Becoming a State: The First 13

In 1763, the King of England reclaimed unsettled Western lands previously granted to the 13 American colonies, then imposed new taxes and laws limiting the personal and political freedom of the colonists. By 1774, the 13 original British colonies found the King’s intermeddling oppressive, and they were forced into concerted collective action to resist the King’s intolerable intrusions into continental affairs.

Acting outside the civil order of government established under British colonial law, residents of each colony held conventions and elected delegates to the first Continental Congress, which instituted coordinated measures resisting British tyranny. After the British attacked a locally organized resistance militia at Concord in Massachusetts, a second Continental Congress declared independence, envisioning a new social order in which God-given and natural rights belonged to the individual person instead of the king, and individuals so endowed collectively consent to secular government under laws to serve the people.

After the Revolutionary War, the makings of the first nation in the Americas began when the former 13 colonies adopted Articles of Confederation between 13 independent states. Because of wariness toward centralized control, the Articles of Confederation didn’t give the central organization sufficient power to deal with domestic and foreign challenges. That led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which produced a proposed Constitution giving supreme power to the central national government, ratified by the required nine states in 1788, and by all 13 of the previously confederated states by 1790.

This covered the governance of states, but not of the territories. The Constitution has very little to say about territories, so another document was needed. The Northwest Ordinance was adopted under the Articles of Confederation in 1787 as the blueprint for organization of territories governed or claimed by the United States beyond the effective borders of the existing states in the confederation. A founding document of the Republic, the Northwest Ordinance was adopted again on August 7, 1789, by the First Congress assembled under the new Constitution of the United States. The first new state was to be admitted to the union 19 months and 27 days later.

This post was originally written in English,and may be being auto-translated by Google.

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