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HONORABLE LEWIS WILLIAMS,
Chairman of the Committee on Territories,
BOUNDARY LINE BETWEEN OHIO AND MICHIGAN;
THE REPORT OF SAID COMMITTEE
ON THE SUBJECT OF
ADMITTING MICHIGAN INTO THE UNION.
PRIKTED BI GALES & SXATOK.
[ Rep. No. 334. ]
Ho. OF Reps.
CENSUS_MICHIGAN AND ARKANSAS.
[To accompany bill H. R. No. 362.]
MARCH 11, 1834.
Mr. Williams, from the Committee on the Territories, made the following
The Committee on the Territories, to which the subject was referred,
report : That they have had under their consideration the subject of authorizing the people of the eastern division of the Territory of Michigan, and the people of the Territory of Arkansas, to form for themselves a constitution and State Government, and admitting them into the Union on a footing with the original States, and they have come to the conclusion that it is not expedient at this time to adopt the measure. The committee, however, think it proper to take a census of those Territories, and for that purpose herewith report a bill.
In connexion with the subject of admitting Michigan into the Union, the committee have examined the question of boundary between that Territory and the State of Ohio, and also the expediency of changing the boundary between Indiana and the Territory of Michigan.
1 On the first point, to wit, the question of boundary between Ohio and Michigan, the committee herewith report to the House written arguments, submitted to them by a member from the State of Ohio, and by the Delegate from the Territory of Michigan.
In reference to the whole subject of boundary between the Territory of Michigan and the abovementioned States, the committee think it unnecessary to adopt any additional legislation.
To the honorable Lewis Williams, chairman of the Committee on the
Territories in the House of Representatives of the United States : Sır: After struggling through many years of colonial dependence, and sharing largely the privations, dangers, and desolation, consequent upon the late war with Great Britain and her savage allies, the Territory of Michigan, on reaching, at last, a brighter period in her history and prospects, determined, in 1832, by the vote of a decided majority, to apply for admission into the Union on the same footing with the original States. [Gales & Seaton, print.]
In pursuance of this decision of the people, the Legislative Council of the Territory, at their next succeeding session, memorialized Congress. on the subject; and, in February last, a bill was reported, which it was hoped and expected would pass, authorizing the people, in the eastern division of said Territory, to form a constitution and State Government.
In 1830, when the census was taken, this part of Michigan contained only about thirty thousand inhabitants ; but, within the last four years, its population, wealth, and resources have increased with almost unexampled rapidity; and, by the very lowest estimate of those having the best opportunities of judging correctly, it now contains a population of at least fifty thousand persons. Even within the last nine months, the increase of population, by emigration alone, has been more than ten thousand, as is proved by the sales of public lands to actual settlers. There has been paid into the Treasury, during the past season, from this part of said Territory, more than six hundred thousand dollars—an amount considerably greater, it is believed, than has been received, in the same time, from any State or Territory of the United States.
In relation to the justice, propriety, expediency, and even necessity of immediately organizing a State Government in the eastern division of the Territory of Michigan, there is, among our citizens, scarcely a difference of opinion. All are for it. The people of the whole Territory are almost unanimously in favor of the measure; and, knowing, their views and feelings in this particular, I felt it my duty to embrace the first opportunity to bring the subject before Congress, and to endeavor to procure the enactment of a law for that purpose, as early in the session as possible.
The bill reported at the last session is such an one as will suit the circumstances of the Territory; and the only change I would propose to make in it is to allow a delegate, in the convention to form a constitution, for every seven hundred inhabitants, instead of every twelve hundred, as there provided. It fixes the boundaries of the proposed State so as to agree precisely with the boundaries of the Territory of Michigan, as organized and established by the act of Congress of January 11, 1805. So far as relates to the division line between the proposed State and the territory which will be left west of Lake Michigan, the boundary there fixed is undoubtedly the one that will suit the true interest of the people, on both sides of said line, better than any other. Running northwardly, as it does, through the centre of Lake Michigan, to its northern extremity, and thence due north to Lake Superior, it coincides, through its whole extent, with one of those boundaries fixed by nature, which, where they exist, should, in the division of States, always be regarded. The strait of Michilimackinac, being narrow, and settled as it is, and will be, by people of the same habits, feelings, and interests, cannot be regarded as a natural division.
The people there, insulated as they must always be, in relation to the settlements west and northwest of them, ought not to be separated by a. boundary which will compel a part of them to go southward to Detroit, and a part westward to Green Bay or the Mississippi, to their respective seats of Government; and for this reason alone, even if there were no others, the western boundary of the State should be fixed as it was in. he a oresaid act of 1805.
In relation to the southern boundary of the Territory and of the proposed State, there was, several years ago, some controversy. In the year 1820, two or three years after the survey of the northern boundary of the State of Ohio had been completed, under the express provision and authority of an act of Congress, that State, not content with the line as run, according to law, due east from the southern extreme of Lake Michigan, set up her claim to all our territory as far north as a line drawn from the southern extreme of said lake to the north cape of Maumee bay, a point at the head of Lake Erie, about eight miles north of the boundary which had been established. She, however, at that time, failed, even in the opinion of her own citizens, to make good her claim. Controlled by the power of public opinion and a sense of justice, she then acquiesced in the establishment of her northern boundary, agreeably to the survey that had been made by the United States; and the Territory of Michigan has, ever since, through a period of thirteen years, held peaceable and undisputed possession of, and jurisdiction over, the tract of country then claimed by Ohio. Nothing has since been heard of this claim, and when the ground on which it was made had been examined, and the ordinance of 1787, and the numerous acts of Congress in conformity therewith, taken into consideration, it might have been reasonably presumed that nothing would ever be heard of it again. Such, it is not improbable, would have been the case, had it not been supposed that, at the present time, the strong desire of the people of Michigan to enter the Union as an independent State would induce them to submit to almost any change of boundaries that political power might dictate, rather than be kept back.
Under the late census Ohio has received a numerous addition to her representation in Congress; and being so fortunate as to have one of her members, and also one of the members from Indiana, placed on the Committee on the Territories at this particular time, when Michigan is applying for admission into the Union, she is now encouraged to come forward and make a strong effort to revive anú sustain a claim which for years past has been abandoned, or suffered to lie at rest. If the claim of Ohio is a just or legal one, and if Congress have power to decide upon it, why bas it not been preferred and urged on the attention of Congress some two, four, six, eight, or ten years ago ? Why is the present juncture selected as the proper time, above all others, for making this application, unless it be to compel us to abandon our rights, or suffer the penalty of delay in our admission into the Union ? Let those answer these questions who can. I am aware that the reasons assigned for this movement, and for the refusal of the delegation from Ohio to leave the question open, to be decided fairly and according to the principles of law and equity, by some disinte-" rested tribunal, at a time when euch decision can have no bearing upon our adımission into the Union, is, that the matter had better be settled now by Congress, in order to prevent all difficulty between the States of Obio and Michigan in future. This, coupled with the fact that Ohio has been almost wholly silent on the subject for many years past, looks too much like a pretext, the effect of which is expected to be to secure her the votes of those who may be opposed to our admission, and who will support her claims as a means of delaying or defeating our application.
So far as Congress have any power to settle this question, it has been