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should be formed into States, as proposed in the resolution of Congress of 1780. At the time this resolution was adopted, it has been shown that Congress was very ill informed as to the geography of the country for which they were legislating. But, shortly after the close of the war, enterprising individuals traversed the whole interior of the territory which had been ceded to the United States; and companies were formed to explore and settle the fertile and beautiful lands beyond the Ohio. From these adventurers, Congress, at an early day, had collected information sufficient to show that the promise, which had been given to the States, by the resolution of October, 1780, imposed inconvenient restrictions. Accordingly, on the 7th of July, 1786, they again took into consideration the resolution of 1780, and the conditions in the deeds of cession, which related to the boundaries of the States that were to be formed northwest of the Ohio. As these proceedings on that occasion are calculated to aid us, essentially, in ascertaining the true intent and meaning of the fifth article of the ordinance of 1787, on which is based the claim of Michigan, it will not be be amiss to state, concisely, their purport. The proceedings, at large, will be found in the appendix. (C No. 10.)
It was proposed to apply to Virginia to change its deed of cession, so as to empower Congress to make such division into States, to be not less than two, nor more than five in number, of the ceded lands, as the situation of the country and future circumstances might require. In lieu of this proposition, Mr. Grayson, of Virginia, seconded by a colleague, proposed, that it be recommended to the State of Virginia " so to alter its acts of cession, as that the States in the Western Territory may be bounded as follows: There shall be three States between the Ohio and a line running due east from the Mississippi to the eastern boundary of the United States, so as to touch the most southern part of Lake Michigan. The State lying on the Mississippi shall be separated from the middle State by a line running due north from the western side of the Wabash river, till it intersects the said east line: the middle State shall be separated from the others by the aforesaid line, and a line running also due north from the the western side of the mouth of the Big Miami, till the intersection thereof with the said east line; and the other State shall be divided from the middle State by the said line, the said east line, Lake Erie, the bounds of Pennsylvania, the other original States and Ohio. There shall be a State between the said east line, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and the straits of Michilimackinac; and another between the said east line, the Lakes Michigan and Superior, and the boundary line of the United States and the river Mississippi."
For this proposition all the delegates from Virginia voted. These proceedings are worthy of notice. They present to view the prominent objects of one of the parties to the compact ordained in the ordinance of '87. And what are they? Mr. Grayson and his colleagues asked Congress to declare:
1st. That there shall be three States between the Ohio and a line, drawn due east from the Mississippi, to the boundary of the United States, so as to touch the most southern part of Lake Michigan.
2d. That there shall be a fourth State between the said east line, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and the streights of Michilimackinac.
3d. That there shall be a fifth State between the said east line, the Lakes Michigan and Superior, and the boundary line of the United States, and the river Mississippi.
Here then we have displayed, distinctly, the wishes of the Representatives of one of the parties to the ordinance. If they had been acceeded to by the other party to that compact, the east and west line, drawn through the southerly bend of Lake Michigan, would have been made a permanent and immovable boundary of the three States on the Ohio, and the same line with Lakes Michigan, Huron, and the straits of Michilimackinac, would have been fixed boundaries for a State to be formed in the peninsula which they surround.
But the reverse of this is true. The continental Congress rejected the proposition of Mr. Grayson, and instead of it, having modified the original resolution which had been offered, they adopted it in the following form: "Resolved, That it be, and is hereby, recommended to the Legislature of Virginia, to take into consideration their act of cession, and revise the same, so as to empower the United States in Congress assembled, to make such a division of the Territory of the United States, lying northerly and westerly of the river Ohio, into distinct republican States, not more than five nor less than three, as the situation of that country and future circumstances may require."
Before Virginia gave assent to this resolution, Congress, on the 13th July, 1787, passed that commended and commendable ordinance, and on the 30th December, 1788, the fifth article of the same was ratified by Virginia, there being no other part thereof to which the assent of this State was required to give it validity. This article has already been given at large. It will be perceived that there is a remarkable similitude between it and the proposition which had been submitted by Mr. Grayson, and, on that account, it is reasonable to suppose that it was designed to gratify, as far as Congress could do so, the wishes of Virginia, supposed to have been indicated by its Representatives.
But there are also marked differences which distinguish the two instruments: Mr. Grayson's resolutions proposed to form three States between the Ohio and a line runing due east from the Mississippi to the boundary of the United States, so as to touch the most southern part of Lake Michigan, and two States north of that line; one to be bounded by the said east line, Lakes Michigan and Huron, and the straits of Michilimackinack; and the other by Lakes Michigan and Huron, the boundary line of the United States, and the Mississippi. If it had been the purpose of the Congress of 1787, to make an east and west line, drawn through the southern extreme of Lake Michigan, a fixed northern boundary for the three States which were to be formed on the Ohio, and to form another State in the peninsula of Michigan, is it to be believed that they would not have adopted the language of Mr. Grayson's resolution, which was before them, on those points, as they had borrowed the language of the same resolution in describing the boundaries of the three States, whose eastern, southern, and western boundaries, it was their intention to make immutable? Many of the members of the Congress of eighty-seven had been members of the Congress of eighty-six. It is fair to presume they knew well the reasons which had influenced Mr. Grayson to make his motion, and the considerations which had induced its rejection. Fortunately, we are not dependent, entirely, on conjecture to learn some of the motives which, on that occasion, guided the counsels of Congress. They are to be found recorded on its journal. In the preamble to the resolution of July, 1786, it is declared that "in fixing the limits and dimensions of the new States, due attention ought to be paid to natural
boundaries, and a variety of circumstances, which will be pointed out by a more perfect knowledge of the country, so as to provide for the future growth and prosperity of each State." Now there is no evidence to show that additional information had been obtained by Congress, after this preamble was adopted, prior to the passage of the ordinance. Indeed, we are well apprised, that, long after the latter period, no map of the northwest Territory, more accurate than Mitchell's, had been published. Lewis's map, dated in 1815, and Vance's map, in 1818, each exhibit the errors which are so conspicuous in the face of the map first mentioned. The lights of science and civilization, had not broken through the clouds of dark uncertainty which then overshadowed the far west. The latitude even of the southern extreme of Lake Michigan, had not been clearly ascertained. Neither had the resources and extent of the territory lying north of an east and west line, drawn through that point, been explored. Congress, under such circumstances, would have acted unwisely, if they had fixed, irrevocably, any one of the boundary lines of a State, or States, to be' formed in a country which had never been traversed by civilized man. They ought to have adhered, and it is believed they did adhere, to their original purpose. They fixed the east, west, and south boundary lines of three States, and postponed a decision as to the limits, dimensions, or even numbers of those to be formed, until a variety of circumstances, which a more perfect knowledge of the country would point out, would enable them, or their successors, to provide for the future growth of each State, as well as the accommodation and security of the first adventurers. Hence they adopted the language of Mr. Grayson's resolution, in part, and rejected it in part. They knew the extent of the country on the Ohio, and could, therefore, accede to his proposal, so far as to establish the south, east, and west boundaries of three States, to be organized on the Ohio border. But they refused to make, as he had expressly proposed, a line drawn due east from the Mississippi, so as to touch the southern extreme of Lake Michigan, a limitation beyond which these States should not extend. And Congress refused, also, to form the Michigan peninsula into a State, as Mr. Grayson had proposed, to be admitted into the Union whenever there should be sixty thousand free inhabitants therein. Instead of this they adopted the fifth article of the ordinance, which declares that the three States on the Ohio shall extend north to the territorial line between the United States and Canada." Provided, however, and it is further understood and declared, that the boundaries of these hree States shall be subject so far to be altered, that if Congress shall hereafter find it to be expedient, they shall have authority to form one or two States, in that part of the said Territory which lies north of an east and west line drawn through the southern bend or extreme of Lake Michigan."
But, it is said, although the ordinance fairly construed, does not make the east and west line a limit, beyond which the three States on the Ohio shall not be extended, unless they are stretched north to the Canada line, yet, by the passage of the act of 1805, Congress, the trustee under the ordinance, pledged the public faith, that no one of the boundaries of Michigan should be changed without the consent of the inhabitants residing therein. In support of this position, the act of 1805, it is insisted, must be construed to have been a declaration, that there should be two States formed north of the east and west line, and that one of them should be of the precise limits and dimensions of Michigan. This interpretation,
must be confessed, is not supported by the language of the law. It purports to be an act to constitute a separate Territory for temporary purposes, and not to form a State; neither is it reasonable to suppose that Congress, in 1805, designed to exercise the discretion reposed in them by the ordinance, as to the division of the country north of the east and west line, and to fix the boundaries of a future State. It has already been shown that Mitchell's map was of high authority in 1784. That map makes of the peninsula of Michigan an area of 23,617 square miles. It has been shown also that the error committed by Mitchell, as to the latitude of Lake Michigan was copied into all the maps of the United States, published prior to 1818. We have, moreover, indubitable proof that Congress, in 1802, supposed the southern extreme of Lake Michigan to be near 42° 20' north latitude. In the second section of the act to enable the people of Ohio to form a State Government, it is declared that the north boundary of the State to be formed shall be a line running due east from the southern extreme of Lake Michigan until it shall intersect Lake Erie, or the territorial line. (Ap. D 3.) At that day the latitude of Lake Erie was as well known as it is now; and unless we suppose that the point at which the above named boundary was to commence was north of the 42d degree of north latitude, the last words of the above quotation would have been entirely unnecessary. A line drawn due east from the southern extreme of Lake Michigan, known now to be at 31° 37' and 7", could not touch the Canada line, until after it had first touched Lake Erie, and, of course, it would have been supererogatory to say that such a line should be extended "until it shall intersect Lake Erie or the territorial line. With a knowledge of these facts can we rightly determine that the Congress of 1805 intended to make immutable the boundaries of Michigan? If to the 23,617 square miles, supposed, in 1805, to be the area of the peninsula, be added 1,000 square miles on account of the territory north of Michilimakinack, we shall have less than 25,000 square miles as the area of the country which, it is insisted, that the Congress of 1805, intended to form into one State, leaving all the residue of the territory north of the east and west line, supposed then to be 155,652 square miles, to be formed into one permanent political community, and admitted into the Union. When such an unequal division of the territory in question, and such an unequitable execution of a trust, deliberately conferred and accepted, must be imputed to the Congress of 1805, if we adopt the interpretation of the law of that date, contended for by the people of Michigan, assuredly there is good cause to doubt the accuracy of thus reasoning. With due deference, it appears to be very clear, that their erroneous conclusions are reached because their premises are totally wrong. They have blended things distinctly dissimilar. They insist that certain language in the ordinance is applicable to their condition, which was manifestly intended for other communities. That instrument declares "whenever any of the said States shall have sixty thousand free inhabitants therein, such State shall be admitted, by its delegates, into the Congress of the United States, on an equal footing with the original States, in all respects whatever." And the people of Michigan insist that they have a vested right to form a State government and come into the Union, because the law of 1805 guarantied to the people of Michigan Territory the enjoyment of all and singular the rights, privileges and advantages, secured by the ordinance to the people of the Northwest Territory. The words last above quoted, it will be observed have reference, expressly, to the "inha
bitants of States," and to them alone. They cannot with any propriety be interpreted so as to apply to the inhabitants of a district, territory, or other division of the ceded lands which Congress is empowered to make for "the purposes of temporary government." That this language has never been so construed, can be proved clearly by reference to various acts of ConAnd although these interpretations are not obligatory on the House of Representatives, like precedents in courts of justice, still they are entitled to respectful consideration, because they furnish indubitable proof, as to the meaning given to certain words, by those who incorporated them in our laws. The first act to be animadverted on, is that by which the Indiana Territory was established. (Appendix, D 1.) In that act, instead of the word district, the word territory is used as a synonyme. By the terms of that law, all that territory which now forms Illinois, and all that country known by the euphonious name of Ouisconsin, and all that part of Michigan which lies west of the west boundary of Ohio, extended north to the Canada line, was included in the Indiana Territory. And by the third section of the act of 1802, (App. D 2) all the residue of the Territory of Michigan, which has been formed into a State, was attached to, and made a part of the Indiana Territory. And in the acts of 1800 and 1802, constituting this Indiana Territory, it is declared, that the inhabitants therein "shall be entitled to, and enjoy, all and singular, the rights, privileges, and advantages, granted and secured to the people," of the Northwest Territory, by the ordinance. These words, in the act of 1800, are copied literally into the act of 1805.
Let us now see what construction has been given to them, by the persons who incorporated them into those statutes.
When the people of Indiana were authorized to form a State constitution, neither the people of Ouisconsin, nor the people of that part of Michigan not included in the State then to be formed, were consulted as to the organization of the Government about to be established, or the extent and limits of its jurisdiction. There does not appear to have been entertained, at that day, the most vague supposition that Congress had, by placing Michigan and Ouisconsin under a temporary Territorial Government, decided that there ought not to be formed one or more States north of the east and west line. Neither have we any evidence that it was contended, that the guaranty then given to the people of Michigan or of Ouisconsin, of certain rights and privileges, included a right to assist in the formation of a State to be admitted into the Union.
Opinions, the very reverse of these, were then universally prevalent. No one doubted either the validity or justice of the law of 1809, by which Ouisconsin was annexed to the Territory of Illinois: (App. D 4.) or of the law of 1805, establishing the Territory of Michigan. And yet, if the construction given by the people of Michigan to the second section of the act of 1805 be correct, the people of that Territory, and the inhabitants of Ouisconsin, had, under the acts of 1800, and 1802, a vested, indefeasable right to participate, of their own accord, in the formation of a State Government for Indiana Territory, whenever there were therein sixty thousand free inhabitants. And the act of 1816, (App. D 5.) authorizing a portion of the people of Indiana to form a State constitution, consulting them, and them alone, as to the extent of its boundaries, was, and is, an invalid and unjust proceeding. And as a corollary from this, the act of 1816, which makes a line drawn through a point ten miles north of the