I was in a meeting recently where the speaker asked “how many of you are a citizen of the United States?” Everyone answered “yes”, but they were all wrong. You cannot be a citizen of the United States because the United States is a contract among the States, not a country.
The States are contractual citizens of the federal government known as the United States. Your citizenship resides in one of the countries known as the States. In 1776 the individual colonies became the “several States” which became the federation named the “united States”.
The States were federated into a limited-purpose federal government. Human beings can not be federated. Therefore the citizens of the federal government are the States.
Virginia and Connecticut are States which joined this federation. Quebec and Mexico are states which did not. The several States which joined together in federal citizenship pledged to support each other in independence from England. They were citizens of the new federal government.
The people were citizens of their States (or countries). Their States were citizens of the united States also referred to as the United States of America.
This federation was for limited purposes only, leaving the States and people free to make most decisions of, by and for themselves, the people.