A league or agreement between two or more independent states whereby they unite for their mutual welfare and the furtherance of their common aims. The term may apply to a union so formed for a temporary or limited purpose, as in the case of an offensive and defensive alliance ; but it is more commonly used to denote that species of political connection between two or more independent states by which a central government is created, invested with certain powers of sovereignty, (mostly external,) and acting upon the several component states as its units, which, however, retain their sovereign powers for domestic purposes and some others. See FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
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