Thomas Jefferson Papers

III. Report of the Committee, 1 March 1784

III. Report of the Committee, 1 Mch. 1784

The Committee appointed to prepare a plan for the temporary government of the Western territory have agreed to the following resolutions.

Resolved, that1 the territory ceded or to be ceded by Individual states to the United states2 shall be formed into distinct states, bounded in the following manner as nearly as such cessions will admit, that is to say; Northwardly and Southwardly3 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 47th. degree shall4 make part of the state next below. And Eastwardly and Westwardly they shall be bounded, those on the Missisipi by that river on one side and the meridian of5 the lowest point of the rapids of Ohio on6 the other; and those adjoining on the East by the same meridian on their Western side, and on their Eastern by the meridian of7 the Western cape of the mouth of the Great Kanhaway. And8 the territory Eastward of this last meridian between the Ohio, Lake Erie, and Pennsylvania shall be one state.9

That the settlers within any of the said states10 shall, either on their own petition, or on the order of Congress, receive authority from them, with appointments of time and place for their11 free males of full age12 to meet together for the purpose of establishing a temporary government, to adopt the constitution and laws of any one of these states,13 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 20.000. 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 for ever remain a part of15 the United states of America.14 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 states. 4. That16 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 æra, 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.

That whensoever any of the said states shall have, of free inhabitants, as many as shall then be in any one the least numerous of the thirteen original states, such state17 shall be admitted by it’s delegates into the Congress of the United states, on an equal footing with the said original states:18 after which the assent of two thirds of the United states in Congress assembled shall be requisite in all those cases, wherein by the Confederation, the assent of nine states is now required. Provided the consent of nine states to such admission may be obtained according to the eleventh of the articles of Confederation. Until such admission by their delegates into Congress, any of the said states, after the establishment of their temporary government, shall have authority to keep a sitting member in Congress, with a right of debating, but not of voting.

That the territory Northward of the 45th. degree that is to say, of the completion of 45°. from the Equator, and extending to the Lake of the Woods19 shall be called Sylvania:

That of the territory under the 45th and 44th degrees that which lies Westward of Lake Michigan shall be called Michigania, and that which is Eastward thereof within the peninsul formed20 by the lakes and waters of Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie, shall be called Cherronesus, and shall include any part of the peninsul which may extend above the 45th. degree.

Of the territory under the 43d and 42d degrees, that to the Westward thro’ which the Assenisipi or Rock river runs shall be called Assenisipia, and that to the Eastward in which are the fountains of the Muskingum, the two Miamis of Ohio, the Wabash, the Illinois, the Miami of the lake and Sandusky rivers shall be called Metropotamia.

Of the territory which lies under the 41st. and 40th. degrees, the Western, thro’ which the river Illinois runs, shall be called Illinoia; that next adjoining to the Eastward21 Saratoga, and that between this last and Pennsylvania and extending from the Ohio to Lake Erie, shall be called Washington.

Of22 the territory which lies under the 39th. and 38th. degrees to which shall be added so much of the point of land within the fork of the Ohio and Missisipi as lies under the 37th. degree, that to the Westward23 within and adjacent to which24 are the confluences of the rivers Wabash, Shawanee, Tanissee, Ohio, Illinois, Missisipi and Missouri, shall be called Polypotamia, and that to the Eastward farther up the Ohio, otherwise called the Pelisipi shall be called Pelisipia.25

That the preceding articles shall be formed into a Charter of Compact shall be duly executed by the President of the U.S. in Congress assembled under his hand and the seal of the United States, shall be promulgated, and shall stand as fundamental constitutions between the thirteen original states, and those now newly described, unalterable but by the joint consent of the U.S. in Congress assembled and of the particular state within which such alteration is proposed to be made.

MS (DLC); entirely in TJ’s hand except for interlineations indicated in notes 2 and 10 below; endorsed by Thomson: “Report Mr Jefferson Mr Chase Mr Howell. Temporary governmt. of Western Country Delivered 1 March 1784. Entd. Read.—March 3. Monday next assigned for the consideration of this report. March 17. 1784 recommitted.” Another text of the report as submitted 1 Mch. exists as a printed broadside (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 719, No. 426) and is in DLC: TJ Papers, 10: 1640; it bears numerous marginal corrections in TJ’s hand which must have represented amendments offered in Congress in the discussion on 8 or 17 Mch. since all are incorporated in the report as resubmitted on 22 Mch. (see Document IV). The printed text, aside from differences of punctuation and capitalization, agrees precisely with the text of the MS before the interlineations indicated in notes 2 and 10 were made; hence those alternations occurred after the report was submitted. The broadside must have been printed sometime between 1 and 8 Mch. 1784, the latter being the date assigned for consideration of the report. A copy of it, together with the names of the committee, somehow fell into the hands of David C. Claypoole and was printed by him in the Penna. Packet for 27 Apr. 1784.

1The broadside text has interlined at this point the words “So much of”; this, of course, was part of the alteration described in note 2.

2The MS text has the following interlined at this point in the hand of Howell: “whensoever the same shall have been purchased of the Indian Inhabitants and offered for sale by the U.S.” This was probably an alteration made by the committee rather than by Congress, for the broadside, which does not include these words, has, in TJ’s hand in the margin, the phraseology of Howell’s interlineation amended by TJ to read as it does in the revised report of 22 Mch.: “as shall <at any time> <whensoever the same shall have> be<en> purchased of the Indian inhabitants and shall be opened for sale by <the United States> Congress.” This alteration was made, obviously, in the light of TJ’s report on instructions to the Indian commissioners (see under 4 Mch. 1784).

3The three preceding words deleted in broadside text.

4The following is deleted in MS at this point: “be added to and.”

5In the printed text the words “but any territory northwardly of the 47th degree … and the meridian of” are bracketed for deletion and the following words substituted in the margin by TJ: “and by meridians of longitude, one of which shall pass thro’.”

6This word altered to “and” in the broadside text to conform with the changes described in notes 5 and 7.

7The words “and those adjoining on the east … by the meridian of” are bracketed for deletion in the printed text and the word “thro’” substituted in the margin by TJ.

8This word deleted in printed text and “But” interlined by TJ in substitution.

9At this point TJ added the following in the margin of the printed text: “whatsoever may be it’s comprehension of latitude. That which may lie between the Ohio and completion of the 39th degree within the said meridians shall make part of the state adjoining on the north <of that latitude> <degree>. That which may lie between the same meridians Nowd. of the completion of 45° shall make part of the state adjoining <underneath 45th. and 44th. degrees> on the south.”

10Preceding five words deleted in MS and the following interlined in the hand of Howell in substitution therefor: “the Territory so to be purchased and offered for Sale.” In the right-hand margin of the printed text, imbedded in and therefore written prior to the alteration described in note 9, there is in TJ’s hand an alteration corresponding with that made by Howell in MS; but in the left-hand margin of the printed text, also in TJ’s hand, is the following: “on any territory which may have been so purchased and offered for sale.” The latter, except for the deletion of the words “which may have been,” is the reading employed by TJ in the revised report; this alteration thus bears a relationship to that described in note 2, and, for the reason there given, probably was made in committee rather than in Congress.

11In printed text this word is deleted in part to read “the.” This alteration, however, was not incorporated by TJ in the revised report.

12In the printed text the following is interlined in TJ’s hand: “within the limits of their state.”

13This phrase altered by interlineation in printed text to read: “the original states.”

14At this point TJ inserted a caret in MS and interlined the following: “and confederated with.” The interlined words, however, are faint and appear to have been erased; they are not in the printed text; see note 12, Document IV.

15This clause number 1 in MS is enclosed in brackets. There are no corresponding brackets in the printed text or other marks to show that the passage was intended to be struck out.

16The initial letter of the first word in this and the succeeding clause are capitalized in MS by Howell, who was also evidently responsible for inserting in the MS a large number of commas. These alterations may suggest that Howell had the duty of overseeing the printing of the report.

17The text of the broadside reads “states,” but the final letter is deleted by a mark, indicating that this was a typographical error; but it was not corrected when the type was corrected for the printing of the revised report.

18At this point in the broadside a caret is inserted and the following is written opposite in the margin: “provided nine states agree to such admission <as is req> according to the reservation of the 11th of the Arts. of Confedn. And in order [to] <accommodate> adapt the said Articles of Confedn. to the state of Congress when it’s numbers shall be thus increased, it shall [be] proposed to the legislatures of the states originally parties [there]to to require the assent of [two thirds of the] U.S. in C. ass. in all those [cases] wherein by the Articles the assent of 9. states is now required, which being agreed to by them shall be binding on the new states. Until such admission &c.” This amendment, which was incorporated in the revised report, called for the deletion of the remainder of the sentence and all of the next sentence following the caret (“after which the assent of two thirds … of the articles of Confederation”) but there is no indication on the broadside of such deletion.

19Preceding seven words interlined in MS in substitution for “Westward of Lake Superior,” deleted.

20Preceding four words interlined in MS in substitution for “and nearly embraced,” deleted. The first occurrence of “peninsul” in this paragraph seems to have the beginning of an “a” at its end, but the second is clearly “peninsul”; this form of spelling was employed by Samuel Purchas (see OED description begins A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles, Oxford, 1888–1933 description ends ) and TJ may have been consciously or unconsciously following an author whose works he was familiar with and had no doubt resorted to in the course of his investigations of Virginia’s claim to western territory.

21The broadside has a caret inserted at this point and the following written opposite in the margin: “and which shall be bounded on the south by the Ohio, whatsoever latitudes it may include, shall be called.” This alteration shows that, even after the report had been printed and perhaps as an amendment offered in Congress, the southern boundary of “Saratoga” was changed to make it agree with what TJ represented in the Jefferson-Hartley map.

22This word in the broadside is enclosed in rectangular lines; see note 25.

23The preceding four words in the printed text are enclosed in rectangular lines; see note 25.

24At this point in the printed text a caret is inserted and in the margin is written the single word “territory.”

25The final clause of this paragraph in the broadside is enclosed in rectangular lines; this and the preceding four paragraphs (beginning “That the territory Northward of the 45th degree,” &c.) also have a vertical line drawn through them to indicate that they were to be deleted, as was, of course, done by amendment in Congress. But these rectangular enclosures in the final paragraph, as well as the changes indicated in notes 21 and 24, reveal a significant fact about the progress of the report through Congress that evidently has not been noted in previous accounts. If the words so enclosed as noted here and in notes 22 and 23 are eliminated from the paragraph, it reads as follows: “The territory which lies under the 39th. and 38th. degrees to which shall be added so much of the point of land within the fork of the Ohio and Missisipi as lies under the 37th degree, within and adjacent to which are the confluences of the rivers Wabash, Shawanee, Tanissee, Ohio, Illinois, Missisipi and Missouri, shall be called Polypotamia.” In other words, during the debates in Congress the name of the proposed state of Pelisipia was eliminated from the group of ten proposed to be named in the Ordinance by TJ. The obvious inference is that, at least for a time, Congress considered retaining nine of the names but later deleted all of them.

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