previous next
[38] each possess a vast area of unpeopled, ungranted, and ultimately valuable lands. The landless States, with obvious reason and justice, insisted that these lands, won by the common valor and sacrifices of the whole American people, should be regarded as their common property, and to this end should be surrendered or ceded by the States claiming them respectively to the Confederation. The colonial charters, moreover, were glaringly inconsistent with each other; vast tracts being ceded by them to two or more colonies respectively; and it was a puzzling question, even for lawyers, to determine whether the earliest or the latest royal concession, if either, should have the precedence. There was but one beneficent and just solution for all disputes and difficulties in the premises; and this was a quit-claim by the respective States of their several rights and pretensions to lands exterior to their own proper boundaries, in favor of the common Confederacy. This consummation was, for the most part, seasonably and cheerfully agreed to. Connecticut made a moderate reservation of wild lands assured to her by her charter in what is now Northern Ohio. Virginia, beside retaining her partially settled country south of the Ohio, now forming the State of Kentucky, reserved a sufficiency north of the Ohio to provide liberal bounties for her officers and soldiers who fought in the war of the Revolution, conceding all other territory north of the river, and all jurisdiction over this. And it was presumed, at the close of the war, that North Carolina and Georgia would promptly make similar concessions of the then savage regions covered by their respective charters, now known as Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Though the war was practically concluded by the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 19, 1781, and though the treaty of peace was signed at Paris, November 30, 1782, the British did not evacuate New York till November 25, 1783; and the Ninth Continental Congress, which convened at Philadelphia on the 3d of that month, adjourned next day to Annapolis. A bare quorum of members responded to their names, but one and another soon dropped off; so that the journal of most days records no quorum present, and no business done, until about the 1st day of March, 1784. On that day, Mr. Jefferson, on behalf of tie delegates from his State, presented the deed of cession to the Confederation, by Virginia, of all her claims to jurisdiction over territory northwest of the Ohio, and to the soil also of that territory, subject to the reservation in behalf of her soldiers already noted. This deed being formally accepted, Mr. Jefferson moved the appointment of a select committee to report a plan of government for the western territory; and Messrs. Jefferson, Chase of Maryland, and Howell of Rhode Island, were appointed such committee. From this committee, Mr. Jefferson, in due time, reported an Ordinance for the government of “the territory, ceded already, or to be ceded, by individual States to the United States,” specifying that such territory extends from the 31st to the 47th degree of north latitude, so as to include what now constitutes the States of Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, but which was then, and

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Thomas Jefferson (4)
Howell (1)
Salmon P. Chase (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
March 1st, 1784 AD (1)
November 25th, 1783 AD (1)
November 30th, 1782 AD (1)
October 19th, 1781 AD (1)
3rd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: