Is the United States of America a Corporation?
Despite misconceptions, the United States is not a corporation. This can be confirmed by its lack of incorporating acts, its sovereign immunity, and past court cases, among other things.
Below we explain the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871, the Act which many people believe to have turned the United States of America into a global corporation at the hands of international bankers but didn’t.
We’ll also explain U.S. Code › Title 28 › Part VI › Chapter 176 › Subchapter A › § 3002 28 U.S. Code § 3002, which has similar claims made about it (and also didn’t “turn American into a corporation”).
The important thing to get here is that regions of the United States may or may not be organized and incorporated. Cities, towns, and territories are often incorporated in the United States.
That doesn’t mean “they are corporations,” it means they are “incorporated within the United States.”
TIP: For those that don’t want to read: When 28 U.S. Code § 3002 says “United States” it means all corporations owned by the United States (any “federal corporation”), not that the United States is itself a corporation. Likewise, the Organic Acts organize (give governance rights) to D.C. They do not create another United States. All states and organized territories can self-govern despite being beholden to the Federal Government. Simply put, there is only one United States.
TIP: The United States of America consists of 50 states, 1 federal district (D.C.), 1 incorporated territory, and 15 unincorporated territories. Entities created by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches can also be considered “a part” of the United States regarding issues like sovereign immunity and being beholden to the central government.
“We may say in passing that the argument that the United States may be treated as a corporation organized under its own laws, that is, under the Constitution as the fundamental law, seems so strained as not to merit serious consideration .” – United States Supreme Court UNITED STATES v. COOPER CORPORATION, (1941) No. 484 Argued: March 6, 1941 Decided: March 31, 1941
The U.S. Corporation Myth
The reason this page exists is that it is addressing a persistent myth.
Some say, “The United States of America” is different from the “UNITED STATES” [corporation],” and that, “The UNITED STATES was formed in 1871 and controls only the District of Columbia and the territories it purchases or acquires; Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands.” This is not correct (to the best of my knowledge, although feel free to comment below).
Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands are unincorporated and organized territories of the United States (the one and only United States). The District of Columbia is an incorporated and organized district under the direct control of Congress since the passage of its Organic Acts. It was purposefully organized this way to avoid state-level power grabs, not to ensure some banking conspiracy, as is sometimes insinuated.
The lack of statehood for the capital is to be found in the Constitution. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the document reads, “The Congress shall have Power To …exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States.” – Here’s Why Washington D.C. Isn’t a State 
TIP: Columbia is a poetically named, historically used to reference the United States that is a reference to Christopher Columbus. The de facto unofficial national anthem used to be “Hail, Columbia!”
Disambiguation: The “incorporation doctrine” refers to the idea that the states are beholden to the Bill of Rights. This is a concept used in the gun debate; it doesn’t apply here.
Organization and Incorporation in the United States
Before we get into debunking the Organic Act of 1871 myth, let’s discuss how organization and incorporation work. You can skip to the next section for the debunking part.
In business law, a corporation is that which is incorporated as a company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity (legally a person) and recognized as such in law. For regions within the United States, it works much the same way.
Regarding a city, town, territory, or region:
- Being incorporated means being part of the United States proper (AKA being incorporated into the United States). A legal part of the U.S. in terms of rights, not only property of the U.S.
- Being organized means having an organized government authorized by an Organic Act passed by the U.S. Congress. This usually consists of a territorial legislature, territorial governor, and a basic judicial system. Being organized means being able to self-govern, even in the case of an organized unincorporated territory which is owned by the U.S. but can govern itself.
A territory may be neither incorporated or organized, like American Samoa; it may be unincorporated and organized like Puerto Rico; incorporated and unorganized, like Palmyra Atoll; or incorporated and organized like the District of Columbia. D.C. is organized and operates under Article One of the United States Constitution and the District of Columbia Home Rule Act and is incorporated by its Organic Acts.
Meanwhile, being admitted into the Union as a state by Congress is the only way for a region to become an official state of the United States.
Are Any States Corporations? Neither the United States nor its 50 States are corporations. All are incorporated into the union by an act of Congress and get their power from the federal Constitution. State Constitutions govern the individual states.
TIP: Only entities incorporated into the U.S. and its states can enjoy sovereign immunity; only official states enjoy voting rights. This why Puerto Rico and D.C. have no official voting rights in Congress. The United States [corporation] if it did exist, would have fewer rights and less sovereignty than a state. Likewise, if the U.S. were a corporation, it would not have sovereign immunity unless it was otherwise owned by the United States federal government itself.
TIP: In the absence of an organic law, a territory is classified as unorganized; in the absence of being “incorporated” into the United States, a territory is unincorporated. This is why it was vital to pass the Organic Acts including the Organic Act of 1871, which organized and incorporated D.C., “the Seat of the Government of the United States.”
FACT: The United States includes 50 states, 1 federal district (D.C.), and many territories with different statuses. Those entities, as well as all executive, legislative, and judicial entities on the federal and state level are beholden to the central federal government. In some cases, this is despite them having their own charters and constitutions and having their own “powers.” There are a few exceptions, like the Federal Reserve which is an independent entity within government. Still, even when there are exceptions, all the entities are beholden to the federal government, and thus to Congress as well. Congress is comprised of state-based elected officials who represent “we the people,” and thus are beholden to “the people” to an extent. This is also true for the Treasury, and no U.S. Code › Title 12 › Chapter 3 › Subchapter XII › § 411 12 U.S. Code § 411 – Issuance to reserve banks; nature of obligation; redemption, doesn’t imply otherwise as insinuated here.
Is the Federal Government, states, territories, or people sovereign? The states and commonwealths of the U.S. are sovereign, as are local governments, as are our citizens, as is the Federal Government… even unincorporated territories like Puerto Rico have some degree of sovereignty, but it doesn’t mean the same thing for each entity. Firstly, every entity is beholden the federal government. Meanwhile, the federal government, state governments, and local governments all enjoy sovereignty (regarding governance) and sovereign immunity (regarding being sued) under U.S. law (although the degree of immunity differs by the entity). This may extend to entities doing contract work for the state (see Advanced Software Design v. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis), but it doesn’t apply to entities that are unincorporated into the U.S. Puerto Rico does not have the same sovereignty the states do. See Political status of Puerto Rico for a discussion of why it was important for D.C. to not be an unincorporated and unorganized district. In terms of the electoral system and rights, sovereignty refers to the fact that each of our 320 million citizens is 1/320 millionth sovereign and each has human rights and voting rights as ensured by the federal constitution and state constitutions although power is delegated in the Republic. See Sovereign immunity in the United States and compare to popular sovereignty for a better understanding of how this complex philosophical concept and the legal concept is often misused in general debate.
Why Do People Think the United States is a Corporation?
In 1871 Congress incorporated the District of Columbia, and the wording of the Act (along with a few bits of supposed evidence featured below) caused some to speculate that the United States had become a corporation controlled by the international banks.
The simplest rebuttal to this, aside from understanding how things work (as presented above), is pointing out that the Act incorporated and organized D.C., not the United States. D.C. and the “United States” are not the same entity any more than Nashville is the same as Tennessee.
Some otherwise excellent articles that seek to focus on the truth patriotically, like the following article are a misleading, “The United States Isn’t a Country — It’s a Corporation!” Articles like this complex but accurate article and this 2013 article (which I’ll cite liberally here as it proceeded ours chronologically) are correct.
UNITED STATES is a Corporation – There are Two Constitutions – Sovereignty. <— No, there are not “two constitutions,” and no, there is no weird sovereignty loophole aside from he well-known Citizens United idea that corporations are people.
TIP: Some point to America as a type of corporatocracy (a government controlled by corporations). Certainly, cases can be made, if we are talking about the corporations of the fortune 500, or are talking about the Federal Reserve and the City of New York and D.C. This is semantics, and that aside, like the incorporation doctrine, this topic is only loosely related.
TIP: Because D.C. is a central hub, in a great country, with a beneficial corporation law, many of the world’s most powerful corporations have the headquarters there. That does include the IMF and other international banks and businesses. Which, you know, is good for the country. What, would you rather their headquarters be somewhere else?
Debunking the Myth that the United States is a Corporation
As noted by the previous correct article back in 2013, the two legal documents used to fuel the myth that the U.S. is a private corporation owned by “the Rothchilds” of which our President is CEO, misunderstand the documents they are citing.
For more on the Rothchilds, see a history lesson about the history of banking (NOTE: I am not proposing that international bankers, be than Rothchilds or Morgans for example, aren’t important parts of western and American history, or that they didn’t have a hand in aspects of the creation of our modern system… in fact, that truism seems fairly clear. I am simply proposing that they do not own a corporation named the UNITED STATES that has somehow replaced the United States of America).
With that said, let’s clarify the documents noted above.
Debunking the U.S. Code Title 28 Myth
The first bit of evidence Presented from U.S. Code › Title 28 › Part VI › Chapter 176 › Subchapter A › § 3002 28 U.S. Code § 3002 is:
As used in this chapter:
(15) “United States” means—
(A) a Federal corporation;
(B) an agency, department, commission, board, or other entity of the United States; or
(C) an instrumentality of the United States.
This is used to justify the idea that “United States” means a Federal corporation. The problem is that this isn’t what (15) says (and even if it was, it says “As used in this chapter.”)
To paraphrase in common language the provision says: “United States” includes any federal corporation, agency, department, or instrument of the United States.
In other words, when the document says “United States” it means all corporations owned by the United States, not that the “United States” is a corporation.
Another way to phrase it would be:
(15) “United States” means A; B; or C — (A) a Federal corporation of the United States; (B) an agency, department, commission, board, or other entity of the United States; or (C) an instrumentality of the United States. I.e. when we say “United States” we mean the property of the country. Get it?
Debunking the Organic Act of 1871 Myth
The other part of the claim says that the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 creates a new Constitution for the United States by inserting wording for “THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” in the act that somehow replaced our original “The Constitution for the United States of America.”
So, the first thing to point out is that the act the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 creates “a Government for D.C.” as it says in the Act. It has nothing to do with creating a Government for the United States.
D.C. was first established by Congress via the Residence Act on July 16, 1790. Then, the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801, by Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, formally placed D.C. under control of the Congress and organized the unincorporated territories Washington County and Alexandria County within it. Then, the Organic Act of 1871, the one in question, created a territorial government for D.C.
Up to that point, D.C. had been governed as a mixture of municipalities and counties within District boundaries and not by its Government as a state. Later, in 1874, Congress repealed the territorial government to create a single municipal government for the federal district. See Origin and Government of the District of Columbia Judd & Detweiler, 1902.
Today “the name of the Seat of Government of the United States is The District of Columbia,” but that D.C. and the U.S. are not the same just as the Seat of Government of Washington State is Olympia, but Washington State is not Olympia.
TIP: It is a “federal district” because it is directly controlled by the Government. It is not a state and does not control the government.