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The following are some references from looking into U.S. territories.

  • Farrand, Max. Legislation of Congress for the Government of the Organized Territories of the United States. Newark, New Jersey: n.p.,1896. States that the purpose of his book is to establish the direct connection between the Ordinance of 1787 and the territorial governments that were developed and to trace the changes in administration of the territories.



A "territory" in U.S. constitutional law is a geographic jurisdiction that has limited self-government. During the westward expansion of the United States, the territorial form of government was typically a stepping stone to full statehood and full representation in Congress. This system provided for a locally elected legislature, but a governor appointed by the US President, and no voting delegates to the US Congress.

An "unincorporated territory" has not been fully incorporated into the United States, and not all provisions of the US Constitution apply in that territory.

An "unorganized territory" has not been granted an organic law or constitution by the U.S. Congress. Typically these are administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, which has plenary authority. The Department may in turn allow the local people to draft their own constitution. So, they have an organic law, but it did not come from the United States, and they do not have representation in the US government.

For a Territory to become a State the people must petition for it, the U.S. Congress must provide an Enabling Act to allow the people to draw up their own constitution, and that constitution must be approved by the U.S. Congress and President.