This book examines political party, balance of power, and policy considerations behind each state's admission to the Union. Enduring peaceful opposition is at the core of democratic politics; so too is the ideal of political competition. The two, however, are often in tension. Faced with challenges from the opposition, winners often try to solidify their hold on government by marginalizing rival political groups. This study examines one of the many strategies for doing so, namely expanding (or limiting) membership in the polity. The particular focus is the United States and Congress' decisions to admit new sovereign States into the Union. The admission of new States has a direct bearing on the balance of power in the federal system, most obviously by changing the political equation in the United States Senate and, to a lesser extent, in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College. The stakes are thus considerable not only with respect to who controls Congress but, as well, with respect to whose policy preferences will prevail.
This strategic potential has long been recognized and helps explain why statehood bills were often linked to issues of broad national significance such as territorial expansion, empire, Congress' constitutional authority, and the sovereign power of the people. Once admitted, moreover, new States played a key role in deciding the outcome of these other historic debates - over the regulation (or outright abolition) of slavery, for example, and, later, over a regulated as opposed to a state-managed national economy. It would be only a slight exaggeration to say that the history of statehood is the history of the United States writ small.
Publisher: The Edwin Mellen Press Ltd
Number of pages: 328