Duhaime's Law Dictionary

United States Definition:

The territory over which the sovereignty of the United States extends.

Related Terms: Congress

Short for the United States of America.

Can refer either to the state of the United States for the purposes of international law or the actual territory occupied of states of the union.

In Hooven & Allison Co. v. Evatt, Chief Justice Harlan Stone (1872-1946) wrote:

"The term United States may be used in any one of several senses. It may be merely the name of a sovereign occupying the position analogous to that of other sovereigns in the family of nations. It may designate the territory over which the sovereignty of the United States extends, or it may be the collective name of the states which are united by and under the Constitution."

Conversely, as Mary Ellen West wrote in Am. Jur. 2d:

"The boundaries of the Unites States conform to the external boundaries of the several states."

The 1992 Encyclopedia of Public International Law:

"The United States of America is a federal state with numerous dependent territories which enjoy various degrees of self-government ....

"The most important outlying areas under United States sovereignty are the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana."


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