« ZurückWeiter »
ever, and shall be at liberty to form a permanent constitution and state government."
The right of the citizens of Wisconsin to form a government for themselves being clearly established by these provisions and by the precedents of Tennessee and Michigan, I respectfully beg leave to submit to your consideration the subject of the boundaries of the country whose inhabitants possess the right to vote upon the question of forming a constitution.
The 5th article of compact laid off the north-western territory into three states, and bounded them, on the south, by the Ohio river, and on the north by the territorial line between the United States and Canada. It provided, however, “ that the boundaries of these three states shall be subject so far to be altered, that if congress shall hereafter find it expedient, they shall have power 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 southerly or extreme bend of Lake Michigan.
In the execution of this power, congress has wholly disregarded the limitation placed upon its authority. These boundaries were subject to be altered only for a single object, to wit: to form one or two states north of a certain east and west line. The first part of this article declares “ there shall be formed in the said territory not less than three nor more than five states, and the boundaries of the states, so soon as Virginia shall alter her act of cession and consent to the same, shall become fired and established, as follows,” &c. Virginia gave her consent. The "east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan," became therefore an established boundary line, equally with the other line therein described, if congress found “it expedient to form" more than three states. On the admission of Ohio, the question was determined that there should be more than three states formed; and having now actually admitted four into the Union, the remaining “territory which lies north of an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan,” according to the terms of the ordinance, must compose the fifth.
In the year 1818, an act was passed by congress to enable the people of Minois territory to form a constitution. She had not sixty thousand inhabitants, and therefore applied to congress to
grant her permission, authority having been given to congress to admit a state with a less number.
It is conceded in this act, that congress and the people of Illinois undertook to make an alteration of her boundaries not con templated by the ordinance, when they gave to that state the line of latitude of forty-two degrees and thirty minutes for her northern boundary instead of the west line from the extremity of the lake. In the 2d section of that act a description of the boundary as row claimed by Illinois is followed by this provision: “ That the convention, when formed, shall ratify the boundaries aforesaid; otherwise they shall be and remain as now prescribed by the ordinance for the government of the territory north-west of the river Ohio.” And in the 4th section there is also a proviso, that the constitution," whenever formed, shall be republican, and not repugnant to the ordinance of the 13th of July, 1787, &c., excepting so much of said articles as relate to the states therein to be formed,"-which is clearly an admission that the alteration of the boundaries was repugnant to the ordinance.
Was this the alteration which congress was authorized to make? If it was, why did she ask Illinois to ratify her act? The articles of compact may undoubtedly be changed by common consent," and it is true that congress and Illinois have given their consent to the alteration; but the fifth state, whose rights are the same upon this question as those of Illinois, has not consented, and could not consent to any change of those articles until she has obtained her sovereignty and independence.
These views, it gives me pleasure to assure you, are sustained by the resolutions of the legislature of this territory. I avail myself of this occasion to quote the following sentences from the preamble to the “ resolutions relating to the southern boundary and the admission of Wisconsin into the union as a state;" which were approved by Governor Dodge on the 13th of January, 1840.
“ Whereas, the southern boundary of this territory, and of the state to be formed therein, is fixed and established by the ordinance of July 13th, 1787, on a line running due west from the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan to the Mississippi river.
“And whereas, although said ordinance is declared to be forever unalterable, unless by common consent, a large and valuable tract of country is now held by the state of Illinois, contrary to
the manifest right and consent of the people of this territory," &c,
The resolutions following this preamble requests that on a certain day the inhabitants of the territory do voie for or against the formation of a state government, including all that district of country north of the line above mentioned; and invite the inhabi, tants in that part of the district claimed by Illinois to express their sentiments in relation to its formation, and, in the event of an election being ordered by the governor, to choose delegates to the state convention.
The committee to whom this subject had been referred, in their report say, that "it has been declared as the opinion of a former legislative assembly of this territory, that all that district of country lying between the northern boundary line of the state of Illinois, and a line drawn west from the southern extreme of Lake Michigan to the Mississippi river, rightfully belongs to the territory of Wisconsin.' This opinion, with the arguments and reasons in supoort of it, have been spread before congress.
5" To recede now from the grounds at that time taken, or to relinquish in any manner the just rights of the territory to the jurisdiction of that district, in the opinion of your committee, would be to disappoint the hopes and defeat the most cherished desires and wishes of both the inhabitants of that district, and the people of the territory.”
Concurring, as I do, in the opinion thus expressed at former sessions of the legislature, and which I presume are still entertained by those gentlemen who were then members, it will be only necessary for me to advert at this time to some of the authorities upon which my opinions are founded.
I observe that“ an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan,” is described or adverted to, as a boundary, by the government of the United States in several instances:
1st. In the 5th article of compact, in the ordinance of 1787.
2d. The act of congress of April 30, 1802, to enable the people Ohio to form a state government.
3d. The act of congress of January 11, 1805, to provide a temporary government for Michigan.
4th. An act to authorize the President of the United States to ascertain and designate certain boundaries, passed May 20, 1812; which requires a survey of the boundary which divides “the state
of Ohio from the territory of Michigan;" and "a plat to be made of so much of the line as runs from the southerly extreme of Lake Michigan.” The war of 1812 prevented the execution of this act; but on the 15th of April, 1816, an appropriation was made for carrying it into effect; and the line was run, in conformity with the various acis of congress, due east from the southern extreme of Lake Michigan. It was not until the year 1818 that the work was completed, and the returns made to congress.
5th. The act to enable the people of Indiana to forn a state government, passed April 19ih, 1816; the provisions of which require the people to ratify the alteration of the ordinance line.
6th. The treaty between the United States and the Ottawas, Chippewas, and Potowatamies, concluded August 24, 1816. Under i reaty this line was run and marked in the year 1818 by John Sullivan; and the monument, erected at its termination on the bank of the Mississippi, near the head of Rock Island, was standing but a few years ago.
7th. An act to provide for the taking of certain observations preparatory to the adjustment of the northern boundary line of the state of Ohio, passed July 14, 1832. The President is required to ascertain, by observations, “ the point in the Mississippi which is due west from the southerly extreme of Lake Michi
8ih. The official report of Capt. Talcott, of the United States Engineers, dated January 17, 1834. He states that from his observations, the southern bend of Lake Michigen is in latitude forty-one degrees and thirty-seven minutes. And that a due west line from this point will intersect the Mississippi river about seven miles north of the fort on Rock Island. He erected monuments to mark each of these stations,
I unite with the assembly, therefore, in claiming, for the southern boundary of this state, a line drawn due west from the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan to the Mississippi river, because it was “ fixed and established” by the ordinance of 1787, in an article which it is declared " shall forever remain unalteraole, unless by common consent,” and because the people of this state have never given their consent to the alteration attempted to be made by congress and the people of the territory of Illinois.
Whether the inhabitants of the district of country which was placed by congress under the jurisdiction of Michigan, and which
lies west of a line drawn from the northern extremity of Lake Michigan, have not the right to vote with us for or against the formation of a state government, is a question of great importance, and to which I invite your attention. Michigan asserted her claim to this line as her true boundary on several occasions; particularly when she opposed the passage by congress of the act to establish the territorial government of Huron, and when she defined her own limits as a state in the act under which she formed her constitution. Her own arguments and concessions are considered very conclusive upon this point,
This subject was presented to the assembly in my message of February 16, 1842, with the act passed by her legislature on the 26th of January, 1836. In that message I remarked: “ It is ascertained that a part of the western boundary of the state of Michigan, as prescribed by the act of congress of the 15th of June, 1836, is an impracticable line, there being no such natural boundary as is therein described. The Lake of the Desert, [" old plantation lake,"] does not discharge its waters into the Montreal riv
It having therefore become necessary to designate a new line, I avail myself of the occasion to present the subject to the notice of the assembly, that such measures as are proper may be adopted, to procure the recognition by the government of the United States of the boundary which was established between Michigan and Wisconsin in the year 1805."
In the year 1828, a bill was reported in the house of representatives of the United States to establish the territorial government of Huron. T'he territory was bounded on the south by the states of Illinois and Missouri, and eastwardly by a line drawn through Lake Michigan and the straits of Mackinac to the southern extremity of Bois Blanc Island in Lake Huron, and thence due east across that lake to the boundary of the United States. The same bill was again reported (it having failed to pass both houses of congress) in 1829, 1830, and 1832. A report was made by the committee, with the bill, in the latter year, from which I make the following extract:
“ This committee are of opinion that the limits of the territory of Michigan, as originally separated from the then Indiana territory, ought, upon every fair and just principle, to be preserved to its present population, so as to enable them to emerge, as early as possible, into the condition of an independent state of the union.