« ZurückWeiter »
States, or to recognize her as a competent party, with whom to contend. These positions, we hope, in a subsequent part of this report, fully to prove and maintain, by reference to the opinion of Ohio, as expressed through her constituted organ, the Legislature, by memorials to the Congress of the United States. But let these suggestions suffice for the present, and we will turn to the facts connected with the cession of Virginia, which are relied on as giving the General Government a right of jurisdiction over the North Western Territory, or, in other words, the territory embraced now by Ohio and Michigan.
Before we proceed, however, to detail any of the conditions contained in the first cession of Virginia, or the cession as revised and amended at the request of the Congress of the United States, it may be proper to suggest that patents had been issued by the Crown of Great Britain to four several States, which subsequently ceded their claims to the United States, viz: New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Virginia; which patents were extremely indefinite in the boundaries of the territory granted, as each patent called for a part or the whole of the same territory embraced in the boundaries specified in the others. By a reference to the first vol. of the laws of Congress, it will be seen that the State of New York made her cession in the year 1781, Virginia in 1784, Connecticut in 1786, reserving what is known as the Western Reserve, which was also ceded in 1800, to the United States, and Massachusetts in the year 1785.These facts, we hope, will be borne in mind, as they may serve,in a subsequent part of this report, to illustrate some of the positions assumed by the friends of Michigan.
We will now notice some of the conditions in the cession made by Virginia, and which are pertinent to this controversy. In the “1st vol. laws of Congress, page 472,” we find the following, viz: “Whereas the Congress of the United States did, by their act of the 6th day of Sept. 1780, recommend to the several States in the Union, having claim to waste and unappropriated lands in the western country, a liberal cession to the United States, of a part of their respective claims, for the common benefit of the Union; and whereas the Commonweath of Virginia did, on the 2d day of January, 1731, yield to the Congress of the United States, for the benefit of the said States, all right, title and claim which the said Commonwealth had to the territory north-west of the river Ohio, subject to the conditions of the said act of cession; and whereas the United States in Congress assembled, have, by their act of the 13th of September last, stipulated the terms on which they agree to accept the cession of this State, should the Legislature approve thereof, which terms, al
though they do not come fully up to the propositions of the Commonwealth, are conceived, on the whole, to approach so nearly to them as to induce the State to accept thereof, in full confidence, &c. Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That it shall and may be lawful for the delegates of this State to the Congress of the United States, or such of them as may be assembled in Congress, and the said delegates are hereby fully authorized and empowered, for and on behalf of this State, by proper deeds or instruments in writing, under their hands and seals, to convey, transfer, assign and make over unto the United States in Congress assembled, for the benefit of the said States, all right, title and claim, as well of soil as of jurisdiction, which the Commonwealth hath to the territory or tract of country within the limits of the Virginia charter, situate and lying and being north-west of the river Ohio, subject to the terms and conditions contained in the before cited act of Congress; that is to say, upon condition that the country so ceded shall be laid out and formed into States containing a suitable extent of territory, not less than one hundred, nor more than one hundred and fifty miles square,or as near this as circumstances will admit: And that the States so formed shall be distinct republican States, &c."
After this deed of cession was made by Virginia, in accordance with the stipulations above recited, the Congress of the United States passed the following resolution: ''Resolved, That it be, and it hereby is recommended to the Legislature of Virginia, to take into consideration their act of cession, and revise the same, so far as to empower the United States in Congress assembled, to make such a division of the territory of the United States, by running northerly and westerly of the Ohio river, into distinct republican States, not more than five, nor less than three, as the situation of the country and future circumstances may require: which States shall hereafter become members of the Federal Union, and have the same right of sovereignty, freedom and independence, as the original States, in conformity with the resolution of Congress of the 10th of October, 1780.” Following this resolution of Congress, we find the act called the Ordinance, embracing the subject matter as contained in this resolution, and to which Virginia assented. Those parts of the ordinance, (which are connected with the present controversy, are as follow: “Be it ordained by the United States in Congress assembled, That the said territory, for the purposes of temporary government, be one district; subject, however, to be divided into two districts, as future circumstances may, in the opinion of Congress, make it expedient.”. The fifth article of compact in that ordinance marks out the entire
country above the Ohio into three grand divisions, or States; we will, however, quote the article itself: “There shall be formed in the said territory not less than three, nor more than five States; and the boundaries of the States, as soon as Virginia shall alter her act of cession, and consent to the same, shall become fixed and established as follows, to wit: the western State in the said territory shall be bounded by the Mississippi, the Ohio and Wabash rivers, a direct line drawn from the Wabash and Post Vincent due north, to the territorial line between the United States and Canada, and by the said territorial line to the Lake of the Woods and the Mississippi. The middle State shall be bounded by the said direct line, the Wabash, from Post Vincent to the Ohio, by the Ohio, by a direct line drawn due north from the mouth of the Great Miami to the said territorial line, and by the said territorial line. The eastern State shall be bounded by the said last mentioned line, the Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the said territorial line: Provided, however, And it is expressly understood and declared, that the boundary of these three States shall be subject so far to be altered, that if Congress shall hereafter find it expedient, they shall have authority to form one or two States in that part of the said Territory which lies north of an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan.”
We also quote a resolution of Congress, passed April 23d, 1784, as follows, to wit: "Resolved, That so much of the territory ceded, or to be ceded by individual States to the United States, as is already purchased, or shall be purchased of the Indian inhabitants, and offered for sale by Congress, shall be divided into distinct States in the following manner, as nearly as circumstances will admit; that is to say, by parallels of latitude, so that each State shall comprehend, from north to south, two degrees of latitude, beginning to count from the completion of forty-five degrees north of the equator, and by meridians of longitude, one of which shall pass through the lowest point of the rapids of Ohio, and the other through the western cape of the mouth of the Great Kenhawa; but the Territory eastward of the last meridian, between the Ohio, Lake Erie, and Pennsylvania, shall be one State, whatsoever. may be its comprehension of latitude."
We perceive, from the resolution just above quoted, that Congress, in 1784, determined that the territory lying east of the mouth of the Great Kenhawa, should be but one State, be the comprehension of its latitude what it might.
And again, in the fifth article of the ordinance of 1787, that
the third, or eastern State, should extend to, or be bounded north by the territorial line, between the United States and Canada, with the proviso thereto annexed.
The existing controversy grows out of the provisions of the fifth article of the ordinance above quoted, and the subsequent action of Congress in authorizing the eastern division, or that which is now Ohio, to become a State of the Union, and a law of the Congress of the United States organizing Michigan as a Territory.
The first act of Congress, in which the contemplated boundaries of Ohio were described, and which has reference to the provisions of the fifth article of the ordinance, is of the date of the 23d of April, 1802, and is as follows, to wit: 62d Section. That Ohio shall be bounded on the east by the Pennsylvania line; on the south, by the Ohio river, to the mouth of the Great Miami river; on the west, by a line drawn due north from the mouth of the Great Miami aforesaid, and on the north by an east and west line drawn through the southerly extreme of Lake Michigan, running east, after intersecting the due north line aforesaid, from the mouth of the Great Miami, until it shall intersect Lake Erie or the Territorial line, and thence with the same, through Lake Erie, to the Pennsylvania line aforesaid: Provided, That Congress shall be at liberty, at any time hereafter, either to attach all the territory lying east of the line, to be drawn due north from the mouth of the Great Miami aforesaid to the Territorial line, and north of an east and west line, drawn through the southerly extreme of Lake Michigan, running east, as aforesaid, to Lake Erie, to the aforesaid State; or dispose of it otherwise, in conformity to the fifth article of compact between the original States and the people and States, to be formed in the territory north-west of the Ohio river.” [3d vol. Laws U. States, page 496.] By this act, we perceive that Ohio is proposed to be bounded on three sides by fixed limits; and that Congress reserved the right, as to the northern boundary, so to change it, if necessary, as to embrace what is now known as Michigan, and thereby leave the Territorial line between Canada and the United States as our north boundary.
This provision, which Congress made in the act above recited, has never been repealed; and Michigan, if Congress were disposed, to-moi row, could be attached to Ohio, and the north boundary line of Ohio be the Territorial line. Indeed, this proviso will not be repealed until Michigan is received as a State into the Unjon, and her boundaries set forth by a preceding act of Congress, as in other cases. Why then, we ask, does Michigan voluonteer in this matter, and try to thrust herself in as a party,
when, by a stroke of the pen, Congress could blot her out of existence? Or why does she insist upon a right which is thus qualified and incomplete? To the minds of your committee, there seems to be no satisfactory answer. The positions assumed by those friendly to the claim of Michigan, under the General Government, are predicated, not only upon the proviso of the ordinance of Congress, referred to, but also on the subsequent action of Congress organizing Michigan as a Territory. It appears that in 1805, Congress passed a law organizing Michigan into a temporary Territorial Government, calling for a line as the south boundary of Michigan, which before had been specified as the north boundary of Ohio, in the act of Congress of 1802; and from this coincidence, found in the two acts of Congress, Michigan infers that Ohio is for ever estopped from asserting any other boundary, as her north boundary; and further, that the law authorizing her organization vested certain rights in Michigan, of which no power on earth can legitimately deprive her.
The first position assumed (as we have just noticed,) by the advocates of Michigan, is, to our minds, as novel as it is contradictory; for unless the propositions, and they are entitled to no other name.) which were made by the General Government to Ohio, in the act of 1802, were accepted by Ohio unqualifiedly, in her Conventional capacity, and sanctioned by adapting the provisions of her Constitution to that act, it cannot be asserted, with truth, that Ohio is bound by the provisions of that act. This proposition of boundary, then, being nothing more than one of many propositions of Congress submitted to Ohio for her acceptance or rejection, we have only to turn to the proceedings of her Convention, (which was convened for the purpose of considering this proposition, among many others submitted to her,) in order to know whether Ohio did thus unqualifiedly receive and ratify, by her Constitution, that proposition.
In the 6th section of the 7th article of the Constitution of Ohio, we find that the proposed boundaries of the State, as described in the law of Congress of 1802, are asserted to be the boundaries of Ohio, with this proviso: “ Provided always, and it is hereby fully understood and declared by this Convention, That if the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan should extend so far south, that a line drawn due east: from it should not intersect Lake Erie, or if it should intersect said Lake east of the mouth of the Miami river of the Lake, then and in that case, with the assent of the Congress of the United States, the north boundary of this State shall be established by, and extend to, a direct line running from the southerly extremity of Lake Michigan to the most nor