News and Views
1 ... Statehood is our future and ultimate destiny
2 ... Replace/amend 1950 Guam Organic Act
3 ... Facts and Figures
4 ... Admission to Statehood
1 ... Statehood is our future and ultimate destiny
(The following is remarks by Former Sen. EDDIE DUENAS, Chairman: Guam Statehood Task Force presented at UOG Forum on Political Self-Determination - May 3, 2000)
Hafa adai and good afternoon. Many thanks for this opportunity to speak on a subject that is of paramount importance to our future destiny. I appreciate the invitation to be here and I must commend everyone who are responsible for putting together this forum.
Statehood embodies the results of the two previous political status plebiscites on Guam -- in 1976 when the voters chose closer union with the United States, and in 1982 when they overwhelmingly chose commonwealth and statehood over free association, independence and status quo.
Statehood has clearly identifiable political parameters; Free Association is independence in association with another sovereign nation; and Independence is standing alone as a sovereign nation.
Voting for independence or free association is essentially divorcing Guam from U.S. sovereignty. Statehood, on the other hand, will fully “integrate” Guam into the American family and system of government. It is an ultimate status with clearly delineated powers and relationships between the state and the federal government. The state has total control on all state matters, exclusive of the powers granted to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution.
Statehood embodies certain fundamental characteristics shared by every U.S. state on equal footing. These include:
(1) State sovereignty or full autonomy on state matters. The state has authority to write its state constitution, set up state government, establish state court system, and enact state laws that could not be altered by Congress.
(2) Full application of the U.S. Constitution and permanent citizenship conferred with full guarantee and protection under the U.S. Constitution. The citizenship conferred on the people of Guam by Congress was part of the 1950 Organic Act which also established our civil government. In a sense, we are a creature of Congress and Congress maintains plenary powers over Guam under the Territorial Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
(3) The U.S. Constitution guarantees our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. More specifically, it guarantees under the Bill of Rights freedom of religion, free speech, free assembly redress for grievances; right to own and bear arms; protection of life and property; protection from unreasonable search and seizure, and from cruel and unusual punishment; right to fair and speedy trial; equitable treatment; right to due process under the law, and protection from double jeopardy and self-incrimination. It prohibits any person or group of persons from abusing or misusing the law or governmental powers to the detriment of another individual citizen or the good of the community.
(4) As a state, Guam will have active voice in Congress -- through two voting senators and at least one member in the House of Representatives. This will give us leverage in Congress and enhance Guam’s prestige and status in this part of the world.
As far as I can remember, we have been clamoring to be treated fairly and equitably and to have a voice in the federal government. For too long, we have been occasionally subjected to unfair and arbitrary treatment resulting from federal laws, policies and regulations imposed on us without having a say on them.
Well, having two senators and a representative in Congress would enable Guam to have a say in the enactment of laws and in the shaping of federal policies affecting Guam. Presently, we have a non-voting delegate who can participate and vote in committees, but not on the floor of Congress where he could make a difference.
(5) As a state, Guam residents who are U.S. citizens will be able to vote for the U.S. president and vice president, whose actions do have a profound impact on Guam -- for better or for worse.
(6) As a state, Guam will be able to participate equitably in federal revenue sharing, and have greater access to federal programs, grants, aids and entitlements like all the other states do. Our people would be entitled to receive Social Security Supplemental Income and the Earned Income Tax Credit. This could mean a windfall for Guam. At present, Guam residents are not entitled to SSSI and the federally-mandated EITC is paid by the local treasury which has been estimated for cost over $60 millions.
At present, Guam gets whatever Congress decides to give -- and most of the time, less than what we would receive if we were state.
(7) As a state, Guam will have authority to set up its state government -- comprising of executive, legislative and judiciary branches -- and create state courts and state agencies to provide for adequate and efficient public services to the people. We will be able to set the qualifications and terms of office for the governor and members of the legislature, and determine the makeup of the court system. Currently, the qualifications and terms of our governor and our senators are mandated by the Organic Act. To deviate would require Congressional approval.
(8) As a state, Guam will be adequately defended by the U.S. armed forces from external threat or hostile invasion. The Constitution provides for the common defense of all states. Being located in the western Pacific with close proximity to potential Asian threats, it is imperativel that Guam does not experience what it did during World War II when it was left defenseless and eventually occupied by the enemy.
(9) As a state, Guam will accept responsibilities to the country as all other states do -- these include services in our armed services, contributing support to the federal government and complying with federal mandates as sanctioned by the U.S. Constitution. I might add that we are already assuming many of these responsibilities.
There are many other features of statehood that would benefit the people of Guam. But because of time constraint, I would not be able to discuss them all at this point.
Let us now ask this question: What would happen if the voters of Guam choose Independence or Free Association? Indeed, there would be major deviation in the lifestyle as we know and enjoy today. Consider the following:
(1) The status quo would be terminated because Guam would no longer be under U.S. sovereignty.
(2) The Organic Act of Guam would be abolished by Congress and the protection of the U.S. Constitution and federal laws would no longer apply.
(3) The federal assistance and support we are enjoying today would be terminated. There goes all the financial help and federally funded domestic programs such as welfare assistance, food stamps, public housing subsidy, Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, senior citizens programs; grants for law and order, public safety, historical and cultural preservation; funding for public education and scholarships, aids and grants; highway construction and infrastructure development funding, and disaster recovery assistance under FEMA will be eliminated. .
The University of Guam’s land-grant status, the ROTC program, and all the other federal support and assistance the institution is receiving today would be gone, too.
The military reserves units -- such as the Guam National Guard, Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard units -- would be dismantled.
Those of us who were made U.S. citizens by the Guam Organic Act of 1950 are asking pointed questions today. We want to be assured beyond a reasonable doubt that, whichever way we voted in the plebiscite, our U.S. citizenship and the benefits and protection it provides are not jeopardized or compromised because of the new political order chosen.
This is a crucial point that should legally be made real clear by facts based on existing laws or judicial scrutiny, and not on assumptions.
Some legal beagles say that U.S. citizenship, once conferred upon a person, cannot be summarily taken away by the federal government, unless for a cause. Proponents of Free association and Independence believe that you can still retain your U.S. citizenship under their form of sovereign government.
Yes, it may be possible to live in a freely associated Guam and remain a U.S. citizen. But if you were to be required to take an oath of allegiance as a condition to live there, then that could be a real concern.
The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, which has been amended many times through the years, says that a person who is a native-born or naturalized U.S. citizen could jeopardize his or her citizenship “by taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof after having attained the age of eighteen years...”
The Immigration and Nationality Act also lists other reasons that could result in the revocation or forfeiture of U.S. citizenship, such as treason, serving in another sovereign country’s armed forces or holding public office.
Proponents for the other two options may suggest that dual citizenship could be possible. Pragmatically speaking, can you imagine where your loyalty would be if there was a clash of ideology and laws between the two nations you swore to uphold, support and defend? Certainly the U.S. does encourage any U.S. citizen to assume or maintain citizenship of foreign state at the same time.
In fact, the U.S. State Department has this to say:
“The U.S. government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause. Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law, and dual nationality may limit U.S. efforts to assist U.S. citizens abroad. The country where a dual national is located generally has stronger claim to that person’s allegiance.”
The U.S. State Department also pointed out “dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. They are required to obey the laws of both countries. Either country has the right to enforce its laws, particularly if the person later travels there. Most U.S. citizens, including dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States. Dual nationals may also be required by the foreign country to use its passport to enter and leave that country. Use of foreign passport does not endanger U.S. citizenship.
And as the founding fathers of our nations did, let us also pledge and dedicate our lives, our honor and our fortunes toward achieving a bright and promising future for Guam not only for the present but, most of all, for our children and the future generations of Guamanians.
Dangkulo na si Yuus maase, thank you, and maraming salamat po.
2 ... Replace 1950 Guam Organic Act
From the sum total of our political experiences, the question is not whether the 1950 Organic Act of Guam should be amended but rather should it be replaced by a Guam Constitution that would facilitate our efforts to address most, if not all, of the problems and dilemmas facing us today.
No doubt, the Organic Act of 1950 is archaic, to say the least. In its own wisdom, Congress enacted the Act in the aftermath of WWII with no input from local leaders. Yes, it reflected the basic desire of our people and our leaders of the time when we were clamoring for fair treatment and equity from the hands of an authoritative naval administration. We did petition for U.S. citizenship, and in 1936 Francisco Baza Leon Guerrero and Baltazar J. Bordallo traveled to Washington D.C. and conveyed our desire to the administration and Congressional leaders.
But beyond that, the Organic Act of Guam was entirely a product of the Congress, crafted and put together without any input from the leaders of Guam. Although it appeared to be well-intentioned, the Act reflected a pattern of civil administration that had the trappings of the authoritative way a succession of naval governors had governed us from 1898 till 1950.
We aspired for more home rule but the Act gave us limited self-government. We wanted a participation in our local government that provides a check-and-balance of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches but the Act installed a governor with sweeping powers. Granted that through several amendments made by Congress in the past five decades, we were able to gradually enjoy greater local governance.
Starting in 1970, we have been electing our governor instead of being governed by Presidential appointee. A few years later, in 1972, we also started electing our delegate to Congress, albeit a non-voting position, and the responsibility of providing public education is now vested in the “government” instead of solely under the governor of Guam. This enabled the Legislature to establish an elected school board and put public education under its control. A Congressional amendment also paved the way for the establishment of the Guam Supreme Court.
But there is another way we can rectify the shortcomings of the Organic Act and provide more home rule for Guam in the meantime. Adopt a Guam Constitution to replace the outmoded Organic Act; we have been authorized by Congress to do so since over three decades ago. And we did adopt a Constitution crafted by elected members of two constitutional conventions but, sad to say, it failed to be ratified by the voters of Guam when indigenous rights groups campaigned against it, apparently fearing that it would further cement a closer relationship with the U.S. It was believed that the activists feared the U.N. would consider its ratification as tantamount to self-determination.
Still aspiring for closer integration with the U.S., the people of Guam in a political status plebiscite in 1982 overwhelmingly voted for Commonwealth and Statehood as their two top choices from a slate that included status quo, free association and independent. A Commission on Self-Determination was established by the Legislature comprising of elected and community leaders, chaired by the Governor Guam. The commission worked diligently to write a Guam Commonwealth Act which was introduced in Congress by our Delegate. A series of talks and negotiations between commission members headed by the governor and Congressional and administration leaders transpired for several years, but yielded no mutual agreement on the entire document.
The Commonwealth Act languished in political limbo, and no efforts have been made to resurrect it in recent years. As an intermediate alternative, we should renew our efforts to write a new Guam Constitution and I call on the Governor and the Legislature to convene another constitutional convention comprising of elected and community leaders. Staying within the framework of the U.S. Constitution, this convention should reassess our government structure and define in specific terms the powers and functions of our elected leaders and the courts. Under the Guam Constitution, for example, we can specify what Governor can and cannot do in office and how long his term will be. Likewise, we can restructure the Legislature – unicameral or bicameral -- and determine number of seats and the Senator’s term in office.
Once approved by Congress and ratified by the voters of Guam, the Guam Constitution would become the law of the land and, once and for all, be able to facilitate in addressing our needs and problems as they develop. The Constitution could be amended from time to time by the people of Guam, without having to go to Congress. This would give us more home rule, set Guam on a path to statehood.
In fact, when Guam achieves statehood in the future, the Guam Constitution that we put in place today could be a springboard for a permanent state Constitution of Guam. Adopting a Guam Constitution does not preclude us from exercising political self-determination or further pursuing more closer relationship/incorporation and eventually statehood; it could be part of Guam’s evolving political process toward our ultimate political status -- the 51st state of the Union.
/s/ EDWARD R. Duenas -- Chairman, Guam Statehood Task Force
3 ... Facts & figures
States admission and initial populations
The first 13 colonies which became states of the Union, dates of admission and population at the time of their admission:
(1)DelawareDec. 7, 1787 - 59,096//925,749;
(2) Pennsylvania Dec. 12, 1787 – 434,373//12,773,801;
(3) New Jersey Dec. 18, 1787 – 184,139//8,899,339;
(4) Georgia Jan. 2, 1788 – 82,548//9,992,167;
(5) Connecticut Jan. 9, 1788- 237,946//3,596,080 -
(6) Massachusetts Jan. 6, 1788 – 387,787//6,692,824 – 378, 787;
(7) Maryland Apr. 28, 1788 – 319,728//5,938,814;
(8) So. Carolina May 23, 1788 – 249,073//844,877;
(9) New Hampshire Jun. 21, 1788 – 141,885//1,323,459;
(10) Virginia Jul. 26, 1788 – 747,610;
(11) New York Jul 26, 1788 – 393,751//19,651,127;
(12) No. Carolina Nov. 21, 1789 – 393, 751//723,393;
(13) Rhode Island May 29, 1790 – 68,825//1,051,511.
Other states admitted with low population include
(23) Maine Mar. 15, 1830 – 96,540//1,328,302;
(49) Alaska Jan. 3, 1959 – 128,643//735,132 and
(50) Hawaii Aug. 21, 1959 – 499,794//1,004,054.
*The current population count as of 2013.
Seven states have no income tax/5 states do not levy sales tax*
No one likes paying taxes. Having money taken out of your paycheck is one of the most dreaded aspects of entering the workforce. While most of us pay federal income taxes, the taxes we pay at the state and local levels vary depending on where we live. In fact, seven states have no personal income tax ...
Seven U.S. states currently don't have an income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. And residents of New Hampshire and Tennessee are also spared from handing over an extra chunk of their paycheck on April 15, though they do pay tax on dividends and income from investments.
The five states with no sales tax include:
Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon.
The rest imposes sales taxes of varying amount – from the lowest of2.9% in Colorado to as high as7.5% in California. The states with the next lowest sales at 4%include Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, New York, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
*2015 Tax –Rates Organization provides this info.
Federal Revenue Sharing -- 30 states more than it remitted to federal treasury
The majority of states – 30 in all -- received more in federal spending that what each remitted in FY 2005 federal income taxes collected respectively. New Mexico got the biggest share, receiving @2.03 per dollar remitted to the national treasury, followed by Mississippi with $2.02, Alaska $1.84, Louisiana $1.78, West Virginia $1.76.
Other states ranking in the top 15 include North Dakota $1.68, Alabama $1.66, South Dakota $1.53, Kentucky and Virginia at $1.51, Montana $1.47, Hawaii $1.44, Maine and Arkansas $1.41. and Oklahoma 1.35.
It should be noted that Alaska and Hawaii are the two newest states, both gaining admission in 1959. The revenue sharing includes funding, federally-funded in education, health and welfare programs, financial aids and entitlements provided equitably to states annually.
4... Admission to Statehood
Extracted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The Admission to the Union Clause of the United States Constitution , oftentimes called the New States Clause, and found at Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1, authorizes the Congress to admit new states into the United States beyond the 13 already in existence at the time the Constitution went into effect.
The Constitution went into effect on June 21, 1788, after ratification by 9 of the 13 states, and the federal government began operations under it on March 4, 1789. Since then, 37 additional states have been admitted into the Union. Each new state has been admitted on an equal footing with those already in existence.
Of the 37 states admitted to the Union by Congress, all but six have been established within an existing U.S. organized incorporated territory. A state so created might encompass all or a portion of a territory. When the people of a territory or a region thereof would make their desire for statehood known to the federal government, in most cases Congress passed an enabling act authorizing the people of that territory or region to frame a proposed state constitution as a step toward admission to the Union. Although the use of an enabling act was a common historic practice, a number of states were admitted to the Union without one.
In many instances, an enabling act would detail the mechanism by which the territory would be admitted as a state following ratification of their constitution and election of state officers. Although the use of such an act is a traditional historic practice, a number of territories have drafted constitutions for submission to Congress absent an enabling act and were subsequently admitted. The broad outline for this process was established by the Land Ordinance of 1784 and the 1787 Northwest Ordinance, both of which predate the present U.S. Constitution.
The Admission to the Union Clause also forbids the creation of new states from parts of existing states without the consent of both the affected states and Congress. The primary intent of this caveat was to give Eastern states that still had western land claims (there were four at that time) a veto over whether their western counties could become states. This clause has served the same function since, each time a proposal to partition an existing state or states has arisen.
New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.
Articles of Confederation
Between 1781 and 1789 the United States was governed by a unicameral Congress, the Congress of the Confederation, which operated under authority granted to it by the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution. The 11th Article authorized Congress to admit new states to the Union provided nine states consented. Under the Articles, each state cast one vote on each proposed measure in Congress.
During this period, the Confederation Congress enacted two ordinances governing the admission of new states into the Union. The first such ordinance was the Land Ordinance of 1784, enacted April 23, 1784. Thomas Jefferson was its principal author. The Ordinance called for the land (recently confirmed as part of the United States by the Treaty of Paris) west of the Appalachian Mountains, north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River to eventually be divided into ten separate states. Once a given area reached 20,000 inhabitants, it could call a constitutional convention and form a provisional government. Then, upon enacting a state constitution which affirmed that the new state would forever be part of the Confederation, would be subject to the Articles of Confederation and acts of Congress, would be subject to payment for federal debts and would not tax federal properties within the state border or tax non-residents at a rate higher than residents, and would have a republican form of government, and also after reaching a population equal to that of the least-populated of the established states, it would be admitted, on an equal footing with all other states, based on a majority vote in Congress. Jefferson's original draft of the ordinance gave names to the proposed states, and also contained a provision that "After the year 1800 there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of them."
The 1784 ordinance was superseded three years later by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Enacted by the Confederation Congress on July 13, 1787, it created the Northwest Territory, the first organized incorporated territory of the United States. The Northwest Ordinance (Article V) provided for the admission of several new states from within its bounds:
There shall be formed in the said territory, not less than three nor more than five States ... And, whenever any of the said States shall have sixty thousand free inhabitants therein, such State shall be admitted, by its delegates, into the Congress of the United States, on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever, and shall be at liberty to form a permanent constitution and State government: Provided, the constitution and government so to be formed, shall be republican, and in conformity to the principles contained in these articles; and, so far as it can be consistent with the general interest of the confederacy, such admission shall be allowed at an earlier period, and when there may be a less number of free inhabitants in the State than sixty thousand.
Considered one of the most important legislative acts of the Confederation Congress, it established the precedent by which the Federal government would be sovereign and expand westward with the admission of new states, rather than with the expansion of existing states and their established sovereignty under the Articles of Confederation.
No new states were formed in the Northwest Territory under either ordinance. In August, 1789, the ordinance was replaced by the Northwest Ordinance of 1789, in which the new Congress (under the present Constitution) reaffirmed the Ordinance with slight modifications. The territory itself remained in existence until 1803, when the southeastern portion of it was admitted to the Union as the State of Ohio, and the remainder was reorganized.
While the articles of Confederation were in effect, the Congress considered various ordinances admitting particular new states into the Union:
*** On August 20, 1781, Congress passed a resolution stating conditions under which the Vermont Republic (at the time a de facto but unrecognized sovereign state) could enter the Union. It needed only to give up its claims to territory west of Lake Champlain and east of the Connecticut River. The following February, the legislature of Vermont agreed to those terms. However, Vermont's admission would be delayed for nearly a decade, due largely to opposition from New York, which asserted a disputed claim to the region.
*** On May 16, 1785, a resolution to admit Frankland (later modified to Franklin) to the Union was introduced in Congress. Eventually, seven states voted to admit what would have been the 14th state. This was, however, less than the nine states required by the Articles of Confederation. This would-be state was created in 1784 from part of the territory west of the Appalachian Mountains that had been offered by North Carolina as a cession to Congress to help pay off debts related to the Revolutionary War. It continued to exist as an extra-legal state through mid-1788, when North Carolina re-assumed full control of the area. Franklin later became part of the Southwest Territory, which still later became the state of Tennessee.
*** In July, 1788, Congress began deliberations on whether to admit Kentucky to the Union. Kentucky was then a part of Virginia. The legislature of Virginia had consented to the creation of the new state from its western district. However, when Congress began to discuss the matter, they received notification that New Hampshire had ratified the Constitution, becoming the ninth state to do so, causing it to go into effect in the ratifying states. Congress instead passed a resolution stating that it was "unadvisable" to admit a new state under those circumstances and the matter should wait until the federal government under the Constitution came into existence.
As a result, no new states were admitted to the Union while the Articles of Confederation was in effect.
1787 Constitutional Convention
At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, a proposal to include the phrase, "new States shall be admitted on the same terms with the original States", in the new states clause was defeated. That proposal would have taken the policy articulated in the Ordinance of 1784 and made it a constitutional imperative. Many delegates objected to including the phrase however, fearing that the political power of future new western states would ultimately overwhelm that of the established eastern states.
Delegates, understanding that the number of states would inevitably increase, did agree to include wording into this clause to preclude formation of a new state out of an established one without the consent of the established state as well as the Congress. It was anticipated that Kentucky (which was a part of Virginia), Franklin (which was a part of North Carolina, and later became part of the Southwest Territory), Vermont (to which New York asserted a disputed claim), and Maine (which was a part of Massachusetts), would become states. As a result of this compromise, new breakaway states are permitted to join the Union, but only with the proper consents.
Shortly after the new Constitution went into effect Congress admitted Vermont and Kentucky on equal terms with the existing 13 states, and thereafter formalized the condition in its acts of admission for subsequent states. Thus the Congress, utilizing the discretion allowed by the framers, adopted a policy of equal status for all newly admitted states. The constitutional principle derived from these actions is known as the equal footing doctrine. With the growth of states' rights advocacy during the antebellum period, the Supreme Court asserted, in Lessee of Pollard v. Hagan (1845), that the Constitution mandated admission of new states on the basis of equality.
The order in which the original 13 states ratified the constitution, then the order in which the others were admitted to the union.
Historically, most new states brought into being by Congress have been established from an organized incorporated U.S. territory, created and governed by Congress in accord with its plenary power under Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the Constitution. In some cases, an entire territory became a state; in others some part of a territory became a state. In most cases, the organized government of a territory made known the sentiment of its population in favor of statehood, usually by referendum. Congress then directed that government to organize a constitutional convention to write a state constitution. Upon acceptance of that constitution, by the people of the territory and then by Congress, would adopt a joint resolution granting statehood and the President would issue a proclamation announcing that a new state has been added to the Union. While Congress, which has ultimate authority over the admission of new states, has usually followed this procedure, there have been occasions (due to unique case-specific circumstances) where it did not.
Congress is under no obligation to admit states, even in those areas whose population expresses a desire for statehood. In one instance, Mormon pioneers in Salt Lake City sought to establish the state of Deseret in 1849. It existed for slightly over two years and was never approved by the United States Congress. In another, leaders of the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole) in Indian Territory proposed to establish the state of Sequoyah in 1905, as a means to retain control of their lands. The proposed constitution ultimately failed in the U.S. Congress. Instead, the Indian Territory was incorporated into the new state of Oklahoma in 1907.
Some U.S. territories existed only a short time before becoming states, while others remained territories for decades. The shortest-lived was Alabama Territory at 2 years, while New Mexico and Hawaii territories both were in existence for more than 50 years. The entry of several states into the Union has been delayed due to complicating factors. Among them, Michigan Territory, which petitioned Congress for statehood in 1835, was not admitted to the Union until 1837, due to a boundary dispute with the adjoining state of Ohio. The Republic of Texas requested annexation to the United States in 1837, but fears about potential conflict with Mexico delayed the admission of Texas for nine years. Also, statehood for Kansas Territory was held up for several years (1854–61) due to a series of internal violent conflicts involving anti-slavery and pro-slavery factions.
Once established, most state borders have, with few exceptions, been generally stable. Notable exceptions include: the various portions (the Western land claims) of several original states ceded over a period of several years to the federal government, which in turn became the Northwest Territory, Southwest Territory, and Mississippi Territory; the 1791 cession by Maryland and Virginia of land to create the District of Columbia (Virginia's portion was returned in 1847); and the creation, on at least three separate occasions, of a new state (Kentucky, Maine and West Virginia) from a region of an existing state (Vermont was created from what was disputedly claimed to be a part of New York and was not admitted until New York consented); two large additions to Nevada, which became a state in 1864, were made in 1866 and 1867. However, there have been numerous minor adjustments to state boundaries over the years due to improved surveys, resolution of ambiguous or disputed boundary definitions, or minor mutually agreed boundary adjustments for administrative convenience or other purposes. One notable example is the case New Jersey v. New York, in which New Jersey won roughly 90% of Ellis Island from New York in 1998.
States that were never part of an organized U.S. territory
In addition to the original 13, six subsequent states were never part of an organized incorporated U.S. territory. Kentucky, Maine, and West Virginia were each set off from already existing states. Texas and Vermont both entered the Union after having been sovereign states (only de facto sovereignty in Vermont's case, as the region was claimed by New York). California was set off from unorganized land ceded to the United States by Mexico in 1848 at the end of the Mexican–American War