American Decline

America Needs to Break Up Its Biggest States

This essay is part of a series exploring bold ideas to revitalize and renew the American experiment. Read more about this project in a note from Ezekiel Kweku, Opinion’s politics editor.

From its beginning, the United States was built to expand. Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution grants Congress the power to create states. Starting with the Vermont Republic in 1791, as America grew, the country’s roster of states expanded as well.

But since the addition of Alaska and Hawaii in 1959, America hasn’t increased the number of states, and unless some future president winds up buying Greenland, the United States is unlikely to expand territorially. Nonetheless it continues to expand — demographically. Since 1960, the country has added over 150 million people through a combination of immigration and natural population increase. Yet we haven’t upped our state count.

This is a problem. America needs new states not only to provide representation for those living in territories but also more urgently to provide adequate representation to those who have congressional representation but whose votes perversely carry less weight because of their state’s size.


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