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Comparison to Admission of Other States


The first parcel of land to be added to the United States under the powers of the new federal Constitution was the territory known as the "Louisiana Purchase." This land was purchased by the United States from France under the Treaty of April 30, 1803 (8 Stat. 200). The transaction was necessary for the continued success of the commercial traffic on the Mississippi River and especially for maintaining the important port at New Orleans. Popular support for the acquisition of the Louisiana territory was strong because the acquisition was viewed as a means of removing a large European power from America's doorstep and promoting national independence. This sentiment overcame whatever doubts were expressed by members of Congress as to the constitutional authority of the nation to acquire foreign territory. 277/

A significant section of the Treaty of Paris in 1803 was Article III, which stated:

The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States, and admitted as soon as possible...

This provision anticipated the admission of the Louisiana territory in the near future. From the cession, two territories were erected and a temporary government provided for under the Act of March 26, 1804 (2 Stat. 283). An enabling act was then passed for the people of the Orleans Territory on February 20, 1811 (2 Stat. 641) so that they might form a constitution and state government and request admission to the Union. This goal was subsequently accomplished and statehood was confirmed by the Act of April 8, 1312 (2 Stat. 701).


The second area of land annexed to the United States by means of treaty was East and West Florida. This territory was ceded by Spain to the United States under the Treaty of Amity, Settlement, and Limits, February 22, 1819, and ratified by the United States on February 19, 1821 (8 Stat. 252). The necessity of the annexation of Florida was accepted under the same principle as Louisiana, that is, keeping the European powers at a safe distance from home. 278/

The treaty with Spain contained a provision under Article 6 similar to that in the Treaty of 1803 with France. It stated:

The inhabitants of the territories which his Catholic Majesty cedes to the the United States, by this Treaty, shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States as soon as may be consistent with the principles of the Federal Constitution, and admitted to the enjoyment of all the privileges, rights, and immunities of the citizens of the United States.

In keeping with this agreement, a temporary government was established for Florida under the Act of March 3, 1819 (3 Stat. 523), superseded by the Act of March 3, 1821 (3 Stat. 637) following ratification of the treaty. In January 1839, Florida formed its constitution and state government and asked for admission into the Union, Florida statehood was confirmed by the Act of March 3, 1845 (5 Stat. 742), which also admitted the State of Iowa.

The acquisitions of Louisiana and Florida were reflections of a growing national policy described by John Gorham Palfrey, who stated:


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