Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

1803, the President of the United States approved an act of that body, entitled “ An act to provide for the due execution of the laws of the United States within the State of Ohio;" the preamble to which act is in the following words, viz. “ Whereas the people of the eastern division of the territory northwest of the river Ohio did, on the twenty-ninth day of November, one thousand eight hundred and two, form for themselves a constitution and State Government, and did give to the said State the name of the State of Ohio,' in pursuance of an act of Congress entitled • An act to enable the people of the easteru division of the territory northwest of the river Ohio to form a constitution and State Government, and for the admission of such State into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, and for other purposes,' whereby the said State has become one of the United States of America; in order, therefore, to provide for the due execution of the laws of the United States within the said State of Ohio, Be it enacted,” &c. &c.

This, it will be remembered, is the only act of Congress ever passed in reference to the acceptance of the constitution of the State of Ohio, and the admission of that State into the Union; and the preamble, it will be observed, expressly states that the constitution then accepted was formed in pursuance of the act of Congress of 30th April, 1802. Of course, whatever is not in pursuance of said act, can form no part of the constitution then accepted, and if there be any such proposition in any part of the instrument, it must be classed among the unauthorized and nugatory provisions before spoken of, which Congress could not consistently notice, because that body had not the power either to prevent or correct them.

What has been said is believed sufficient to show, satisfactorily, that Congress, in admitting the State of Ohio into the Union, did not assent, either expressly or impliedly, to the proposition contained in her constitution relative to her northern boundary; and it is only necessary to refer to the Journal of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives, to show, beyond the possibility of doubt or contradiction, that such was the universal understanding at the time of her admission. Even the delegation from that State had not, at that time, the slightest idea that her proposition was assented to by Congress.

Thomas Worthington, afterwards Governor of the State, it will be recollected, was appointed by the convention of Ohio a special agent to present her constitution to Congress for acceptance; and as he was in Washington, and associating with the members of Congress during the time when said constitution was under consideration by that body, he must have known perfectly well their understanding in relation to every part of that instrument.

On the 19th February, 1803, the act passed extending the laws of the United States over the State of Ohio, (equivalent to admitting Ohio into the Union,) and eight months afterwards, on the 17th day of October, in the same year, at the opening of the next session of Congress, the aforesaid Thomas Worthington took his seat, as the first Senator from that State, in the Senate of the United States.

The following extracts from the Journals of the Senate will show that the line which he proposed as the southern boundary of Michigan, was a line drawn east and west through the southern extreme of Lake Michigan; and they will also show that the idea that Congress had ASSENTED to the proposition of Ohio, had then never entered his mind, nor the mind of any other member of the Senate.

His first public act was, on the 21st October, (the sixth day of the session,) to present the memorial of - Joseph Harrison and others, citizens of the United States, residing in that part of the Indiana territory which lies north of an east and west line extending through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan, praying that that district may be erected into a separate Government, and the memorial was read.

“On motion, ordered, That it be referred to Messrs. Worthington, Breckenridge, and Franklin, to consider and report thereon."

Mr. Worthington was thus made chairman of the committee, and, on the 1st day of November following, he made a report favorable to the prayer of the petitioners, and concluding with the following resolution, viz. “ Resolved, That the prayer of the memorial of Joseph Harrison and others ought to be granted, and that all that portion of the Indiana territory which lies north of a line drawn east from the southernmost extreme of Lake Michigan, until it intersects Lake Erie, and west from the said southernmost extreme of Lake Michigan, until it shall intersect the Mississippi river, shall form a separate territory, and that the said territory shall, in all respects, be governed by, and according to, the principles and regulations contained in • An ordinance for the government of the territory of the United States northwest of the river Ohio,' passed on the 13th day of July, 1787.

“ And the report was adopted.

“ On motion, ordered, That the committee who made the report be instructed to prepare and bring in a bill accordingly.

66 A motion was made that it be

66 Resolved, That the sixth section of the seventh article of the constitution of the State of Ohio be referred to a committee, to consist of members, with instructions to examine and report thereon, by bill or otherwise; and it was agreed that this motion lie for consideration.

“ On motion, “ The Senate adjourned to eleven o'clock to-morrow morning." . (See Senate Journal, vol. 3, pages 300 and 306.)

“ WEDNESDAY, November 2, 1803.

« On motion,

It was agreed that the motion made yesterday for a committee to examine the seventh article of the constitution of the State of Ohio be withdrawn, and that the following resolution be adopted :

Resolved, That the proposition of the convention of the State of Ohio to the Congress of the United States of America, contained in the sixth section of the seventh article of the constitution of that State, be referred to a committee, with leave to report thereon, by bill or otherwise ; and,

Ordered, That it be referred to Messrs. Worthington, Breckenridge, and Franklin, the committee who, on the 21st of October last, had under consideration the petition of Joseph Harrison and others, to consider and report thereon to the Senate." (Senate Journal, vol. 3, page 307.)

“FRIDAY, November 4, 1803.

"Mr. Worthington, from the committee appointed on the 21st of October last on the petition of Joseph Harrison and others, and on the propo

sition contained in the sixth section of the seventh article of the constitu. tion of the State of Ohio, reported a bill to divide the Indiana territory into two separate Governments, and giving the assent of Congress to the proposition of the convention of the State of Ohio, contained in the sixth section of the seventh article of the constitution of that State; which bill was read.

Ordered, That it pass to the second reading." (Senate Journal, vol. 3, page 307.)

" MONDAY, November 7, 1803. The bill to divide the Indiana territory into two separate Governments, and giving the assent of Congress to the proposition of the convention of the State of Ohio, contained in the sixth section of the seventh article of the constitution of that State, was read the second time.

** Ordered, That it be referred to Messrs. Bradley, Tracey, Baldwin, Worthington, and Franklin, to consider and report thereon to the Senate." (Senatc Journal, vol. 3, page 309.)

“ WEDNESDAY, November 16, 1803. Mr. Bradley, from the committee to whom was referred on the 7th inst. the bill to divide the Indiana territory into two separate Governments, and giving the assent of Congress to the proposition of the convention of the State of Ohio, contained in the sixth section of the seventh article of the constitution of that State, reported the bill with amendments; which were read.

« Ordered, That they lie for consideration." (Senate Journal, vol. 3. page 312.)

“ MONDAY, December 5, 1803.

" The Senate took into consideration the amendments, reported on the 16th November last, to the bill to divide the Indiana territory into two separate Governments, and giving the assent of Congress to the proposi. tion of the convention of the State of Ohio, contained in the sixth section of the seventh article of the constitution of that State ; and having agreed thereto, an'l further amended the bill,

Ordered, That it pass to a third reading as amended." (Senate Journal, vol. 3, page 320.)

“ TUESDAY, December 6, 1803.

6. The bill to divide the Indiana territory into two separate Governments, and giving the assent of Congress to the proposition of the State of Ohio, contained in the sixth section of the seventh article of the constitution of that State, was read the third time, and further amended; and

" Resolved, That this bill pass, that it be engrossed, and that the tide thereof be. An act to divide the Indiana territory into two separate Governments.'

6« Ordered, That the Secretary request the concurrence of the House of Representatives in this bill."

(Senate Journal, vol. 3, page 321.)

The bill went to the House of Representatives, and, after being further amended, was, on the 21st day of February, there rejected. All that part, however, which related to giving the assent of Congress to the proposition of the convention of Ohio, contained in the sixth section of the seventh article of the constitution of that State, it will be perceived, was rejected before the bill passed the Senate, notwithstanding the Senator from Obio was made chairman of the committee who reported it, and had every advantage to secure its passage.

The original bill, in Mr. Worthington's own handwriting, is now among the manuscripts in the archives of the Senate. It is almost word for word the same as the bill which afterwards passed Congress, and was approved January 11, 1805, with the addition of the part which was rejected, which is in the following words, to wit:

And be it further enacted, That the assent of Congress be, and is hereby, given to the proposition of the convention of the State of Ohio, contained in the sixth section of the seventh article of the constitution of that State, and which is in the words following, to wit,” &c.

After the decided rejection of this proposition by Congress, within less than nine months from the date of the admission of Ohio into the Union, it is difficult to conceive how it can now be seriously argued thrat Congress had already given their assent to the same thing at the time of the admission of Ohio, especially as the measure was brought forward, and urged on Congress by the first Senator from that State, who was present when Congress admitted her into the Union, and must have known perfectly well the understanding as to what was, and what was not, assented to by that body.

It is clear that Governor Worthington did not suppose that the aforementioned proposition of the convention of Ohio, relative to her northern boundary, had ever been assented to by Congress, or he would not have thought it necessary so soon to ask and urge that the same thing should be done again; and it is equally clear that Congress did not suppose they had ever intended to give their assent to the proposition, ever by implication; for, if they had, such assent would have been alluded to in the proceedings of the Senate; and there certainly could be no objections to giving it again in express terms, when asked and urged to do so by a Sena. tor from the State principally interested in the matter.

Jeremiah Morrow was the first Representative elected by the people of the State of Ohio to the Congress of the United States, and took his seat in the House of Representatives on the same day that Governor Worthington took a seat in the Senate. He was the sole Representative from his State in the House of Representatives from that time down to the year 1813; but there is no evidence that he ever believed the aforesaid proposition of the convention of Ohio had even been assented to by Congress. On the contrary, the journals of the House expressly show that he entertained a different opinion; for, on the 4th of January, 1812, he introduced the following resolution :

Resolved, That a committee be appointed to inquire into the expediency of confirming the northern boundary of the State of Ohio, as designated by the constitution of that State, and of providing by law for the actual surveying of the western boundary lines of the said State, and that they report by bill or otherwise." (House Journal, vol. 8, page 109.)

3

This resolution resulted, as has been before remarked, in the passage of an act of Congress, providing for the actual survey and establishment of the northern boundary of Ohio, not according to the wishes of Mr. Mor. row, but according to the provisions of the act of Congress of 30th April, 1802.

The resolution shows conclusively that he believed the proposition of the Ohio convention had never been assented to or confirmed ; and such was also the sentiment of Congress, as expressed by their proceedings on that occasion ; and also, subsequently, by their proceedings on the resolution of Mr. Brush, of Ohio, soon after the survey made under the aforementioned act had been returned to Congress.

The resolution of Mr. Brush was introduced in the House of Representatives February 23, 1820, and is as follows, viz.

Resolved, That a committee be appointed to inquire into the expediency of providing by law for surveying, marking, and permanently establishing the northern boundary line of the State of Ohio, beginning at the point north of the inost northerly cape of the Miami bay ; running thence, due west, to intersect the western line of said State."

This resolution the House refused to consider ; (House Journal, 1st Session, 16th Congress, pp. 239, 287, 382, 436 ;) and on the 24th April, following, Mr. Woodbridge, the Delegate from Michigan, submitted the following resolution :

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the line heretofore caused to be surveyed, marked, and designated, from the southern extreme of Lake Michigan, due east, in pursuance of the provisions of the act entitled • An act to authorize the President of the United States to ascertain and designate certain boundaries,' passed May 13, 1812, so far as the same extends due east from the eastern boundary line of the State of Ohio, be and remain the established boundary line between the said State of Ohio and the Territory of Michigan.” (House Journal, 1st Session, 16th Congress, page 449.)

The said resolution was read the first and second time, and referred to the Committee on Public Lands, of whom Mr. Anderson, of Kentucky, was at that time chairman; and, after hearing the subject fully and ably discussed before them by the Representatives from Ohio and the Delegate from Michigan, the committee reported unanimously the resolution without amendinent; and nothing apparently but the hurry of business, at the close of a long session, prevented its passage at that time through both Houses of Congress.

The foregoing extracts from the journals of Congress show clearly the opinions and belief of the first Senators and Representatives of Ohio on the subject of their northern boundary ; and it may not be amiss here to remark that one of the gentlemen, (Mr. Vinton,) who has so ably argued the cause of Ohio before the committee, seems hinself to entertain opinions now, on this question, quite different from those held by him a few years ago.

He now contends strongly that Congress, on the admission of Ohio into the Union, assented to the proposition of her convention, contained in the sixth section of the seventh article of the constitution of that State.

On looking back a little, I find that, on the 4th of January, 1828, he submitted the following resolution :

« ZurückWeiter »