Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

only one produced to contradict the general testimony of other geographers; and even this so lays down Lake Michigan, that an east line drawn from its southern extreme, protracted on the same parallel of latitude, would strike near the northern cape of Maumee bay, and give Ohio more than she claims, by including within her limits a part of the country lying on the northeastern border of Indiana.

Such being the general impression in 1802, and long after, it may be asked, why this proviso was inserted in the constitution of Ohio? We can only answer, as is done by those who on the part of Ohio have represented the fact to us, that, at the time of the session of the Ohio convention, a member of that body was induced to suspect that there was a mistake as to the southern limit of Lake Michigan by the representations of a beaver-trapper, who had hunted around its border; and, upon his suggestion, in order to prevent the possibility of the State's losing the outlet of one of her principal rivers, in consequence of a mere mistake as to the latitude of a single place, of which but little was known at the time, the proviso was introduced. At that day the whole country in the vicinity of the southern extreme of Lake Michigan was thronged with savages, and rarely visited by a white man. Even at a much laier period, there were few who could boast that they had penetrated to within fifty miles of the spot which is called the southern limit of Lake Michigan. The maps, until long after the last war, exhibit the whole southern part of the lake as inclining to the east, although our subsequent surveys in that quarter have accurately proved, that while the lake runs much farther south than was supposed, it actually inclines to the west, and is very far from what was formerly supposed to be its true position.

The result is, then, that the intention of both the real parties to this compact has been defeated by a mere mistake as to a single fact, and it is yet within the power of one of those parties to carry out their common design so far as to satisfy the other, which has been injured by the mistake, without attempting to restore all or even half of that which has been actually lost by the error. The whole tract in dispute contains but about six hundred square miles. It is the case of a defective execution of a power manifestly intended to have been executed in good faith, and generally believed to have been well executed, for nearly twenty years. That Congress did not during this period express its assent to the line proposed in the constitution of Ohio, which was only to become the boundary on the ascertainment of a fact not then believed by intelligent men to exist, does not surprise us. On the contrary, if it be really true, as we are well satisfied, that for so long a period after the admission of the State into the Union, there was probably not a member of Congress who had not been taught by the maps of the country that the east line through the southern point of Lake Michigan would give to Ohio not only all, but much more than all the territory she now claims, we should be surprised to learn that Congress had then undertaken to give its assent to the line in the bill or seriously to examine the subject. Congress had no information to enable it to decide that its intervention was necessary. It was for this, among other reasons, as we think, that the committee of the House of Representatives, composed of Mr. Randolph, Mr. Elmendorf, Mr. Goddard, Mr. Henderson, and Mr. Areher, to whom the constitution of Ohio and her ordinance stipulating to forbear taxation on the public lands for five years after their sale by the United States, in consideration of

66 The pro

certain grants of school lands and road money, were referred on the 234 of December, 1802, after that committee had disposed of the principal subject of their inquiries, which certainly appears from the report to have been the ordinance, and not the constitution, declared, viso contained in the sixth section of the seventh article of the constitution of the State of Ohio, respecting the northern boundary of that State, depending on a fact not yet ascertained, and not being submitted in the shape of other propositions from the convention to Congress, the committee have thought it unnecessary to take it at this time into consideration.” The journals of Congress show that, although a motion was submitted to assent to this line, at an early period after the admission of Ohio into the Union, it failed, and we think manifestly for the same reason assigned by this committee, to wit, that it“ depended on a fact not not yet ascertained.” In reference to Mr. Randolph's report, it is also to be observed, that the subject of it appears to have been the ordinance, and not the constitution proposed by the convention of Ohio, except so far only as it was absolutely necessary to consider the same in connexion with the ordinance for the purpose of deciding on the propositions contained in the latter. The committee, of which he was chairman, although both constitution and ordinance were referred to it, reported only on the latter, and the bill they introduced, to agree to the propositions in the ordinance, was passed on the 3d of March, 1803. This report was made on the 2d of February, 1803. Meanwhile, the Senate had the subject of the constitution under consideration, and on the 7th of February, 1803, passed the bill recognising the constitution as properly made, and the State as a member of the Union, and extending the laws over it. On the 8th of February, 1803, this bill was sent from the Senate and was referred to another select committee, of the House of Representatives. This was the committee whose duty it was to decide the question how far the constitution should be adopted, and the reference of the bill to them was evidently considered by the committee of which Mr. Randolph was chairman, as superseding the necessity of their further consideration of the subject, for they never made any further report upon it. The bill from the Senate, thus referred to a different committee, was reported by that committee and became a law, approving the whole con. stitution, without exception.

That it is expedient as well as just, for Congress to confirm the State's claim to this line is not less apparent to us. Ohio has long been engaged in attempting to connect by a canal the waters of the Miami of the Ohio with those of the Miami of the Lake. She is also, with Indiana, engaged in the construction of a canal to connect the waters of the Miami of the Lake with those of the Wabash, on terms satisfactory to both. This river of the lake holds its course in those two States, and unless Ohio can command its outlet, it is said that the canal will debouche into Lake Erie at a point south of the Maumee bay, at whatever increased expense the work, when thus diverted from its proper course, may occasion. She complains that another wishes to keep the key of it after she shall have constructed the work; and she refuses to progress with it until she has learned who is to command its entrance to the waters of the lake. The progress of this magnificent improvement is thus for the time arrested. Without this disputed territory, Michigan may have a tract of country greatly exceeding the whole of Ohio. The territory of Mi

SS

dition seven f Vired for in two northnt for y porthereobjec

Ss the

13

ract of single Michik, not ter, to side in

have ent to b form pation

readnce in orbear tance,

bareonteme for a of the ned, at d well it comof the

12

of the urope; consin

han to llinois.

as we idaries d, they

are in

rritory

end its princint, unr time,

certain g 230 of 1 pal subje have bee viso cont tulion 01 State, de in the sh committe sideratio submitte Ohio int son assi not yet a be obsei and not far only ion with containe thought on the l: the ord il made ol subject

ary, 180

and the On the referred This wa far the them w dolph w sideratic The bill

ported b

stitution

That claim to in attem with thi

gaged ir

of the 1 This rix Ohio ca Lake E expense sion. shall ha until sh the lake time art of coun..

[ocr errors]

'chigan alone is now nearly if not quite as large; and with the addition of Wisconsin, would comprehend about one hundred and seventy-seven thousand square miles, or a tract of thrice the extent of the State of Virginia, a large portion of which vast district is said to be not exceeded for fertility and mineral wealth. By the ordinance of 1787, more than two States cannot be formed of the whole of the remaining part of the northwestern territory embraced in that ordinance, and it is competent for Congress to form but one State of it all, or to add to Michigan any portion of it which it may now be deemed expedient to annex. If, therefore, Michigan be not sufficiently large, it is easy to remedy that objection, and if the ordinance is to remain unchanged, as it must, unless the State of Virginia will assent to an alteration of it, so immense a tract of country as Wisconsin presents, ought not to be formed into a single State. Whatever disadvantage may arise from connecting with Michigan a portion of the country west or north of the lake, is, we think, not to be weighed with the inconvenience of subjecting, for ever after, to the jurisdiction of a single State, all the inhabitants who may reside in the region north and west of that lake. We do not pretend to have formed any opinion on the question whether Virginia would consent to such an alteration of the ordinance as would enable Congress to form more States out of this territory; but we cannot overlook the anticipation of what might be the effect of that suggestion, which will occur so readily to the minds of her statesmen, that the non-slaveholding influence in the Government would be greatly increased by her assent. We forbear to discuss this part of the subject. Indeed, it has been with a reluctance, which has been overcome only by our sense of duty, that we have barely suggested it. But to the great fact that the vast country contemplated to be formed into a single State hereafter, is too extensive for a single State's jurisdiction, we do earnestly invite the attention of the Senate. Those who suppose that this noble territory is not destined, at some future day, to sustain an immense population, have not studied well its inexhaustible mineral riches, the fertility of its soil, and its great commercial advantages, or they have mistaken the enterprising genius of the American people. Within the same parallels of latitude are some of the most powerful nations and most densely populated regions of Europe; and the day is not distant when it will be made appear that Wisconsin alone is capable of supporting the population of an empire.

The second and third sections of the bill have no other object than to confirm the surveys of the northern boundaries of Indiana and Illinois. They involve no principle and compromit no interest if it be true, as we suppose, that the surveys have been faithfully made. These boundaries are fixed already, and the two last sections declare that, as thus fixed, they are now accurately surveyed and designated on the maps. Those are in error therefore who have supposed that the bill cedeş any new territory to either of these States.

We, therefore, report the bill without amendment, and recommend its passage. We also report the resolution, with our dissent from the principle asserted in it; and as further action upon it is, in our judgment, unnecessary, we have instructed the chairman to move, at the proper time, to lay it on the table.

2

« AnteriorContinuar »