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to the proprietors of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Carolina. The western portion of Virginia under the charters he had disposed of by the Proclamation of 1763. Of all these claims, that of New York alone had no relation to royal grants. The Six Nations, or the League of the Iroquois, had submitted to the governor of New York as representative of the king. New York now asserted that the submission had been made to the colony of New York and that the State of that name was entitled to all the lands over which the Iroquois had ever exercised dominion. This territory included nearly all the land beween the Alleghanies and the Mississippi north of the Ohio, and some land south of that river. Virginia also claimed the lands lying north of the Ohio by right of conquest, the British posts in that region having been captured by an expedition organized and paid for by Virginia. It will be noticed that no State seemed to regard the Quebec Act as binding. Nor did any State pay the slightest heed to the Proclamation of 1763, except Georgia, and that only as the Proclamation added to her territory. Yet it must be conceded that all the lands claimed under the charters except perhaps those claimed by Connecticut and Massachusetts had reverted to the Crown years before. Six States — Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island - could assert no title whatever to western lands unless as a part of the common property of the United States. Maryland was most seriously affected by the demands of the claimant States. Virginia, her southern neighbour, had already granted lands west of the mountains and proposed to liquidate her war debts and pension her soldiers by other similar grants. Maryland, having no such fund at her disposal, would be obliged to raise money by taxation to satisfy the just demands of her creditors and of her veterans. It seemed not improbable that under these circumstances large numbers of Marylanders would emigrate to Virginia, and that the former State would become


The Articles of Confederation.


In this way

of Confederation.

impoverished. Maryland, therefore, refused to ratify the Articles of Confederation unless the States claiming lands should cede their claims to the United States. After a long delay, New York, whose title was of the weakest kind, ceded it to the United States. Maryland then, trusting in the goodwill of the other States, ratified the Articles. The claimant States slowly, making as good bargains as possible for themselves, ceded the lands to which they regarded themselves as entitled - Georgia's cession in 1801 being the last. came into being the “national domain,” whose administration almost necessitated the continuance of a national government.

The Articles of Confederation, thus brought into operation, have seldom received due consideration at the hands of historical writers. They have always of the Articles

Importance been considered from the point of view of the Constitution which came later. The Articles should be considered from the more historical standpoint of what went before. They formed an essential step in the historical process by which the American people emerged from the colonial stage and formed itself into a nation. The Articles were drafted by men who had regarded the British Empire as a federative union, with the loosest possible bond of union in the shape of a helpless executive. They sought to reproduce such a federation with a representative executive instead of a king. Such a form of government was impossible, but experience was necessary to convince the American people of the impossibility.

The new union was in no sense a legislative union like that of England and Scotland in 1707. It resembled more the old union of those kingdoms through the new a chief magistrate, only in this case the chief magistrate was a body of men.

a body of men. It might well be termed, therefore, an executive union. The colonies had been united under a common executive, the British king — at least that was

Character of


the theory. They replaced him by a Congress composed of delegates from the several States, each State having one vote and the assent of nine States being necessary for the transaction of important business. Congress furthermore was designed to act as arbiter in disputes between the several States. The Congress had almost no legislative power, no power to lay taxes, nor to regulate commerce with foreign powers or between the States. It could recommend legislation to the States and make requisitions for money. On paper

its executive powers were ample. To it belonged, for instance, the determination of war and peace, the regulation of the monetary standard, and the right to coin money. It also could exercise an admiralty jurisdiction; and treaties made by Congress were to be a part of the supreme law of the land. The weak point in the scheme was the absence of a sanction. Congress had no coercive power over individuals; it could act on individuals only through the State governments, and it had no power to coerce a State. Congress determined how much money should be raised for national purposes, and apportioned the amount among the States.

It could not compel a State to pay one dollar; nor could it raise one dollar by an Act of Congress. The next few years demonstrated the viciousness of this system, and accordingly it was swept away and a strong consolidated government established in its stead. Nevertheless, the establishment of the Confederation under these defective articles was an event of the very greatest importance. It was possible for the people in 1777-81 to have established thirteen distinct governments, the inhabitants of each State forming a nation. The establishment of any central government, powerless though that government may have been, was one of those steps which never can be retraced. The lines of development were then marked out in the direction of nationality.

It may be asked how it happened that the control of the national domain remained in the hands of the United States.


The Ordinance of 1787.


The National Domain.

The Ordi

Why was not the territory acquired from Great Britain and the claimant States parcelled out among the States according to population or in some other ratio? In the first place, it would have been exceedingly difficult, perhaps impossible, to have made a division which would have been at all satisfactory. Moreover the people really seem to have had some consciousness of nationality. The United States was merely one portion split off from the British Empire. In the old empire the title to and the administration of ungranted lands was in the Crown. It was natural, therefore, that in the new republic the joint executive which succeeded to the other functions of the Crown should inherit this function also. It will be convenient to here trace the further history of this subject.

By the autumn of 1784, all the States claiming lands to the north and west of the Ohio River had ceded their claims to the United States with certain excep

nance of 1787. tions, as in the cases of Connecticut and Virginia. Congress at that time passed an Ordinance, mainly the work of Jefferson, providing for the ultimate formation of several grotesquely named States, as Polypotamia and Assenisippia. The Ordinance also contained a clause forbidding slavery in all the western territory after 1800. In 1787 the matter was taken up in earnest, owing to the persistence of a New England land and emigration company, which was unable to induce settlers to go to the new country unless they and their descendants should first be guaranteed full civil rights there. Congress, in compliance with this demand, although plainly nowhere vested with any such constitutional power, passed the well-known Ordinance of 1787, which was confirmed by the first Congress under the Constitution. With the exception of the Declaration of Independence and the Federal Constitution, no political instrument has produced more important results for the United States than has this Ordinance. As new terriC. A.


tory has been organized this Ordinance with the occasional exception of the clause forbidding slavery has been the basis of the territorial organization. The Ordinance of 1787 provided a temporary government for the Territory North-west of the River Ohio by officials appointed by Congress. As soon as the settlers in the new territory should number five thousand, a representative legislature should be elected; and the people of the territory might send a delegate to Congress who, however, should have no vote in that body. Provision was made for the ultimate formation of six States out of the territory and they were to be admitted to the Union, on a footing of complete equality with the original States. The people of each State should frame a constitution for that State, which must be republican in form and receive the approval of Congress. The settlers who should go to the new territory were guaranteed civil rights, as, for instance, the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus, trial by jury, bail, and free representation in the legislature. The legislature was forbidden to make any laws impairing the obligation of private contracts formed previous to the passage of such law. It was also provided that education should be encouraged and the Indians properly treated. The three most important provisions of the Ordinance, however, and those which have given it a place in history, are those providing for the equal distribution of the estates of intestates, prohibiting the molestation of any person on account of his mode of worship or religious opinions, and forbidding absolutely and for ever slavery except as a punishment for crime — with a provision for the rendition of fugitive slaves. The precise meaning and binding force of the Ordinance and of its several parts are questions which have agitated courts, both State and national, legislatures, constitutional conventions, and congresses. It has been generally held that these guarantees were in the nature of a compact between the United States and the people of the new territory, and of the States formed from it, and could not be abrogated without

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