06, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I love the Bear Flag, I do, but by your measure, Territory of Jefferson ought to be listed, or maybe State of Kawanah or State of Sequoyah. I think with this kind of thing it's easy to confuse fame with legitimacy...My two cents. jengod 05:15, Jun 6, 2005 (UTC)

GenQuest (talk) 16:13, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

Confederate States of America[edit]

The C.S.A. really deserves its own special category. It should not be included as an "unrecognized" state along the likes of West Florida and the rest. I do not know if it ever achieved full diplomatic recognition from any nation (though I believe Britain and France carried out some correspondence with it), but from 1861-65 it was a functioning political entity. And I say this as someone whose ancestors fought in the Union army during the Civil War. Funnyhat 19:48, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Concur. -- Jmabel | Talk 21:17, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)
Fine with me, just keep in mind, we're not making any political judgments, just carving out geographical distinctions here. Cheers. jengod 00:32, Mar 31, 2005 (UTC)


Liberia is worth mentioning here in some capacity. It wasn't specifically a colony of the US, but was essentially under the rule of a society of American politicians and businessmen. --Aranae (talk) 21:39, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Merge proposal[edit]

The new article, List of proposed states of the United States, should be merged into this article as it is an unnecessary logic split and unneeded. It covers territory already well covered here and would be redundant. GenQuest (talk) 17:09, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

Actually, talk and referendums regarding a proposed Puerto Rico state go back at least 45 years. See BSU Daily News article. GenQuest (talk) 13:55, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

Texas's ability to split into five states[edit]

I'm not sure just where to put it, but it might be relevant to mention somewhere that according to the terms of the Texas annexation, Texas has the right to divide itself into as many as five states. It has been speculated (my high school history teacher told me this) that this might take place to acquire additional senators, so as to influence some close vote. However, the practical difficulties in doing this, for example in dividing the state's property, would be immense. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Deisenbe (talkcontribs) 02:34, 16 August 2014 (UTC)