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territory,in U.S. history, a portion of the national domain that is given limited self-government, usually in preparation for statehood. Territorial governments have been similar in form to those of the states, but have been subject to greater authority of the federal government. The Ordinance of 1787Ordinance of 1787,
adopted by the Congress of Confederation for the government of the Western territories ceded to the United States by the states. It created the Northwest Territory and is frequently called the Northwest Ordinance.
..... Click the link for more information. , adopted by the Congress of the Confederation of the United States to create the Northwest TerritoryNorthwest Territory,
first possession of the United States, comprising the region known as the Old Northwest, S and W of the Great Lakes, NW of the Ohio River, and E of the Mississippi River, including the present states of Ohio, Ind., Ill., Mich., Wis., and part of Minn.
..... Click the link for more information. , furnished the basis upon which territorial governments were later organized under the Constitution of the United States. The Louisiana PurchaseLouisiana Purchase,
1803, American acquisition from France of the formerly Spanish region of Louisiana. Reasons for the Purchase
The revelation in 1801 of the secret agreement of 1800, whereby Spain retroceded Louisiana to France, aroused uneasiness in the United
..... Click the link for more information. of 1803 raised the problem of the relationship of the United States to newly acquired domains—a subject treated vaguely in the Constitution of the United States. The Supreme Court, however, established the right of Congress to set up territorial governments and to admit territories to the Union. With the rapid westward expansion of the United States in the 19th cent., and the acquisition of large portions of land through treaty, purchase, and war, Congress shaped territorial boundaries and prescribed government. Territorial governments usually have consisted of a governor, a bicameral legislature, a secretary to keep records, and a system of courts. A territory may be admitted to the Union as a state after its officers petition Congress for an enabling act, establish a constitution, and meet certain requirements (often regarding population) as set forth by the U.S. Congress. Congress itself may initiate such action. Except for the Thirteen Colonies and California, Kentucky, Maine, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia, all the states went through a territorial stage before they were admitted to the Union. The affairs of territories were under the Dept. of State until 1873, when their supervision was given to the Dept. of the Interior. Present U.S. territories include the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa. In Canada and Australia a similar portion of the country not yet organized as a province or state is known as a territory.
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territorythe geographical area under the formal jurisdiction or control of a recognized political AUTHORITY. GIDDENS (1985) distinguished between the jurisdiction of modern NATION STATES, where the borders are strictly demarcated and highly administered, and the much more loosely defined and often contested and ill-defined frontiers of preindustrial empires. He sees this as an exemplification of the much greater control over time and space possessed by modern governments (see TIME-SPACE DISTANCIATION).
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
1. the geographical domain under the jurisdiction of a political unit, esp of a sovereign state
2. the district for which an agent, etc., is responsible
3. an area inhabited and defended by an individual animal or a breeding group of animals
4. a region of a country, esp of a federal state, that enjoys less autonomy and a lower status than most constituent parts of the state
5. a protectorate or other dependency of a country
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005