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so much of the Governor's message as relates to the Missouri boundary line, made the following report:
The select committee to whom so much of the Governor's Message was referred as relates to the adjustment of the boundary line between the State of Missouri and this Territory: Respectfully report:
That by an act of Congress approved the sixth day of March, 1820, the people of Missouri Territory were authorized to form a State Constitution and Government, and her boundaries defined, (particularly her northern boundary) commencing " at 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 last aforesaid, along the said 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.”
The state of Missouri adopts the same language, and calls for the same boundaries in her constitution.
It is a fact generally admitted and sustained by the highest authority, that in explaining law, the object of the Legislator shall be ascertained as near as may be, and that the words used shall be understood in the plain, common sense meaning, or common acceptation; and it is to be supposed the Congress of the United States in designating the northern boundary of Missouri, or the members of the convention in framing their constitution would have called for the parallel of latitude of a place that was unknown at that time, but must have been not only known to exist, but the locality of which could be, and doubtless was determined by reference to the maps of the country, and consequently must have been the lower rapids of the Mississippi, known from the time of their first discovery by civilized man as the Des Moines rapids, or rapids of the Des Moines river, from their contiguity to the mouth of that stream. The upper rapids have always been called the Rock river rapids, or rapids of Rock river, for the same reason and from the same cause. At that time the geography of the Des Moines river was not only very imperfectly known, but we believe we are warranted in saying that no such place on the Des Moines river was known to exist; and notwithstanding it is now known that there are various swift running places on that stream, it is very doubtful whether any of them is of sufficient importance to entitle it to the name of rapids, and it is conclusively evident that no one of them is entitled to that appellation in contradistinction from several others.
We are warranted in the above conclusions by the fact that in 1824, the United States by treaty extinguished the Indian title to all the lands within the chartered limits of Missouri, as declared by said treaty to be “ east of a line from the Missouri river at the entrance of the Kansas river, north one hundred miles to the north-west corner of the state of Missouri, and south of a line from thence east to the Mississippi, it being understood that the small tract of land lying between the rivers Des Moines and Mississippi, and the section of the above line is extended for the use of the Half Breeds of the Sac and Fox nations.
This treaty was made by Gov. Clark, one of the oldest citizens of Missouri, and one, too, fully acquainted with the natúre, situation, and extent of the country, and was ratified by the Senate of the United States on the 18th day of January, 1825, and as such, according to the constitution of the United States, Art. 6th, Sect. 2, became one of the supreme laws of the land, any thing in the constitution or law of any state to the contrary, notwithstanding.
And no complaint was heard either from the people of Missouri, or her representatives in Congress, that justice had not been done them, or that they were entitled to more territory on the north than had been acquired by the treaty.
In 1835 it was understood by report, that certain individuals who were interested in what is generally called the Half Breed tract, had discovered that Missouri previously to this time had been mistaken, and that her northern boundary line, according to the laws of the United States and her constitution, should be extended ; doubtless hoping thereby, that, as a consequence, the northern line of the Half Breed tract would be extended, and as such, would increase their individual gains. But whether the present line of Missouri be extended or not it cannot affect the boundaries of the Half Breed tract, for the reason that Missouri claims the right of extension by virtue of the law of Congress above referred to, and the language of her constitution; whereas the boundaries of the Half Breed tract were defined and are determined by the treaty of the 4th of August, 1824, and is described to be " that small tract of country lying between the river Des Moines and Mississippi, and the section of a line due east, from a point one hundred miles north from the mouth of the Kansas river,” according to which the Half Breed tract contains as much, if not more territory, than it should do.
The people of Missouri now begin to think of rapids somewhere on the Des Moines river, as the parallel of latitude of her northern boundary, that must be searched for and sought out.
In 1836 she attempted an extension of her jurisdiction by the execution of civil process in the hands of an individual acting or claiming to act under the authority and by the sanction of her laws. By an act of her legislature, approved Dec. 21st, 1836, provision was made for the survey and marking out her northern boundary.
Now admitting she had the right to pass the above act, she unquestionably destroyed the legality of her proceedings by failing to comply with the requisitions of her own laws, the 7th section of which required “that the Governor of that State should open a correspondence with the President of the United States, and the Governor of Wisconsin, and request the appointment of Commissioners to act in conjunction with the Commissioners on the part of Missouri.” The 8th section provides “that when it shall be known to the Governor of Missouri that one or both the governments have appointed commissioners for the purpose aforesaid, he shall direct the commissioners on the part of that state to meet and to act in conjunction with the Commissioners appointed by the other parties.” The 9th section provides “ that if the United States or the territory of Wisconsin shall fail or refuse to appoint commissioners, that after six months the Governor of Missouri shall give notice to the commissioners on the part of Missouri, and they shall proceed to discharge the duties required of them by this act.”
No such correspondence has ever been opened with the Governor of Wisconsin: no request has ever been made for the appointment of commissioners on the part of this territory, as required, by the Governor of Missouri in the above named act; neither have we any information of any correspondence being opened with, or any such request having been made of the President of the United States. But whether it was or not, no such commissioners were appointed on the part of the United States, and the commissioners on the part of Missouri alone, proceeded to survey and mark what they would wish to be established as the northern boundary line of Missouri, in direct violation of the principles of the Government, as taught in the 9th article of the articles of confederation.
Notwithstanding we have none but the best of feelings towards the state of Missouri, and would regret exceedingly that any thing should transpire that would interrupt the friendship that should exist between us, yet we must solemnly protest against the conduct and proceeding of Missouri.
And whereas, a number of highly respectable citizens from various parts of the United States have settled in the tract for which Missouri is now contending, expressly with a view of living in a free or non-slaveholding state, who are unwilling to be connected with the state of Missouri, and fearing the consequences of a collision with a neighbouring state, earnestly desire to have this matter adjusted, and the boundary between this territory and the state of Missouri determined.
And whereas, the people living on the tract, or near the line, are not only interested, but the whole territory of Wisconsin as well as the inhabitants of Missouri; and should the state of Missouri attempt forcibly to extend her jurisdiction over the tract of country for which she now contends, without the sanction of Congress, it might produce a state of things greatly to be regretted; for, notwithstanding we are young and feeble, we are not disposed to yield quietly what we believe we are in justice entitled to: and whereas, we look in confidence to, and rely upon the justice of the Congress of the United States for the final settlement of this matter: therefore
Resolved, By the Council and House of Representatives of the territory of Wisconsin, that our Delegate in Congress is hereby instructed to use his best exertions to procure the passage of an act to provide for the appointment of commissioners on the part of the United States, and on the part of this territory, to act in conjunction with commissioners on the part of the state of Missouri, to finally adjust and settle the boundary line between the state of Missouri and the territory of Wisconsin, and that a copy of this report be sent to our Delegate in Congress, to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States.
On motion of Mr. M Gregor, The said memorial was read the first, second, and third time, passed, and Ordered to be transmitted to the Council for concurrence.
On motion of Mr. Chance, Mr. Morgan, Sergeant-at-Arms was excused from attending the House for a short time.
On motion of Mr. Teas, Mr. John Lorton was appointed Sergeant-at-Arms during the absence of Mr. Morgan,
Mr. M Gregor, from the select committee to which was referred so much of the Governor's message as relates to preemption on the public lands, by leave, reported the following memorial:
The memorial of the Legislative Assembly of the territory of Wisconsin, respectfully represents:
That the territory of Wisconsin is deeply interested in the .subject of the public lands; that her citizens have received with attention the past, and now look forward with increased anxiety to the future action of the National Legislature upon the subject. • That the final disposition of the public domain involves deeply the interest of our whole country, is a fact impressed strongly upon the minds of your memorialists; and entertaining as they do, the belief, that in making that disposition, your honourable body will feel impelled by a high sense of duty to your common country, without regard to local interests or sectional feeling, to pursue that line of policy which will most advance the interests of that country.