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South Carolina, August 9, 1787.
The following paragraph from the deed of cession by New York defines the limits of its grant to the General Government: 70
Now, therefore, know ye, that we, the said James Duane, William Floyd, and Alexander M’Dougall, by virtue of the power and authority, and in the execution of the trust reposed in us, as aforesaid, have judged it expedient to limit and restrict, and we do, by these presents, for and in behalf of the said State of New York, limit and restrict the boundaries of the said State in the western parts thereof, with respect to the jurisdiction, as well as the right or pre emption of soil, by the lines and in the form following, that is to say: A line from the northeast corner of the State of Pennsylvania, along the north bounds thereof to its northwest corner, continued due west until it shall be intersected by a meridian line, to be drawn from the forty-fifth degree of north latitude, through the most westerly bent or inclination of Lake Ontario; thence by the said meridian line to the forty-fifth degree of north latitude; and thence by the said forty-fifth degree of north latitude; but, if on experiment, the abovedescribed meridian line shall not comprehend twenty miles due west from the most westerly bent or inclination of the river or strait of Niagara, then we do, by these presents, in the name of the people, and for and on behalf of the State of New York, and by virtue of the authority aforesaid, limit and restrict the boundaries of the said State in the western parts thereof, with respect to jurisdiction, as well as the right of pre-emption of soil, by the lines and in the manner following, that is to say: a line from the northeast corner of the State of Pennsylvania, along the north bounds thereof, to its northwest corner, continued due west until it shall be intersected by a meridian line, to be drawn from the forty-fifth degree of north latitude, through a point twenty miles due west from the most westerly bent or inclination of the river or strait Niagara; thence by the said meridian line to the forty-fifth, degree of north latitude, and thence by the said forty-fifth degree of north latitude;
The following paragraph from the deed of cession by Massachusetts gives the limits of the area ceded : 71
[We) do, by these presents assign, transfer, quitclaim, cede, and convey to the United States of America, for their benefit, Massachusetts inclusive, ail right, title, and estate of and in, as well the soil as the jurisdiction, which the said Commonwealth hath to the territory or tract of country within the limits of the Massachusetts charter situate and lying west of the following line, that is to say, a meridian line to be drawn from the forty-fifth degree of north latitude through the westerly bent or inclination of Lake Ontario, thence by the said meridian line to the most southerly side line of the territory contained in the Massachusetts charter; but if on experiment the above-described meridian line shall not comprehend twenty miles due west from the most westerly bent or inclination of the river or strait of Niagara, then we do by these presents, by virtue of the power and authority aforesaid, in the name and on behalf of the said Commonwealth of Massachusetts, transfer, quitclaim, cede, and convey to the United States of America, for their benefit, Massachusetts inclusive, all right, title, and estate of and in as well the soil as the jurisdiction, which the
70 Donaldson, Thomas, The public domain, its history with statistics, p. 67, Washington, Public Land Commission, 1884.
71 Idem, pp. 71–72.
said Commonwealth hath to the territory or tract of country within the limits of the Massachusetts charter, situate and lying west of the following line, that is to say, a meridian line to be drawn from the forty-fifth degree of north latitude through a point twenty miles due west from the most westerly bent or inclination of the river or strait of Niagara; thence by the said meridian line to the most southerly side line of the territory contained in the Massachusetts charter aforesaid,
The following clause from the act of the Legislature of Connecticut, authorizing the cession, defines its limits : 72 Be it enacted
That the delegates of this State, or any two of them, who shall be attending the Congress of the United States, be, and they are hereby, directed, authorized, and fully empowered, in the name and behalf of this State, to make, execute, and deliver, under their hands and seals, an ample deed of release and cession of all the right, title, interest, jurisdiction, and claim of the State of Connecticut to certain western lands, beginning at the completion of the forty-first degree of north latitude, one hundred and twenty miles west of the western boundary line of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as now claimed by said Commonwealth, and from thence by a line drawn north, parallel to and one hundred and twenty miles west of the said west line of Pennsylvania, and to continue north until it comes to forty-two degrees and two minutes north latitude. Whereby all the right, title, interest, jurisdiction, and claim of the State of Connecticut, to the lands lying west of said line to be drawn as aforementioned, one hundred and twenty miles west of the western boundary line of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as now claimed by said Commonwealth, shall be included, released, and ceded to the United States in Congress assembled, for the common use and benefit of the said States, Connecticut inclusive.
Connecticut reserved by this deed both the title and jurisdiction over a tract of her western lands lying between the western boundary of Pennsylvania and the then eastern boundary of her cession, comprising a strip 120 miles long and of irregular width lying between parallels 41° and 42° 2' N. (the northeastern part of the present State of Ohio) and known as the “Western Reserve” of Connecticut in Ohio. Connecticut by act of legislature in October, 1797, tendered a release of jurisdiction over this tract to the United States, which Congress accepted April 28, 1800, and Connecticut confirmed May 30, 1800. A portion of this area, lying in the present Ohio counties of Erie, Huron, and Ottawa, was known as the “Fire lands” from the fact that the lands were donated by Connecticut for the use of citizens of Danbury and other places as a recompense for losses by fire and raids by British troops during the Revolution. The cession of South Carolina was described as follows:
all the territory or tract of country included within the river Mississippi and a line beginning at that part of the said river which is intersected by the southern boundary line of the State of North Carolina, and continuing along the said boundary line until it intersects the ridge or chain of mountains
12 Donaldson, Thomas, op. cit., p. 73. 16 Idem, p. 76.
which divides the eastern from the western waters, then to be continued along the top of said ridge of mountains until it intersects a line to be drawn due west from the head of the southern branch of Tugoloo River to the said mountains; and thence to run a due west course to the river Mississippi.
The State of North Carolina ceded 74
the lands situated within the chartered limits of this State, west of a line beginning on the extreme height of the Stone Mountain, at the place where the Virginia line intersects it; running thence along the extreme height of the said mountain, to the place where the Wataugo River breaks through it; thence a direct course to the top of the Yellow Mountain where Bright's road crosses the same; thence along the ridge of the said mountain, between the waters of Doe River and the waters of Rock Creek, to the place where the road crosses the Iron Mountain; from thence along the extreme height of the said mountain to where Nolichucky River runs through the same; thence to the top of the Bald Mountain; thence along the extreme height of the said mountain, to the Painted Rock, on French Broad River; thence along the highest ridge of the said mountain, to the place where it is called the Great Iron or Smoaky Mountain; thence along the extreme height of the said mountain, to the place where it is called the Unicoy or Unaka Mountain, between the Indian towns of Cowee and Old Chota; thence along the main ridge of the said mountain to the southern boundary of this State.
It will be noted that the above description of the eastern boundary of her ceded possessions agrees in general terms with the description of the western boundary of North Carolina, as given on page 149.
The articles of cession by Georgia describe the area ceded as follows:
the lands situated within the boundaries of the United States, south of the State of Tennessee, and west of a line beginning on the western bank of the Chatahouchee River, where the same crosses the boundary line between the United States and Spain; running thence up the said river Chatahouchee, and along the western bank thereof to the great bend thereof, next above the place where a certain creek or river, called “Uchee" (being the first considerable stream on the western side, above the Cussetas and Coweta towns), empties into the said Chatahouchee River; thence in a direct line to Nickajack, on the Tennessee River; thence crossing the said last-mentioned river, and thence running up the said Tennessee River, and along the western bank thereof, to the southern boundary line of the State of Tennessee.
Of the area conveyed by these cessions to the General Government the part lying north of the Ohio was afterward erected into the
territory northwest of the River Ohio," and the rest lying south of that river, was known as the "territory south of the River Ohio." This did not include the area of the present State of Kentucky, which remained as a part of Virginia until it was admitted as a State in 1792.
The United States by act of Congress of September 9, 1850, purchased from the State of Texas about 124,000 square miles of land which Texas claimed when admitted to the Union. This land is now included in the States of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. (See fig. 14.)
74 Donaldson, Thomas, op. cit., p. 77 ; 1 Stat. L. 106. 78 Donaldson, Thomas, op. cit., p. 80.
TERRITORY NORTHWEST OF THE OHIO RIVER
The territory north of the Ohio was bounded on the west by the Mississippi and a line running north from its source to the international boundary, on the north by the boundary line between the United States and the British possessions, on the east by the Pennsylvania and New York State lines, and on the south by the Ohio River. (See fig. 10.) It comprised an area of approximately 278,000 square miles. It was made up of claims of individual States as follows:
1. Virginia claims, which consisted of all the territory west of Pennsylvania and north of the Ohio to the 41st parallel of north latitude, and above that her claim by capture as far as the northern limits of the land under the Crown which had been subject to the jurisdiction of the Province of Quebec and as far as Lakes Michigan and Huron.
2. The claim of Connecticut, which extended from the 41st parallel northward to the parallel of 42° 2' and from the west line of Pennsylvania to the Mississippi River.
3. The claim of Massachusetts, which extended from the north line of the Connecticut claim above noted to latitude 43° 43' 12'' N. and from the western boundary of New York to the Mississippi.
4. The belt or zone lying north of the Massachusetts claim, extending thence to the Canada line and west to the Mississippi River, obtained from Great Britain by the treaty of peace of September 3, 1783, became public domain after the Virginia cession.
5. At the time of the cession by the State of Virginia both Massachusetts and New York claimed the Erie triangle of about 324 square miles, which was subsequently bought by Pennsylvania and added to that State (p. 124).
From this territory were formed the States of Ohio, Indiana Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, that part of Minnesota east of the Mississippi River, and the northwest corner of Pennsylvania.
On July 13, 1787, a bill for its provisional division into not less than three nor more than five States was passed by Congress. In this bill the limits of the proposed States were defined, corresponding in their north and south lines to the present boundaries of Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. The following extract gives the text of the ordinance defining these boundaries : 77
76 Donaldson, Thomas, op. cit., p. 161.
ARTICLE 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 said territory shall be bounded by the Mississippi, the Ohio, and the Wabash rivers; a direct line . drawn from the Wabash and Post Vincents 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 Vincents 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 les north of an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan.
Apparently this ordinance was not put in force until a provisional government was instituted by the appointment of a governor and secretary on February 1, 1788.
By act of May 7, 1800, Congress divided the “ territory northwest of the Ohio” into two separate governments and ordered that 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 purposes of temporary government constitute a separate territory, and be called the Indiana Territory.
The eastern portion was called the “ territory northwest of the River Ohio," and and a large part of it was admitted to the Union in 1802 78 as the State of Ohio. The remainder was added to Indiana Territory. (See fig. 16.)
In 1805 all that part of Indiana Territory lying north of a parallel drawn through the most southerly bend of Lake Michigan and east of a line drawn from the same point through the middle of Lake Michigan and north to the Canadian line became the Territory of Michigan. (See fig. 17.)
77 Donaldson, Thomas, op. cit., p. 155. For a plan with maps, proposed by a committee of which Jefferson was chairman, for the subdivision of the territory northwest of the Ohio, which was practically adopted by Congress in 1784, see Wisconsin Hist. Coll., vol. 2, p. 452, Madison, 1888. See also Smith, W. H., The St. Clair papers, vol. 2, P. 603, Appendix 1 (Force, Peter, The ordinance of 1787 and its history), Cincinnati, 1882 ; for text of the ordinance, see Poore, Ben Perley, Federal and State constitutions, etc., pt. 1, p. 429, 1877.
78 There is some uncertainty regarding this date. See footnote 30, p. 187.