The following quote is taken from a resolution of Congress, dated October 10, 1780:
Resolved, That the unappropriated lands that may be ceded or relinquished to the United States, by any particular states, . . . shall be disposed of for the common benefit of the United States, and be settled and formed into distinct republican states, which shall become members of the federal union, and have the same rights of sovereignty, freedom and independence, as the other states . . . That the said lands shall be granted and settled at such times and under such regulations as shall hereafter be agreed on by the United States in Congress assembled.
This quote is used today to indicate Congress’ intent to dispose of land ceded to the federal government during a state’s admission into the Union. This is all well and good. What I find most intriguing is the way Congress characterizes the States existing and future. Lets forget for a moment that these are to be “republican” states, i.e. formed as republics on a constitutional foundation, and not democracies. The new States were to have the same rights of sovereignty, freedom and independence as the other States. And they were to engaged as members of a federal union. The States were the sovereigns. To the extent the United States existed as an entity, it is described only as a “union” in “Congress assembled.”