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settled already, and it is asserted, without the fear of contradiction, that every act of that body, from the ordinance of 1787 down to the present time, has been uniformly, and without any exception, in favor of the boundary, as at present established.
Let us see how they stand, and then say if this is not the fact.
The ordinance of 13th July, 1787, entitled “ An ordinance for the government of the territory of the United States north west of the river Ohio,” after making various provisions, necessary and proper for the organization of a temporary Government over the said territory, contains the following declaration :
“It is hereby ordained and declared by the authority aforesaid, that the following articles shall be articles of compact between the original States and the people and States in the said territory, and forever remain unalterable, unless by common consent, to wit," &c. &c.
The articles to which this declaration alludes, are six in number, and secure to the people of said territory religious toleration, the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus, the trial by jury, and many other things near and dear to freemen.
The fifth article provides that the whole Northwestern Territory shall be laid off into States, agreeably to certain fixed and unchangeable boundaries therein named and described in the words following, to wit :
"ART. 5. 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 the 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 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 last mentioned direct line; the Ohio; Pennsylvania; and the said territorial line: Provided, however, and it is further understood and declared, That the boundaries 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.
“And whenever any of the said States shall have 60,000 free inhabitants therein, such State shall be admitted, by its delegates, into the Congress of the United States on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever, and shall be at liberty to form a permanent con. stitution and State Government: Provided, The constitution and Government so to be formed shall be republican, and in conformity to the principles contained in these articles ; and, so far as it can be, consistent with the general interest of the confederacy, such admission shall be allowed at an earlier period, and when there may be a less number of free inhabitants in the State than 60,000.”
As these provisiuns are all deeply interesting to us at the present time, I have copied the whole of the aforesaid fifth article verbatim. Fixing
unalterably, as it does, the boundaries of States, some of which are destined shortly to become among the most important on the globe, it cannot be too closely studied. There are strong and convincing reasons to believe, that, in some instances, in the legislation of Congress heretofore, its provisions have been too little understood, or too slightly regarded.
Of these, however, I shall have occasion to speak more fully in a subsequent part of this letter. At present it is sufficient to remark that all the legislation of Congress, so far as relates to the northern boundary of Ohio, has been perfectly in accordance with the provisions of this article of the ordinance.
It will be observed that by this article the whole Northwestern Territory is, in the first place, laid off into three great States, fronting on the Ohio river, and running back due north to the territorial line between the United States and Canada.
The boundaries of these States are so well defined, and so clearly described, that they cannot be mistaken. There is then a proviso inserted, giving power to Congress, in the event that they shall deem it expedient, to alter these boundaries so far, and no farther, as to form one or two States in that part of the aforesaid three States which lies north of an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan, This, when done, would only alter the north boundary of the three States first formed, so that, instead of the territorial line, or Canada line afore. said, they would be bounded on the north by an east and west line running through a fixed and well known point. The other boundaries of those States would remain unaltered, and their north boundary, though changed, would still be as well defined and as clearly described as before.
Such, no doubt, was the intention of the framers of the ordinance, and, so far as relates to the northern boundary of Ohio, such has always been the intention of Congress, as will appear, first, by the act of April 30, 1802, entitled " An act to enable the people of the eastern 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,” the second section of which act is in the following words, viz. " And be it further enacted, That the said State shall consist of all the territory included in the following boundaries, to wit: 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 southern 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 Miami aforesaid to the territorial linc, 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 northwest of the river Ohio."
In relation to this article, which is the only authority the people of Ohio
had for any act of theirs in forming a constitution and State Government, three or four things are especially to be observed and remembered :
Ist. That it was the people within the limits here described, and only those people, who were authorized to form a constitution and State Government. The people beyond those limits, for instance, on the tract now claimed by Ohio, were not authorized to form a constitution, and could have no voice in the matter. It follows then, of course, that so far as the convention of Ohio attempted to include within the State any portion of country beyond the limits mentioned and described in the foregoing article, they transcended their powers, and their acts are unauthorized and void.
2d. It is to be observed that the northern limit of the State, as described in this article, is a line drawn cast and west through the southern extreme of Lake Michigan, which east and west line is the very same that is described in the proviso of the fifth article of the ordinance of 1787 as the line north of which Congress may form one or two States. This is proof that Congress, on the admission of Ohio, construed the language of the proviso in the ordinance aforesaid, in relation to this line, according to the plain import and meaning of the words, and precisely as the people of Michigan construe it now.
3d. It is worthy of note, that Congress, at the time of the admission of Ohio into the Union, bad not fully determined whether they would finally form more than three States in the Northwestern Territory, or not. For this reason, there was a proviso inserted in the aforesaid second article of the act of 30th April, 1802, authorizing Ohio to form a constitution, reserving to Congress the power, at any time thereafter, to attach to the State of Ohio all the remaining territory within the original limits of the most eastern of the three States first laid out in the Northwestern Territory, or to dispose of said remaining territory "otherwise, in conformity to the fifth article of compact.” Here is another distinct recognition of this east and west line as the southern boundary of the ovone or two” States, which the ordinance of 1787 gives Congress authority to form in that part of the three first formed States lying north of this line. This proviso reserves to Congress the power either to attach all the territory described, north of this east and west line, to the State of Ohio, or dispose of it otherwise, in conformity to the fifth article of compact, thus plainly implying that a part could not be so disposed of The word all seems expressly used here to prevent ambiguity or doubt as to the construction which Congress then gave to that part of the fifth article of the ordinance, which gives them authority to form more than three States in the Northwestern Territory.
Let us now see how Congress disposes of this authority. The act of 11th January, 1805, entitled “An act to divide the Indiana territory into two separate Governments," is next, in point of time, to the act providing for the admission of Ohio into the Union; and, if Congress had at any time granted Ohio, either positively or contingently, or consented to the grant of any portion of country north of an east and west line drawn from the southern extreme of Lake Michigan, we might here expect to find such grant or assent recognised. Such, however, is far from being the case. The first section of the act provides " that ALL that part of the Indiana territory which lies north of a line drawn east from the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan, until it shall intersect Lake Erie, and east of a line drawn from the said southerly bend, through the middle of said lake, to its northern extremity, and thence due north to the northern
boundary of the United States, shall, for the purpose of temporary government, constitute a separate territory, and be called Michigan.
Here, nearly' three years after the admission of Ohio into the Union, we see the southern boundary of Michigan fixed on the same east and west line which is defined to be the northern boundary of Ohio, in the act authorizing that State to form a constitution and State Government.
The second section of this act provides that the inbabitants of said Territory shall be entitled to, and enjoy, all and singular the rights, privi. leges, and advantages, granted and secured to the people of the territory of the United States northwest of the river Ohio by the ordinance of 13th July, 17 87."
One of these rights and privileges, and certainly a very important one, is the right of being “admitted into the Union on the same footing with the original States," whenever the Territory of Michigan may have 60,000 free inhabitants, and was much earlier as can be consistent with the general interest of the confederacy.” By this act Congress first declared their intention to use the power given them in the proviso of the fifth article of the ordinance of 1787; and, in virtue thereof, to form one or two States in that part of the Northwestern Territory which lies north of an east and west line drawn through the southern bend or extreme of Lake Michigan. It will be recollected that this authority was expressly given Congress in the aforesaid fifth article of the ordinance; it was distinctly recognised and provided for in the act authorizing Ohio to form a constitution and State Government; and by the act organizing the Territory of Michigan, with the right to come into the Union when she may have 60,000 free inhabitants, it was disposed of.
Congress then, by that act, exhausted the power given them, and from that very moment, if not from the date of the ordinance, the people of the Territory of Michigan, and indeed of all the country orth of the east and west line drawn through the southern bend or extreme of Lake Michigan, acquired vested rights, which no acts of Congress, or of any power on earth, could take from them. In virtue of the power then acted on and exhausted, the provisions of the act organizing the Territory of Michigan, so far as relates to boundaries, are as irrepealable and of as much force and effect as if the words of said act had been recited verbation in the ordinance itself.
I am aware that, for the purpose of weakening this argument, it has been, and will be said, by the delegation from Ohio, that the same provisions, in nearly the same words, were inserted in the act of 7th May, 1800, establishing the Territory of Indiana. This, however, can have no weight, when we consider that, so far as relates to boundaries, the provisions of that act were not in accordance with the provisions of the ordinance, and of course were null and void; while the provisions of the act organizing the Territory of Michigan, for the purpose of temporary government, with reference to its coming into the Union at some future time, were in the most perfect accordance with the provisions of the ordinance, as well in relation to boundaries as to every other particular.
Admit, however, that the act organizing the Territory of Michigan was not, in effect, a declaration, on the part of Congress, of a determination to form more than three States in the Northwestern Territory ; admit that, notwithstanding the provisions of the second section, pointing to a State Government, the act was merely a temporary measure, and the formation of
more than three States in the Northwestern Territory was not then referred to or thought of, and still it can make no difference with the question at present under consideration. It will not be denied that Congress have, by numerous acts prior to the present time, declared, in effect, their determination eventually to form more than three States in the North western Territory. If this be admitted, no matter when or where this decision of Congress was first made, it follows that, from that time, the territory which the ordinance provided might be formed into one or two States, had all the rights which were secured by said ordinance to either of the three States first formed. One of these rights, as has been before remarked, is the right of admission into the Union on the same footing with the original States in all respects whatever, whenever the said territory shall have 60,000 free inhabitants. This is a very important right, and one which necessarily and intimately involves with it the question of boundary.
What then must be thought of the statements of those who assert that Michigan has no rights, and that the question of boundary here under consideration is a question entirely between the General Government and the State of Ohio, and not between the State of Ohio and the Territory of Michigan ? This is the position assumed by the delegation of Ohio in the outset, and on it they found all their argument. I beg leave to submit it to the committee, whether the assumption is not wholly erroneous, and whether, on the contrary, this question is not emphatically and solely a question between Ohio and Michigan, and one in which the General Government can have no interest or concern whatever, further than to exercise, as in duty bound, a guardian care over the rights and interests of the territory, until, under a different form of Government, the people there shall be able to protect and defend their own rights.
What possible difference can it make to the General Government whether the northern boundary of Ohio should strike Lake Erie at the north cape of Maumee bay, or at the point where the line was actually surveyed and established ? The answer must be, it can make no difference whatever. The proceeds of the sales of public lands will still be paid into the United States Treasury, whether the land itself lie in Ohio or Michigan, and as certainly in the one case as in the other. Both Ohio and Michigan will be equally parts of the same General Government, and it needs nothing to prove that that Government can have no rights nor interests, as a party, against either of them. It is also certain that Ohio has rights involved in this question, and that she is a party deeply interested ; and it is moreover certain that one party, with rights and interests, cannot exist without an opposite party with rights and interests also. As it is clear that the General Government can have no interest against Ohio in this question, where then can be her antagonist party? Who can have rights and interests opposed to those of Ohio ? The answer must be, Michigan; Michigan alone can have such rights and interests, and the controversy is really and truly between Ohio and Michigan, and not between Ohio and the United States, as has been very erroneously stated to the committee.
It is conceded, most freely, that were it not for the provisions of the ordinance of 1787, the position assumed before the committee, by the gen. tleman from Ohio, (Mr. Vinton,) would be sustainable. Were it not for the rights there secured, the question of boundary, so far as it could be a question at all, would be between the State of Ohio and the General Go