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Engraving of “Battle of Buena Vista” published in “Lives of the Presidents of the U.s.a. of America, From Washington to the Nowadays Time” by John S.C. Abbott in 1867. Photo Courtesy: iStock

There are 50 states in the U.s. of America, but that wasn’t ever the case. Uncomplicated school students in the early 1950s would take said that there were just 48, and there are activists in the 2020s who want the reply to be 52.

It would seem that being or not being a state wouldn’t be such a complicated concept. You may know the story of Manifest Destiny. Beginning, in that location were thirteen colonies. Then, settlers kept moving farther and farther westward to clear unsettled land.

Nowadays, there is growing understanding of the violence, deportation, and genocide of Indigenous peoples that occurred every bit part of the “manifest destiny” story, and in that location is growing back up for the Country Back movement. Additionally, many of the states that are now part of the U.S. used to be role of other sovereign nation states, and became part of the U.s. through colonial and neocolonial practices. Hither are some more than controversial stories of how states became role of the USA.

The Mexican-American War Shaped the Southwest

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Have you lot always wondered why southwestern states have so many Spanish names for towns and landmarks? The answer is that they were once a part of Mexico. In 1845, President James K. Polk sought a meeting with the President of Mexico. Information technology was his intention to offer to buy Texas and a lot of other land, currently known equally much of the southwestern U.S., for $30 1000000. Mexico’south President, José Joaquín Herrera, heard nearly the programme and turned downward Polk’south request for a meeting. President Herrera had no intentions of selling. President Polk responded by sending American soldiers to occupy all of the then Mexican-owned lands he wanted to buy. In response, in that location was a small battle between Mexican and American forces.

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President Polk declared the resulting deaths of American soldiers to be an act of state of war because it happened on American soil. Congress canonical starting a war, but there was controversy even amongst American politicians. Some pointed out that America had actually been the aggressor because the battle happened on land that still belonged to United mexican states. After all, an agreement to purchase the land was never reached.

This concatenation of events set up off the Mexican-American State of war, which lasted for four years. The war ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. After the war, relations between the U.Due south. and Mexico were still contentious, to say the to the lowest degree. This is the direct reason that parts of Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, California, Utah, and California are now parts of the United states of america. The Gadsen Purchase, some other consequence of post-state of war affairs, is also the reason for parts of Arizona and New United mexican states’s statehood.

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In the 1800s, Hawaii was its own nation, and a royal monarchy ruled it. There were decades of history betwixt the Us and Hawaii working together on certain endeavors for the mutual benefit of both neighboring nations.

During Queen Liliuokalani’due south reign, a Congressional Act was passed to force Hawaii’s manus, declaring that Hawaiian sugar would only be lucrative for foreign sugar farmers from America and Europe if Hawaii were function of America. Otherwise, they would stand to lose considerable profits.

This resulting economical turmoil set the stage for a group of American carbohydrate planters to defection against the monarchy and plant an independent democracy of their own. This coup was supported past the U.S. armed forces, who was involved in the operation because of U.South. profit motives. Although President Cleveland expressed his discomfort with what was happening in Hawaii, he did non intervene. Eventually, Hawaii, then named the Commonwealth of Hawaii past those who overthrew the monarchy, was annexed as U.S. territory. Hawaii became a state in 1959.

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The Colonization of Puerto Rico

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America gained the territory of Puerto Rico through the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish-American War. Today, Puerto Rico has a governor, and the U.Due south. territory fifty-fifty has its own political parties that are notably different from the major political parties in the continental United States. Since Puerto Rico is recognized every bit a Commonwealth of America, the island concatenation has its own taxes and elections.

Politically speaking, Puerto Rico is a very odd instance. Although Puerto Ricans are recognized equally American citizens, they cannot vote in American elections. In America’southward Congress and amid Puerto Rican citizens, the result of statehood is a hotly debated one. Many liberal American activists advocate for Puerto Rican statehood, as Puerto Rico would be a reliably blue state. At the same time, many native Puerto Ricans are fighting for full independence from America.

Guam’s Quest for Independence

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Guam is some other one of the territories caused by America through the Treaty of Paris. Guam and Puerto Rico are vestiges of a style of colonization that many people in the modern era would take offense to. In that location is a political movement in Guam to become an independent nation.

As a U.S. territory, people in Guam have dual citizenship in both Guam and America. Guamanians pay taxes to the Guamanian regime, and Guam has its ain elections. All the same, Guam is still subject to many laws passed in the American Congress in which it has no representatives with voting power.

D.C. Statehood

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The DC in Washington DC stands for the District of Columbia. Prior to the signing of the Constitution, part of this District was role of Virginia, and the other part was role of Maryland. The Constitution created Washington DC as the seat of America’s government. The concept of “no revenue enhancement without representation” was a big part of why America fought for independence from United kingdom, so it was of import to the Founding Fathers to accept the seat of authorities in a neutral non-state that would not have representation in Congress.

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Sharing some similarities with the assertions of Puerto Ricans and Guamanians, some residents of Washington DC have issue with the fact that they do non accept representatives in Congress. Nevertheless, the actions of Congress still affect the residents of the Commune just as they do residents of other states.

The path to becoming a state was not always equally clear-cut as moving westward and clearing land. Of course, this country was always occupied by indigenous populations and the American claiming of that land was a violent act (the violence of which continues to this day). And some of the states that have get part of America were taken from other sovereign nation states. The journeying to statehood for many areas included bloodshed on battlefields and political agreements that would face a lot of scrutiny by today’s standards. While some lands became states against the wishes of some of their residents, there are ironically several areas today that lack statehood despite the wishes of some residents. How many states are at that place in the USA? That’s a loaded question!