CITES BY TOPIC:  territory

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86 Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S.), Territories, §1:  

"1. Definitions, Nature, and Distinctions

"The word 'territory,' when used to designate a political organization has a distinctive, fixed, and legal meaning under the political institutions of the United States, and does not necessarily include all the territorial possessions of the United States, but may include only the portions thereof which are organized and exercise governmental functions under act of congress."

"While the term 'territory' is often loosely used, and has even been construed to include municipal subdivisions of a territory, and 'territories of the' United States is sometimes used to refer to the entire domain over which the United States exercises dominion, the word 'territory,' when used to designate a political organization, has a distinctive, fixed, and legal meaning under the political institutions of the United States, and the term 'territory' or 'territories' does not necessarily include only a portion or the portions thereof which are organized and exercise government functions under acts of congress.  The term 'territories' has been defined to be political subdivisions of the outlying dominion of the United States, and in this sense the term 'territory' is not a description of a definite area of land but of a political unit governing and being governed as such.  The question whether a particular subdivision or entity is a territory is not determined by the particular form of government with which it is, more or less temporarily, invested.

"Territories' or 'territory' as including 'state' or 'states."  While the term 'territories of the' United States may, under certain circumstances, include the states of the Union, as used in the federal Constitution and in ordinary acts of congress "territory" does not include a foreign state.

"As used in this title, the term 'territories' generally refers to the political subdivisions created by congress, and not within the boundaries of any of the several states."

[86 C.J.S. [Corpus, Juris, Secundum, Legal Encyclopedia], Territories]


U.S. Code Title 48: Territories and Insular Possessions


Bouvier's Law Dictionary, 1856:

"TERRITORY. Apart of a country, separated from the rest, and subject to a particular jurisdiction. The word is derived from terreo, and is so called because the magistrate within his jurisdiction has the power of inspiring a salutary fear. Dictum cat ab eo quod magistratus intra fines ejus terrendi jus habet. Henrion de Pansy, Auth. Judiciare, 98. In speaking of the ecclesiastical jurisdictions, Francis Duaren observes, that the ecclesiastics are said not to have territory, nor the power of arrest or removal, and are not unlike the Roman magistrates of whom Gellius says vocationem habebant non prehensionem. De Sacris Eccl. Minist. lib. 1, cap. 4. In the sense it is used in the constitution of the United States, it signifies a portion of the country subject to and belonging to the United States, which is not within the boundary of any of them. 2. The constitution of the United States, art. 4, s. 3, provides, that "the congress shall have power to dispose of, and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property of the United States; and nothing in this constitution shall be construed, so as to preclude the claims of the United States or of any state." 3. Congress possesses the power to erect territorial governments within the territory of the United States; the power of congress over such territory is exclusive and universal, and their legislation is subject to no control, unless in the case of ceded territory, as far as it may be affected by stipulations in the cessions, or by the ordinance of 1787, 3 Story's L. U. S. 2073, under which any part of it has been settled. Story on the Const. Sec. 1322; Rawle on the Const: 237; 1 Kent's Com. 243, 359; 1 Pet. S. C. Rep. 511, 542, 517. 4. The only organized territories of the United States are Oregon, Minnesota, New Mexico and Utah. Vide Courts of the United States."

[Bouvier's Law Dictionary, 1856]


Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 1473:

"Territory:  A part of a country separated from the rest, and subject to a particular jurisdiction.  Geographical area under the jurisdiction of another country or sovereign power. 

A portion of the United States not within the limits of any state, which has not yet been admitted as a state of the Union, but is organized with a separate legislature, and with executive and judicial powers appointed by the President."

[Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 1473]


Ballantine's Law Dictionary:

"Territory:  1.  A geographical region over which a nation exercises sovereignty, but whose inhabitants do not enjoy political, social or legal parity with the inhabitants of other regions which are constitutional components of the nation.  With respect for the United States, for example, Guam or the Virgin Islands as opposed to New York, California, or Texas."

[Ballantine's Law Dictionary]


Cunard S. S. Co. v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 100; 43 S.Ct. 504 (1923):

"Various meanings are sought to be attributed to the term 'territory' in the phrase 'the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof.' We are of opinion that it means the regional areas- of land and adjacent waters-over which the United States claims and exercises dominion and control as a sovereign power. The immediate context and the purport of the entire section show that the term is used in a physical and not a metaphorical sense-that it refers to areas or districts having fixity of location and recognized boundaries. See United States v. Bevans, 3 Wheat. 336, 390.

"It now is settled in the United States and recognized elsewhere that the territory subject to its jurisdiction includes the land areas under its dominion and control, the ports, harbors, bays and other enclosed arms of the sea along its coast and a marginal belt of the sea extending from the coast line outward a marine league, or three geographic miles. Church v. Hubbart, 2 Cranch, 187, 234; The Ann, 1 Fed. Cas. No. 397, p. 926; United States v. Smiley, 27 Fed. Cas. No. 16317, p. 1132; Manchester v. Massachusetts, 139 U.S. 240, 257 , 258 S., 11 Sup. Ct. 559; Louisiana v. Mississippi, 202 U.S. 1, 52 , 26 S. Sup. Ct. 408; 1 Kent's Com. (12th Ed.) *29; 1 Moore, [262 U.S. 100, 123]   International Law Digest, 145; 1 Hyde, International Law, 141, 142, 154; Wilson, International Law (8th Ed.) 54; Westlake, International Law ( 2d Ed.) p. 187, et seq; Wheaton, International Law (5th Eng. Ed. [ Phillipson]) p. 282; 1 Oppenheim International Law (3d Ed.) 185-189, 252. This, we hold, is the territory which the amendment designates as its field of operation; and the designation is not of a part of this territory but of 'all' of it."

[Cunard S. S. Co. v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 100; 43 S.Ct. 504 (1923)]