When reading the Constitution I came across this SECTION. 10.

1 No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law im- pairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

This to me seems to make it apparent the 13 states could not allow any other states to join the union as the constitution would fall under the “ Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation” wording. The articles of confederation had provisions for other states to join but the constitution replaced that right? So how did the other states get the authority to join?

2 Answers 2


Yes, explicitly. It even laid out the procedure and method (i.e. on equal footing) of these new states. Specifically, Article IV, Section 3, the "Admissions Clause":

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

Note that many of the things in your quoted section are forbidden to the States, but are explicitly granted to the Federal Government (in various sections). So it's not "this shall not be done", but rather "the individual states shall not do these things; Federal Government shall be the only one to do these things if they can, as else where they may be banned from doing so".

  • Ok I should have read farther Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 0:30
  • +1 Correct. This explicit power to admit new states clearly supersedes any indirect implication from Art I sec 10. Note that new states are admitted by Congress, noy by the states, and Art I sec 10 is a set of restrictions on the individual states, not on Congress. O was abut to post the same answer. A search on "admit" or on "new states" finds the relevant passage easily. Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 0:31
  • 1
    "Note that all of the things in your quoted section are forbidden to the States, but are explicitly granted to the Federal Government" Not quite correct. The federal Govt may not grant titles of nobility, pass bills of attainder, or ex post facto laws. But those prohibitions on the Fed Govt are in a different section. Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 4:03
  • @DavidSiegel: Good point; I was originally going to go point by point stating where each act was granted to the Federal government or denied to them, but decided against it.
    – sharur
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 13:03

Section 10 of the US-Constitution effectively bans any member state of the union to have any independent international politics branch:

  • Treaties, alliances, and confederations are contracts between multiple countries.
  • letters of marque are legalizing piracy on enemies of a country
  • Bills of Credit and the regulation on non-fine-metal coinage are regulations of currency.

There are also some parts that ensure principles of the judicial system, by forbidding the following:

  • Bills of Attainer are laws that make one specific person or group guilty of a crime based on existence alone. For example, a law that makes being Bob Bobson Bobsonsson a crime.
  • ex-post-facto laws make something that was legal and happened before passing the law illegal in the past.
  • Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts was a practice that was hoped to be ended by the contract clause. The state lawmakers under the articles of confederation did pass laws that dictated that a certain person would not be bound by a contract - especially international debt ones - which was seen to threaten the ability of any US citizen to gain of capital from overseas and mark the US as a pariah in international trade. This is only allowed to the federal government, and it is partially international politics.
  • Titles of nobility are things like king/queen, count/countess, or baron/baroness.

Some of these bans are also banned for the federal government, yet not under Article I section 10 but in Article I Section 9 Clause 3 (Bill of Attainder & Ex-post-facto law) and Clause 8 (titles of nobility)

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