« AnteriorContinuar »
tainment 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, Ms. Henderson, and Mr. Archer, 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 certain grants of school lands and road money, were referred on the 23d 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, The proviso 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 committee would also advert to the terms of the ordinance of 1787, as a compact between the people of the United States, of the State of Vir ginia, and the people of the future States in the northwestern territory. It is in these words:
" It is hereby ordained and declared, that the following articles shall be considered as articles of compact between the original States and the people and States in the said territory, and for ever remain unalterable, unless by common consent."
Thus making it irrevocable except by the consent of all parties thereto. The question then presented to the inhabitants in Illinois, north of the line extending due west from the most southerly extreme of Lake Michigan is, has Congress transcended its power in establishing the northerly line of that State at 42 degrees 30 minutes, north latitude.
Another fact your committee think it proper to mention. We refer fer to a circumstance much relied on, by those holding that Congress have power to extend the northern boundaries of the Ohio river States as far north of the southerly extreme of Lake Michigan as they please. On the motion of Mr. Monroe, in Congress, July 7, 1786, which we have herein before inserted, to request Virginia to alter her act of cession, to enable Congress to make such division into States of the ceded territory, as the situation of the country and future circumstances might require, with the limitation, however, that not more than five, nor less than three States should be so formed, Mr. Grayson, of Virginia, moved an amendment, de fining the boundaries of the three Southern States, now Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and of two northern States, north of the southern extreme of Lake Michigan. The motion was lost by a tie vote. The amendment proposed not only exactly defined all of the boundaries of the two northern Stales, . but made it obligatory on Congress to form five States, leaving them no
discretion as to number or boundaries of the two contingent States. Congress, however, one year subsequent, on the 13th July, 1787, expressed their views on this subject in the 5th article of the ordinance, by proposing the same lines for the three southern States, as defined in Mr. Grayson's amend. ment, provided they should deem it proper to form more than three States in the ceded territory, reserving to themselves the power, " as the situation of the country and future circumstances might require," to form one or two States north of the extreme southern bend of Lake Michigan. This was the “ discretion" asked by Congress, and it has already been exercised by forming four out of the five States authorized by that article.
Your committee, in conclusion, would mention another fact, which by the committees in Congress, was much relied on in the contest between Ohio and Michigan, viz: The great extent of country which lies in the fifth State (Wiskonsin), computing Michigan and the present Territory of Wiskonsin, at 160,000 square miles. Deduct from this the present dominions of Michigan, which we may place at 60,000 square miles, it leaves 100,000 to Wiskonsin. If this immense superficial area was improveable, cultivable land, then if expediency had any thing to do with the question, a fair reason might be adduced therefrom. But we know that not one halt of this great extent of country is capable of cultivation ; that not more than 150 miles north of the Wiskonsin river can be made a farming country; that above that line, from the northern part of Green Bay, and between Lake Superior and the Mississippi, the country is covered by innumerable lakes and tamurac swamps, and only valuable for its timber, thus leaving a front on the Mississippi to the future State of Wiskonsin, even to the ordinance line of about 300 miles, while Illinois would have on the Mississippi, below that line, upward of 600 miles river coast.
The committee have thus stated all the material fects within their knowledge, and submit them to this meeting for their consideration and action.
CHAS. S. HEMPSTEAD, Chairman. The committee of correspondence, by their chairman, Thomas Melvill, Esq., laid before the meeting the following report of their proceedings, which was duly accepted :
REPORT. At a meeting held at the court-house in Galena, on the 1st day of February last, for the purpose of taking into consideration the question of the boundary line between Mlinois and Wiskonsin, a committee was appointed to correspond with persons residing in the several counties comprehended within the disputed district, and ascertain the views generally entertained by them on the subject.
That committee has attended to the duties assigned them, and respectfully report:
That on the 6th ult., circular letters were addressed by them to fifty-eight persons residing in those counties, requesting that suitable measures might forthwith be adopted, to call meetings of the inhabitants of their respective counties, for the purpose of eliciting their opinions and views, in relation to the discrepancy between the said boundary, as established by the ordinance of 1787, and that assigned to Illinois at the time of her admission into the Union; and likewise, as to the annexation of the territory north of that line, and now comprehended within the limits of the State of Illinois, to the State of Wiskonsin.
Answers have been received from the following counties, namely: Boot, Mercer, Winnebago, Stephenson, Carroll, Fulton, and Whiteside.
Believing it to be expedient that each section of the district should be promptly informed of the opinions of every other part, on this momentous question, the committee have caused these communications to be published in the Galena papers as they came to hand.
From these communications, it appears that an opinion is generally entertained by the inhabitants of these portions of the district, that the terri. tory in dispute rightfully belongs to Wiskonsin, according to the compact; that it is for the general welfare to be detached from the former and an. nexed to the latter, and that they are solicited to co-operate in such lawful measures as may be deemed expedient, by the majority, to effect this object.
It being desirable to procure a united expression of public opinion, and to ensure unity and concert of action, it is proposed by several counties that a general convention of delegates be held at some convenient and central place, to decide upon such definitive measures as may, after mature deliberation by that Lody, be deemed expedient. Respectfully submitted.
THOMAS MELVILL, Chairman. GALENA, March 6, 1840.
After some interesting and pertinent remarks by several gentlemen pres. ent, the following resolutions were adopted, as expressive of the views and feelings of the meeting :
Resolved, As the opinion of this meeting, that it was the intention of the original framers and parties to the oth article of the ordinance for the government of the worthwestern territory, passed July 13, 1787, that if Congress formed one or two States north of an east and west line running through the southerly extreme of Lake Michigan, the States south of that that line should not extend north and beyond it.
Resolved, That Congress, in extending the northern boundary of Indiana and Illinois, transcended its power, and violated the provisions of said 5th article.
Resolved, That as Congress has formed four States out of the original northwestern territory, the contingency has happened which entitles the fifth State (Wiskonsin) to be admitted into the Union, under the provisions of the 5th article of the compact, believing as we do, that there are 60,000 free inhabitants within the bounds of the contemplated fifth State.
Resolved, That copies of the reports of the committees laid before this meeting, be printed and circulated in the “ disputed territory." and that it be recommended to the citizens in other counties interested in this question, to hold meetings to consider the subject.
Whereas, from authentic information in the possession of this meeting, it is kņown to be the general, if not the universal belief of the inhabitants of the tract of country in dispute, that the same of right and by law, belongs to and is a part of the Territory of Wiskonsin, and that their interest would be much advanced by the restoration of the original line defined by the bb article of the ordinance of 1787; and whereas, the same belief and contietion is, after a full examination and mature consideration of the subject, held and maintained by this meeting, and believing that the people are com petent to judge and act in the matter ; therefore
Resolved, That we recommend a convention of delegates to be chosen by the people of the counties in the disputed territory, to meet at Rockford
on the 1st Monday in July next, to deliberate and decide on such measures as they shall deem right and proper in relation to the subject.
Resolved, That we recommend to each of said counties, to choose delegates to the said convention, according to the following ratio :
Every election precinct to have one delegate ;
Resolved, That a committee of seven persons be appointed to address a circular letter to all parts of said tract of country, and to take other proper steps to carry the preceding resolutions into effect.
Resolved, That, as citizens residing in the jurisdictional limits of Illinois, we will abide by the laws thereof, until a peaceable and constitutional decision shall be had in favor of Wiskonsin.
John Stark, Thomas Melvill, Davis Divine, M. M. Maughs, A. L. Holmes, Jacob Wyeth, and George W. Campbell, were appointed the committee under the 7th resolution.
Dr. A. T. Crow offered the following resolutions, which were adopted by the meeting :
Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting, and the reports of the committees, be published in the papers of Galena, and also in handbill form, and circulated generally in the disputed territory; and that a sum sufficient to defray the expenses of publication be raised by contribution.
Resolved, That a copy of these proceedings be forwarded to the Gov. ernors of Illinois and Wiskonsin. On motion, the meeting adjourned.
C. S. HEMPSTEAD, Chairman. 0. S. JOHNSON, Secretary.