ページの画像
PDF
ePub

tion of the crown, which rendered it necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under that crown should be totally suppressed. This recommendation was generally acted on immediately, and at length prevailed in all the provinces except Connecticut and Rhode Island, where it was deemed unnecessary to make any change, as in those colonies the executive as well as the whole legislature had always been elected by themselves,

4. At the time of the declaration of independence, the United States consisted of thirteen distinct provinces, namely, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The number of the states is now eighteen.

§ 5. Vermont was the first new state that was admitted into the federal union. From the year 1763 till 1789, this country had been a prey to the most distressing controversies, occasion. ed by the conflicting territorial claims of the surrounding states, particularly New Hampshire and New York, arising from the vague and contradictory clauses of the charters under which they were settled. A long

and tedious controversy respecting the boundary line between Massachusetts and New Hampshire was settled in 1740, when George the second determined that the northern boundary of the province of Massachusetts be, a similar curve line, pursuing the course of Merrimac river, at three miles distance, on the north side thereof, beginning at the Atlantic ocean, and ending at a point due north of Patucket falls; and a straight line drawn from thence, due west, until it meets with his majesty's other governments." This line was drawn in 1741. From this decision, it was concluded by New Hampshire that their jurisdiction extended as far west as Massachusetts had claimed and exercised, a conclusion that seemed also to be justified by the circumstance of the king's having repeatedly recommended to the assembly to make provision for the support of a fortress which was situated to the west of Connecticut river. Accordingly Benning Wentworth, the governor of New Hampshire, in the year 1749, made grants of several townships west of the river. These grants were put a stop to by the French war of 1754, but on the cessation of hostilities, the fertility and value of the lands having become generally known by the passage of troops through the country, they were eagerly sought after by adventurers and speculators, and the settlements increased with a surprising rapidity.

The rapid growth of these settlements at length attracted the attention of New York, the lieutenant governor of which state, grounding his pretensions on a grant of Charles II. to his brother the duke of York, issued a proclamation claiming jurisdiction as far east as Connecticut river, and commanding the sheriff of the county of Albany to make a return of the names of all persons who, under colour of the New Hampshire grants, had taken possession of any lands to the west of the river. To prevent the effects that might arise from this proclamation, the governor of New Hampshire issued a counter one, declaring the grant to the duke of York to be obsolete, that New Hampshire extended as far to the west as Massachusetts and Connecticut, and that the grants made by New Hampshire would be confirmed, even if the jurisdiction should be altered. The settlers were therefore exhorted not to be intimidated, and the civil officers were required to exercise jurisdiction as far westward as grants had been made, and to punish all disturbers of

the peace.

New York, however, did not choose to rely on so precarious a title as the grant of Charles II. to his brother, a grant totally inconsistent with the charters of Massachusetts and Connecticut, and to which those provinces had paid no attention, in the settlement of their lands to the west of Connecticut river. Applications were made to the crown, representing that it would be greatly for the convenience and advantage of the people who were settled west of Connecticut 'river, to be annexed to New York; that the course of business must always lie that way, and that the people were desirous of being included in that government. The result of these applications was a decision in favour of New York. On the 20th of July, 1764, his majesty ordered and declared “ the western banks of the river Connecticut, from where it enters the province of Massachusetts bay, as far north as the 45th degree of northern latitude, to be the boundary line between the said two provinces of New Hampshire and New York.”

Had the government of New York viewed this decision in the same light as the settlers in the disputed country, viz. that, it had only a prospective operation, and could never invalidate the titles to their lands, no opposition would probably have been made to the exercise of her jurisdiction. But unfortunately New York affected to consider the previous grants by New Hampshire as illegal, and called on the settlers to surrender their charters, and take out new grants from New York, which were attended with considerable expense.

The greater part of the settlers refused to comply with this requisition, and ejectments were issued against them by the courts at Albany. It was found impossible, however, to carry

[ocr errors]

those judgments into execution. Public opinion, even in New York, was generally in favour of the rights of the settlers, and all the attempts of the civil officers, aided-even by the militia, as a posse to assist the sheriff, was found unavailing.

Meantime the settlers sent three of their members to Great Britain to represent their situation, and implore the protection of the crown, and enquiry being made into the circumstances of the case, a royal order was issued to the governor of New York, strictly charging and commanding, that he do not, on pain of his majesty's highest displeasure, presume to make any grant whatsoever on those lands, until his majesty's further pleasure be known. This proclamation, however, unfortunately proved inefficacious in restoring order. The inhabitants complained that little or no attention was paid to it by New York, and affairs continued to approach nearer to extremities, till the year 1775, when the revolution, which for the moment swallowed up all inferior and local contests, put a stop to the hostilities, which every moment threatened to break out between the grants and New York.

This calm, however, was but of short duration. On the 2d of August, 1776, the convention of New York unanimously voted, that all quit-rents formerly due to the king of Great Britain, are now due and owing to this convention, or such future government as shall hereafter be established in this

This measure excited a considerable ferment among the settlers. A convention was called, which, in January, 1777, declared the country usually known by the name of the New Hampshire grants to be a free and independent state, under the name of New Connecticut or Vermont. The convention also addressed congress, requesting that their delegates might be admitted to a seat in that body.

This application placed congress in a delicate situation. In these critical times, union was all-important to the states, and no decision could possibly be made which would not excite vio·lent opposition by at least one of the parties, an opposition which might be attended with the most disastrous consequences. Indeed Great Britain had already attempted to profit by the contest, by negociating with the people of the disputed territory. Congress, therefore, wisely evaded the question, and affairs continued in this unsettled state until the adoption of the federal constitution in 1789, when New York, seeing that all prospect of subduing Vermont by force or by policy was at an end, and desirous, as well as the other states, that the union should be completed by the accession of that country, appointed commissioners with full powers to acknowledge their independence, and

state."

to settle all matters in controversy with her. Commissioners being also appointed by Vermont, after two or three meetings, this controversy, which had been carried on with great animosity for twenty-six years, was finally settled both equitably and amicably, and on February 18, 1791, Vermont was admitted into the union by an act of congress, without one dissentient vote.

Kentucky, at the time of the declaration of independence, was comprehended in the province of Virginia, and continued to form a part of that state until 1789, when the legislature, yielding to the wishes of its inhabitants, consented, by an act passed on the 18th of December, to its erection into an independent state. It was admitted into the union on the 1st of June, 1792, by an act of congress passed on the 4th of February, 1791.

The states of Tennessee and Ohio have been formed out of territories at different times vested by deeds of cession in the United States. By the vague, indefinite, and contradictory clauses of the charters under which the different colonies were settled, many were the conflicting claims to the vacant western territory. During the old confederation, congress repeatedly and earnestly recommended to the different states claiming or owning such territory to make cessions of it to the general government, as a further means, as well of hastening the extinguishment of the debts, as of establishing the harmony of the United States. In pursuance of these recommendations, all the claims of the different states to the territory north and west of the river Ohio, were relinquished in favour of the United States, a certain reservation of the right of soil in behalf of Connecticut, and a certain portion of lands for the satisfying of Virginia military grants, excepted. On the 20th of October, 1787, congress passed a resolution, “that it should be represented to North Carolina and Georgia, that the lands ceded by other states, in compliance with the recommendations of this body, are now selling in large quantities for public securities; that the deeds of cession of other states have been made without annexing an express condition that they should not operate until the other states under like circumstances make similar cessions; and that congress have such faith in the justice and magnanimity of the states of North Carolina and Georgia, that they only think it necessary to call their attention to these circumstances, not doubting but upon consideration of the subject they will feel those obligations which will induce similar cessions, and justify that confidence which has been placed in them." sentations appear to have produced the effect intended ; for North Carolina, in December, 1789, ceded the territory, now forming the state of Tennessee; and Georgia, in April, 1802,

These repre

ceded the Mississippi territory to the United States. · These cessions were made upon condition that the territories so ceded should åt some future time be admitted into the union on an equal footing with the original states. Tennessee was admitted by an 'act passed June 1, 1796, to take effect on the day of its date; Ohio, by an act passed February 19, 1803.

By the treaty between the United States and France of the 30th April, 1803, the province of Louisiana was ceded by the latter to America. By the act of congress of March 26, 1804, that portion of Louisiana which lies south of the Mississippi territory, and of the 33d degree of north latitude, was constituted a territory under the name of the territory of Orleans. The remainder of Louisiana is now called the Missouri territory. On the 30th of April, 1812, the territory of Orleans was admitted into the union, under the name of the state of Louisiana, by an act of congress of the 8th of the same month.

96. The whole of these eighteen states, with the exception of Rhode Island and Connecticut, possess written constitutions, most of which were adopted by conventions elected by the people for the express purpose. Though these constitutions all agree in the great principles of freedom and representation, considerable varieties exist in the forms of government.

97. The governor is chosen by the legislature, in New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, the two Carolinas, and Georgia. In Louisiana, the legislature appoint one of the two having the highest number of votes. In the other states the governor is chosen by the people. There is an executive council for the advice and assistance of the governor in all the New England states, and in New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. In Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and several other states there are lieutenant or deputy governors. In Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the two Carolinas, Tennessee, and Ohio, the governor possesses no legislative power whatever ; in Rhode Island and Connecticut he has a single voice in the upper house; in New Jersey he has a casting voice in the legislative council; and in New York, the chancellor and the judges of the supreme court, or any two of them, together with the governor, constitute a council for the revisal of bills about to be passed into laws, and can prevent their enactment unless they are repassed by two-thirds of both houses ; in all the other states (except Vermont, for which see $ 8, on the opposite page) the governor possesses a qualified negative on all bills passed by the legislature. The governor is elected for four years in Kentucky and Louisiana, in the other states from one to three years. In some states he is, and in others he is not re-eligible, for a certain term.*

« 前へ次へ »