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The Territorial government thus established was in its turn abolished by the provisions of an act of Congress, entitled “An act for the government of the District of Columbia, and for other purposes," approved June 20, 1874. This act provided for the appointment by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, of a Board of Commissioners, three in number; that such board should "exercise all the power and authority now lawfully vested in the governor and board of public works" of the District of Columbia, with certain unimportant limitations; and limited the representation in Congress to the term of the then incumbent.

Since June 20, 1874, the Government of the District of Columbia has accordingly been administered by a Board of Commissioners, appointed by the President, in pursuance of the act of Congress of that date.


Delaware (after Lord de la War); Pennsylvania (Penn's “Sylva"-woods); New Jersey (after the Isle of Jersey); Georgia (after George II. of England); Connecticut (Indian, Qunni-tuk-ut-Upon the long river); Massachusetts (Indian-About the great hills); Maryland (after Henrietta Maria, Queen of Charles I. of England); South Car. olina (after Charles I. of England); New Hampshire (after the county of Hampshire, England); Virginia (in honor of Queen Elizabeth of England, Virgin Queen); New York (after Duke of York-afterwards James II. of England); North Carolina (after Charles I. of England); Rhode Island (after the Island of Rhodes).


The United States has a frontier of about 10,000 miles; 3,500 of which is sea coast, 1,600 Gulf coast, and 1,500 lake coast, or, more distinctly, as follows:

Miles. Length of the Atlantic coast, from the mouth of the St. Croix to the St. Mary's River............ 1, 450 Length of the Atlantic coast, from St. Mary's River to Cape of Florida ...... Length of Gulf coast from Cape of Florida to the mouth of the Sabine River ...

.. 450 Length of Gulf coast acquired by annexation of Texas, from the Sabine to the Rio Grande Length of Pacific coast-in California, 970; in Oregon, 500; Straits of Juan de Fuca, 150....

... 400

1, 620 Total ... Lea ving a land frontier line of about 4,880 miles.




In 1624 there was an immigration of 9,000; in 1649 the colonies numbered 15,000; in 1689 the colonies numbered 200,000; in 1715 the colonies numbered 434,600; in 1733 the colonies numbered 750,000; in 1776 population of the United States was 2,243,000.


The population of the United States in 1790 was 3,929,214; in 1800, 5,308,483; in 1810, 7,239,881; in 1820, 9,633,822; in 1830, 12,866,020; in 1840, 17,069,453 ; in 1850, 23,191,876; in 1860, 31,443,321; in 1870, 38,925,598; in 1880, 50,152,866.


Bancroft's History of the United States.
Hilliard's History of the United States.
Congressional Annals Debates, Globe and Record, 1789 to 1880.
Charters and Constitutions. 2 vols. Ben: Perley Poore.
Constitution of the United States. Hickey ; Alexander Cummings' Revision.

Journals of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, 1789 to 1880.

Statutes at Large United States. Little, Brown & Co.
Reports of Commissioner Indian Affairs to 1880.
Areas of political divisions of the United States. J. W. Stocking. Ninth Census.
Reports Supreme Court United States.





At the period of the Revolutionary War, although the thirteen colonies were under the sovereignty of Great Britain, many of their institutions and customs were of their own selection and adoption. Distance from the home government, and difference in charters or grants and forms, aided independence.

There were three forms of colonial government: The provincial, the proprietary, and the charter.

The provincial government had no fixed constitution, but was governed by commissions created at pleasure by the King. A governor and council were appointed, who were invested with general executive powers. They were authorized to call a general assembly consisting of two houses (the assembly being the lower and the council the apper house) of the representatives of the freeholders and planters of the province.

The governor had an absolute veto, and could prorogue and dissolve them.

The general assembly had power to make all local laws and ordinances for the gov. ernment of the colony and its people not inconsistent with the laws of England.

At the beginning of 1776, New Hampshire, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia were provinces as above defined.

The proprietary governments were grants by patents for special territory to one or more persons, from the Crown, giving them rights as proprietary or proprietaries over the soil, with general powers of government, in the nature of feudatory principalities or dependent royalties; subject, however, to control of the King.

The governors were appointed by the proprietary or proprietaries, and the legislatures were organized and called at his or their pleasure. Executive authority was performed by him or them or by the governor for the time being.

Pennsylvania and Delaware, with William Penn as proprietary, and Maryland, with Lord Baltimore as proprietary, were the three colonies with this form of government at the beginning of 1776.

Charter governments were corporations (political) created by letters patent, which gave to the grantees and their associates the soil within their territorial limits and powers of legislative government. Their charters provided a fundamental constitution for them, dividing the powers of government into three functions or heads, viz, legislative, executive, and judicial, and providing for the mode of exercising these powers, vesting them in proper officials.

Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Providence Plantation, and Connecticut, were the colonies possessing this form of government at the breaking out of the Revolutionary War of 1776. All the colonies enjoyed generally the same rights and privileges.* * See Story on the Constitution.

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The colonial legislatures, with the restrictions necessarily arising from their dependency on Great Britain, were sovereign within the limits of their respective territories. But there was this difference among them: that in Maryland, Connecticut, and Rhode Island the laws were not required to be sent to the King for his approval, whereas in all the other colonies the King possessed the power of abrogating them, and they were not final until they had passed under his review. In respect to the mode of enacting laws there were some differences in the organization of the colonial governments. In Connecticut and Rhode Island the governor had no negative upon the laws; in Pennsylvania the council had no negative, bnt was merely advisory to the executive; in Massachusetts the council was chosen by the legislature, and not by the Crown, but the governor had a negative on the choice.

In all the colonies the lands within their limits were, by the very terms of their original grants and charters, to be holden of the Crown in free and common socage, and pot in capite, or by knight's service. They were all holden either as of the manor of East Greenwich, in Kent, or of the castle of Windsor, in Berkshire. All the slavish and military part of the ancient feudal tenures was thus effectually prevented from taking root in the American soil, and the colonists escaped from the oppressive burdens which for a long time affected the parent country and were not abolished until after the restoration of Charles II. Our tenures thus acquired a universal simplicity, and it is believed that none but freehold tenures in socage were ever in use among us. No traces are to be found of copy hold or gavelkind or burgage tenures. In short, for most purposes our lands may be deemed to be perfectly allodial, or held of no superior at all, though many of the distinctions of the feudal law have necessarily insinuated themselves into the modes of acquiring, transferring, and transmitting real estates.

One of the most remarkable circumstances in our colonial history is the almost total absence of leasehold estates. The erection of manors, with all their attendant privi. leges, was indeed provided for in some of the charters. But it was so little congenial with the feelings, the wants, or the interests of the people, that after their erection they gradually fell into desuetude, and the few remaining in our day are but shadows of the past, the relics of faded grandeur in the last steps of decay, enjoying no privileges and conferring no power.

In fact, partly from the cheapness of land and partly from an innate love of independence, few agricultural estates in the whole country have at any time been held on lease for a stipulated rent. The tenants and occupiers are almost universally the proprietors of the soil in fee simple.

The estates of a more limited duration are principally those arising from the acts of the law, such as estates in dower and in courtesy. Strictly speaking, therefore, there has never been in this country a dependent peasantry. The yeomanry are absolute owners of the soil on which they tread, and their character has, from this circumstance, been marked by a more jealous watchfulness of their rights, and by a more steady spirit of resistance against every encroachment, than can be found among any other people whose habits and pursuits are less homogeneous and independent, less influenced by personal choice and more controlled by political circumstances.

Connected with this state of things, and, indeed, as a natural consequence flowing from it, is the simplicity of the system of conveyances by which the titles to estates are passed and the notoriety of the transfers made.

From a very early period of their settlement the colonists adopted an almost uniform mode of conveyance of land at once simple and practical and safe. The differences are so slight that they become almost evanescent. All lands were conveyed by a deed commonly in the form of a feoffment or a bargain and sale, or a lease and release, attested by one or more witnesses, acknowledged or proved before some court or magistrate, aud then registered in some public registry. When so executed, acknowledged, and recorded, it has full effect to convey the estate without any livery of seizin, or any other act or ceremony whatsoever. This mode of conveyance prevailed, if not in all, in nearly all the colonies from a very early period, and it has now become absolutely universal. It is hardly possible to measure the beneficial influences upon our titles arising from this source, in point of security, facility of transfer, and marketable value.-(Story on the Constitution, volume 1.)


The land systems of the several colonies were the germs and basis of the land system of the United States. The Congresses of the early period of the Confederation and Union were composed of members from the various colonies or States who were familiar with the systems therein. From their varied experiences the most practical inethod was reached for the disposition of the public domain.

In all the colonies there prevailed a system of irregular allotment or sale and survey of tracts of land. This system produced confusion and litigation. The adoption of the rectangular system of surveys of the public domain grew out of the knowledge of the disputes occasioned by the crude methods which had theretofore prevailed.

In all the colonies lands were cheap, and the actual occupant or settler was preferred and protected.

In the New England colonies, Crown lands rated at froin sixty cents to $1 per acre.

In New York and New Jersey, Crown or grant lands were very cheap, ranging from fifty cents to $1 per acre; and grants of large tracts were freely made. The great Patroon grants in New York, along the Hudson River, are evidences of personal land liberality bardly equaled in latter days.

In Maine, charter lands were from fifty cents upward per acre.

In the proprietary colonies, lands were very cheap, and quit rents were of small amount.

In Pennsylvania, lands ranged from sixty cents upward per acre. Quit rents were inserted in the deeds.

In Delaware, under the proprietary, and prior to this under the Swedes and Dutch, lands were allotted in irregular tracts for settlement. The prices of proprietary lands in Delaware did not vary much from those in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania, by reason of her liberal laws and inducements to colonists, was one of the most popular and prosperous of all the colonies up to the time of the Revolution.

In Virginia, charter and Crown lands were held at from sixty cents per acre and upward; and after 1610, were sold to colonists in tracts of one hundred acres and upward at $60 per one hundred acres.

Every immigrant, or person who sent an immigrant, received an allowance of one hundred acres of land, and one hundred acres additional when the first allowance had been actually occupied and cultivated. This was afterward reduced to fifty-acre lots, the second lot being made assignable at pleasure. After 1619, female immigrants were allowed the same privileges as males.

In the Carolinas, prior to the separation, charter and grant lands were held at nominal rates, actual settlement being the principal consideration.

Lands were granted and located in irregular tracts. Under the John Locke “Grand Model," or "fundamental constitution," lands were granted to such male persons over seventeen years of age, as had first declared themselves and been recorded as members of some church or religious profession.

Lands were granted in tracts of 10,000 acres for each one hundred planters.

According to the “Grand Model," the vast territory of Carolina, embracing the present States of North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, was to be divided into counties, each containing 480,000 acres. For each county a landgrave, and two caciques or barons, were to be created, who were to possess onefifth of the land as inalienable property. Another fifth was to belong to the proprietaries, and the remaining three-fifths were reserved for the colonists, and might be held by lords of manors, with peculiar privileges. These landgraves and caciques were an hereditary nobility, and, together with the deputies of the proprietaries and the representatives chosen by freemen, were to constitute the parliament of the province, which was to assemble biennially. No man was eligible to any office unless ho possessed property in land, and every freeman was allowed to possess absolute authority over his negro slaves, who had been early introduced and found necessary to till the soil. A man was required to own fifty acres in order to possess the elective franchise, and five hundred acres before he was eligible to parliament. Those who were merely tenants of the land were subject to perpetual degradation, "adscript to the soil," "under the jurisdiction of their lord, without appeal," "leet men or tenants to all generations."

All executive power, and even judicial, in the last resort, was vested in the proprietaries themselves, the oldest of whom received the title of Palatine, and presided in their meetings. Each proprietary was chief of a subordinate court. A complicated series of perplexing regulations enforced the duties and limited the rights of the free holder. The Church of England became the established religion. This constitution was soon abandoned.

After the separation, lands were granted by the Crown authorities for plantations and settlements at from forty cents to $1 per acre.

The oldest land title in North Carolina is a grant from the king of the Yeokim Indians to George Durant for the neck that bears his name in Perquimans County, North Carolina, on the north side of Albemarle Sound.

The trustees of Georgia allowed immigrants fifty acres of land each. No grant could be made for more than five hundred acres to any individual. Women could not inherit lands, which were granted in tail male. In default of male heirs estates reverted to the trustees.

After 1733, eleven townships of 20,000 acres each were laid out on the Savannah, Altamaha, and Santee rivers for immigrants, who were given lots of fifty acres each. The trustees paid to the Crown four shillings (about $1) for every one hundred acres thus disposed of.

LAND LAWS AND SYSTEM OF THE COLONY OF PENN SYLVANIA. The Congress of the United States, during the periods of forming the government of the Confederation and afterward, sat principally at Philadelphia, Pa. The land system of the colony of Pennsylvania was perhaps the best organized and systematized of any of the colonies. Its records were at hand and were no doubt frequently referred to before the ordinance to provide for the sale of western territory was formulated. Penn's idea of surveying, set out in the warrants of survey, was to have the survey of purchased tracts made within certain townships, containing five and ten thousar 1 acres of land. This form of township may have had some influence in the adoption of the square form of survey of townships now the mode in the rectangular system. The irregular and uncertain marking upon the ground, consequent upon surveying irregular tracts of land, and the prevalence of litigation in the colonies arising from removals of stones, and decay or felling of trees used as markings, were known to the various delegates in the Continental Congress and aided in the adoption of a uniform method of surveying and marking lands in the public domain.


(Extract from the charter for the province of Pennsylvania, March 4, 1681.] Wee do also give and grant unto the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, the free and undisturbed use and continuance in and passage into and out of all and singular ports, harbours, bays, waters, rivers, isles and inletts belonging unto or leading to and from the countrey or islands aforesaid ; and all the soyle, lands, fields, woods, underwoods, mountains, hills, fenns, isles, lakes, rivers, waters, rivuletts, bays and inletts, scituate or being witbin or belonging unto the limitts and bounds aforesaid, togeather with the fishing of all sorts of fish, whales, sturgeons and all royall and other fishes, in the sea, bayes, inletts, waters or rivers within the premisses and the fish therein taken; and also all veins, mines and quarries, as well discovered as not discovered, of gold, silver, gemms, and pretious stones, and all other whatsoever, be it stones, mettals, or of any other thing or matter whatsoever, found or to bee found within the countrey, isles or limitts aforesaid. And him, the said William Penn, his heires or assignes, wee doe by this our royal charter for us, our heires and successors, make, create, and constitute the true and absolute proprietarie of the countrey aforesaid and of all other the premisses, saving alwayes to us, our heires and successors, the faith and allegience of the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, and of all other proprietaries, tenants and inhabitants that are or shall be within the territories and precincts aforesaid; and saving also unto us, our heires and successors the sovereignty of the aforesaid countrey, to have, hold, possess and enjoy the said tract of land, coun. trey, isles, inletts and other premisses unto the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, to the only proper use and behoofe of the said William Penn, his heires and assignes forever, to be holden of us, our heirs and successors, Kings of England, as of our castle of Windsor in our county of Berks, in free and common socage, by fealty only for all services and not in capite or by knight's service, yealding and paying there. for to us, our heires and successors, two beaver skins, to bee delivered at our the said

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