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VOLUME I.

PART I.

CESSION OF THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY TO THE UNITED STATES AND THE ORGANIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE TERRITORIAL GOVERNMENT, COMPRISING THE

PERIOD FROM 1780 TO 1816.

The public domain comprised in the district subsequently known as the Northwest Territory was claimed originally by Connecticut, Massachussetts, New York, and Virginia. After a prolonged controversy, and in response to the recommendations of Congress, this territory was ceded to the United States Government by the voluntary action of the claimant states between 1784 and 1786. As soon as the United States Government had acquired possession of this territory it became necessary to establish some form of political organization. This was done by the Ordinance of Government of April 23, 1784; and although the political agencies and civil institutions authorized by this Ordinance were never created, it continued to be the constitution of the Territory until it was superseded by the famous Ordinance of July 13, 1787. The Ordinance of 1787, and the Federal statutes designed to amend and supplement it, continued to be the fundamental instrument of government of Indiana Territory until they were superseded by the Constitution of 1816. These amendatory and supplemental statutes were necessary to adapt the Ordinance of 1787 to the Federal Constitution which became operative in 1789, two years after the adoption of the Ordinance. over, it became necessary to provide for the printing, distribution and repeal of Territorial laws; to prescribe more fully the official duties of the territorial secretary; to determine the personnel, define the jurisdiction and fix the sessions of the territorial court; to provide a territorial seal; and to prescribe the residential qualifications of territorial judges. In addition, the suffrage, which had been greatly restricted, was constantly broadened. Not only were citizens, formerly denied the right of suffrage, permitted to vote, but the number of elective officers was increased to include, particularly, legislative counsellors and the delegate to

VOLUME I.

PART I.

CESSION OF THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY TO THE UNITED STATES AND THE ORGANIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE TERRITORIAL GOVERNMENT, COMPRISING THE

PERIOD FROM 1780 TO 1816.

The public domain comprised in the district subsequently known as the Northwest Territory was claimed originally by Connecticut, Massachussetts, New York, and Virginia. After a prolonged controversy, and in response to the recommendations of Congress, this territory was ceded to the United States Government by the voluntary action of the claimant states between 1784 and 1786. As soon as the United States Government had acquired possession of this territory it became necessary to est ablish some form of political organization. This was done by the Ordinance of Government of April 23, 1784; and although the political agencies and civil institutions authorized by this Ordinance were never created, it continued to be the constitution of the Territory until it was superseded by the famous Ordinance of July 13, 1787. The Ordinance of 1787, and the Federal statutes designed to amend and supplement it, continued to be the fundamental instrument of government of Indiana Territory until they were superseded by the Constitution of 1816. These amendatory and supplemental statutes were necessary to adapt the Ordinance of 1787 to the Federal Constitution which became operative in 1789, two years after the adoption of the Ordinance. Moreover, it became necessary to provide for the printing, distribution and repeal of Territorial laws; to prescribe more fully the official duties of the territorial secretary; to determine the personnel, define the jurisdiction and fix the sessions of the territorial court; to provide a territorial seal; and to prescribe the residential qualifications of territorial judges. In addition, the suffrage, which had been greatly restricted, was constantly broadened. Not only were citizens, formerly denied the right of suffrage, permitted to vote, but the number of elective officers was increased to include, particularly, legislative counsellors and the delegate to Congress. Meantime, smaller territories had been created within the District. In 1800, the District was divided into Ohio and Indiana Territories; in 1805, Michigan Territory was created; and in 1809, Illinois Territory. The creation of these three neighboring territories reduced Indiana Territory to substantially its present dimensions. The documents constituting Part I are designed to explain and illustrate the anatomical structure and the progressive development of the government of the Territorial Period.

1. Congress Recommends Cession of Western Lands (September 6,

1780). During the Revolutionary War there was a serious and prolonged controversy among the original thirteen states concerning the ownership, control and ultimate disposition of the wild and unsettled lands situated west of the Appalachian Mountains. Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia claimed these lands chiefly, but not wholly, by virtue of the sea-to-sea grants of their colonial charters. The other six states, having no western possessions, vehemently asserted that Congress either had lawful authority over this territory, or should be given such authority for the public good; that since this imperial domain had been won from Great Britain and the Indians "by the blood and treasure of all," it ought, therefore, “to be a common estate, to be granted out on terms beneficial to the United States," and should "be parcelled out by Congress into free, convenient, and independent governments ..." In conformity with this doctrine, the six landless states, led by Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey, insisted that the western limits of those states which claimed territory extending to the Mississippi or the South Sea should be fixed, and that the residue of such territory should be relinquished and quit-claimed to the United States. The landed states, under the leadership of Virginia, whose western possessions were most extensive, were naturally disinclined to surrender the advantages which the possession of an extensive territory was supposed to confer. The leading statesmen of Maryland likewise believed that the possession of these western lands would enable Virginia to replenish her treasury, reduce her taxes, and thereby attract settlers from the neighboring commonwealths which would be placed at a serious economic disadvantage. After an animated and fruitless discussion of this perplexing land question, the delegates who framed the Articles of Confederation incorporated a clause therein providing that “no state shall be deprived of territory for the benefit of the United States.” With this provision the Articles were adopted by Congress and submitted to the several states for ratification on November 15, 1777. By February 22, 1779, all of the states had ratified the Articles except Maryland, although both New Jersey and Delaware submitted resolutions in which they strenuously protested against that provision of the Articles which secured to the landed states the undisturbed possession of their western territories. On May 21, 1779, Maryland categorically instructed her delegates not to sign the Articles until her demands were complied with. As the Articles, by their own provisions, did not become operative until ratified by all the states, the adoption of the proposed government was indefinitely postponed. The universal apprehension and discomfort aroused by this precarious state of affairs was further aggravated by the fact that some of the landed states had opened land offices, made private grants, granted bounties and had otherwise provided for the disposition of their western lands. Yielding to the unmistakable symptoms of discontent aroused by this fresh grievance, Congress, by a vote of eight states to three, passed a resolution on October 30, 1779, requesting the states to discontinue the practice of issuing warrants for unappropriated lands during the continuance of the war, and urging Virginia to reconsider a recent act passed by her general assembly providing for opening a land office. New York, whose western claims were most indefinite, was the first state to respond to this recommendation. On March 7, 1780, her delegates presented an act in Congress, which had been adopted on February 19, by the terms of which they were authorized to limit and restrict the western boundaries of the state in such manner as they might deem expedient, and cede the remainder to the United States for their common use and benefit. On September 6, 1780, Congress adopted the following resolution, the purpose of which was to emphasize the indispensable necessity of a liberal surrender by the landed states of their western territory in order to secure the establishment of the federal union on a permanent basis acceptable to all its members, and to induce Maryland to sign the Articles of Confederation.

(Journal of Congress, XVII, 8061).

Congress took into consideration the report of the committee to whom were referred the instructions of the general assembly of Maryland to their delegates in Congress, respecting the articles of confederation, and the declaration therein referred to, the act of the legislature of New York on the same subject, and the remonstrance of the general assembly of Virginia; which report was agreed to, and is in the words following:

“That having duly considered the several matters to them submitted, they conceive it unnecessary to examine into the merits or the policy of the instructions or declaration of the general assembly of Maryland, or of the remonstrance of the general assembly of Virginia, as they involve questions, a discussion of which was declined on mature consideration, when the articles of confederation were debated; nor, in the opinion of the committee, can such questions be now revived with any prospect of conciliation; that it appears more advisable to press upon these states which can remove the embarrassment respecting the western country, a liberal surrender of a portion of their territorial claims, since they cannot be preserved entire without endangering the

1. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. Edited from the Original Records by W. O. Ford, 1906.

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