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stability of the general confederacy; to remind them how indispensibly necessary it is to establish the federal union on a fixed and permanent basis, and on principles acceptable to all its respective members; how essential to public credit and confidence, to the support of our army, to the vigour of our councils and success of our measures, to our tranquility at home, and our reputation abroad, to our present safety and our future prosperity, to our very existence as a free, sovereign and independent people; that they are fully persuaded the wisdom and magnanimity of the patriotie legislators of these states will on an deeasion of sueh vast magnitude, prompt them to prefer the general security to toost attachment, and the permanency of the confederaey to an unwieldy extent of their respeetive limits, of the respeetive legis latures will lead them to a full and impartial consideration of a subject so interesting to the United States, and so necessary to the happy establishment of the federal union; that they are confirmed in these expectations by a review of the beforementioned act of the legislature of New York, submitted to their consideration; that this act is expressly calculated to accelerate the federal alliance, by removing, as far as it depends on that State, the impediment arising from the western country, and for that purpose to yield up a portion of territori al claim for the general benefit; on-example, which in the opinion of your committee deserves applause, and will produce imitation," Whereupon,
Resolved, That copies of the several papers referred to the committee be transmitted, with a copy of the report, to the legislatures of Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, the several states, and that it be earnestly recommended to those states who have claims to the western country, to pass such laws, and give their delegates in Congress such powers as may effectually remove the only obstacle to a final ratification of the articles of confederation; and that the legislature of Maryland be earnestly requested to authorize their delegates in Congress to subscribe the said articles; And that + copy of the aforementioned remor stranee from the assembly of Virginia and aet of the legislature of New York, together with a copy of this report, be transmitted to the said legislature of Maryland.2 2. Virginia Recommendation Relative to Disposition of Ceded
Western Territory (September 6, 1780). The adoption of the foregoing resolution of September 6 naturally aroused
The parts stricken out were contained in the original resolution as reported to Congress but were deleted on final consideration prior to adoption.
the apprehension of the landed states, particularly Virginia, which had expended a goodly sum of money in subverting British authority in the northwest. Moreover, the recommendations of Congress had inspired considerable speculation as to the ultimate disposition of the western territory by the federal government, after the cessions had been formally consummated. Accordingly, the Virginia delegates presented a motion for the consideration of Congress which is remarkable for the fact that it manifested a disposition on the part of the landed states to yield to the intercessions of Congress, and thus terminate the controversy which had resulted in an en pusse; and it is likewise the earliest adumbration of the territorial policy of the United States.
(Journals of Congress, XVII, 803.] A motion was made by Mr. (Joseph] Jones, seconded by Mr. (James) Madison, respecting the lands that may be ceded in pursuance of the foregoing report and resolve.
That in case the recommendation of Congress to the States of Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia to cede to the United States a portion of their unappropriated Western Territory shall be complied with in such manner as to be approved of by Congress, the Territory so ceded shall be laid out in separate and distinct States at such time and in such manner as Congress shall hereafter direct, so as that no State be less than one hundred or more than one hundred and fifty miles square or as near thereto as circumstances will admit, and that upon such cession being approved of and accepted by Congress the United States will guaranty the remaining Territory to the said States respectively.
That such of the said States as have been at expense in subduing any of the British ·Posts within the Territory proposed to be ceded and in maintaining Garrisons and supporting civil government therein since the reduction of such Posts shall be reimbursed by the Continent the amount of such expense.5
3. This motion was based on the assumption that the congressional recommendation of September 6 would be transmitted to the States of Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, only, as was provided in the unamended draft; it was prepared for introduction before the final adoption of the congressional recommendation and was actually submitted immediately after the passage of that measure.
This provision is repeated in the Congressional Resolution of October 10 (Document No. 3), the Virginia Act of Cession of December 20, 1783 (Document No. 4), the Virginia Deed of Cession of March 1, 1784 (Document No. 5), inferentially in the proposed Ordinance of March 1, 1784 (Document No. 6) and the Ordinance of April 23, 1784 (Document No. 7). The proposition was then abandoned and the plan of creating not less than three nor more than five States substituted in its place and this plan was ratified by Virginia in her act of December 30, 1788 (Document No. 12).
5. This provision refers to the expedition of George Rogers Clark, undertaken by the permission of Governor Patrick Henry of Virginia, financed by that commonwealth, carried out between 1778-1779, and resulting in the capture of Kaskaskia and Vincennes and the subversion of British authority in the southern part of the Northwest Territory.
That all the Lands to be ceded to the United States and not appropriated or disposed of in bounties to the American Army, shall be considered as a common fund for the use and benefit of such of the United States as have become or shall become members of the confederation according to their usual proportions or quot as of general charge and expenditure, and shall be applied and disposed of for that purpose and no other whatsoever, and, therefore, all purchases and deeds from any Indian or Indians, or any Indian Nation or Nations for any Lands within any part of such ceded Territory, which have been or shall be made for the use of any private person or persons whatsoever, shall be deemed and taken as absolutely void.
3. Congressional Plan for Disposition of Ceded Western Territory
(October 10, 1780). On September 9, 1780, after consideration and debate, the Virginia motion (Document No. 2) was referred to a select committee consisting of Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Artemas Ward of Massachusetts, Whitmil! Hill of North Carolina, James Madison of Virginia and John Henry of Maryland. The report submitted by this select committee was taken up for final consideration on October 10, and adopted with a few modifications. Both the motion and the resolution provided for the creation of distinct States, having an area of not less than one hundred nor more than one hundred and fifty miles square; as to the political status of States so created, the resolution went a step in advance of the motion by the specific declaration that States so formed should be sovereign, free, independent and eligible to admission to the federal union on the same footing with the original States. The provisions that unceded portions of territory should be guaranteed to the ceding States, and that the proceeds accruing from the sale and disposition of the western lands should be applied on the obligations of the States “according to their usual proportions or quotas of general charge and expenditure,” were stricken out, and the disposition of such proceeds entrusted to the discretion of Congress.
(Journals of Congress, XVIII, 915.)
Congress resumed the consideration of the report of the committee on the motion made by the delegates of Virginia; and thereupon,
Resolved, That the unappropriated lands that may be ccded or relinquished to the United States, by any particular states, pursuant to the recommendation of Congress of the 6 day of September last, shall be granted and disposed of for the common benefit of all the United States that shall be members of the federat union, and be settled and formed into distinct republican states, which shall become members of the federal union, and have the same rights of sovereignty, freedom and independence, as the other States: that each State which shall be so formed shall contain a suitable extent of territory, not less than one hundred nor more than one hundred and fifty miles square, or as near thereto as circumstances will admit: and that upon such cession being made by any State and approved and accepted by for gress, the United States shall guaranty the remaining territory of the said States respeetively.
That the necessary and reasonable expenses which any particular State shall have incurred since the commencement of the present war, in subduing any of the British posts, or in maintaining forts or garrisons within and for the defence, or in acquiring any part of the territory that may be ceded or relinquished to the United States, shall be reimbursed;
That the said lands shall be granted and settled at such times and under such regulations as shall hereafter be agreed on by the United States in Congress assembled, or any nine or more of them.
That all purchases made of the Indians of any of saithands by private persons, without the approbation of the legislature of the State to whom the right of preëmption belonged, shall not be deemed valid to make a title te sheh purehases.
That no purchases and deeds from any Indians or Indian nations, for lands within the Territory to be ceded or relinquished, which have been made without the approbation of the legislature of the State within whose limits it tay for the use of any private person or persons whatsoever make a title to the purehasers shall not have been ratified by lawful authority, shall be deemed valid or ratified by Congress.
4. Cession of Northwest Territory by Virginia (December 20. 1783).
Prior to March 1, 1784, the territory north of the Ohio river, east of the Mississippi, and west of Pennsylvania was claimed by the States of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia and New York. The claims of Connecticut were based on the terms of her colonial charter of April 20, 1662; the claims of Massachusetts, on the charter of October 7, 1691; the claims of Virginia, on the terms of her charter of May 23, 1609; and the claims of New York, which were indefinite in extent, were based on titles derived from treaties and purchases from the Six Nations. By the terms of the Charter of 1609, Virginia claimed, besides West Virginia, all of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and that part of Minnesota lying east of the
C. The last two paragraphs were postponed.
Mississippi river, being northward to the line of the British possessions as de fined by the treaty of 1783, and comprising the whole of the Northwest Territory. An additional claim to the territory as far north as Lakes Michigan and Erie was based on the military exploits of George Rogers Clark who had subverted the British authority therein for the State of Virginia, during the Revolutionary War. Massachusetts claimed a strip of territory about seventy or eighty miles in width, comprehended between the parallels of 42° 2' and 43° 43' 12" north latitude, extending from Lake Huron westward to the Mississippi, being the western prolongation of her colonial grant, and comprising the southern portions of the States of Michigan and Wisconsin and the extreme northern portion of the State of Illinois. The Connecticut claim extended from the western boundary of Pennsylvania to the Mississippi river and was comprehended between the parallels of 41° and 42° 2' north latitude and formed the northern part of the States of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. As has been shown, the first patriotic movement looking to the cession of the western lands was made by New York. On March 1, 1781, James Duane, William Floyd and Alexander M'Dougall, the delegates of New York in Congress, executed a deed agreeing to restrict the western boundary and quit-claiming the jurisdiction of New York over her western lands. On October 29, 1782, Congress, on behalf of the United States, accepted this cession and it was further confirmed by an act of the State of New York on April 19, 1785. The next State to respond was Virginia. The first act of cession was passed on January 2, 1781, but stipulated conditions which Congress was disinclined to accept. After long considering the terms stipulated by Virginia, and after the cession of New York had been definitely accepted, Congress, on September 13, 1783, specified the terms on which the cession would be accepted, and these terms were agreed to by Virginia and incorporated in the Virginia Act of Cession which was passed on December 20, 1783. The only territorial reservation in this cession was a tract of land not exceeding 150,000 acres in extent to be allowed and granted to General George Rogers Clark and the officers and soldiers who served with him during the reduction of the military posts of Kaskaskies and St. Vincents.? The total disputed and undisputed area of western territory ceded by Virginia to the United States aggregated 265,562 square miles and included, of course, the claims of Connecticut and Massachusetts. The next State to take action was Massachusetts. On November 13, 1784, the general court of Massachusetts authorized three of her delegates to cede her claims to the western lands to the United States. On March 17, 1785, a supplementary act was passed empowering any two delegates to execute the deed of transfer. On April 19, 1785, the deed was formally executed by Samuel Holten and Rufus King and was accepted by Congress the same day. The territory ceded contained an aggregate area of 54,000 square miles. On October 10, 1780, Connecticut tendered the cession of her lands to the United States with certain restrictions which Congress refused to accept.
7. This reservation, which is known as “Clark's Grant'' or the "Illinois Grant," is located in Clark, Scott and Floyd counties, Indiana, just above the Falls of the Ohio river, and was selected by Colonel Clark and several other military officers appointed for that purpose. It was the first land in the State to be surveyed, and, with the Vincennes tract, is the only exception to the general survey of the State. It was divided into tracts of five hundred acres each, and a town site of 1,000 acres was set aside by the State of Virginia and named Clarksville.