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CHAPTER II.

Ordinance of 1787, by which slavery was prohibited in the Northwestern Territory ceded by Virginia to the United States-Virginia's assent to the ordinance-Her motives-Explanation of inconsistency in the prohibition of slavery by the Congress of 1787' and the continuance of the slave trade by the Constitutional Convention of 1787-Louisiana purchased-Treaty of purchase protects all rights of inhabitants-Sectional jealousies-Great Britain's plot to procure the secession of New England, the moving cause of the war of 1812-The Missouri difficulty begins in 1819-Mr. Clay, Speaker of the House, casts the deciding vote against territorial restriction in Arkansas.

In the debates of the Constitutional Convention on the questions of representation and taxation are to be seen, in most marked lines, the differences of opinion, of feeling, of ideas, and of interest, as they existed, even at that early day, between the Northern and Southern sections of our country, and which were only held in abeyance from the imperative necessity of union for self-protection, not only against foreign powers, but, also, from the aggressions and encroachments of the several States upon one another.

The Ordinance of 1787 having been regarded by many as next in importance to the Constitution, whilst by many others its constitutionality has been seriously questioned, and its provisions having been often referred to in all the debates on the Missouri Compromise, some statement as to its inception would seem to be in order. From the best sources of information at command of the author, it appears that the government, in 1780, being greatly in need of funds to carry on the war for Independence, the Continental Congress called upon several of the States, by a resolution of September 6th, to cede certain portions of their territory to the general government for the purpose of enabling it to raise those funds.

And, further, to induce the said States to accede to the proposition, on the 10th of October following, 1780, Congress passed this resolution:

"IN CONGRESS OF THE CONFEDERATION,

"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 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 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 and garrisons within and for the defense, 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 by nine or more of them."

On the 1st of March, 1784, Virginia, in pursuance of the recommendation of Congress of the 6th of September, 1780, which declared that the lands so ceded should be "disposed of for the common benefit of the United States," made cession of all her territory, north of the Ohio River, to the United States; and which extended to the great lakes on the North and the Mississippi on the West.

An ordinance for the temporary government of this territory was then drawn up by a committee, of which Mr. Jefferson was chairman.'

1 The following is a copy of Mr. Jefferson's plan:

"The committee appointed to prepare a plan for the temporary government of the Western Territory have agreed to the following resolutions:

Resolved, That the territory ceded or to be ceded by individual States to the United States, whensoever the same shall have been purchased of the Indian inhabitants, and offered for sale by the United States, shall be formed into distinct States, bounded in the following manner, as nearly as such cessions will admit-that is to say: northwardly and southwardly by parallels of latitude, so that each State shall comprehend, from south to north, two degrees of latitude, beginning to count from the completion of thirty-one degrees north of the equator; but any territory northwardly of the forty-seventh degree shall make part of the State next below; and eastwardly and westwardly they shall be bounded, those on the Mississippi by that river on one side, and the meridian of the lowest point of the rapids of Ohio on the other; and those adjoining on the east by the same meridian on their western side, and on their eastern by the meridian of the western cape of the mouth of the Great Kanawha; and the territory eastward of this last meridian, between the Ohio, Lake Erie, and Pennsylvania, shall be one State.

That the settlers within the territory so to be purchased and offered for sale, shall, either on their own petition, or on the order of Congress, receive authority from them, with appointments of time and place for their free males, of full age, to meet together for the purpose of establishing a temporary government, to adopt the constitution and laws of any one of these States, so that such laws nevertheless shall be subject to alteration by their ordinary legislature; and to erect, subject to a like alteration, counties or townships for the election of members for their legislature.

That such temporary government shall only continue in force in any State until it shall have acquired twenty thousand free inhabitants; when, giving due proof thereof to Congress, they shall receive from them authority, with appointments of time and place, to call a convention of representatives to establish a permanent constitution and government for themselves: Provided, that both the temporary and permanent governments be established on these principles as their basis: 1. (That they shall forever remain a part of the United States of America); 2. That, in their persons, property, and territory, they shall be subject to the government of the United States in Congress assembled, and to the Articles of Confederation in all those cases in which the original States shall be so subject; 3. That they shall be subject to pay a part of the Federal debts contracted or to be contracted, to be apportioned on them by Congress according to the same common rule and measure by which apportionments thereof shall be made on the other

This ordinance included all the territory "ceded or to be ceded by the individual States" from the 31st degree of latitude (then our extreme southern boundary), and east of the Mississippi river, which was then our westward boundary. Among its other provisions was the following:

5. "That after the year 1800 of the Christian era, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said States, otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted to have been personally guilty."

A second report was made by the same committee, which agreed in substance with the first, only altering some minor details.

On the 19th of April, it was before Congress for consideration, and the clause above quoted, which prohibited slavery in the territory, was struck out, on motion of Mr. Spaight, of North Carolina.1

States; 4. That their respective governments shall be in republican forms, and shall admit no person to be a citizen who holds any hereditary title; 5. That after the year 1800 of the Christian era there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said States, otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted to have been personally guilty.*

This paper is indorsed as follows, in a different handwriting, supposed to be that of a clerk:

"Report-MR. JEFFERSON,

MR. CHASE,

MR. HOWELL.

Temporary government of Western Country,

Delivered 1 March, 1784,

Ent'd-Read

March 3.

Monday next assigned for the consideration of this report.

March 17, 1784,
Recommitted." †

* I have left out what follows, which relates to their admission to the Confederation, and their names.

+ See Appendix to Congressional Globe, Vol. 20, 1st Session, 30th Congress, page 294. Journals of Congress, Vol. 4, 1782-1785.

1 "Congress took into consideration the report of a committee, consisting of Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Chase, and Mr. Howell, to whom was re

After further consideration and amendment,' which

committed their report of a plan for a temporary government of the Western Territory:

"When a motion was made by Mr. Spaight, seconded by Mr. Read, to strike out the following paragraph:

"That after the year 1800 of the Christian era, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said States otherwise than in punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been convicted to have been personally guilty.' And on question, shall the words moved to be struck out stand? the yeas and nays being required by Mr. Howell:

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"So the question was lost and the words were struck out."*

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no

1" Resolved: That so much of the territory ceded, or to be ceded, by individual States of the United States, as is already purchased, or shall be purchased, of the Indian inhabitants and offered for sale by Congress, shall be divided into distinct States, in the following manner, as nearly as such cessions will admit: that is to say, by parallels of latitude, so that each State shall comprehend from North to South, two degrees of latitude, beginning to count from the completion of 45 degrees north of the equator, and by meridians of longitude, one of which shall pass through the lowest point of the rapids of the Ohio, and the other through the western cape of the mouth of the great Kenhaway: but the territory eastward of this last meridan, between the Ohio, Lake Erie and Pennsylvania, shall be one state, whatsoever may be its comprehension *From the Journals of Congress, Vol. 4, 172-1783, p. 3783.

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