Must a state have a certain population?

I was just reading about a movement in the UP of Michigan to make it into its own state called Superior.

My question is if it was a state it would only have about 300,000 people. Is there a minimum population? I know at one time that was the point behind making Washington DC a state that it had more people than some states, though now I believe it is only larger than Wyoming.

There aren’t any constitutional minimum requirements. If Congress wants to create a state and the all the proper steps are followed, you’ve got a state.

300,000 people would make it about as large as 3 other states (Vermont, Wyoming and Alaska all have considerably less than 500,000 people)

Jason R Remy

“No amount of legislation can solve America’s problems.”
– Jimmy Carter (1980)

Actually, as someone who loves demography, I feel the need to correct Jayron.

According to the 1997 U.S. Census Bureau:
Wyoming has a pop. of 480,097 (Lowest in the nation)
However, Alaska’s pop. is 614,010, and Vermont’s is 590,883.

Being a Michiganian, I am appauled that the UP wants to separate from the LP. It will never go through.


“Life is hard…but God is good”

1997 Population Est

  1. Wyoming - 479,743
  2. Vermont - 588,978
  3. Alaska - 609,311

BTW - DC if it were a state would be 543,213

You know I never really thought of it before but it seems kind of stupid that California with 32 million and Texas with 19.5 million and NY with 18 million should have the same influence in The Senate.

Then I stand corrected… Thank you all for digging up teh figures. But the fact still remains that there is no population requirement on statehood. I would posit that Alaska had considerably less population when it became a state in 1959…

Jason R Remy

“No amount of legislation can solve America’s problems.”
– Jimmy Carter (1980)

Read James Madisons Notes on the Constitutional Convention for the history of this interesting development. Basically, the Senate was developed to check the political power of large population states (then consisting of Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts primarily) who it was feared would have their way with the small states if the only representation was based on relative populations. The compromise was offered by Olliver Ellsworth and Roger Sherman, and became known as the Connecticut Compromise.

OK my memory is a little fuzzy on this one; but I seem to recall being taught in grade school that in order for a territory to become a state, it had to have at least 60,000 residents.

You are probably remembering the Northwest Ordinance passed by the Congress (the one before the present Constitution).
It established guidelines for dividing up the Old Northwest into territories and then into states.
It was one of the few accomplishments of that version of Congress.

As a Californian, I don’t understand why the rest of this nation stands for this state’s running the nation (except that money calls almost all the shots).


Alaska’s population in the 1960 census, one year after statehood was 226,167

I understand the concept of The Senate back when the constitution was written, but state have no where near the local independence they had back then.

We are moving more and more away from a federal system. Be it right or wrong it makes no sense that Wyoming with 470,000 thousand people can have as much say as California with 32 million.

This is why the USA loses out in a lot of global ideas as they lesser backward states stop the progressive populas states from doing what should be done.

The beauty of the USA legislative branch is that while California and Wyoming are equal in the Senate, they’re not in the House.

Checks and balances, kids. That’s why there’s two houses of Congress, that’s why the Senate approves Executive branch appointees, that’s why the President has veto power, and that’s why the Supreme Court is around to decide constitutionality.

In practice it may look like a mess, but in theory, the USA system of democracy looks pretty damn good.

… or so I was taught in my poli sci classes.

This may be changing the subject, but:

Considering how small the population of some states are (Wyoming, etc), has anyone ever considered the idea that all it would take would be about one million people all belonging to some group, to move to a sparsely populated state and take over by outvoting the original inhabitants?

I thought of that myself. Actually in two countries in the world. Israel and Fiji (esp Fiji) there is a real fear that will happen. [the immigrants will outvote the natives]

I still see no justification why a group of states (the 11 smallest states in poputlation have 22 senators BUT only have 10.5 million. that is less than 1/3 as large as California) have so much influence over policies that effect so many others.

As I state federalism isn’t the same today as when the constitution was written. States simply do not have the independence they did back then.

It is necessary for states to have equal as well as proportional representation, because acts of Congress are binding not only on the individual residents of every state (which are different in number) but also on the government of every state (of which every state has one). If, for example, Congress tries to pass some sort of state mandate that will prove to be efficient for a populous state to administer, but grossly inefficient for a less populous state, why should Wyoming’s government have less say in what the feds demand of them than California’s?

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

Marxxx, it all balances out both in the House of Representatives and in the electoral college. When was the last time you saw a candidate for president campaign in Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, Hawaii or Rhode Island? Hell, you can win the presidency by carrying only 13 states.

States like Wyoming actually have a disproportionately high number of electoral votes. If you divide the total population of the US by 538, you get a number that is slightly higher than the population of Wyoming. By that method of calculation, they should get less than one elector.

The problem with having states get as huge as California isn’t really in their administration or their representation in Congress – it’s the clout they wield in the Electoral College. Win California’s 54 electorial votes, and you’re 40 percent of the way toward winning the election (for which you need 270). And you only have to win the state by one vote, which means that more than 16 million people’s votes are as good as thrown out.

Here’s how I think it oughta be done: Since a state gets electoral votes equal to is Senate representation plus its House representation, let the state’s overall winner get two electoral votes, then let each candidate get one more electoral vote for each House district he carries. Never happen, but I flatter myself that it’s a fairly elegant idea. And it makes sure that Northern Californians’ votes count for something.