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In United States law, an organic act is an act of the United States Congress that establishes a territory of the United States and specifies how it is to be governed, or an agency to manage certain federal lands. In the absence of an organic law a territory is classified as unorganized.
The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law, of which the most important is the United States Constitution, the foundation of the federal government of the United States. The Constitution sets out the boundaries of federal law, which consists of Acts of Congress, treaties ratified by the Senate, regulations promulgated by the executive branch, and case law originating from the federal judiciary. The United States Code is the official compilation and codification of general and permanent federal statutory law.
An Act of Congress is a statute enacted by the United States Congress. It can either be a Public Law, relating to the general public, or a Private Law, relating to specific institutions or individuals.
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the Federal Government of the United States. The legislature consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The first such act was the Northwest Ordinance, passed in 1787 by the U.S. Congress of the Confederation (under the Articles of Confederation, predecessor of the United States Constitution). The Northwest Ordinance created the Northwest Territory in the land west of Pennsylvania and northwest of the Ohio River and set the pattern of development that was followed for all subsequent territories. The Northwest Territory covered more than 260,000 square miles and included all of the modern states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the northeastern part of Minnesota.
The Northwest Ordinance enacted July 13, 1787, was an organic act of the Congress of the Confederation of the United States. It created the Northwest Territory, the first organized territory of the United States, from lands beyond the Appalachian Mountains, between British North America and the Great Lakes to the north and the Ohio River to the south. The upper Mississippi River formed the territory's western boundary.
The Congress of the Confederation, or the Confederation Congress, formally referred to as the United States in Congress Assembled, was the governing body of the United States of America that existed from March 1, 1781, to March 4, 1789. A unicameral body with legislative and executive function, it was composed of delegates appointed by the legislatures of the several states. Each state delegation had one vote. It was preceded by the Second Continental Congress (1775–1781) and governed under the newly adopted Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, which were proposed in 1776–1777, adopted by the Continental Congress in July 1778 and finally agreed to by a unanimous vote of all thirteen states by 1781. It was held up by a long dispute over the cession of western territories beyond the Appalachian Mountains to the central government led by Maryland and a coalition of smaller states without western claims. The plan was introduced by Maryland politician John Hanson and was referred to as 'The Hanson Plan'. The newly reorganized Congress at the time continued to refer itself as the Continental Congress throughout its eight-year history, although modern historians separate it from the earlier bodies, which operated under slightly different rules and procedures until the later part of American Revolutionary War. The membership of the Second Continental Congress automatically carried over to the Congress of the Confederation when the latter was created by the ratification of the Articles of Confederation. It had the same secretary as the Second Continental Congress, namely Charles Thomson. The Congress of the Confederation was succeeded by the Congress of the United States as provided for in the new Constitution of the United States, proposed September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia and ratified by the states through 1787 to 1788 and even into 1789 and 1790.
The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America that served as its first constitution. It was approved, after much debate, by the Second Continental Congress on November 15, 1777, and sent to the states for ratification. The Articles of Confederation came into force on March 1, 1781, after being ratified by all 13 states. A guiding principle of the Articles was to preserve the independence and sovereignty of the states. The weak central government established by the Articles received only those powers which the former colonies had recognized as belonging to king and parliament.
The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801 incorporated Washington, D.C. and placed it under the exclusive control of the United States Congress.
The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801, officially An Act Concerning the District of Columbia, is an organic act enacted by the United States Congress in accordance with Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. It formally placed the District of Columbia under the control of the United States Congress and organized the unincorporated territory within the District into two counties: Washington County to the north and east of the Potomac River and Alexandria County to the west and south. The charters of the existing cities of Georgetown and Alexandria were left in place and no change was made to their status. The common law of both Maryland and Virginia remained in force within the District. A court was established in each of the new counties.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, the first President of the United States and a Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.
The Organic Act for the Territory of New Mexico was part of the Compromise of 1850, passed September 9, 1850. Primarily concerned with slavery, the act organized New Mexico as a territory, with boundaries including the areas now embraced in New Mexico, Arizona, and southern Colorado.
The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five separate bills passed by the United States Congress in September 1850, which defused a four-year political confrontation between slave and free states on the status of territories acquired during the Mexican–American War (1846–1848). The compromise, drafted by Whig Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky and brokered by Clay and Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, reduced sectional conflict, although controversy eventually arose over the Fugitive Slave provision. Although the compromise was greeted with relief, each side disapproved of some of its specific provisions:
Slavery in the United States was the legal institution of human chattel enslavement, primarily of Africans and African Americans, that existed in the United States of America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Slavery had been practiced in British America from early colonial days, and was legal in all Thirteen Colonies at the time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It lasted in about half the states until 1865, when it was prohibited nationally by the Thirteenth Amendment. As an economic system, slavery was largely replaced by sharecropping.
Territorial organic acts have included, in chronological order):
Areas now part of a U.S. state or D.C.:
The Indiana Territory was created by a congressional act that President John Adams signed into law on May 7, 1800, to form an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 4, 1800, to December 11, 1816, when the remaining southern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Indiana. The territory originally contained approximately 259,824 square miles (672,940 km2) of land, but its size was decreased when it was subdivided to create the Michigan Territory (1805) and the Illinois Territory (1809). The Indiana Territory was the first new territory created from lands of the Northwest Territory, which had been organized under the terms of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.
The Territory of Orleans or Orleans Territory was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from October 1, 1804, until April 30, 1812, when it was admitted to the Union as the State of Louisiana.
The Territory of Michigan was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from June 30, 1805, until January 26, 1837, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Michigan. Detroit was the territorial capital.
Current overseas territories of the United States, known as insular areas:
An insular area of the United States is a U.S. territory that is neither a part of one of the 50 states nor of a Federal district. Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution grants to United States Congress the responsibility of overseeing these territories, of which there are currently 14—three in the Caribbean Sea and 11 in the Pacific Ocean. These territories are classified by whether they are incorporated and whether they have an organized territorial government established by the U.S. Congress through an Organic Act. All territories but one are unincorporated, and all but four are considered to be unorganized. Five U.S. territories have a permanent, nonmilitary population. Each of them has a civilian government, a constitution, and enjoys some degree of local political autonomy.
Politics of the United States Virgin Islands takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic dependency, whereby the Governor is the head of the local government, and of a multi-party system. United States Virgin Islands are an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs of the United States Department of the Interior. Executive power is exercised by the local government of the Virgin Islands. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
As general terms, Indian Territory, the Indian Territories, or Indian country describe an evolving land area set aside by the United States Government for the relocation of Native Americans who held aboriginal title to their land. In general, the tribes ceded land they occupied in exchange for land grants in 1803. The concept of an Indian Territory was an outcome of the 18th- and 19th-century policy of Indian removal. After the Civil War (1861–1865), the policy of the government was one of assimilation.
The Territory of Louisiana or Louisiana Territory was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 4, 1805, until June 4, 1812, when it was renamed the Missouri Territory.
The Territory of New Mexico was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 6, 1912, when the remaining extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of New Mexico, making it the longest-lived organized incorporated territory of the United States, lasting approximately 62 years.
The Territory of Kansas was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 30, 1854, until January 29, 1861, when the eastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Kansas.
The Territory of Utah was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 4, 1896, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Utah, the 45th state.
The Territory of Nebraska was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 30, 1854, until March 1, 1867, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Nebraska. The Nebraska Territory was created by the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854. The territorial capital was Omaha. The territory encompassed areas of what is today Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, and Montana.
The District of Louisiana, or Louisiana District, was an official, temporary, United States government designation for the portion of the Louisiana Purchase that had not been organized into the Orleans Territory. It officially existed from March 10, 1804, until July 4, 1805, when it was incorporated as the Louisiana Territory.
This is a list of historic regions of the United States that existed at some time during the territorial evolution of the United States and its overseas possessions, from the colonial era to the present day. It includes formally organized territories, proposed and failed states, unrecognized breakaway states, international and interstate purchases, cessions, and land grants, and historical military departments and administrative districts. The last section lists informal regions from American vernacular geography known by popular nicknames and linked by geographical, cultural, or economic similarities, some of which are still in use today.
The Thirty-sixth United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C. from March 4, 1859, to March 4, 1861, during the third and fourth years of James Buchanan's presidency. The apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives was based on the Seventh Census of the United States in 1850. The Senate had a Democratic majority, and the House had a Republican plurality.
UTC−07:00 is a time offset that subtracts 7 hours from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). In North America, it is observed in the Mountain Time Zone during standard time, and in the Pacific Time Zone during the other 8 months. A few places use it year-round.
The following is a list of lists of the cities, towns and villages of the United States separated by state, territory or district name.
Organized incorporated territories are territories of the United States that are both incorporated and organized. There have been no such territories since Alaska and Hawaii were admitted as states in 1959.
The District of Columbia and United States Territories Quarter Program was a one-year coin program of the United States Mint that saw quarters being minted in 2009 to honor the District of Columbia and the unincorporated United States insular areas of Puerto Rico, Guam, United States Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The islands commonly grouped together as the United States Minor Outlying Islands were not featured, as the law defined the word "territory" as being limited to the areas mentioned above. It followed the completion of the 50 State Quarters program. The coins used the same George Washington obverse as with the quarters of the previous ten years. The reverse of the quarters featured a design selected by the Mint depicting of the federal district and each territory. Unlike on the 50 State quarters, the motto "E Pluribus Unum" preceded and was the same size as the mint date on the reverse.
The following chronology traces the territorial evolution of the U.S. State of Colorado.
The 1763 Treaty of Paris ended the major war known by Americans as the French and Indian War and by Canadians as the Seven Years' War / Guerre de Sept Ans, or by French-Canadians, La Guerre de la Conquête. It was signed by Great Britain, France and Spain, with Portugal in agreement. Preferring to keep Guadeloupe, France gave up Canada and all of its claims to territory east of the Mississippi River to Britain. With France out of North America this dramatically changed the European political scene on the continent.
The Admission to the Union Clause of the United States Constitution, often called the New States Clause, found at Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1, authorizes the Congress to admit new states into the United States beyond the thirteen already in existence at the time the Constitution went into effect.
The Military Division of the Missouri was an administrative formation of the United States Army that functioned through the end of the American Civil War and the Indian Wars that continued after its conclusion. It was created by the War Department on February 3, 1865, at the direction of General Ulysses S. Grant to bring all the military departments west of the Mississippi River under a single commander.