I saw this article recently in the Wall Street Journal about some people on Long Island wanting to secede from the rest of New York State for a bunch of reasons; it won’t happen, BTW, because the state legislature wouldn’t allow it. But it reminded me that the 50 states in the US were not always the size that they are currently.
Even before there was a United States, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York all insisted that Vermont was a part of their state. That’s why Vermont declared itself a kingdom in 1777, and Vermonters to this day refer to the state as the “Northeast Kingdom”, though it became the first state after the original 13.
In the early days of the Union:
Connecticut laid claim on a piece of what is now northern Ohio
Kentucky would be carved out of what was part of Virginia
*Georgia included the northern portions of what is now both Alabama and Mississippi
Of course, the Louisiana Purchase changed the equation, with the federal government attempting to control all the unincorporated territories of the country, sometimes with resistance at the state level.
Read about the Wisconsin-Michigan kerfluffle.
What is now Maine was once part of Massachusetts, plus some territory claimed by Britain as part of Canada. Maine (free) and Missouri (slave) became states in 1820 and 1821, respectively, I remember from my American history, as a result of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which “stipulated that all the Louisiana Purchase territory north of the southern boundary of Missouri, except Missouri, would be free, and the territory below that line would be slave.”
The Missouri Compromise was repealed by the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, which brought those states into the Union but eliminated the provision limiting slavery. Indeed, the part of the Missouri Compromise that allowing Congress to control slavery in the newly emerging territories was declared unconstitutional in the horrific 1857 Dred Scott decision by the Supreme Court.
This led to the American Civil War, during which the northwest counties of Virginia seceded from Virginia to become West Virginia. (WV is the answer to the trivia question: “Which state east of the Mississippi River was the last to join the union?”
Read about some of the United States’ international boundary disputes here, and about the curious case of the Republic of Texas here.