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116

BOUNDARIES OF THE
UNITED STATES AND THE SEVERAL STATES

ILLINOIS

Illinois Territory, originally part of the Territory northwest of the Ohio River and subsequently a part of Indiana Territory, was organized by act of February 3, 1809 (2 Stat. L. 514), effective March 1, 1809. The following clause from the act separating it from Indiana Territory defines its boundary (see fig. 26):

from and after the first day of March next, all that part of the Indiana territory which lies west of the Wabash river, and a direct line drawn from the said Wabash river and Post Vincennes, due north to the territorial line between the United States and Canada, shall, for the purpose of temporary government, constitute a separate territory, and be called Illinois.

Illinois was admitted as a State with its present boundaries by resolution approved December 3, 1818 (3 Stat. 536). The enabling act defines these boundaries as follows (3 Stat. 429):

an estimated weight of 5 tons was set in the ground on the high-water line. The stone was marked "Illinois" on its south side and "Michigan latitude 42°30? N." on its north side. (The Mississippi River Commission later located either this stone or one on the State line near it and determined its latitude as 42°30'29.3" N.) From this point the line was run east to the fourth principal meridian of the General Land Office, where a large mound of earth was erected, and was continued east to the Rock River. Observations then taken showed that the line was 54" too far north. An offset was taken the proper distance to the south, and a post was set on the east bank of the river, 81 miles 31 chains 9 links from the Mississippi, from which the line was extended (with frequent astronomic observations) to Lake Michigan, where an oak post 12 inches square and 9 feet long was set 5 feet in the ground at a point about 1 chain from the lakeshore. Recent observations show that this end of the marked line is about half a mile south of the parallel of 42°30'. The total length of the boundary as measured is 144 miles 48 chains 80 links. A post was also set on the east bank of the Fox River 125 miles 9 chains 10 links from the initial point. There is a signed copy of the report and notes in the files of the General Land Office.34 The line west of the Rock River was later rerun and placed in a corrected position.

On April 18 and 19, 1881, the Mississippi River cut across a narrow strip of land near the town of Kaskaskia, Ill., and formed a new channel 4 miles east of its former position, thereby leaving an area of about 27 square miles on the west side of the river that belongs to Illinois (Burnham, 1914).35

A decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on the boundary in this area as a result of an action, Illinois v. Missouri, was decreed in 1970. The Court's decision gives courses and distances along the boundary from the centerline of the present main channel of the Mississippi River at the southeast corner of Kaskaskia Island to the centerline north of Beaver Island. Beaver and Kaskaskia Islands are confirmed to Illinois, and two bodies of land identified as "Cottonwoods" and "Roth Island" are confirmed to Missouri (399 U.S. 146).

The parts of the northern and eastern boundaries of Illinois in Lake Michigan are as follows: The north line of the State runs due east from the last point marked on land lat 42°29'37'' N., nearly) to the middle of the lake, a distance of about 40 miles. The east line then follows the middle of the lake southward for about 52 miles, to the Indiana line (which there runs east and west through a point 10 miles north of the southernmost part of the lake). The Illinois line then runs due

the said State shall consist of all the territory included within the following boundaries, to wit: Beginning at the mouth of the Wabash River; thence up the same and with the line of Indiana, to the northwest corner of said state; thence, east with the line of the same state, to the middle of Lake Michigan; thence north along the middle of said lake to the north latitude forty-two degrees thirty minutes; thence west to the middle of the Mississippi river; and thence down along the middle of that river to its confluence with the Ohio River; and thence up the latter river along its northwestern shore to the beginning:

The eastern boundary of Illinois was ordered surveyed in 1810 in connection with the work of the General Land Office. In 1821 the Legislatures of Indiana and Illinois ordered a survey of their common boundary. A commissioner representing each State was appointed, and the line was run and marked with wooden posts the same year from a point "opist the Vincennes Hotell on the N.W. Bank of Wabash river" northward to Lake Michigan. There is a signed copy of the field notes in the Indiana State Library at Indianapolis.

The Geological Survey determined the position of a large stone post on the north bank of the Wabash where the State boundary line leaves the river as lat 39°20'57.6" N., long 87° 3.1'52.9" W. At lat 41°17'53'' N., the longitude of the line is 87°31'36.5" W.

The northern boundary was surveyed and marked in 1831-32 by Commissioners Lucius Lyon, representing the United States, and John Messinger, representing Illinois. The field notes of this survey are in the National Archives. The position on the east side of the Mississippi of a point in lat 42°30' N., having been found by observation, a stone about 7 feet long and of

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34 Boundaries, no. 22. See Gannett (1907) and R. B. Marshall (1914; 1916), for latitude and longitude of points on this line.

3.1 For a map of the area, see the U.S. Geol. Survey map of the Kaskaskia quadrangle, Ill.-Mo.

117

BOUNDARY LINES OF THE STATES

MISSOURI

west for about 17 miles to the northwest corner of Indiana, which is about 1/2 miles from land, thence south about 342 miles along the Indiana line to the lake shore.

Definition of the common boundaries of Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana in Lake Michigan by geodetic positions was advocated by these States in 1967. The matter was discussed but no definite proposals were formulated. The procedure would be to reference the computed points of intersection to monumented points on shore (see Wisconsin, p. 130).

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MISSOURI The name of the Territory of Louisiana was changed in 1812 (2 Stat. L. 743) to Territory of Missouri. At that time the Territory included all the original Louisiana Purchase, except the State of Louisiana. (See fig. 27.)

Missouri was declared a State on August 10, 1821, by presidential proclamation under authority of the joint resolution of Congress of March 2, 1821 (3 Stat. L. 645, 797), with boundaries as defined in the enabling act of March 6, 1820 (3 Stat. L. 545), as follows:

Beginning in the middle of the Mississippi river, on the parallel of thirty-six degrees of north latitude; thence west along that parallel of

latitude, to the St. Francois river; thence up, and following the course of that river, in the middle of the main channel thereof, to the parallel of latitude of thiry-six degrees and thirty minutes; 54 thence west, along the same, to a point where the said parallel is intersected by a meridian line passing through the middle of the mouth of the Kansas river, where the same empties into the Missouri river, thence from the point aforesaid north, along the said meridian line, to the intersection of the parallel of latitude which passes through the rapids of the river Des Moines, making the said line to correspond with the Indian boundary line; thence east from the point of intersection last aforesaid, along the same parallel of latitude, to the middle of the main fork of the said river Des Moines; thence down and along the middle of the main channel of the said river Des Moines, to the mouth of the same, where it empties into the Mississippi river; thence due east to the middle of the main channel of the Mississippi river; thence down, and following the course of the Mississippi river, in the middle of the main channel thereof, to the place of beginning.

The peculiar jog or "panhandle" at the southeast

36 This line (36°30) has since been known as the Missouri Compromise line.

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FIGURE 27.-Historical diagram of Missouri.

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BOUNDARIES OF THE
UNITED STATES AND THE SEVERAL STATES

118

thence west on that parallel to its intersection by a meridian passing through the middle of the mouth of the Kansas River; the west boundary is the last-mentioned meridian as far north as the mouth of the Kansas River, thence it follows northwestward the midchannel of the Missouri River to the parallel of latitude

passing through the rapids of the Des Moines River, corner of the State, between the Mississippi and St. which is approximately the parallel of 40°35'; the north Francis Rivers, is said to be the result of efforts of a boundary is the last-mentioned parallel as far east as prominent property owner who lived south of the par- its point of intersection with the Des Moines River, rallel of 36°30' to have his plantation included in the whence it follows the midchannel of the Des Moines new State (Violette, 1918, p. 111).

River southward to its mouth. In 1836 the boundaries were extended on the north- In 1939 the States of Missouri and Iowa agreed to west to the Missouri River, as described in the following change their common boundary in the Des Moines act of the legislature amendatory to the constitution River to the midchannel as it then existed. This was of 1820 (Thorpe, 1909, v. 4, p. 2170):

approved by Congress on August 10, 1939 (53 Stat. That the boundary of the State be so altered and extended as to 1345). include all that tract of land lying on the north side of the Missouri A similar agreement with Kansas along the MisRiver and west of the present boundary of this State, so that the same souri River from the 40th parallel south to the mouth shall be bounded on the south by the middle of the main channel of

of the Kansas River was approved by Congress on the Missouri River and on the north by the present northern boundary line of the State, as established by the constitution, when the same

August 3, 1950 (64 Stat. 397). Exchange of State sovis continued in a right line to the west, or to include so much of said ereignty over affected lands was made effective betract of land as Congress may assent.

ginning at midnight following the congressional action. This act was approved by Congress on June 7, 1836, For the survey of the south boundary, see Arkansas, and was declared in effect by presidential proclama

page 120; and for the north boundary, see Iowa, pages tion of March 28, 1837. The following is an extract from

131, 133. the act (5 Stat. L. 34).

The west boundary of Missouri south of the mouth

of the Kansas River was surveyed in 1823, and a large That when the Indian title to all the lands lying between the State of Missouri and the Missouri river shall be extinguished, the

stone post was set to mark the southwest corner of jurisdiction over said lands shall be hereby ceded to the State of the State, at a point which sextant observations showed Missouri, and the western boundary of said State shall be then to be in lat 36°30' N. This position as determined by extended to the Missouri river.

the Geological Survey in 1906 is lat 36°29'58.0" N., The north boundary of Missouri was surveyed and long 94°37'02.9" W. (Marshall, 1910, p. 488). The 1823 marked in part in 1816 and the remainder in 1850 survey of the south boundary of the State was begun at under the General Land Office 37

this stone. In 1845 a mound of earth, which had a 10The Territory remaining after the formation of the foot base and was 5 feet high, was placed at a point State bore the name of Missouri for many years. In 4.83 chains farther south. 1834 the part north of the State of Missouri and east The west boundary of the State was resurveyed and of the Missouri and White Earth Rivers was annexed remarked in 1844-45.38 to the Territory of Michigan. (For further history of A dispute concerning the river boundary between this portion, see Michigan, p. 127; Iowa, p. 131; Min- Missouri and Nebraska was settled in 1904 by the

, nesota, p. 133; and Dakota, p. 134.) In 1854 Kansas Supreme Court (196 U.S. 23; 197 U.S. 577), which reand Nebraska Territories were formed, absorbing the affirmed the old rule that a sudden change in the remainder. (See Kansas, p. 138, and Nebraska, p. 136.) course of a river does not affect a boundary line.

The following are the boundaries of Missouri as at present established by statute: The east boundary is

ARKANSAS the middle of the main channel of the Mississippi (138 U.S. 226) from the mouth of the Des Moines to its point

Arkansaw 39 Territory was formed by act of March 2, of intersection with the 36th parallel of latitude; the

1819, effective July 4, 1819, from a part of Missouri south boundary begins at the latter point and runs 28 For geographic positions of three State-line points near Kansas City,

see Baldwin (1915, p. 31). west on the 36th parallel to the St. Francis River, thence

39 This is the original spelling. A concurrent resolution passed by the up the midchannel of that river to the parallel of 36°30', Legislature of Arkansas in April, 1881 (Laws of 1881, p. 216–217), declared

that in the opinion of that body the State name "should be pronounced 37 Nearly all the boundaries of the States west of the Mississippi were in three syllables with the final 's' silent, the 'a' in each syllable with surveyed under the direction of the General Land Office, most of them the Italian sound and the accent on the first and last syllables." The by contract surveyors. The field notes and plats of these surveys have discussions which led to the passage of this act are given in Rose been cataloged, and most of them are now on file in the National Archives. (1908, v. 2, p. 462-477).

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BOUNDARY LINES OF THE STATES

ARKANSAS

Territory. (See fig. 28.) The following clause from the act (3 Stat. L. 474) establishing it defines its limits in part:

all that part of the Territory of Missouri which lies south of a line, beginning on the Mississippi River, at thirty-six degrees, north latitude, running thence west to the river St. Francois; thence up the same to thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude; and thence west to the western territorial boundary line; shall, for the purposes of a territorial government, constitute a separate territory and be called the Arkansaw Territory.

In 1824 an act was passed by Congress fixing the western boundary of the Territory. This was as follows (4 Stat. L. 40):

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the western boundary line of the territory of Arkansas shall begin at a point forty miles west of the southwest corner of the State of Missouri and run south to the right bank of the Red River, and thence down the river and with the Mexican boundary to the line of the State of Louisiana.

Four years later, in 1828, an act defined the southern boundary as commencing on the right bank of the Mississippi River at latitude thirty-three degrees north, and running due west on that parallel of latitude to where a line running due north from latitude thirty-two degrees north, on the Sabine River, will intersect the same (4 Stat. L. 276).

The treaty with the Cherokee Indians (7 Stat. L. 311) signed May 6, 1828, contained the following article:

The eastern Choctaw line referred to was fixed by the treaty with the Choctaw Nation of January 20, 1825, as beginning on the Arkansas River "one hundred paces east of Fort Smith, and running thence due south to the Red River." (Kappler, 1903, v. 2.)

Arkansas was admitted as a State on June 15, 1836. The enabling act (5 Stat. L. 50) approved on that date describes the boundaries as follows: beginning in the middle of the main channel of the Mississippi river, on the parallel of thirty-six degrees north latitude, running from thence west, with the said parallel of latitude, to the Saint Francis river; thence up the middle of the main channel of said river to the parallel of thirtty-six degrees thirty minutes north; from thence west

to the southwest corner of the State of Missouri; and from thence to be bounded on the west, to the north bank of Red River, by the lines described in the first article of the treaty between the United States and the Cherokee nation of Indians, west of the Mississippi, made and concluded at the city of Washington, on the 26th day of May.'' in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-eight; and to be bounded on the south side of Red river by the Mexican boundary line, to the northwest corner of the State of Louisiana; thence east with the Louisiana State line, to the middle of the main channel of the Mississippi River; thence up the middle of the main channel of the said river, to the thirty-sixth degree of north latitude, the point of beginning.

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The western boundary of Arkansas shall be, and the same is, hereby defined viz: A line shall be run, commencing on Red river, at the point where the Eastern Choctaw line strikes said river, and run due north with said line to the river Arkansas; thence in a direct line of the South West corner of Missouri.

40 This is an error; the date was May 6.

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FIGURE 28.—Historical diagram of Arkansas.

120

BOUNDARIES OF THE
UNITED STATES AND THE SEVERAL STATES

In the State constitutions for 1836, 1854, 1868, and 1874 the boundaries were described but without material change from the description given in the enabling act. The constitution of 1868 refers to an island in the Mississippi named Belle Point Island as belonging to Arkansas, and the constitution of 1874 includes this clause: "and all other land originally surveyed and included as a part of the Territory or State of Arkanssas."

An act of Congress approved February 10, 1905, changed the western boundary of Arkansas near Fort Smith so as to include in that State a portion of the Indian Territory (about one-fifth of a square mile), the boundaries of which were described (33 Stat. L. 714) as follows (see fig. 36):

Beginning at a point on the south bank of the Arkansas River one hundred paces east of old Fort Smith, where the western boundary line of the State of Arkansas crosses the said river, and running southwesterly along the south bank of the Arkansas River to the mouth of the Poteau; thence at right angles with the Poteau River to the center of the current of said river; thence southerly up the middle of the current of the Poteau River (except where the Arkansas State line intersects the Poteau River) to point in the middle of the current of the Poteau River opposite the mouth of Mill Creek, and where it is intersected by the middle of the current of Mill Creek; thence up the middle of Mill Creek to the Arkansas State line; thence northerly along the Arkansas State line to the point of beginning.

By order of the U.S. Supreme Court (252 U.S. 344) commissioners in 1920 surveyed and marked a portion of the Arkansas-Mississippi State line, commencing about 1 mile below Friars Point, Miss., on an abandoned bed of the Mississippi River left dry by the avulsion of 1848. The line inclosed an area of about 5 square miles on the east side of the Mississippi as it now flows; the area was awarded to Arkansas (256 U.S. 28).

On March 7, 1876, the Mississippi changed the location of its main channel at a place about 20 miles up the river from Memphis, since known as "the Centennial Cut-off." The Mississippi, before this cut-off occurred, flowed northeastward along the west side of Brandywine Island, Ark. At the time of the avulsion the whole volume of the river with a head of 7 or 8 feet cut through a narrow neck of land, overcame the current flowing northeastward, and swept it backward for about 4 miles, thus reversing the direction of flow and forming a new main channel. An area of about 5 square miles of Arkansas land was left on the east side of the river, and 25 square miles of land belonging

to Tennessee on the west side. In order to determine the proper location of the boundary between the two States at this place, Arkansas brought suit in the U.S. Supreme Court against Tennessee, which was argued in the October term, 1917. The report of this case (246 U.S. 158) gives a great many references to court decisions regarding water boundaries in general. Three commissioners were appointed in 1918 (247 U.S. 461) to survey the line. Their report, filed May 24, 1921, was confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court November 16, 1925 (269 U.S. 152; 271 U.S. 629).

The north boundary of Arkansas was surveyed in 1823. This line was not accepted. Further surveys in 1843 and 1846 commenced at a point near the Mississippi whose latitude from sextant observations was determined at 36° N. The marks consisted of tree blazes, wooden posts, and mounds of earth and stone. The 1843-46 line, which differed materially from that previously marked, was accepted by the legislatures and ratified by congressional act of February 15, 1848 (9 Stat. L. 211). Copies of the field notes of both lines are in the General Land Office records.

The part of the west boundary south of the Arkansas River was surveyed and marked in 1825, and that from Old Fort Smith to the southwest corner of Missouri, in 1831. That part of the west boundary south of the Red River was surveyed by the joint commission named by Texas and the United States in 1841 (see Texas, p. 122).

A resurvey of the west boundary was commenced in 1857, but after the surveyors had run it 8 miles due south from the Arkansas River they were directed to return to Fort Smith and to retrace the line of the previous survey, which had been found to diverge to the west (U.S. Cong., 1868).

A resurvey and re-marking of the entire west boundary was authorized in 1875 (18 Stat. L. 476). This work, which was completed in 1877, showed that the lines from Old Fort Smith both southward and northward diverged to the west, thereby adding to the area of Arkansas more than 200 square miles, the boundary mark on the Red River being 4 miles 16 chains west of a due south line from Old Fort Smith (U.S. Cong., 1879). The Cherokee and Choctaw Indians were paid for the land of which they had been thus wrongfully deprived (Arkansas Hist. Assoc., 1908, p. 211-236).

For a description of the south boundary, see Louisiana, p. 108.

TEXAS

Texas declared its independence of Mexico in 1835. In 1836 the Congress of the Republic of Texas defined the boundaries as extending south and west to the Rio Grande and northward from the source of that

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