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Home > History > Article 4 - United States Constitution Interactive

Article 4 - United States Constitution Interactive

This page provides the text and interpreted text of Article 4 of the United States Constitution. It is part of our interactive Constitution.


What does it say?

Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings, shall be proved, and the effect thereof

What does it mean?

Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution requires states to abide by, respect, and enforce judicial rulings of other states. Congress maintains the right to regulate the way such acts, records, and proceedings are admitted in court.


What does it say?

1.) The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.

2.) A person charged in any state with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another state, shall on demand of the executive authority of the state from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the state having jurisdiction of the crime.

3.) No person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.

What does it mean?

1.) Clause 1 prohibits states from discriminating against citizens of other states without justification.

2.) Clause 2 requires that fugitives that have been accused or convicted of a crime in one state, and flee to another state, be extradited (sent back to) the original state.

3.) Clause 3 became irrelevant after the 13th Amendment banned slavery. Nevertheless, this amendment was the source of major disagreement between northerners and southerners. It allowed southern slaveholders to venture into northern states and capture their runaway slaves. Later, in 1850, Congress passed a much harsher version of this law known as the Fugitive Slave Law, which denied accused runaway slaves the right to trial by jury.


What does it say?

1.) New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union; but no new states 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.

2.) The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular state.

What does it mean?

1.) Section 3 outlines the parameters for the formation of new states. No new state can be formed from the territory of another state, and, no new state can be formed from the junction of two or more states, or, from parts of more than one state without their consent or the consent of Congress. Five states, however, have met Congressional criteria for becoming new states within the territory of an existing state. Vermont was created from New York's land claims, Kentucky from Virginia, Tennessee from North Carolina, Maine from Massachusetts, and West Virginia from Virginia (during the Civil War).

2.) Clause 2 declares that Congress has total authority over all U.S. territory and property. In some cases involving U.S. territory, Congress may legislate for that territory, or, delegate it s power to a territorial legislature.


What does it say?

The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republic form of government, and shall protect each them from invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.

What does it mean?

Section IV declares that Congress will protect the states from domestic invasion or violence upon request. This section was inspired by Shay's Rebellion, a violent rebellion of debt-ridden farmers in western Massachusetts in 1787, and potential slave rebellions which plagued the southern states in the early 1800s.


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