Commonwealth vs. State


So where does the Republic of Texas fit in to all this?

The Republic of Texas existed from 1836 to 1845. (One of the 6 flags over Texas.)

March 1, 1845
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress doth consent that the territory properly included within and rightfully belonging to the Republic of Texas, may be erected into a new State to be called the State of Texas, with a republican form of government adopted by the people of said Republic, by deputies in convention assembled, with the consent of the existing Government in order that the same may by admitted as one of the States of this Union.

Don’t forget Vermont was once a republic as well.

Tim, the author of the question to Cecil, is still confused. He says he moved to Washington DC and signs his name that way, yet he says he lives in Virginia. Is he not aware that DC isn’t in any state?

Good point. Washington, DC is actually considered a Federal enclave and as such is under the Territorial Jurisdiction of the U.S.

If I’m not mistaken, the US Constitution specifically forbids making a state out of another state. So, then, why was the state of West Virginia admitted to the Union during the Civil War? More to the point, why were Virginia’s western counties allowed to secede from Virginia when the US was fighting a war against secession (and the State of Virginia was never viewed by Washington as being part of another nation)? :confused:

The federal government can’t make a state out of another state without that state’s permission. And the only portion of the state of Virginia’s government that said anything to the Feds, said that it was OK to make West Virginia.

I think Virginia was viewed as no longer part of the U.S. It certainly couldn’t complain about WV, since it viewed itself as no longer part of the U.S.

The southern states were all REadmitted to the union after the war. That presumes that they left the union. I think they were considered to have successfully left, but that this was an illegal act of rebellion that, while illegal, still happened. It was a weird situation, no doubt. I’m no expert though.

I know there was lots of legal worrying and wrangling about it at the time, more than I can remember now. Worth some research.

As to West Virginia, from this recent General Questions thread:

As to states being “readmitted to the Union”: The Union government’s position was that the attempted secession of the Southern states was simply an illegal act of insurrection; according to the post-war Supreme Court decision Texas v. White, secession (legally speaking) never took place. States were not “readmitted to the Union”, rather they were (in the eyes of the federal government) “readmitted to representation in Congress”.

Thanks - especially the part about readmission.

California has styled itself as a one-time republic as well, but as I read the history books, that’s really a bit of wishful thinking… right?

Why haven’t any other states organized themselves as Commonwealths?

Probably because it was at one time seen as an archaism from founding members Massachussetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia (and the latter’s first spin-off, Kentucky) and the consitutents of the other states felt it was simpler to just use “State of…”.

Civil Guy - yes, a “California Republic” was proclaimed, its flag is still used by the state, but it was a flash in the pan proclamation that never constituted a real government or even seriously tried. As **Cheryl44 **mentions, Vermont was more of a real republic for several years, rather than accept being made part of NY and NH, just that the US refused to recognize it. Heck they even occupied and de-facto governed lands that were on paper parts of the neighboring states; eventually they got what they wanted and were admitted as a separate state.

“Commonwealth” for a particular flavor of unincorporated territory was a political doubletalk usage dug up for Puerto Rico in 1952, precisely because it can mean anything and it was clear in the various hearings that the Congress of the time did not want to have our styling in English contain ANY implicit hint of either statehood or independence (meanwhile, contrast the the styling as was sold in Spanish to the local electorate, “Associated Free State”, which lumps together ALL alternatives, but now creates confusion with a “State in Free Association”, a later concept that has a different and specific meaning in law).

Because it is a meaningless term. It has no legal status. It’s just an old word for what we now call states.