1. A relatively large group of people organized under a single, usually independent government; a country.
2. The territory occupied by such a group of people: All across the nation, people are voting their representatives out.
1. A body politic, especially one constituting a nation: the states of Eastern Europe.
2. One of the more or less internally autonomous territorial and political units composing a federation under a sovereign government: the 48 contiguous states of the Union.
1. A nation or state.
Because of the general homogeneity of the U.S., people tend to forget that the various states of the union are mostly sovereign nations beholden neither to the federal government (except where its powers supercede that of the state in accordance with the constitution) or any other state in the union.
At the founding of the U.S., that homogeneity most certainly did not exist, and each state was very much aware that it was a sovereign nation. As another poster has pointed out, they willingly gave up some of their sovereignty for mutual benefit when they joined the union, but each state government did so as a fully sovereign nation willingly entering into a contract. This was, in fact, the primary reason for the U.S. civil war. The southern states felt that their rights (mainly the right to hold slaves) were being trampled by the north, and that they had the right, having willingly entered into the union, to withdraw at any time. The northern states disagreed, and so the civil war was fought to retain the southern states in the union.
Hopefully, the European states will learn from the mistakes made by the United States when forming their federal government. If they don't, they will at best go the way of the Articles of Confederation (the first attempt at a federation of states in America -- the current U.S. government was formed after it failed), and at worst will end up in a struggle every bit as bloody as the U.S. Civil War.
"If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for everyone else."
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