Article VI, Clause 1 of the Constitution of the United States, known as the Engagements Clause, says:

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

The eleventh Article of Confederation says Canada will be admitted into the United States as a new state whenever it so chooses, without any need for an act of Congress to admit them.

Would this mean that if Canada were to decide tomorrow to become a new state in the U.S., it would be immediately admitted without an act of Congress?

  • 2
    Through the radification of the Treaty of Ghent, that Article probably became moot. Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 11:17
  • 1
    @MarkJohnson Why the Treaty of Ghent and not the Treaty of Paris?
    – Just a guy
    Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 5:44
  • 1
    @Justaguy The main US goal of the war of 1812 was the occupation of (Upper) Canada. By that time most of it had been settled by former Loyalists but also US Citizens. The US expected a 'warm' welcome as liberators, but the opposite was true. The Treaty of Ghent established the status quo ante bellum; accepting the previous borders (1795 Jay Treaty). The British also addressed the impressment of sailors from American ships, which was a second major cause. The final result was the transition from a reluctant to a normalization of the relations between the two countries. Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 7:55
  • @MarkJohnson That makes sense. If I understand you correctly, I would rewrite your first comment, to say the latest this article could have been rendered moot was with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. I'd say it that way because I think there's a good chance it was actually rendered moot much earlier, with the adoption of the Constitution. Even if I'm wrong, I agree with you that it couldn't have remained in effect after the Treaty of Ghent.
    – Just a guy
    Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 8:05
  • @Justaguy Well comments can't be edited. Since in 1812 it is clear that the US hoped that Canada would become a part of the US and that after 1814 a (more or less) pratical relationship existed, the Treaty of Ghent seems to me the point where those hopes were abandoned. Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 8:15

1 Answer 1


No, for two reasons:

1) The engagements referred to include all non-debt financial or economic obligations, such as contracts. This usage was common at the time. For example, Art. II of the Northwest Ordinance says,

no law ought ever...interfere with or affect private contracts or engagements, bona fide, and without fraud, previously formed.

2) Even if they cover more than financial obligations, engagements imply mutuality, which was lacking in the offer to Canada. (That offer was made in desperation at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, when the US was desperate for allies. The US was so enamored of Canada that they tried to get it in the Treaty of Paris which ended the War.)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .