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who were expending their treasures and pouring out their blood in the struggle to defend its possession, finally induced Congress to take the matter into serious consideration.
On the 30th October, 1779, by a vote of eight States in the affirmative to three in the negative, Congress passed the following resolution :
“Whereas the appropriation of vacant lands by the several States, during the continuance of the war, will, in the opinion of Congress, be attended with great mischiefs; therefore,
“ Resolved, That it be earnestly recommended to the State of Virginia to reconsider their late act of assembly for opening their land-office; and that it be recommended to the said State, and all other States similarly circumstanced, to forbear selling or issuing warrants for unappropriated lands, or granting the same during the continuance of the present war.”
Under these critical and embarrassing circumstances the State of New York, as she had previously done in urging the immediate assembling of a continental Congress on the approach of British aggression in 1774, and as she subsequently did in leading the way for the assembling of the Federal Convention in 1787, magnanimously took the lead in laying her own individual interests and selfish ambition upon the altar of the whole country.
On the 7th of March, 1780, the delegates from that State laid upon the table of Congress the following:
“An act to facilitate the completion of the Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union among the United States of America.
“ Whereas nothing under divine Providence can more effectually contribute to the tranquillity and safety of the United States of America than a federal alliance, on such liberal principles as will give satisfaction to its respective members : And whereas the Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union recommended by the honorable the Congress of the United States of America have not proved acceptable to all the States, it having been conceived that a portion of the waste and uncultivated territory within the limits or claims of certain States ought to be appropriated as a common fund for the expenses of the war: And the people of the State of New York being on all occasions disposed to manifest their regard for their sister States, and their earnest desire to promote the general interest and security, and more especially to accelerate the federal alliance, by removing, as far as it depends upon them, the before-mentioned impediment to its final accomplishment:
“Be it therefore enacted, by the people of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That it shall and may be lawful to and for the delegates of this State in the honorable Congress of the United States of America, or the major part of such of them as shall be assembled in Congress, and they, the said delegates, or a major part of them, so assembled, are hereby fully authorized and empowered, for and on behalf of this State, and by proper and authentic acts or instruments, to limit and restrict the boundaries of this State, in the western parts thereof, by such line or lines, and in such manner and form, as they shall judge to be expedient, either with respect to the jurisdiction, as well as the right or preëmption of soil, or reserving the jurisdiction in part, or in the whole, over the lands which may be ceded, or relinquished, with respect only to the right or preëmption of the soil.
“ And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the territory which may be ceded or relinquished by virtue of this act, either with respect to the jurisdiction, as well as the right or preemption of soil, or the right or preëmption of soil only, shall be and enure for the use and benefit of such of the United States as shall become members of the federal alliance of the said States, and for no other use or purpose whatever.
“ And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all the lands to be ceded and relinquished by virtue of this act, for the benefit of the United States, with respect to property, but which shall nevertheless remain under the jurisdiction of this State, shall be disposed of and appropriated in such manner only as the Congress of the said States shall direct; and that a warrant under the authority of Congress for surveying and laying out any part thereof, shall entitle the party in whose favor it shall issue to cause the same to be surveyed and laid out and returned, according to the directions of such warrant; and thereupon letters patent, under the great seal of this State, shall pass to the grantee for the estate specified in the said warrant; for which no other fee or reward shall be demanded or received than such as shall be allowed by Congress.
“Provided always, and be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the trust reposed by virtue of this act shall not be executed by the delegates of this State, unless at least three of the said delegates shall be present in Congress.”
Encouraged by this noble example of New York, and impressed with the urgent necessity of harmonizing and consolidating the Union, in order to secure a successful termination of the war and a foundation for the future peace and prosperity of the country, Congress, at their session in 1780, made further efforts to adjust the matter of the western lands, as will be seen from the following extracts from their proceedings.
WEDNESDAY, September 6, 1780.
Congress took into consideration the report of the committee to whom were referred the instructions of the general assembly of Maryland to their delegates in Congress, respecting the Articles of Confederation, and the declaration therein referred to; the act of the legislature of New York on the same subject, and the remonstrance of the general assembly of Virginia; which report was agreed to, and is in the words following:
That having duly considered the several matters to them submitted, they conceive it unnecessary to examine into the merits or policy of the instructions or declarations of the general assembly of Maryland, or of the remonstrance of the general assembly of Virginia, as they involve questions, a discussion of which was declined, on mature consideration, when the Articles of Confederation were debated; nor in the opinion of the committee, can such questions be now revived with any prospect of conciliation ; that it appears more advisable to press upon those States which can remove the embarrassments respecting the western country, a liberal surrender of a portion of their territorial claims, since they cannot be preserved entire without endangering the stability of the general confederacy; to remind them how indispensably necessary it is to establish the Federal Union on a fixed and permanent basis, and on principles acceptable to all its respective members; how essential to public credit and confidence, to the support of our army, to the vigor of our councils, and success of our measures; to our tranquillity at home, our reputation abroad, to our very existence as a free, sovereign, and independent people; that they are fully persuaded the wisdom of the respective legislatures will lead them to a full and impartial consideration of a subject so interesting to the United States, and so necessary to the happy establishment of the Federal Union; that they are confirmed in these expectations by a review of the before-mentioned act of the legislature of New York, submitted to their consideration; that this act is expressly calculated to accelerate the federal alliance, by removing, as far as depends on that State, the impediment arising from the western country, and for that purpose to yield up a portion of territorial claim for the general benefit; Whereupon,
Resolved, That copies of the several papers referred to the committee be transmitted, with a copy of the report, to the legislatures of the several States, and that it be earnestly recommended to those States, who have claims to the western country, to pass such laws, and give their delegates in Congress such powers as may effectually remove the only obstacle to a final ratification of the Articles of Confederation; and that the legislature of Maryland, be earnestly requested to authorize the delegates in Congress to subscribe the said articles.
TUESDAY, October 10, 1780.
Resolved, That the unappropriated lands that may be ceded or relinquished to the United States, by any particular State, pursuant to the recommendation of Congress of the 6th day of September last, shall be disposed of for the common benefit of the United States, and be settled and formed into distinct republican States, which shall become members of the Federal Union, and have the same rights of sovereignty, freedom, and independence, as the other States : that each State which shall be so formed shall contain a suitable extent of territory, not less than one hundred nor more than one hundred and fifty miles square, or as near thereto as circumstances will admit: that the necessary and reasonable expenses which any particular State shall have incurred since the commencement of the present war, in subduing any British posts, or in maintaining forts or garrisons within and for the defence, or in acquiring any part of the territory that may be ceded or relinquished to the United States, shall be reimbursed.
That the said lands shall be granted or settled at such times, and under such regulations, as shall hereafter be agreed on by the United States, in Congress assembled, or any nine or more of them.
As the result of these proceedings, Virginia, in 1784, ceded to the United States, the territory claimed by that State, lying north and west of the Ohio river, with the condition that all the bounties promised to officers of the Revolution, out of her public lands, should be provided for by Congress. The State of Kentucky was subsequently formed out of the western portion of Virginia, with her consent.
The other States claiming title to portions of the western territory, also ceded their claims to the United States.
COMPACT BETWEEN THE ORIGINAL STATES AND THE PEOPLE
AND STATES TO BE FORMED IN THE TERRITORY NORTH-WEST OF THE Ohio RIVER, CONTAINED IN THE ORDINANCE OF 1787.
"It is hereby ordained and declared by the authority [of Congress] 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 com mon consent, to wit:
ARTICLE I. No person, demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner, shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship or religious sentiments, in the said territory.
Art. II. The inhabitants of the said territory shall always be entitled to the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus, and of the trial