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mouth of the Wabash river, until it intersects the said east line : the middle State shall be separated from the others by the aforesaid line, and a line running also due north from the western side of the mouth of the Big Miami, till the intersection thereof with the said east line ; and the other State shall be divided from the middle State by the said line, the said east · line, Lake Erie, the bounds of Pennsylvania, the other original States, and Ohio. There shall be a State between the said east line, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and the straits of Michiliinackinac ; and another between the said east line, the Lakes Michigan and Superior, and the boundary line of the United States and the river Mississippi, to be added into the confederacy on the principles and in the forms heretofore established and provided. į "And, on the question to postpone for the purpose above mentioned, the yeas and nays being required by Mr. Grayson,” the States of Maryland Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Rhode Island, voted in the affirmative ; New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, voted in the negative; and New York and South Carolina were divided. The votes on each side being equal, the motion was lost. All three of the Delegates from Virginia, however, voted in its favor.
The resolution offered by the committee, being then amended, finally passed on the same day, with a preamble as follows, viz.
• Whereas it appears, from the knowledge already obtained of the tract of country lying north west of the river Ohio, that the laying it out and forming it into States, of the extent mentioned in the resolution of Congress of the 10th October, 1780, and in one of the conditions contained in the ces. sion of Virginia, will be productive of many and great inconveniences; that, by such a division of the country, some of the new States will be deprived of the advantages of navigation, some will be improperly intersected by lakes, rivers, and mountains, and some will contain too great a proportion of barren, unimprovable land, and of consequence will not for many years, if ever, have a sufficient number of inhabitants to form a respectable Government, and entitle them to have a seat and voice in the federal councils : and whereas, in fixing the limits and dimensions of the new States, due attention ought to be paid to natural boundaries, and a variety of circumstances, which will be pointed out by a more perfect knowledge of the country, so as to provide for the future growth and prosperity of each State, as well as for the accommodation and security of the first adventurers : in order, therefore, that the ends of Government may be attained, and that the States which shall be formed may become a speedy and sure accession of strength to the confederacy, .“ 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 as to empower the United States in Congress assembled to make such a division of the territory of the United States lying northerly and westerly of the river Ohio, into distinct republican States, not more than five, nor less than three, as the situation of that country and future circumstances may require, which States shall hereafter become members of the Federal Union, and shall have the same rights of sovereignty, freedorn, and independence as the original States, in conformity with the resolution of Congress of the 10th October 1780.”
This preamble and resolution fully set forth all the reasons why the State of Virginia should alter her act of cossion 80 as to authorize Congross to
make a different division of the Northwestern Territory into States, not more than five, nor less than three, as the situation of that country and future circumstances may require." And it is plain that they contemplated the action of Congress on this subject soon after the consent of Virginia should have been obtained. Congress, however, did not finally wait for this. At the suggestion of the Delegates from that State, they anticipated the consent of Virginia, which was afterward granted, and one year and six days from the adoption of the above resolution, they proceeded, on the 13th July, 1787, to pass the ordinance which divides the whole Northwestern Terri. tory into States, as they supposed the situation of the country and circumstances then future would require. The boundaries of those States are fixed and described in an article which, with five other articles of said or. dinance, is declared to be forever unalterable, unless by common consent.
These boundaries are so clearly described as hardly to admit of a doubt in regard to any of thein; but, as claims have been set up by three of those States, which are believed to conflict directly with the rights of the one, or two others that may, and will yet be formed in the Northwestern Ter. ritory, it has been attempted, in the foregoing pages to prove, that, in the event of the formation of more than three States in said territory, the northern boundary of the States of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, must be a line drawn east and west, through the southern extreme of Lake Michigan.
All that has been contended for on this subject will be fully confirmed by a reference to the foregoing resolution, or motion of Mr. Grayson.
On comparing the boundaries of the States, as described in the fifth article of the ordinance, with the boundaries of the States proposed to be laid off by Mr. Grayson, their agreement, in all their leading features, will be found to be so almost entirely perfect, that it is impossible to resist the conclusion that the one was adopted and copied from the other. This is made the more certain, as Mr. Grayson was at that time one of the three Delegates in Congress from Virginia, with all of whom this proposition seems to have been a favorite measure ; and, as that State had so generously conie forward and ceded all her wide extent of vacant territory to the United States, it seems altogether reasonable that, in relation to any plan for dividing said territory into States, her wishes should have been very favorably regarded ; but whether they were, or were not so regarded, she held the power in her own hands, and could insist on such boundaries as she chose. It will be observed that, in considering the resolution of Mr. Grayson, no objections were offered to the boundaries which he proposed for the different States ; not a word was said against them from any quarter, but there was a difference of opinion as to the expediency of positively forming, at that time, so many States. The situation and circumstances of the country, it was thought by many, did not require it; and, on taking the question, the yeas and nays being equal, the motion was lost. The resolution, however, is important, as it shows the plan of the Virginia delegation for dividing the whole territory; and, when all the circumstances are taken into view, it is believed there can be no doubt in the mind of any one that all the leading features of this plan were adopted in the ordinance of 1787, so far as relates to the boundaries of each and every one of all the States, which the fifth article of said ordinance provides shall be formed, either positively or contingently, in the Northwestern Territory.
If this be so, it follows that, beyond all possibility of doubt, the true northern boundary of the States of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, is a line drawn due east and west, through the southern extreme of Lake Michigan; and all acts, and parts of acts of Congress, or of either of those States, so far as they do or may conflict with this boundary, are, and must be, null and void. .: To prove, however, that the State of Ohio bas an equitable claim to a Targe tract of country north of this line, the delegation from that State have attempted to show the committee that the southern extreme of Lake Michi. gan is several miles farther south than it was supposed to be in 1787, and that, consequently, if this east line be now considered their northern boun. dary, that State, as well as the States of Indiana and Illinois, will lose Jarge tracts of country, which it was the intention of the framers of the ordinarice to give them. To convince the committee of this, a lithographic inap has been procured, purporting to represent the relative situation of Lake Michigan, the upper end of Lake Erie, and also the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, as they were laid down on Mitchell's and Bradley's maps, about the year 1780, compared with the true position of these objects, as they are now known to be situated.
This map clearly shows that neither the southern extreme of Lake. Mi. chigan, nor any other place in the whole North western Territory, is found to be now precisely as it was supposed to be then ; and if it be admitted that Ohio has a right, or that she can, in equity, clairn to a line running due east from the southern extreme of Lake Michigan until it intersects Lake Erie, according to the representation on this inap, without reference to any other points, or to any other maps, then it is conceded that there might be some justice in giving to that State a part, at least, of the tract of country for which she is now contending. But if the map be made a criterion by which to judge of the intention of the framers of the ordinance, in relation to one boundary, it must likewise be so for all the boundaries established at the same time, and it seems to have escaped the notice of those who urge this argument, that, if this rule were adopted, the State of Illinois would lose a tract of country on her southwestern border, (between where the Mississippi runs and where it was supposed to run,) of 250 miles long, and more than 40 broad. The State of Indiana would i lose a strip of country at least 40 miles wide throughout her whole west. ern limits; and the State of Ohio would lose ten miles wide from her western boundary, besides about two or three thousand square miles on the south and southwestern shore of Lake Erie, between where the shore of the lake really is, and where it was supposed to be at the time of the adoption of the ordinance. In short, by this rule, all the boundaries described in the ordinance would be changed from ten to a hundred miles from their present situation. : The absurdity in the State of Ohio's resting a claim to any portion of the
Territory of Michigan upon such ground, is too apparent to require any thing more to be said on this subject.
That the geography of the country was but imperfectly known at the time of the passage of the ordinance dividing the North western Territory into States, is a fact of which the framers of the instrument were as well aware as we are at the present time; but this imperfection of their geogra. phical knowledge, so far from giving countenance to an argument against the boundaries then established, is most undoubtedly the very reason why the southern extreme of Lake Michigan, the mouth of the Great Miami, and other prominent and well known natural objects, were then selected
as points through which these boundaries were to run, and by which they might be known throughout all future time. It is also the reason why so few points were fixed upon, and right lines drawn from them, east and West and north, without the mention of other points, which it was thought probable these lines might strike, lest there should be some discrepance between them.
The time had arrived when both the State of Virginia and the United States thought it necessary and proper that the whole Northwestern Territory should be divided into States, with fixed and permanent boundaries, by which they should come into the Union whenever the population within those boundaries would entitle them to do so. Enough was known of the leading features in the geography of the country, to authorize the parties to the compact to proceed to establish those boundaries, and, in doing this, it was evidently of far less consequence that any particular line should run, so as to give a few miles more or less to any one State, than that such line should be well defined, and so distinctly marked and described, by some prominent vatural object, that it could never be mistaken.
This was doubtless the consideration which induced the selection of a point so far north as the southern extreme of Lake Michigan, through which to extend the division line between the three States south and the two States that might be formed north of that line. Had it not been for this, the known fertility of the country south, and the rigorous climate and forbidding aspect of the whole country north of that line, would have pointed to a more southern division, as best calculated to equalize the advantages, promote the prosperity, and secure the early admission of all the States there formed into the confederacy on the same footing with the original States.
It probably is the case, as stated by the Ohio delegation, that the line running due cast froin the southern extreme of Lake Michigan is now found to intersect Lake Erie somewhat farther south that it was, at that time, supposed it would; but ihis is not more attributable to ignorance of the precise situation of the sonthern extreme of Lake Michigan, than to a mistake as to the true position of Lake Erie. The upper end of that lake is now found to be from 15 to 30 miles farther north than was supposed at the time of the adoption of the ordinance ; and, in consequence of this, the State of Ohio gains some two or three thousand square miles on the southern shore of that lake, more than was expected, even judging by the lithographic map which her own delegation have procured. Is it then, under these circumstances, just that that State should have given to her all the country as far north as any particular place on the border of the lake, where it might have been supposed the aforesaid east line would intersect, when that place was not named in the ordinance, and is now found to be several miles farther north than was then supposed ? Such a propo. sition from Ohio can certainly meet with very little favor, and could not · meet with more, even if Congress had the power and the right to comply with her wishes.
But it is liiged by the committee of the Ohio delegation, (Messrs. Vinton and Allen,) that the line running east from the southern extreme of Lake Michigan will, aster passing through a part of Lake Erie, cut off a. portion of some of the northern and northeastern counties of that State; that it does not intersect the national boundary, as was intended by the act of Congress authorizing the people of Ohio to forin a constitution and
State Government; and that said east line, as mentioned in the ordinance and in the aforesaid act of Congress, being impracticable, is, therefore, entirely null and void.
In reply to this, it might be sufficient, perhaps, to call the attention of the committee to the fact that there is nothing in the ordinance which requires that this line should intersect the national boundary; and as no act of Congress can make any provision valid, contrary to the provisions of the ordinance, there can be nothing in the law authorizing Ohio to form a constitution and State Government that can require it; and of course the line must stand good as it is.
Admit, however, what is very far from being certain, that it was the expectation of the parties to the ordinance at the time of its adoption, that this line would, and their intention that it should, intersect the national boundary in Lake Erie, still there is nothing to show that it is impracti. cable. It has never yet been ascertained that it does not intersect the national boundary in that lake, and consequently its impracticability has never been shown.
Let what is doubtful, however, be assumed to be true ; suppose it ascertained that the line does not intersect, and let it also be assumed to have been the intention of the parties to the ordinance that it should intersect, the national boundary in Lake Erie, a case would then be made out, which could be easily settled by the plain and well known rules of interpreting all surveys, where the course and distance, or the course and a given object disagree. The course in such cases must always conform to the object. The line, instead of due east, would run from the southern extreme of Lake Michigan as near east as possible, and intersect the national boundary at its most southern point in the lake. Such a line, there is no doubt, would coincide very nearly with the one already established, under the act of Congress before spoken of.
It is believed now to have been satisfactorily shown : 1st. That all the legislation of Congress, from 1787 down to the present time, has been uniformly opposed to the claim set up by the State of Ohio. 2d. That the proposition in the sixth section of the seventh article of the constitution of that State, on which she mainly rests her claiin, was never assented to by Congress, not even impliedly; and was never believed or supposed to be assented to, by the delegation from that State, for many years subsequently to her admission into the Union. 3d. That an east and west line drawn through the southern extreme of Lake Michigan is unalterably fixed and established as the true northern boundary of the States of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, by the ordinance of 1787; and that all acts, and parts of acts, of Congress conflicting therewith are, and must be, null and void.
It only remains to notice, very briefly, the argumerit urged by the committee of the Ohio delegation, on the ground of expediency. And on this head it might be sufficient to remark, that in cases like this, where the most important rights are guarantied by the most solemn compact, nothing can be expedient that is not clearly in accordance with the provisions of law.
The State of Ohio, however, claims that her northern boundary should be extended to the north cape of Maumee bay, so as to include the moutha of Maumee river, because that river runs through a portion of her territory; and because, as was alleged before the committee, rivers should not have their course in one State and their termination in another.
The strong claim that Indiana would have to the mouth of the Maumee, according to this argument, seems to have been wholly overlooked ; and it