Can two states merge?

Is there anything in the U.S. Constitution that would prevent two states, with clear consent from their electorate (approval by both state legislatures, statewide referenda), and with said consent explicitly forfeiting two of their Senators and two of their Electoral Votes, from merging into one? Say, maybe, North and South Dakota decide that for whatever reason, they’d prefer to just be one big state of “Dakota”? Does the Constitution grant the Federal government or any neighboring states any say in the matter?

A follow-up question, equally hypothetical: would there be any difference if the two states that wished to merge were Maryland and Virginia? Assuming the merger agreement would stipulate that Washington, DC is not a part of the combined state, is there anything in Federal law or the founding documents of the District of Columbia that says the district must not be contained within the borders of a single state?

Article IV, s. 3 of the Constitution:

Although it’s framed in the negative, I would interpret the emphasised part as authorising two states to merge, provided it’s with the consent of each state legislature and the Congress.

Similarly, Article I, Section 8:

This creates a federal district, what we now call the District of Columbia. Again, theoretically, it could be undone with the consent of Congress and the state or states involved.

Which is exactly what happened with the “Virginia” portion of DC in ~1848.

Well, that was more simple than I imagined. Guess those founders were pretty darned clever.

Why would they forfeit two Electoral Votes? Aren’t those more or less proportionate to population?

For states, the number of electoral votes equals the number of Senators + Representatives.


If the remainder of the District of Columbia were de-federalized, would it have to be given to Maryland? Or, for instance, could Congress and the State of Delaware conspire together to give to Delaware, even over Maryland’s objections?

I don’t know of any reason why Maryland would have a say in the matter. Or rather, none beyond the say that Maryland’s senators and representatives have over any issue considered by Congress.


Without actually looking into it at all, because Maryland originally donated (swamp)land (:D) to create DC. As such, they might have a claim to get the land back upon the dissolution of DC, receiving back what they had put in.

States get one electoral vote for one for each member in the Senate and one for each member of the House of Representatives. North Dakota and South Dakota each currently has two senators (total of four). The new state of Dakota would have two senators. A merger would cost them two seats in the senate, and thus also two electoral votes.

But it ain’t Maryland now, anymore than Tennessee is Virginia now.


If it does happen, I’m really hoping Kansas and Arkansas merge to form “Arkansaskansas.”

If DC were to de-federalize, there’s really only about three choices:

  1. It becomes a 51st state.
  2. It’s incorporated into Virginia, who never had it in the first place, and who is on the other side of the river.
  3. It’s incorporated into Maryland, who once upon a time donated its own land to use as a Federal center, and who is attached to the area only by artificial borders to PG and MoCo.

(Considering something like option (4) it goes to Delaware, or any other state, is laughable because of the logistical nightmare -especially issues of intrastate commerce- of administering a non-contiguous zone. Michigan excluded because the water divider between the two masses doesn’t allow for the existence of another state between them.)

Incorporating into Maryland is the most reasonable of the three, in part precisely because it once was Maryland land.

Minnesota + Wisconsin: “Wisconsota”. Doubtless that would gradually degenerate by popular demand into [phonetically] “whiskey-'n-soda”.

Alaska + Hawaii = “Alaskwaii” – pron. roughly as “I’ll-Ask-Why”. Indeed… :smiley:

I agree that the logistics of D.C. retroceeding into a state other than Maryland or Virginia presents large logistical headaches, and perhaps insurmountable ones, but that’s got nothing to do with the constitutional status of such an action.


It would be like Illinois trying to administer land on the other side of the Mississippi, where they have to drive through Missouri to reach it.

Or the United States trying to administer Alaska, where they have to drive through Canada.

Oh wait…

Isn’t there a small enclave of Kentucky on the western side of the River, or is that a UL?


You mean this bit perhaps? (The round blob, south of New Madrid, Illinois, and north of Bessie, Tennessee.)