Let’s review history.
In 1789, the United States Constitution became, not just the law of the land but the basis for the laws of our land. At that time, there were thirteen states and the “western” territories – i.e., all the land that extended to the “frontier”, the Mississippi River.
in 1803, President Jefferson bought the Louisiana Purchase from France. This vast territory became the property of the federal government.
In 1848, the United States the Oregon Territory was created, following on a series of treaties with Great Britain. Also in 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo led to the U.S. gaining most of the territory that would become California and other states, as well as giving Texas its final border configuration.
And of course there were the smaller additions, like the Gadsden Purchase, and the purchase of Alaska as well as the theft of Hawaii. Every bit of this territory became property of the United States government – of the people of the United States.
Every time the federal government purchased or took new territory, they opened that land to settlers and the railroads. There was not a consistent plan that was followed over the years. At times, settlement was used to determine which territories would be free and which would be slave. Lands granted to the railroads were done in a strange “checkerboard” manner that continues to be a bane for ranchers as well as state and federal land managers.
Eventually, new states were created. By the time of the Civil War, there were 34 states, including California and Oregon on the Pacific coast. The 48 continental states – today’s map of the nation, excluding Alaska and Hawaii – was complted in 1912 with...