January 23, 2007

Horse 709 - Not Obvious

How many states are in the United States of America?
Whilst people may say that there are 50, then this would be patently wrong because the correct answer is 46.
Huh? I hear you ask. That doesn't make any sense. Well the long and the short of it is that it makes even less sense when I explain this but first a history lesson.

4th July 1776 - the only date in American history that everyone without fail happens to know. It's the date upon which the Declaration of Independance was presented to the British. If you look at "Old Glory" you'll find 13 stripes for the original 13 colonies. These are thus.

Province of New Hampshire
Province of Massachusetts Bay
Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
Connecticut Colony
Province of New York
Province of New Jersey
Province of Pennsylvania
Delaware Colony
Province of Maryland
Colony and Dominion of Virginia
Province of North Carolina
Province of South Carolina
Province of Georgia

Sounds proper and normal so far but upon further examination we find a few rouges.

In 1785 the residents of Kentucky County petitioned Virginia for their own legislature. The petitioned the state legislature for the County to be recognized as "free and independent, to be known by the name of the Commonwealth of Kentucky." On June 4, 1792 Kentucky County became officially the "Commonwealth of Kentucky."
1. Kentucky is NOT a state, it's a Commonwealth.

Virginia itself was never a state. It had formally declared its own independance from Great Britain on Jun 29, 1776. Virginia's constition formally states (and I checked this through their website) that "Commissions and Grants shall run, In the Name of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and bear taste by the Governor with the Seal of the Commonwealth annexed."
2. Virginia is NOT a state, it's a Commonwealth.

The Official Seal of Pennsylvania does not use the term, but legal processes are in the name of the Commonwealth and it is a traditional official designation used in referring to the state.
3. Pennsylvania is NOT a state, it's a Commonwealth.

According to the constitution of 1780 Massachusetts is officially named "The Commonwealth of Massachusetts" before this time it was referred to as the Province of Massachusetts Bay and as one of the 13 orginal colonies, it never needed to establish itself as a separate entity with the Continental Congress.
4. Massachusetts is NOT a state, it's a Commonwealth.

The only other thing that bears mention to this is that little square sort of cut out in the top right hand corner of the map. District of Columbia is neither a state nor part of a state. Interestingly because of this, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution doesn't apply. Total jurisdiction over the District is in the hands of the Congress in "all cases whatsoever" which means that residents actually have no say in Congress at all despite being ruled by it.

The United 46 States, 4 Commonwealths and 1 Not Really Anything of America just doesn't really have the same ring as the USA, does it?

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