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48

BOUNDARIES OF THE
UNITED STATES AND THE SEVERAL STATES

The following paragraph from the deed of cession by New York defines the limits of its grant to the General Government (Donaldson, 1884, p. 67):

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 aforessaid, 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 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, 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, continue 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 (Donaldson, 1884, p. 71-72):

[We) do, by these presents assign, 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 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 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 (Donaldson, 1884, p. 73):

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 be tween the western boundary of Pennsylvania and the then eastern boundary of her cession. It comprised a strip, 120 miles long and irregular in width, lying between parallels 41° and 42°02' N. (the northeastern part of the present State of Ohio). The tract was known as the "Western Reserve" of Connecticut in Ohio. Connecticut, by act of the legislature in October 1797, tendered to the United States a release of jurisdiction over this tract, which Congress accepted April 28, 1800, and Connecticut confirmed May 30, 1800. A part of this area, lying in the present Ohio counties of Erie, Huron, and Ottawa, was known as the "Fire Lands" because 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 (Donaldson, 1884, p. 76):

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 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 (Donaldson, 1884,

p. 77)

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

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place where the Virginia line intersects it; running thence along the

49 extreme height of the said mountain, to the place where he Wataugo River breaks through it; thence a direct course to the top of the Yellow

THE PUBLIC DOMAIN AND Mountain where Bright's road crosses the same; thence along the ridge

THE CHANGES MADE THEREIN 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,

Ohio River. (See fig. 21.) It comprised an area of apto the Painted Rock, on French Broad River; thence along the highest

proximately 278,000 square miles. It was made up of 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

claims of individual States as follows (Donaldson, said mountain, to the place where it is called the Unicoy or Unaka 1884, p. 161): Mountain, between hte Indian towns of Cowee and Old Chota; thence 1. The Virginia claim, which consisted of all the terrialong the main ridge of the said mountain to the southern boundary

tory west of Pennsylvania and north of the Ohio of the State. It will be noted that the above description of the

to the 41st parallel of north latitude; in addition, eastern boundary of her ceded possessions agrees in

above that her claim by capture extended as far

as the northern limits of the land under the Crown general terms with the description of the western bound

which had been subject to the jurisdiction of the ary of North Carolina (p. 98).

Province of Quebec and as far as Lakes Michigan The articles of cession by Georgia describe the area ceded as follows (Donaldson, 1884, p. 80):

and Huron.

2. The Connecticut claim, which extended from the the lands situated within the boundaries of the United States south of the State of Tennessee, and west of a line beginning on the

41st parallel northward to the parallel of 42°2' western bank of the Chatahouchee River, where the same

and from the west line of Pennsylvania to the the boundary line between the United States and Spain; running Mississippi River. thence up the said river Chatahouchee, and along the western bank

3. The Massachusetts claim, which extended from the thereof to the great bend thereof, next above the place where a certain creek or river, called "Uchee" (being the first considerable stream on

north line of the Connecticut claim above noted the western side, above the Cussetas and Coweta towns), empties

to lat 43°43'12" N. and from the western boundary into the said Chatahouchee River; thence in a direct line to Nickajack,

of New York to the Mississippi. on the Tennessee River; thence crossing the said last-mentioned river, and thence running up the said Tennessee River, and along the

4. The belt or zone lying north of the Massachusetts western bank thereof, to the southern boundary line of the State of

claim, extending thence to the Canada line and Tennessee.

west to the Mississippi River, obtained from Great Of the area conveyed by these cessions to the Gen- Britain by the treaty of peace of September 3, eral Government the part lying north of the Ohio was 1783, became public domain after the Virginia afterward erected into the "territory northwest of the cession. River Ohio," and the rest lying south of that river, was 5. At the time of the cession by the State of Virginia, known as the "territory south of the River Ohio." This

both Massachusetts and New York claimed the did not include the area of the present State of Ken

Erie triangle of about 324 square miles, which tucky, which remained part of Virginia until it was ad- was subsequently bought by Pennsylvania and mitted as a State in 1792.

added to that State (p. 83). The United States by act of Congress of September 9, From this territory were formed the States of Ohio, 1850, purchased from the State of Texas about 124,000 Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the part of square miles of land which Texas claimed when ad

Minnesota east of the Mississippi River, and the northmitted to the Union. This land is now included in the

west corner of Pennsylvania. States of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma,

On July 13, 1787, a bill for its provisional division and Wyoming. (See fig. 29.)

into not less than three nor more than five States was

passed by Congress. In this bill the limits of the proTERRITORY NORTHWEST OF THE

posed States were defined, corresponding in their north OHIO RIVER

and south lines to the present boundaries of Ohio,

Illinois, and Indiana. The following extract gives the The territory of the Ohio was bounded on the west

text of the ordinance defining these boundaries (Donby the Mississippi and a line running north from its

aldson, 1884, p. 155):55 source to the international boundary, on the north by

55 For a plan including maps, proposed by a committee of which Jefferthe boundary line between the United States and the

son was chairman, for the subdivision of the territory northwest of the British possessions, on the east by the Pennsylvania

Ohio, which was adopted by Congress in 1784, see Wisconsin list. Soc.

(1888, v. 2, p. 452). See also Smith (1882, v. 2, p. 603); for text of the and New York State lines, and on the south by the

ordinance, see Poore (1877, pt. 1, p. 429).

BOUNDARIES OF THE
UNITED STATES AND THE SEVERAL STATES

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Before 1880 bonds were filed for about 70 islands under this act, 52 but erroneous names and geographic positions were given for many of them; for some single islands several names and positions had been given. Some of the most important areas listed as guano islands are as follows:

Navassa Island, lat 18°24' N., long 75°01' W.; of The purchase price was $25 million, or nearly $300

volcanic origin; about 2 miles long and 1 mile wide; an acre (U.S. Cong., 1917). By act of Congress, approved rises from 100 to 250 feet above the sea. A lighthouse, March 3, 1917, this cession was to become effective

which operates automatically, is at the latitude and after the President had announced that the amount longitude given. agreed upon had been paid to Denmark. The proclama

Quita Sueno Bank, lat 14°27.8' N., long 81°07' W., tion was dated March 31, 1917. (39 Stat. L. 1132; 40 Stat.

extends for about 20 miles north and south and has L., pt. 2, p. 1649.)

patches of dry land at intervals. It was declared by In several acts of Congress the former Danish West presidential proclamation of February 25, 1919, to be Indies are referred to as the Virgin Islands, but when under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, possession was taken of them March 31, 1917, the name and "the north or other suitable portion" was reserved given by proclamation was "Virgin Islands of the for a lighthouse. The lighthouse, which works autoUnited States of America," to distinguish them from the matically, is at the latitude and longitude given. Virgin Islands belonging to Great Britain. Since June

Roncador Cay, lat 13°34.4' N., long 80°05.2' W., rises 1917 the U.S. Navy Department has used the abbre

about 12 feet above the water. It is about a quarter viated form "Virgin Islands of the United States," and

of a mile long and is at the north end of a series of that name has been adopted by the Post Office and

small cays. By presidential proclamation of June 5, other departments.

1919, it was declared to be under the exclusive jurisSt. Croix, the largest island included in this cession, diction of the United States and was reserved as a is 23 miles long and 6 miles in extreme width; the high

site for a lighthouse. The lighthouse (position above) est point is 1,165 feet above sea level; the area is 81.93 works automatically. square miles.

Serrana Bank, lat 14°17' N., long 80°24' W., comSt. Thomas, 12 miles long, 1 to 3 miles wide; highest prises three low islands, the largest of which, the point, Crown Mountain, 1,550 feet; area, 27.12 square southwest cay, is about half a mile long and has an miles.

extreme height of about 30 feet. This cay was declared St. John, 9 miles long, 5 miles wide; highest point, by presidential proclamation of February 25, 1919, to

9 1,277 feet; area, 19.2 square miles.

be under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States Besides these three, there are nearly a hundred and was reserved for a lighthouse, which is in the posismall islands, none as great as a square mile in extent,

tion above given. but having a combined area of about 5 square miles, The Colombian Government, prior to 1928, disputed which makes the total area of the cession 133 square the claims of the United States to Serrana and Quita miles.

Sueno Banks and the Roncador Cay, but an agreement dated April 10, 1928, between the Secretary of State

and the Colombian minister in Washington, maintained GUANO ISLANDS

the status quo, the United States using the islands for

maintenance of aids to navigation and Colombia havAn act of Congress approved August 18, 1856, con

ing fishing rights in the adjacent waters. Sovereignty tains the following provisions:

of these islands is a matter under discussion with SECTION 5570. Whenever any citizen of the United States discovers

Columbia at present (1975), and a final decision awaits a deposit of guano on any island, rock, or key, not within the lawful jurisdiction of any other government, and not occupied by

action by the U.S. Senate. the citizens of any other government, and takes peaceable possession thereof, and occupies the same, such island, rock, or key may, at the discretion of the President, be considered as appertaining

52 Lists of these islands appear in a circular dated Feb. 12, 1869, in

Moore (1906, v. 1, p. 556–580), in Magoon (1900, p. 14–17), and on General to the United States.

Land Office maps of the United States. Brief descriptions of the Pacific islands are given in Brigham (1900) and U.S. Hydrographic Office (1871,

1879, 1880, and 1916). Stewart's Handbook of the Pacific islands (Allen, SECTION 5578. Nothing in this title contained shall be 1920), besides excellent descriptions of all the principal islands, contains strued as obliging the United States to retain possession of the

a bibliography. For reference to sovereignty and descriptions of other

Pacific islands, see Statesman's Year Book (1929), indexed under heading islands, rocks, or keys, after the guano shall have been removed

"Pacific Islands"). The islands in the West Indies are described in reports from the same.

of U.S Hydrographic Office (1949, 1951, and 1952).

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A treaty with Honduras, ratified September 1, 1972

41 (23UST2630; TIAS7453), recognized Honduran sovereignty over the Swan Islands. The United States had

INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES

BEYOND ITS BORDERS claimed sovereignty over these islands since 1863. The approximate position of these islands is lat 17°25' N., long 83°55' W.

Swains Island, also called Gente Hermosa and Quiros, lat 11°03' S., long 171°05' W., is about 4 miles 1989, at which time it can be extended if both parties in circumference and 10 to 15 feet high; its area, in- agree. Administration by the United States is under cluding a central lagoon of one-third square mile, is the Department of the Interior, which is represented by 11/3 square miles. It was discovered by Quiros in 1606 the senior Federal Aviation Agency employee at the and named by him La Peregrina, but the position then air station. given for it was so much in error as to lead an Ameri- There are some 25 islands in the Pacific over which can whaling captain named Swain to assume the United States' claim to sovereignty is disputed by right of discovery upon landing there. It was examined Great Britain or New Zealand. All except the four in in 1840 by the United States exploring expedition under the Ellice group (Funafuti, Nukufetau, Nukulailai, and Wilkes and renamed Swains Island. In 1856 and for Nurakita), Hull in the Phoenix group, and Fakaofu in many years thereafter it was occupied by an American the Union group, appear on the lists of guano islands. family named Jennings, engaged in raising coconuts (For further discussion on guano islands, see HackAn official communication regarding this island from worth, 1940, p. 502.) the British Government, dated January 30, 1918, stated that it was understood "that the island in question is

INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES United States territory." A joint resolution of Congress, approved March 4,

BEYOND ITS BORDERS 1925 (43 Stat. L. 1357), asserted sovereignty of the

ANTARCTICA United States over this island and made it a part of

Interest of the United States in the Antarctic was American Samoa. (See p. 38.)

stimulated in the early 19th century by Yankee sealers, The ownership of some of the guano islands is un

who, about 1820, sighted and went ashore on a land certain. Several of them have been claimed by Great

they believed to be a continent. The existence of this Britain, without formal protest by the United States,

continent was first proved during the years 1839–40 by except that in the case of Christmas Island (lat 1°57'

an official Navy expedition under Lt. Charles Wilkes, N., long 157°28' W.) the Secretary of State, in a letter

USN (fig. 12). dated April 30, 1888, said that the United States re

In the last decade of the 19th century, purely mariserved all questions that might grow out of the occu

time exploration was supplemented by expeditions that pation.

landed on the continent and sought to push inland. The United States took possession of Howland, Baker, and Jarvis Islands in the central part of the Pacific

This phase of Antarctic activity reached its climax when

Captain Amundsen of Norway reached the South Ocean under the provisions of the Guano Act. How

Pole December 14, 1911, followed by Captain Scott land and Baker are about 2,000 miles southwest of

of England a few weeks later. Honolulu (lat 0°30' N., long 176°30' W.) and Jarvis is about 1,500 miles south of Honolulu (lat 0°24' S., long

Exploration by the United States in the south polar 160°00' W.). The islands are uninhabited. In 1936 by

regions was revived by the Byrd expeditions in 1928Executive Order they were placed under the control

30 and 1933–35. From his base at Little America on the

Ross Ice Shelf, Admiral Byrd made the first flight over of the Secretary of the Interior. At his request the Coast Guard has been asked to visit the islands per

the South Pole November 29, 1929, and large areas iodically and submit reports and photographs.

previously unknown were explored by aerial and Canton and Enderbury Islands are claimed by both

ground reconnaissance (Byrd, 1930). the United States and Great Britain. They are about

In 1935, another American, Lincoln Ellsworth, first 1,660 nautical miles southwest of Honolulu at lat 2°46'

Crossed the continent by air. S. and long 171°43' W. Canton Island is used as a Although the first two Byrd expeditions were prilanding station by trans-Pacific airlines. Enderbury is marily privately financed, some governmental assistuninhabited. The population of Canton Island includes ance was received in the loan of equipment and both British and United States citizens. An exchange personnel. In 1939 the Government created the U.S. of notes in 1939 provided for the joint administration Antarctic Service, supported by a congressional apof the islands by both governments to continue until propriation of $340,000, approved June 30, 1939 (53

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BOUNDARIES OF THE
UNITED STATES AND THE SEVERAL STATES

present, and on December 3, 1818, Illinois was likewise admitted.

The act of June 28, 1834, added to the Territory of Michigan a part of the Missouri River drainage basin as far west as the White Earth River and north to the 49th parallel and included for the first time a part of the drainage basin of the Red River, south of the 49th parallel, under a Territorial government. This addition to Michigan included also a small part of the Louisiana Purchase. (See p. 127 and fig. 31.)

Wisconsin Territory was formed in 1836 from the part of the Territory of Michigan west of the present State of Michigan. On January 26, 1837, Michigan was admitted into the Union, with its present boundaries. On June 12, 1838, all that part of Wisconsin Territory from its source to the international boundary was made into the Territory of Iowa, and in 1848 Wisconsin was admitted as a State, with its boundaries as at present defined.

The admission of Wisconsin appears to have left the area which is now the northeastern part of Minnesota, lying east of the Mississippi and a line drawn due north from its source, without any government until the formation of Minnesota Territory, in 1849.

an

TERRITORY SOUTH OF THE OHIO RIVER

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 lies north 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 for the territory 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 part was called the "territory northwest of the River Ohio," and a large part of it was admitted to the Union in 1802 as the State of Ohio. The remainder was added to Indiana Territory. (See fig. 26.)

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. 31.)

By act of February 3, 1809, Indiana Territory was again divided, and the Territory of Illinois was created from the part lying west of the Wabash River and a meridian running through the city of Vincennes, extending thence to the Canada line.

On December 11, 1816, Indiana was admitted to the Union as a State, with its boundaries defined as at

The "territory south of the River Ohio," the government of which was provided for by act of Congress approved May 26, 1790, was bounded on the north by the present northern boundary of Tennessee, on the east by the States of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, and on the west by the Mississippi River. It included besides the Tennessee area nominal possessions to the 31st parallel. The cessions that made up this region are as follows: 1. The area ceded by North Carolina was described as

extending from lat 36°30' N. (since found to be 36°33') southward to 35o and from the western boundary line of the present State to the Missippi

River. This is now the State of Tennessee. 2. The area ceded by South Carolina formed a belt

12 or 14 miles in width lying south of the 35th parallel and extending from her western boundary to the Mississippi River. It is doubtful whether under the terms of the original charters South Carolina possessed this strip or whether it was

included in the possessions of Georgia. (See p. 99.) 3. The area ceded by Georgia comprised most of the

territory of the present States of Alabama and

Mississippi north of the 31st parallel. Tennessee was admitted as a State in 1796. In 1798 Congress organized as the Territory of Mississippi a small rectangular area, bounded on the west by the

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