Constitutions For The Territories

One of the personal questions that I hope to gain some insight on in my upcoming trip to various American territories is the question of the way that locals seem to feel about their status within the United States. Americans in general tend to know very little about what goes on in our territories, and if some of them happen to be notable vacation spots or important for military reasons, the attention of the people of our country does not tend to go very often to the inhabitants of territories that do not appear to be at all on the path to statehood nor indeed have any reasonable hope of being accepted as a state due to the peripheral nature of the territories and the smallness of the population there.

How far these areas are from being even considered for statehood (aside from Puerto Rico, which I have written about a few times [1]) can be understood by the fact that territories like Guam and the Virgin Islands, which have been a part of the United States for more than a century, have never even had a territorial constitution for themselves. Not only that, but the last time there were efforts in either area to have a territorial constitution was in the 1970’s, and when those efforts failed because the constitutions that the people on the islands came up with was not acceptable to Congress, the efforts stopped there and have not started again.

Is this a big deal to the people of the Virgin Islands and Guam? I do not know. It is hard to get a figure on just how big of a deal it is for America’s unincorporated territories to lack a self-constitution and to be governed by a general boilerplate set of procedures that have been established by the Department of the Interior that have given a certain limited and partial degree of citizenship to such people. What are the means by which such an interest would be communicated, and what would it take for there to be a constitution that was acceptable both to the locals who would draft it as well to the United States as a whole? I do not know the answer to these questions, but I would like to.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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