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appointment of officers as provided in the Constitution, passed an amendatory act to the Ordinance of 1787 providing for the nomination of officers for the Territory by the President, and their appointment by and with the advice and consent of the Senato. August 8, 1789, President Washington sent to the Senate the names of Arthur St. Clair for governor, Winthrop Sargent for secretary, and Samuel Holden Parsons, John Cleves Symmes, and William Barton for judges.

The first were re-appointments. They were all confirmed. President Washington, in this message, designated the country as “ The Western Territory." The supreme court was established at Cincinnati (now Ohio, named by St. Clair in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati, he having been president of the branch society in Pennsylvania). St. Clair remained governor until November 22, 1802. Winthrop Sargent afterwards, in 1798, went to Mississippi as governor of that Territory. William Henry Harrison became secretary in 1797, representing it in Congress in 1799–1800, and he became governor of the Territory of Indiana in 1800.


May 7, 1300, Congress, upon petition, divided this Territory into two separate gov. ernments. Indiana Territory was created, with its capital at St. Vincennes and from that portion of the Northwest Territory west of a line beginning opposite the mouth of the Kentucky River in Kentucky, and running north to the Canada line.


The eastern portion now became the “Territory Northwest of the river Ohio," with its capital at Chillicothe. This portion, Nov. 29, 1802, was admitted into the Union as the State of Ohio.


Indiana Territory, the remainder after Ohio was admitted into the Union, was divided by act of Congress January 11, 1805, and the northern central portion formed into the Territory of Michigan. The original boundaries of Michigan as by this act defined were changed by acts of Congress of April 19, 1816, April 18, 1818, June 28, 1834, and April 20,1836. The act of 1818 made the Mississippi River the western boundary of the Territory. The act of 1834 added to Michigan the lands between the Missouri and White Earth rivers on the west and the Mississippi River on the east. The southern line of Michigan was the northern line of the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri ; its western line the Missouri and White Earth rivers to the British line; its eastern line was Lakes Huron and Erie.

Michigan was admitted into the Union, with reduced and fixed boundaries, January 26, 1837, after the Territory of Wisconsin had been formed from its western portion April 20, 1836, and afterward, May 29, 1848, admitted into the Union.


February 3, 1809, Indiana was again divided, and the Territory of Illinois, with its capital at Kaskaskia, was created from the part lying west of the Wabash River and to the Canada line, the western boundary of Michigan. The enabling act of Congress for Illinois, April 18, 1818, gave her present boundaries, reducing her great north and northwestern area, now lying in the States of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. Illinois was admitted into the Union December 3, 1818.

The territory northwest of the river Obio ceased to exist as a political division after the admission of the State of Ohio into the Union November 29, 1802, although in acts of Congress it was frequently referred to and its forms affixed by legislation to other political divisions.


RIVER OHIO. It was bounded on the west by the Mississippi River and international boundary line ; on the south by the Ohio River; on the east, going north from the Ohio River, by tbe western boundary of the States of Pennsylvania and New York; and on the north by the line between the possessions of Great Britain and the United States, as described in the definitive treaty of peace of September 3, 1783.

The Territory northwest of the river Ohio, thus formed, was made up of claims of different States, which bad been ceded as follows :

Virginia's uncontested claims, wbich was all the territory west of Pennsylvania, north of the Ohio, to the forty-first parallel north latitude, and above that her claim of capture to the northern limits of the lands under the Crown which had been subject to the jurisdiction of the Province of Quebec, and to the Lakes Michigan and Huron..

Connecticut claimed from the forty-irst parallel northward to the south line of the Massachusetts claim, 42° 02' north latitude; from east to west, from the west line of Pennsylvania to the Mississippi River.

Massachusetts claimed the north line of tbe Connecticut claim, viz, 42° 02' north latitude, north to 43° 43' 12'' north latitude; and from east to west, from the western boundary of New York to the Mississippi River.

The belt or zone lying north of the Massachusetts claim and to the Canada line, and lying east of the Mississippi River, was claimed to have been obtained by the treaty of peace with Great Britain September 3, 1783, and the cession of the State of Virginia. Massachusetts and New York claimed the “Erie purchase," about three hundred and sixteen square miles, now in Pennsylvania.

New York's claim was indefinite as to area, but was west of Pennsylvania and north of the river Ohio, as set up under Indian title, and for the three hundred and sixteen square miles in the “Erie purchase” now in Pennsylvania.

The territory northwest of the river Ohio contained an area of 265,878 square miles, and from it were formed and now lie in its original territory

Square miles. The State of Ohio...

39,964 The State of Indiana....

33, 809 The State of Illinois ....

55,414 The State of Micbigan ....

56, 451 The State of Wisconsin ........ The State of Minnesota, east of the Mississippi River and international boundary of 1776, estimated to contain ......

26,000 The Erie purchase (in Pennsylvania)......


53, 924



May 26, 1790, the Congress of the United States passed the following act providing for a temporary government for the territory of the United States south of the Ohio River:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled : That the territory of the United States south of the river Ohio, for the purpose of temporary government, shall be one district, the inhabitants of which sball enjoy all the privileges, benefits, and advantages set forth in the ordinance of the late Congress for the government of the territory of the United States northwest of the river Ohio; and the government of the said territory south of the Ohio shall be similar to that which is now exercised in the territory northwest of the Obio, except so far as is otherwise provided in the conditions expressed in an act of Congress of the present session entitled “An act to accept a cession of the claims of the State of North Carolipa to a certain district of western territory."*

* See the ten conditions in the act of cession by the State of North Carolina. See fourth condition : "Provided always, That no regulations made or to be made by Congress shall tend to emancipate Blaves."

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SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the salaries of the officers which the President of the United States sball nominate and, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoint by virtue of this act shall be the same as those by law established, of similar offices in the government northwest of the river Ohio, and the powers, duties, and emoluments of a superintendent of Indian affairs for the southwestern department shall be united with those of the governor.


The territory of the United States south of the river Ohio was nominally bounded on the north by the river Ohio; on the south, including nominal possessions, by the thirty-first parallel, north latitude ; on the west by the Mississippi River, and on the east by the western boundary line of the States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.


Virginia ceded the belt between her western boundary line and the Ohio River on the north, and the Mississippi River on the west, with parallel 36° 33' north latitude, for its southern boundary, now in the State of Kentucky, and nominally in the territory south of the river Ohio.

North Carolina ceded the area from 36° 33' north latitude, going south to the parallel 350 north latitude, and from her western boundary line to the Mississippi River, now in the State of Tennessee, actually in this territory.

South Carolina ceded the area from 35° north latitude going south embraced in a belt or zone twelve to fourteen miles in width, extending from the western boundary line of the State of South Carolina to the Mississippi River, now in the States of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, actually in this territory.

From the south line of the cession of South Carolina, being about latitude 34° 47' north, going south to latitude 31° north, and reaching from the western boundary line of the State of Georgia to the Mississippi River, ceded by the State of Georgia and now in the States of Alabama and Mississippi, being the original line prior to the purchase of the province of Louisiana, between the United States and the French possessions west of the eighty-fifth meridian of west longitude, and embracing most of the British province of West Florida, nominally in this territory.


South Carolina had already at the date of the passage of the act ceded her western lands to the United States August 9, 1787, and North Carolina had made her cession February 25, 1790, a total of about 50,500 square miles. The territory at this time embraced under this act was Kentucky (part of western lands of Virginia), nominally, and the two above set out actually.

William Blount, of North Carolina, was appointed governor in 1790, and Daniel Smith secretary, with headquarters at Knoxville, now in Tennessee.

Kentucky, nominally in this territory, was admitted into the Union June 1, 1792.

At Knoxville, Tenn., under proclamation of Governor Blount, a convention was held, and a constitution framed in February, 1796, and Tennessee was admitted into the Union June 1, 1796. This absorbed the North Carolina cession. There remained the South Carolina lands, now in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia

April 7, 1798, Congress created the Territory of Mississippi; the northern part of the lands therein was part of the territory south of the river Ohio, from the South Carolina cession, called after the admission of the State of Tennessee “the territory of the United States south of the State of Tennessee."

Mississippi, after division and creation of Alabama from it, was admitted into the Union December 10, 1817. Mississippi and Alabama now contain the lands ceded by Georgia to the United States.

March 3, 1817, Alabama Territory was erected from the eastern portion of the Territory of Mississippi and admitted into the Union December 14, 1819. Alabama contains a strip on her northern boundary of the lands of the territory south of the river Ohio from the South Carolina cession.


The remainder of the territory of the United States south of the river Ohio was given to the State of Georgia, by the terms of the cession of her western lands to the United States on June 16, 1802, under her act of April 24, 1802. This land now forms the extreme northern part of the State of Georgia.

And thus all of the territory of the United States south of the river Ohio was embraced within State lines, and the act became obsolete.


It contained an actual area of 50,500 square miles; actual and nominal of 176,758 square miles, as follows:

Sq. wlles. Kentucky, nominal.......................................................

37, 680 Tennessee, actual.......

45,600 Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, actual ............

4,900 Alabama, nominal....

46,722 Mississippi, nominal..

41, 856 Total, actual 50,500, and nominal 126,258 ........


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The public lands being under the entire control and direction of Congress, that body has from time to time enacted various laws creating agents to sell and otherwise dispose of the public domain, and from 1776 it has made grants. From May 20, 1785, and after, under order of Congress, the Board of Treasury (three commissioners), the then Treasury Department, made sales of the public lands and gave certificates. April 21, 1792, Congress authorized the President to give patent to "the Ohio Company of Associates” (Winthrop Sargent Cutler, Rufus Putnam, and others). May 5, 1792, the President was authorized to give patent for lands to John Cleves Symmes and his associates. The money in these cases was paid direct to the Secretary of the Treasury. By act of May 18, 1796, for the sale of the lands in the Northwestern Territory, now in Ohio, the Secretary of the Treasury received a set of plats of survey, kept check-books of sales, gave notice of sales, and performed other executive duties. He became the executive power or agent in the sale or disposition of tho public domain, issuing patents for grants of land, &c., with the aid of registers and receivers of district land offices after 1810, and remained so until the organization of the General Land Office in his Department.


April 25, 1812, Congress created the office of Commissioner of the General Land Office, and made his bureau in and subordinate to the Treasury Department, issuing patents, and performing duties formerly executed by the several departments. The Secretary of the Treasury, by a series of acts of Congress following this, obtained supervision of the acts of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, and appeals from the action of the commissioner were made to him. July 4, 1836, the General Land Office was reorganized by law.


March 3, 1849, Congress created the Home (now Interior) Department, and by section 3 of that law provided that the Secretary of the Interior “shall perform all the duties in relation to the General Land Office of supervision and appeal now discharged by the Secretary of the Treasury." Thereafter the General Land Office became and continues to be a bureau in the Interior Department. The Secretary of the Interior is now charged with the supervision of the public business relating to the public lands, including mines and pension and bounty lands. (See Chapter XI, section 441 page 75, Revised Statates United States.)

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