Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

through the southerly extreme of Lake Michigan, until it intersects Lake Erie or the territorial line; thence with the same, through Lake Erie, to the Pennsylvania line. This boundary, therefore, is based on the assumption that that east and west line will touch the territorial line (which is the northern boundary line of the United States) in Lake Erie, or north of it; otherwise, it could not, without changing its direction, run with it, through Lake Erie, to the Pennsylvania line.

But that line does not touch the northern boundary line of the United States at any point in Lake Erie. The act of the 14th July, 1832, directs the President" to cause to be ascertained (amongst other things) by accurate observation, the latitude and longitude of the southerly extreme of Lake Michigan.” Also, “that he cause to be ascertained, with all practicable accuracy, the latitude and longitude of the most southerly part in the northern boundary line of the United States in Lake Erie. The performance of this duty was, as a matter of course, assigned by the President to the War Department. And among the Executive Documents of 1833–34, vol. 6, doc. 497, is found the report, in part, of the engineer employed to perform that service. He fixes the latitude of the southern extreme of Lake Michigan at 41° 37' 7.9" north. His observations as to the southern point of the northern boundary of the United States in Lake Erie do not lay claim to accuracy, but he supposes it to be in latitude 41° 38' 38", being north of the east and west line 1 mile 1440 yards. But there was another and better mode of ascertaining the last-named fact than that adopted by the Department. It will be remembered that commissioners were appointed by the United States and Great Britain to mark the boundary between the two countries, under the treaty of Ghent. This duty was performed. This line was marked with great care through the western part of Lake Erie, and the map showing its position is among the archives of state. I hold in my hand a letter from Thomas P. Jones, keeper of the archives, directed to Mr. Vinton, of the Ohio delegation in the House of Representatives, dated January 7, 1335, in which he states that he has carefully examined the map of Lake Erie as laid down and marked out by those commissioners, and that he finds the latitude of the most southern point to be 41° 39' 43', as nearly as he can ascertain by the scale, but that the measurement may possibly vary a second or so from the truth. So that the east and west line would not touch the northern boundary line by about three miles. I understand, however, (for I have not yet seen the report,) that the Department has at last brought the two lines together. Lake Michigan, I believe, still holds its first position-its southern extremity would move no farther north; but the boundary line between the United States and Great Britain has been found more flexible, and has come about four miles south of the point at which it was fixed by the commissioners under the treaty of Ghent. This has, it is true, been an ex parte proceeding by the United States; but Great Britain cannot object to it, as it gives her (if the new position of the line be adhered to ) jurisdiction over many miles of the surface of the lake, which was assigned by the joint commissioners to the United States. For the present, however, I am disposed to consider the line run by the commissioners of the United States and Great Britain, in pursuance of a treaty stipulation, as the true boundary between the two countries. Taking, then, the position of the southerly extreme of

Lake Michigan, as found by Captain Talcott, and the southern point of the northern boundary line of the United States in Lake Erie, as settled by the commissioners, and as measured on their map by the keeper of the public archives, it is clear that these lines do not close, and that one of them must be varied by legislative enactment or judicial construction, or the State of Ohio has no boundary. This state of things could not have been in accordance with the intent and purpose of the framers of the law of April 30, 1802.

The line, then, so far as it touches the boundary of Ohio, was intended, by the Congress of the United States, to be where it appears on Mitchell's map, and the other maps of the day. If this were the case of two individuals contracting for the transfer of land, who had been governed in their contract by a plat spread out before them, and if such contract had been made, and such map exhibited as showing the boundary between them-1 ask every land lawyer here, if a reference in the deed to some remote object, as that from which one of the boundary lines should emanate, when the position of that object was proved to have been mistaken by the parties, would control the bounds of the grant? In equity would it? Would it between man and man, the facts being fully made out? Would it be permitted to defeat the manifest intent and purpose of both parties? We know well it would not. We know that where the lines and bounds of a tract of land are shown by the vendor to the purchaser, either upon the ground or upon a plat, and the description in the deed does not cover it, no matter whether by accident or design, a court of equity will hold the conveyance to be accordirg to the boundary shown, and so correct the deed. In the acts of Governments, there is no distinction between law and equity. The appeal to law, as it regards a nation, is an appeal to the national sense of justice; and an obligation much less strong than that which would move a court of equity, in the case of an individual, ought to be sufficient, especially in a case like this, to command the action of a just and generous nation.

But Congress not only intended to give a boundary which included the mouth of the Miami of the lake and its bay, but the people of Ohio, in convention, asked and expected to receive it. They believed the line included the Miami bay, and a doubt was for the first time thrown upon it by information received from a trapper, who returned from the shores of Lake Michigan while the convention was in session, which caused the insertion of the proviso in the 6th section of the 7th article of the constitution. This constitution was accepted by Congress without a syllable, yea or nay, on the subject of the proviso. It was accepted all together, the proviso forming a part of it. No objection was urged to it by Congress, or by the committee of Congress which reported on the constitution. And when we consider that this proviso was fully and entirely in accordance with the end and aim of the resolution of Congress of the 7th of July, 1786, which asks of Virginia a modification of her deed of cession, with a view to regard natural boundaries and the commercial relations of the contemplated States; that it accorded with the views of the Legislature of Virginia, who changed their deed of cession for that express and declared purpose; that it accords with the views of the framers of the ordinance of 1787, as appears by the map of their day, showing their opinion of the line which should bound the contemplated States; that it ac

4

cords, also, with the opinion of the Congress who passed the law under which Ohio formed her contitution and State Government; that this proviso, the solemn act of that people of Ohio, met in convention, declares that as a part of their constitution they ask and claim of Congress that boundary; and, finally, when it is considered that the whole constitution was accepted without a dissent to that proviso, I think a strong case of equitable, if not legal right, is presented on the part of Ohio, for the definitive sanction of the boundary which she claims; and that it is an irresistible appeal to the sense of justice of the nation. And I, for one, care not whether this act be passed on the ground that Ohio is entitled to the boundary claimed by law, by equity, or on principles of political justice and expediency; but sure I am that the people of that State feel strongly that the concession is due them, and that dissatisfaction will be general and deep if it be withheld.

But it is said that the rights of Michigan are implicated in the adjustment proposed by this bill, and that it cannot pass without doing injustice to that Territory; but, for myself, I can discover nothing solid in this objection. I have already shown that that Territory has no right to any particular boundary, either by virtue of the ordinance of 1787, or any of the acts of Congress. If I have succeeded in establishing this, what is left of her claim on those general principles of political justice and expediency, to which I have appealed in behalf of Ohio ?

Michigan is a temporary territorial Government, extending over about 177,000 square miles of territory, equal in extent to three of the largest States in the Union. It was called into existence by an act of Congress; and, so long as it continues a Territory, it is subject to be changed and modified, as to boundary and extent, at the pleasure of the same power. The inhabitants have their rights as American citizens secured under the ordinance of 1787, and various acts of Congress; but they have no territorial rights; and Michigan, as such, has none against the will of Congress. The question of expediency, only, then occurs in behalf of a State that is to be hereafter formed north of Ohio and Indiana ; and, I ask, is it expedient that that State should hold the mouth of the Miami, which has its whole navigable course in Ohio and Indiana, and control its entrance? Those two States are constructing a canal connecting the Miami bay with the Wabash river; and that grand work is now delayed awaiting the decision of this question. I ask, is it expedient that a State, which

you are to form hereafter north of these two States, should hold this outlet of the vast region which is intersected by this canal ?—that the new State should have delivered to her the key, and be the sole keeper, of the entrance to the noble edifice erected by the industry and enterprise of her neighbors ? It is not right. And the pride of those States must be wounded, and their sense of justice outraged, by such a determination. But, again, what policy is there in giving the new State, when it shall be created, the jurisdiction over this disputed territory? Is the territory of that State, without it, likely to be too small, or does it want for navigable communication ? Neither. One hundred and seventy-seven thousand square miles, an extent equal to three of the largest States in the Union, must be formed into no more than two States, and its eastern portion has advantages of navigation equalled by few States on the Atlantic seaboard.

Then, with respect to those who belong to the unclaimed part of the territory—who profess to be contending for their rights, and who accuse Ohio of ambition, and usurpation, and injustice; what is their claim, and for what do they contend ? Not the right of self-government, or the right to choose their own rulers, or the jurisdiction to which they shall be attached-for nothing of this is sought to be wrested from them: but they claim to govern their neighbors, who deny them allegiance; or, if not to govern them, they wish to force into their fellowship and fraternity those who turn from them with fear and aversion, and who seek protection from Ohio, whom they think more regardful of their feelings, and more friendly to their interests. Those who, in the plenitude of their chivalry, wish to protect the weak against the strong, would do well to think of extending that protection over this people, who, if attached to Michigan, will feel themselves delivered over to a kind of political bondage, and into the hands of those whom they look upon as their adversaries and rivals.

Something is surely due to the opinions and feelings of these people of the disputed territory. If joined to Michigan, they cannot and they will not be content with their condition. They contend against it now, like men who are struggling for all that they hold dear and sacred, and against whatever is deemed most calamitous. They think (but I cannot answer for the correctness of their opinion) that, instead of enjoying the privileges of freemen-instead of being placed in the hands of a fostering and paternal Government, which would watch over and protect their interests, and aid in the improvement of their natural advantages, and in the development of their resources, they would be delivered over to a bitter adversity, and a determined and inveterate rival,

Mr. President, I ask, in behalf of Ohio, and I most earnestly ask, an early decision of this question. It has been for years past the victim of procrastination. For more than thirty years has Ohio presented herself, year after year, at the bar of Congress, as a petitioner for what she deems her right-what this body, whenever it has spoken, has declared to be hers, either on principles of justice or of national policy; but she has been delayed, postponed, and the measure for her redress lost in the other House, without a hearing had or an opinion elicited. I trust and hope that it now approaches a termination, and that its result will be such as to satisfy the public mind, and calm the dissatisfactions of our people.

Letter to the Hon. Samuel F. Vinton.

WASHINGTON, January 14, 1835. DEAR SIR : Agreeably to your request, I have carefully examined the map of Lake Erie, as laid down and marked out by the commissioners to settle the boundary line under the treaty of Ghent, and find the latitude of the most southern point to be 41° 39' 43', as nearly as I can ascertain by the scale; but the measurement may possibly vary a second or so from the truth. I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

THOS. P. JONES. Office of Archives, Dept. of State.

Extract from Captain Talcotl's report, of January 7, 1834, (Executive

Documents 1833–34, Vol. 6, Doc. 497.) “ The fourth station was at the most southern bend of Lake Michigan, on the beach of the lake, at high-water mark, and about the middle of a reach of lake which lies east and west, and is about two miles in extent.

The observations at this place were more numerous than at any other stations, and give for its latitude 41° 37' 7.9" north.”

The following is a copy of the bill reported by the committee :

A BILL to settle and establish the northern boundary line of the State of Ohio. Be it enacted, &c., That the northern boundary of the State of Ohio shall be established by, and extend to, a direct line running from the southern extremity of Lake Michigan to the most northerly cape of the Miami bay; thence, northeast, to the northern boundary line of the United States ; thence, with said line, to the Pennsylvania line.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the boundary line surveyed, marked, and designated agreeably to “ An act to authorize the President of the United States to ascertain and designate the northern boundary of the State of Indiana," approved March the second, eighteen hundred and twenty-seven, shall be deemed and taken as the east and west line mentioned in the constitution of the State of Indiana, drawn through a point ten miles north of the southern extreme of Lake Michigan, and shall be, and forever remain, the northern boundary of said State.

Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the northern boundary line ascertained, surveyed, and marked, agreeably to a law of Congress entitled "An act to ascertain and mark the line between the State of Alabama and the Territory of Florida, and the northern boundary of the State of Illinois, and for other purposes,” approved March second, eighteen hundred and thirty-one, shall be deemed and taken as the line west from the midd!e of Lake Michigan, in north latitude forty-two degrees thirty minutes, to the middle of the Mississippi river, as defined in the act of Congress entitled “An act to enable the people of the Illinois Territory to form a constitution and State government, and for the admission of such State into the Union on an equal footing with the original States," approved eighteenth of April, eighteen hundred and eighteen, and shall be, and forever remain, the northern boundary line of said State.

The following is a copy of the resolution proposed by Mr. Morris, and referred to in the report:

RESOLUTION on the subject of the northern boundary line of the State of Ohio. Whereas it is provided, in the sixth section of the seventh article of the constitution of the State of Ohio, as follows: “That the limits and boundaries of this State be ascertained, it is declared that they are as hereafter mentioned; that is to say : 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 a line drawn due north from the mouth of the

« AnteriorContinuar »