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from Fincastle. The boundaries of these counties are described by Hening.2


In 1789 Virginia passed an act giving consent that the district of Kentucky be formed into a new State. Accordingly, by an act of Congress approved February 4, 1791, effective June 1, 1792,24 Kentucky was admitted into the Union with substantially its present boundaries.

The cession by Virginia to the United States of the territory northwest of the Ohio, in 1784, made the north bank of that river the dividing line, and consequently it became the north boundary of the State of Kentucky, the exact line being fixed by the low-water stage of the river.25 The western boundary, the middle of the Mississippi, was the line fixed by the treaty of peace in 1783.

The Supreme Court decided in 1820,26 in a suit before it for the possession as a part of Kentucky of a tract of land on the north side of the Ohio, which at high water became an island, that

No land can be considered an island unless it is surrounded by water at all times. The same tract of land can not be sometimes in Kentucky and sometimes in Indiana, according to the rise and fall of the river. It must be always in the one State or the other.

For a history of the boundary between Kentucky and Virginia and West Virginia, see Virginia, page 142; for the boundary between Kentucky and Tennessee, see Tennessee, page 183.

A peculiar situation exists at the extreme southwest corner of Kentucky, where, owing to a double bend in the Mississippi River, there is an area of about 10 square miles belonging to Kentucky that can not be reached from the rest of the State without passing through a part of Missouri or Tennessee.


Ohio was the first State formed from the original "Territory northwest of the River Ohio." The congressional enabling act, approved April 30, 1802,27 contained certain provisos with which the constitution of the proposed State must comply. It seems evident, therefore, that the constitution as framed required the approval of Congress before it became effective.

The constitutional convention completed its labors November 29, 1802; the constitution was referred to Congress and first considered in the Senate in January, 1803. Apparently it complied with the provisos of the enabling act, for under date of February 19, 1803, an

28 Hening, W. W., The statutes at large, a collection of all laws of Virginia, vol. 9, p. 257, 1821; vol. 10, p. 315, 1822.

24 1 Stat. L. 189.

Wheaton 374; 136 U. S. 479.

26 Wheaton 374.

272 Stat. L. 173.

act was approved "to provide for the due execution of the laws of the United States within the State of Ohio," 28 in which reference was made to the action of the convention, thus virtually approving the constitution as submitted, although it provided for a change in the boundary described in the enabling act. Referring to the constitution as adopted, this act states, "whereby the said State became one of the United States of America." An act approved February 21, 1806,20 appropriated money for the payment of salaries of the governor, secretary, and judges of the "late Territory" of Ohio from November 29, 1802, to "the first Tuesday in March, 1803" (March 1). It appears from this that March 1, 1803, was the date on which Congress assumed that Ohio statehood came into full effect. In further confirmation of this conclusion it should be noted that the Territorial Delegate in Congress retained his seat until March 1, 1803, and the first general assembly of the State convened on the same date.3° Nevertheless, November 29, 1802, is most generally accepted as the date when Ohio became a State.

The limits of the State as given in the enabling act are as follows: 31 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 the 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 southerly 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 line, 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 the constitution of Ohio, article 7, section 6, the boundaries are described in the same words used in the enabling act but with the following proviso:

Provided always, and it is hereby fully understood and declared by this convention, that if the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan should extend so far south, that a line drawn due east from it should not intersect Lake Erie, or if it should intersect said Lake Erie east of the mouth of the Miami River [now Maumee River] of the Lake, then, and in that case, with the assent of the Congress of the United States, the northern boundary of this State shall be established by, and extending to, a direct line running from the

28 2 Stat. L. 201.

29 2 Stat, L. 350.

30 For a full discussion of this question see Mag. Am. History, October, 1887, pp. 306316. See also Tannehill, J. W., Ohio interrogation points, p. 9, Columbus, 1920. a 2 Stat. L. 173.

southern extremity of Lake Michigan to the most northerly cape of the Miami Bay, after intersecting the due north line from the mouth of the Great Miami River as aforesaid; thence northeast to the territorial line, and by the said territorial line to the Pennsylvania line.

The framers of the Ohio constitution had good reason for believing that the description of the northern boundary given in the enabling act was based on inaccurate maps 32 and that this description, if adhered to, would deprive the State of a large area that Congress intended it should have, and for this reason they inserted the proviso in the constitution. Ohio was admitted to the Union as a State without specific acceptance or rejection by Congress of this proviso.

In 1812 Congress authorized the survey of the line 33 as described in the enabling act of 1802, but the work was not undertaken until several years later, and then but little was accomplished.

Lines were run in 1817 by William Harris, under the direction of the surveyor general of Ohio, presumably by authority of the act of 1812 first a random or trial line due east from the southern extremity of Lake Michigan to the western Ohio line and another from the most northerly cape of Maumee Bay west and south to the due east line. Manuscript copies of the notes and plats of these lines are filed in the General Land Office. From the data thus obtained a true line was then run for the northern boundary of Ohio as described in the State constitution, on which 71 marks were established at mile intervals. This line is from 5 to 7 miles north of the due east line from the southern extremity of Lake Michigan. (See fig. 17.) When news of this survey reached the Governor of Michigan it naturally called forth vigorous protests from him as well as from other residents of the Territory: After considerable fruitless discussion a committee was sent from Michigan to Washington to seek redress, with the result that an order was given to run the line as authorized by the act of 1812. This line was run in 1818. Congress neither confirmed nor rejected it. Ohio, as was to be expected, refused to accept it.

In order to have data for settling the dispute Congress in 1832 31 ordered the determination of latitude and longitude at important points on the two lines, and the positions of eight stations were found, but apparently no use was made of them. As time passed the boundary disputes grew more bitter until a crisis was reached in February, 1835, when the Ohio Legislature passed a resolution declaring the northern line to be the true boundary of the State and ordering that the State's jurisdiction be extended to that line.

32 See Lake Michigan as shown on the Mitchell map (pl. 5); also fig. 17; many other maps published prior to 1800 showed the lake in the same relative position.

33 2 Stat. L. 741.

34 4 Stat. L. 596.

Armed troops were assembled by both sides, and civil war seemed imminent. The President, Congress, and the courts were called on to settle the trouble, and a commission was sent from Washington in the hope of effecting a compromise.35 Finally better judgment prevailed; Michigan was induced to suspend hostile actions, principally from the hope of statehood with increased territory on the north and a share in the allotment of public funds. Ohio on her part had every expectation of obtaining the coveted territory, and so this bloodless war came to an end.

Michigan Territory had for several years had a population large enough for admission to the Union as a State, but action was delayed because of the boundary dispute.

On June 15, 1836, an act was approved to establish the northern boundary of Ohio and admit Michigan as a State, provided the new State, by vote of a convention called for the purpose, accepted the boundary as thus described: 36

the northern boundary line of the State of Ohio shall be established at and shall be a direct line drawn from the southern extremity of Lake Michigan, to the most northerly cape of the Maumee (Miami) Bay, after that line, so drawn, shall intersect the eastern boundary line of the State of Indiana; and from the said north cape of the said bay, northeast to the boundary line between the United States and the Province of Upper Canada, in Lake Erie; and thence, with the said last-mentioned line, to its intersection with the western line of the State of Pennsylvania.

The line as above established was confirmed by congressional act of June 23, 1836,87 thus giving Ohio full control over an area of 520 square miles, long in dispute.

The first Michigan convention voted against the acceptance of this boundary, but another one voted for its acceptance in December, 1836. The line as surveyed and marked in 1817 thus became the northern boundary of Ohio.

Parts of the line as marked in 1817 were retraced and re-marked in 1837 and 1842 by the General Land Office.

In 1915 the legislatures of the two States authorized the resurvey and monumenting of the line. All existing marks of the previous surveys were to be recovered, and where none existed straight lines were to be run between known points. The survey was commenced at the northwest corner of the State of Ohio, which, being in a public road, was marked by a large granite block set 12 inches below the road surface and by a granite "witness" post 12 by 12 inches in section and 512 feet long set on the line 20 feet east of the corner. The position of this corner, which is on the Indiana line, is latitude 41°

See Way, W. V., The facts and historical events of the Toledo war of 1835, Toledo, 1869; and Faris, J. T., The romance of the boundaries, ch. 16, New York, 1926.

38 5 Stat. L. 49.

5 Stat. L. 56.

41′ 46.20", longitude 84° 48′ 21.10". The line is somewhat irregular, sections of it ranging from N. 85° 27′ E. to N. 89° 41′ E., with a mean of about N. 87° 55′ E. true bearing.

The last post set on the line (No. 71) is about 900 feet from the shore of Maumee Bay, and its position is latitude 41° 43′ 56.63", longitude 83° 27′ 16.97". The position of each of the other posts and the distance and bearing from each to the next are set forth in the Ohio State report of 1916, which gives a historical sketch of the line.38

The west boundary of Ohio is that fixed by the enabling acta line due north from the mouth of the Miami River.3 39 It was surveyed and marked in 1799 from the south end northward to Fort Recovery as the first principal meridian of the General Land Office. (See fig. 16.) This line was extended to the present northwest corner of the State in 1817.

The south boundary is the low-water line on the north bank of the Ohio.

For a description of the east boundary see Pennsylvania, page 123.


By the act approved May 7, 1800, to take effect on and after July 4 of that year, the "Territory northwest of the River Ohio" was divided into two parts, the eastern part to retain the old name, the western part to become the Territory of Indiana. (See fig. 16.) The description of the boundary line between these two Territories is given in the act as follows: 40

That from and after the fourth day of July next, all that part of the territory of the United States northwest of the Ohio river, which lies to the westward of a line beginning at the Ohio, opposite to the mouth of Kentucky river, and running thence to Fort Recovery, and thence north until it shall intersect the territorial line between the United States and Canada, shall, for the purpose of temporary government, constitute a separate Territory, and be called Indiana Territory.

That whenever that part of the territory of the United States which lies to the eastward of a line beginning at the mouth of the Great Miami river, and running thence due north to the territorial line between the United States and Canada, shall be erected into an independent state, and admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original states, thenceforth said line shall become and remain permanently the boundary line between such State and the Indiana Territory, anything in this act contained to the contrary notwithstanding.

38 Sherman, C. E., The Ohio-Michigan boundary. See also Soule, A. M., The southern and western boundaries of Michigan: Michigan Pioneer and Hist. Coll., vol. 27, pp. 346378, Lansing, 1897, which gives an excellent history of the boundary dispute with many references; and 24th Cong., 1st sess., S. Doc. 6, 1835, which gives a history of the line down to 1835.

89 The present mouth of the Miami River is a short distance east of the mouth in 1799. 40 2 Stat. L. 58.

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