"GAZETTEER OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN"
by John T. Blois 1839
1839 Michigan Map
word Michigan appears to be derived from two words of the
Chippewa language, Mitchaw, 'great', or 'mighty' and
Sagi'egan, 'lake'. As Lakes Huron and Michigan formerly
constituted one lake, as is shown by geological
indications, the name was probably given to that lake,
although now restricted to but a part of it. The word
"Michigan," then, according to its etymology and present
application to the Peninsula, is rendered, "the country, or
land of great lakes."
It's discovery and early settlement were promoted by the French, the motive for which, seems to have been the engrossing of the Indian fur trade, and, incidentally, the conversion of the aboriginies. In prosecution of the latter purpose, Father Sagard reached Lake Huron, by way of the Grand river (of Upper Canada), in 1632, sever years subsequent to the founding of Quebec, although the present site of the city of Detroit had been visited as early as 1610. Soon after the middle of the seventeenth century, trading posts were established at Sault de Ste. Marie, Michillimacinac (old fort), and Green Bay; the two former, in a military point of view, very important positions.
From information received through the Indian, that there existed a large river west of the great lakes, running south, it was supposed from the limited geographical knowledge at that time, that hits river discharged into the Pacific. To ascertain this important fact, the French Intendant, M. Talon, employed Joliet, a citizen of Quebec, and Father Marquette, a Jesuit, to make the discovery. They conducted the expedition through the lakes, ascended the Fo river, crossed the portage, and descended the Wisconsin, to the Mississippi, where they arrived the 17th of June, 1673. They descended the Mississippi to the Arkansas, which they ascended; but, from some untoward circumstances, were thwarted in their purpose, and compelled to return, without accomplishing their object. But the project was not to be abandoned. Robert de La Salle, a native of Normandy, but who had, for many years, resided in Canada, a gentleman of intelligence, enterprise, and the most indefatigable perseverance, obtaining the permission of the king of France, set upon this expedition of discovery, from Frontenac, in 1678, accompanied by Chevalier Fonti, his lieutenant, Father Henepin, a Jesuit missionary, and 30 or 40 men. He built the first vessel that ever navigated these lakes. She was called the Griffin, and was launched at Erie, in 1679.
In this year he embarked, sailed up the Detroit, reached Mackinac, where he left his vessel, and coasted along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, built a fort at the mouth of the "river of the Miamis," (supposed to be the site of Chicago,) crossed the country to the Illinois river, and descended it a distance, but was stopped for want of supplies. Here he built a fort, and proceeded back to Canada for supplies, and returned. He then explored the valley of the Mississippi, to its mouth, and took possession of it, in the name of Lois, king of France, and called it, in honor of his name, Louisiana. The details of this expedition abound in incidents of the most thrilling interest, but they are too elaborate to be here related.
The fur trade has been ever regarded as the great source of wealth, and it formerly constituted the chief value of the regions bordering the lake; the possession of it, was therefore, the principal subject of contention between the French and English. Its lucrativeness was not confined exclusively to this region, for it appears that most of the internal jealousies and contentions of the English colonies, especially the infant New England colonies, had their origin, not so much in the loss of soil or jurisdiction, as in a fear of thereby losing the exclusive right to this invaluable trade.
To obtain exclusive right of trade with the Indians, it was necessary to cultivate their friendship. But however great the exertions of the English might have been, there seems to have a want of success, owing to a predilection of the Indians to the French, or to a more natural affinity in their habits and manners, which the two latter had to each other. The French succeeded in captivating the affections of most of the tribes, save the Ottogamies or Foes, whose aversion could never be overcome.
It was to more effectually secure these regions to their possession, that prompted the possessions of the strait of Detroit, the great key to the northern lakes. This politic measure had been determined upon by the English, but their rivals were first to effect it.
The expedition was fitted out by the Governor-general of New France, in 1701. It was headed by Mons. de La Motte Cadillac, accompanied by a Jesuit and 100 men, carrying all the necessaries of a military establishment. In June of the same year, after careful examination of the strait, the present site of the city of Detroit was selected, and its occupation effected. When first visited by the French, it was the site of an ancient Indian village, Teuchsa-gron-die, or according to some accounts, it was called Waweatonong, in signification, indicating the circuitous approach it it.
The work erected was a rude, stockaded, fort, inclosing a few houses, occupied by fur-traders and those attached to the post, of slight construction, and "calculated rather to overawe the Indians, than seriously to resist them." It was called Fort Ponchartrain.
From this period to the commencement of the administration of Governor Cass, the history of the Peninsula may be said to be the history of Detroit, although many of those facts most interesting in its history, are disconnected, meager, and obscure.
The Indians were always the instruments, used by the contending parties, in teir strife for sovereignty. No sooner had one party gained the ascendancy in some particular, than the other, piqued at the success, redoubled ardor and professions of friendship to the Indians, as the opposite party relaxed into coldness and security. The triumph of the one was but the undoubted prelude to finesse and intrigue in the other.
The French having gained this important post, the Indians net, were to be wrought upon, as the only means of dislodging them. The chiefs, living in the vicinity, were invited to Albany; but they returned disaffected to the French. The town was set on fire, but it was fortunately extinguished, without much injury. The Indians were afterwards repulsed with success, by Sieur de Vincennes, in an attack made on the fort. There were three villages in the vicinity, a Huron and a Pottowattomie on the south, and an Ottawa on the opposite side of the strait, facts which show the attachment of the three tribes to this region of the Peninsula. Game was abundant, and herds of buffalo ranged the prairies and valley of the Detroit. This, and the superior beauty of the country, are supposed to be the cause of their selection of this location, the place of common resort to various tribes of the interior.
The Fo or Ottogamie Indians had long been the enemies of the French. They were probably instigated by the English, who used the means of gaining their favor by the interchange of presents, as early as 1686. From some cause unknown, they broke out into hostility to the French. In May, 1812, they collected in great numbers around the fort, in the absence of the friendly Indians, who were engaged in hunting. Their plot, intended to be secret, was discovered by a friendly Ottogamy. Expresses were sent for the friendly tribes, and preparations made for defense. The garrison, then under command of Du Buisson, consisted of only 20 soldiers. The Foes finding their plot discovered, commenced an attack upon the fort, but desisted and retired into an entrenched camp, on the appearance of the friendly Indians. In this, they were besieged by the allied forces, and, although twice suing for peace, made a determined resistance, which almost disheartened their enemies. They at last retreated, under cover of night, to the border of Lake St. Clair. Here they were pursued and attacked, but they resisted their opponents with the greatest bravery. At the end of four days, by means of a field battery, their position was carried, and the besieged put to the sword, save the women and children, who were divided as slaves among the confederates. The loss of the Ottogamies, in the expedition, was more than 1,000 warriors.
The tribe afterward, collected their scattered bands, and settled on the border of Fo river, where they were able to command the portage between it and the waters of the Mississippi. From this position, by their war parties, they continued to harass all who had opposed them, till they were invaded in their entrenchments, and humbled into submission.
From this time forth, to 1760, the posts of the Peninsula were compelled to struggle with all the incidents to which their insulated conditions, and the fickle inconstancy and treachery of their savage neighbors, exposed them. In 1749, government sent out emigrants, furnished with forming utensils, provisions, etc, to settle the regions lying to the Detroit. Peace was scarcely by this remote colony. During the early part of the eighteenth century, the mother country was continually at war with England, a circumstance, which inevitably resulted in involving their colonial plantations in like contentions, and retarded the growth and prosperity of both.
But in 1760, the fortune of war changed, and the die was cast in favor of England. By the capitulation of Montreal, Detroit and the other western posts were taken possession by the British.
It is to be remarked, to the honor of the French, that, even in times the most adverse, during the three following years, when the least opposition would have been the means of releasing them from their adversaries and regaining their former sovereignty, the articles of capitulation were kept inviolable. But it was soon found that the temporary triumph of the English over their rivals, was a secondary matter, wholly different from winning the affections of thier savage allies, whose settled aversion could never brook their domination; there was a rankling in the breast, at the loss of the favors and friendship of their allied friends and associates. A crisis in the affairs of every nation, whether civilized or savage, finds a leader competent to conduct their forces, and decide their destinies.
Pontiac, the great Ottawa chief, was destined to be the hero of his country, the Napoleon of his age, whose deeds of bravery and greatness of mind richly entitle him to a niche in the gallery of the renowned warriors, whose fame is stamped with immortality. It this respect, he may rank with Philip, of Mount Hope, with Techmseh, or with Oceola.
His influence over the neighboring tribes had no limits, and hence the success of his deep laid plans. He had the bitterest hatred and enmity to the English, which prompted a revenge that no sacrifice was too great to satiate or retard.
After the surrender, the first detachment sent by the English to relieve the French garrison at Detroit, was stopped in the way, by Pontiac, who demanded the object of the mission. This was satisfactorily explained to him by Major Rogers, who commanded the detachment. Pontiac professed friendship, and proper belts were mutually exchanged, and permission and protection given him to accomplish his object; and even assistance to forward his supplies. But his formal friendship was undoubtedly delusive, and very probably affected, merely for the purpose of executing a deeper design, which might have been conceived on their first interview. This design was to extirpate the English, and drive them from his country beyond the Alleganies.
His scheme was to unite all the Indian tribes on the western frontier into a confederacy, and with treacherous secrecy, fall simultaneously upon the garrisons, and massacre them. But Pontiac was equal in power and ingenuity to the magnitude of his project. Every inflammatory topic was used to exasperate the feelings of his subjects against the English. He exhibited to the Indians a belt, which he pretended to have received from the King of France, with commission to expel the English. He convened a great council at the River au Excorces, and related a dream of a Delaware Indian, who professed direct inspiration from the Great Spirit. This professed prophet dispensed express directions how to conduct themselves in the expulsion of their adversaries, by the mortification of their persons, and abstinence from the use of all articles of civilization. These, and many other directions, were related by Pontiac, accompanied with the most exasperating philippics against the English. The natural aversion, the deadly enmity of the renowned warrior, Pontiac, breathing insidious eloquence, together with the command of the Great Spirit, inspiring success, soon united the frontier bands to hostility.
Whether in savage or civilized warfare, it is rare to find a plot of such magnitude, however secret it might be, that terminated with such extraordinary success. The posts were Niagara, Presque Isle, Le Boeuf, Vanango, Du Quesne, (now Pittsburg,) Detroit, Michillimacinac, Sault Ste. Marie, Green Bay, Chicago, St. Joseph, beside one other, making twelve in number, and extending on a frontier of more than one thousand miles. Du Quesne and Niagara were regular fortifications; the others were temporary works, calculated merely to overawe the savages.
In the month of May, 1763, a simultaneous attack was made upon all these posts, and so completely were they surprised, from the secrecy of the plot, that nine of the unsuspecting garrisons were captured and shared the fate which savages usually mete to their victims. Niagara, Pittsburg, and Detroit, narrowly escaped.
The circumstances of their capture are little known. Governor Cass gives the following relation of the capture of Michillimacinac: "The Ottawas, to whom the assault was committed, prepared for a great game of ball to which the officers were invited. While engaged in play, one of the parties gradually inclined towards the fort, and the other pressed after them. The ball was once or twice thrown over the pickets and the Indians were suffered to enter and procure it. Almost all the garrison were present as spectators, and those upon duty were negligent and unprepared. Suddenly, the ball was again thrown into the fort, an all the Indians rushed after it. The rest of the tale is soon told. The troops were butchered and the fort destroyed.
But Fort Detroit was, of all, the most important post; and the taking of this, Pontiac reserved to himself. It seems to have consisted of a quadrangular stockade with a single row of pickets, block houses at the corners and over the gates, and an open court intervening between the houses and pickets, encircling the town. The fort was manned by two--pounders, a three pounder, and three mortars, but badly mounted. The fort was commanded by Maj. Gladwin, and the garrison consisted of eight officers and one hundred and twenty-two men; to which may be added forty traders and engag'es, who resided in town. Two armed vessels were anchored in the river, fronting the town. The plan of attack was to meet the British commander in the council, and, at a concerted signal, the presenting of a belt of wampum in a particular manner, to full upon and massacre the officers, throw open the gates, admit the warriors, and slaughter the garrison.
On the 8th of May, 1763, Pontiac presented himself at the gates of the Fort, with a body of warriors, requesting a council with the commanding officer. Each had is armour complete. They had previously sawed off their rifles that they might conceal them under their blankets. But, fortunately, the plot was revealed to Maj. Gladwin, on the eve previous to the intended massacre, by a friendly Indian woman, employed in making moccasins for the garrison. No time was to be lost. The fort was immediately in order, and every man within it was prepared for the intended catastrophe, and the officers walked the ramparts during the night. All was silent but the songs and dances of the Indian camps. Morning came. Pontiac and his warriors were admitted into the council house, where they were received by Maj. Gladwin and his officers. "The garrison was under arms, the guards doubled, and the officers were armed with swords and pistols. Pontiac inquired of the British commander the cause of this unusual appearance. He was answered that it was proper to keep the young men to their duty, lest they should become idle and ignorant. The business of the council then commenced, and Pontiac proceeded to address Maj. Gladwin. His speech was hold and menacing, and his manner and gesticulations vehement, and they became still more so as he approached the critical moment.
When he was upon the point of presenting the belt to Maj. Gladwin, and all was breathless expectations, the drums at the door of the council house, suddenly rolled the charge, the guards left their places, and the British officers drew their swords from their scabbards. Pontiac was a brave man, constitutionally and habitually. He had fought in many a battle, and often led his warriors to victory. But this unexpected and decisive proof, that his treachery was discovered and prevented, entirely disconcerted him. Tradition says he trembled. At all events, he delivered the belt in the usual manner, and thus failed to give his party the concerted signal to attack. Maj. Gladwin immediately approached the chief, and drawing aside his blanket, discovered the shortened rifle, and then, after stating his knowledge of the plan, reproaching him for his treachery, ordered him from the fort. The Indians immediately retired, and as soon as they had passed the gate, they gave the yell and fired upon the garrison."
The war, thus commenced, was prosecuted with the accustomed barbarity of their race. They laid siege to the fort, and used their endeavors to annoy the garrison from behind several out-houses and rows of pickets. The fire was returned, but with little injury to either party. The design was then conceived of obtaining Maj. Campbell, (an officer who had held the command of the fort for the three previous years, and who had but recently been superseded by Maj. Gladwin,) and holding him in pledge for its surrender. Under pretense of wishing to terminate the war, Pontiac succeeded in inducing him to come into his camp, by the promise that he might go and return in safety. Lieut. McDougall accompanied. But they were both treacherously held as hostages. The latter succeeded, by swiftness of foot, in an unguarded moment, to escape, and the former, after remaining sometime, was murdered by an Indian, though to the pointed displeasure of Pontiac.
In the latter part of the month of May, a detachment, on their passage from Niagara, to succor the fort, were surprised at Point Pele and twenty-three batteau, laden with stores and subsistence for the defense of the fort, and all on board captured or killed, save an officer and thirty men who escaped in a boat to Sandusky Bay.
ON the 3rd of June, 1763, information was received of the peace between France and England, and the cession to the latter of all New France. But this did not hinder the progress of the war with the Indians. Pontiac afterward attempted to enlist the French in his favor, but without any success. Skirmishes frequently happened in course of the siege, between the belligerents, but mostly, by annoying the reinforcements while ascending the strait.
ON the 30th of July, a party of 300 troops from the garrison, while on their way to attack an Indian camp, was way-laid at Bloody Bridge, and although a brave resistance was made, seventy of the British were killed, including their brave commander, Capt. Dalyell, and forty wounded. During the remainder of the siege of Detroit, which in all continued eleven months, little occurred worthy of notice. In the course of the season following, Gen. Bradstreet, with 3,000 men, arrived, and a treaty of peace was concluded with the various tribes, but Pontiac took no part in it. This haughty spirit, too lofty to consent to the humiliation of a peace directed by his adversaries, left the country and took his above in Illinois, where his life was terminated by the hand of a Peoria Indian.
From this period, the country enjoyed uninterrupted peace and prosperity to the breaking out of the American revolution. Politic measures were adopted, and the Indians became warmly attached to the British interests. The contest between England and her Anglo-American colonies, found her newly acquired French possessions attached to her interest. Detroit ceased to be the sufferer, but on the contrary, was the nucleus of Indian marauders, and from which, devastation and the horrid deeds of savage barbarity were dispensed on the western frontier settlements. Congress, in 1776, in secret session, projected and expedition against it, but other objects of more pressing importance caused it to be relinquished. war parties were going and returning continually during the revolution. One of the most important was that led by Capt. Byrd, consisting of regulars, militia, and a large body of Indians. The party left Detroit, ascended the Maumee, and descended the Miami to the Ohio. They then ascended the Licking, into the interior of Kentucky, and spread ruin and devastation in every direction. With alike force, in 1778, Governor Hamilton proceeded from Detroit, for the purpose of dislodging Gen. George Rogers Clarke, who had been sent by the Virginia governor, against the British forts in Illinois, and had succeeded in reducing Kalkaska, Cahokia, and several minor posts. But the expedition failed. He was surprised in his camp by Clarke, and having surrendered, was, with some of his counselors who had instigated his system of savage warfare, sent to Virginia in irons, though the militia was allowed to return.
A definitive treaty of peace was concluded in 1783, by which the Peninsula was included within the United States' boundary. Preparatory to taking possession of the country, a treaty was held with the Indians, in 1785, by Gen. Clarke, at Fort McIntosh, by which, the former ceded all that tract of country -- miles in breadth, and extending from the river Raisin to Lake St. Clair, and bounded on the east by Lake Erie, the Strait of Detroit, and Lake St. Clair. Two years subsequent, the island of Michillimacinac was likewise ceded.
Although hostilities ceased between the late contending parties, yet, there was little good feeling between them. By the treaty stipulations, the military posts south of the lakes were to be immediately surrendered. Slave property was to be restored, and no property whatever, was to be carried off. On the other hand, the Americans had agreed to pay the British merchants all debts contracted before the war, in sterling money. It was not long after the war that the two countries began to charge each other with violations of the treaty, a charge (as has been observed) with although reciprocally denied, was reciprocally proved. There were doubts raised, on the part of the British, as to the legal restoration of captured Negroes to their masters as slaves, under the English law; consequently that article was violated. Being deprived of their slaves, to work their plantations, produced an inability in the Americans to liquidate their British claims in the required medium. This delinquency, and the unjust compulsion of some of the States, to receive depreciated paper in lieu of specie was seized upon by the British, as a pretest for retaining the posts south of the lakes. One failure and infringement produced another. The Indians north-west of Ohio, who had been irritated into frequent depredations on the frontier settlements, had risen in open hostility; and there were many demonstrations, on the part of the British in this region, to prove the malign influence which was exercised to excite them to it.
Pacific overtures had been made to them, but without effect. In 1791, Gen. Harmer was dispatched with 300 regulars and 1,100 Pennsylvania and Kentucky militia, to destroy their settlements on the Scioto and Wabash rivers. An engagement ensued, in which the militia, panic struck, fled, leaving him defeated with the loss of 360 killed.
Arthur St. Clair, governor of the North-Western Territory, afterward took the field, with a force of 2,000 regulars and militia, and proceeded to lay waste to the Indian villages on the Miami; but the shameful conduct of the militia caused a second defeat, by an inferior number of the enemy. His lass was 38 officers and 600 privates.
Towards the close of '93, Gen. Anthony Wayne re-occupied the ground on which St. Clair was defeated, and built Fort Recovery. He then returned to Fort Jefferson, where he wintered with the main body of his army. July 4, 1794, he commenced his campaign against the Indians. He preceded north, scouring the country on every side, and routing the enemy. He finally brought them to a decisive battle on the 20th of August. His force was about 3,000 men, three-fourths of whom were regulars, and the remainder, mounted militia from Kentucky, under the command of Gen. Scott. The Indians are differently estimated at 2,000 and 3,000, but only 900 of the American force were engaged. His victory over them was complete. After this triumphant defeat, he took possession of the country, which he secured by erecting and garrisoning all of the most important points. The campaign lasted three months, and terminated in humbling the insidious schemes and machinations of the British, and in the future peace of the frontier. Jay's treaty soon after followed, which adjusted all difficulties with Great Britain, and the treaty of Greenville amicable settled all difficulties with the Indians.
IN 1795, there was a scheme, set on foot by one Robert Randall, of Pennsylvania, and Charles Whiting, of Vermont, for obtaining of the United States, the pre-exemption right of eighteen or twenty millions of acres, lying between Lakes Huron, Erie and Michigan. They had, for this purpose, entered into an agreement with several traders, at Detroit, and had endeavored to enlist several members of Congress in their views. This tract of country was to be divided into forty-one shares, twenty-four of which were to be given to those members of Congress who should lend their aid in obtaining the requisite law. The sum proposed to be paid for this pre-exemption right, was from half a million to a million dollars. The two persons mentioned were taken into custody of the House, for "an unwarrantable attempt to corrupt the integrity of its members," They were examined, and the latter was discharged; but Randall received a reprimand from the speaker, besides being obligated to pay the fees that had accrued in the case. Thus terminated what would have been, if executed, of the most-serious consequence to the prosperity of Michigan.
In June, 1796, Capt. Porter entered and took possession of Detroit. Michigan, from this time, was included under the government of the North-Western Territory. Cincinnati was the seat of government, though afterward, it was removed to Chillicothe. Arthur St. Clair was its governor.
The government under the domination of the French was arbitrary; being exercised by a "commandant" in whom was concentrated both the civil and military authority, within his precinct. Lands were held directly from the king. Temporary or permanent undergrants were made by his governor-general, to which federal rent was incident. The rules respecting devises, succession, and the marriage relation, and those regulating the rights of property, generally, were those of the French customary law, (coutume de Paris) as far as applicable to the circumstances of the country. In 1810, their recognition was abandoned throughout the territory.
In coming into the possession of the United States, the ordinance of 1787 was extended over it. This ordinance has been much extolled for its wise provisions, and its authorship attributed to a distinguished jurist of a more illustrious State in the American confederacy. This Magna Carta was declared irrevocable without the consent of those whom it governed, and provided for the establishment of the most salutary laws. The executive power was vested in a governor, the judicial in the judges and the legislative in both united; all of whom were appointed by the general government. The legislature was restricted from originating any laws, or of adapting any except from the codes of the several States. Slavery was prohibited. This is a short provision, but one in which the rights, the happiness, and the morals of the North-Western States were more deeply concerned than in any other, and one, which if it had extended to a more southern latitude, might have adverted a multitude of evils to that section of the Union.
This was the first grade of government. Whenever the Territory should contain 5,000 free white males, of full age, the people, at their pleasure, might choose a legislative body from among themselves, and the General Assembly were authorized to elect a delegate to Congress. But the people were liable to pay the expenses accruing from this new order of things. This was the second grade of government. Whenever the Territory should attain a population of 60,000, it was entitled to be admitted into the American Union. These, of many, are some of the leading features of the Ordinance of 1787.
In 1798, the North-Western Territory assumed the second grade of government, and the county of Wayne, then coextensive with the Peninsula, sent one representative to the General Assembly, at Chillicothe. Bills of credit were now issued to defray the public expenses. Indiana was erected into a separate Territory in 1800, and in 1802, Ohio was admitted as a State into the confederacy, and the Peninsula was annexed to Indiana.
In 1805, the Territory of Michigan was constituted, and the provisions of the Ordinance of 1787, became its fundamental law. On the 11th of June, 1805, Detroit was entirely consumed by fire. On the 1st of July, the government of the Territory was organized at Detroit by Gen. William Hull, the first Governor, who proceeded immediately to lay out Detroit according to its present plan. IN 1804, a land Office was established in Detroit.
IN 1807, Gov. Hull held a treaty with the Pottowattomies, Ottawas, Wyandotts, and Chippewas, who ceded to the United States a tract of country, bounded south by the Maumee bay and river, west by the present principal meridian, and north-west by a line running south-west from White Rock, cutting the said meridian at a point where an east and west line, from the outlet of Lake Huron, intersects the same. On the 6th May, 1812, Congress passed a law for the survey and location in the Territory, two million acres of public lands, intended for bounty lands, to the soldiers of the then impending war. But, in 1816, the law was repealed, and the lands were located in Illinois and Arkansas. If we consider how the progress of settlement and improvement have been retarded, in the former State, by this location in some of her best lands, Michigan can never have cause to regret, that the unfavorable aspect of her soil, had adverted a very great evil from her borders.
June 18, 1812, Congress declared war against Great Britain. The first shock fell upon Michigan. The ignominious capitulation of Detroit by Gen. Hull, and the immense lose of property incident to the disasters of war, and the riotous pillagte of ruthless savages and a wonton soldiery, are facts, too fresh in the minds of the present generation to require minute detail. A sketch, however, of the principal events of the war, as far as they directly affected this Territory, may not be interesting to the general reader. Previous to the close of 1811, there had been peace with the Indian tribes on the western borders. Hostilities now commenced, and indubitable evidence was then and afterward exhibited, to show that they had been instigated to them by the British.
A "Shawnese prophet," the brother of the celebrated Tecumseh, was another principal instigator among the Indian tribes. Gen. Harrison, then Governor of Indiana, with a small force, entered his territory, and, on the 6th November, 1811, an engagement took place at Tippecanoe, the principal village, in which he entirely defeated him, and laid waste the town. Gen. Hull was in Ohio, on receiving intelligence of the declaration of war. He directed his course to Detroit, with one regiment of regulars and three regiments of Ohio volunteers. After a tedious march of thirty-five days, in which they were harassed by the British and Indians, he arrived at Detroit. On the 12th July, he crossed the strait, and took possession of the Canadian shore. Here he remained inactive, until the 8th of August. In the meantime, a force of British and Indians, having had a more early intelligence of the declaration of war, appeared before the post at Macinac, which was surrendered on honorable terms. The summons to surrender, was the first information received of hostilities. Without effecting any thing of importance, Gen. Hull, on the 9th of August, re-crossed the strait, and abandoned Canada.
About the same time, Col. Miller, with a detachment of 600 men, attacked the enemy at Monguagon, and entirely defeated them. On the 14th August, Gen. Brock arrived at Fort Malden, with a re-enforcement, and on the 15th, he appeared at Sandwich, and summoned Gen. Hull to surrender. He was answered in the negative, and a cannonade was immediately commenced upon Detroit, which was returned with effect. On the 16th, Gen. Brock crossed the strait with his army, at Spring Wells, three miles below Detroit, without opposition. He marched directly up the strait, toward the fort, without resistance. A negotiation soon commenced between the two commanders, and terminated with the surrender of the army and the Territory of Michigan to the British general, to the mortification and bitterest indignation of the American troops; who were impatiently waiting orders of attack upon the enemy. The force of Gen. brock is said to have been only "1400," while that of Gen. Hull was "1800."
The conduct of Gen. Hull met with universal reprobation throughout the Union. The popular belief, then was, and still continues to be, against his integrity in this transaction; but a better opinion seems to prevail, that his conduct was owing to imbecility of mind, "a want of decision and energy."
During the fall and winter of this year, Gen. Harrison collected an army, and made preparations for the relief of Michigan. He marched to Sandusky, and detached Gen. Winchester to the Maumee. Gen. Winchester reached Frenchtown, on the river Raisin, Jan. 19th, 1813, with a force of 1,000 men, and encamped on the right bank of the strait. He was attacked, on the 22nd, but British and Indians, amounting to 2000 men, the former commanded by Gen. Proctor, and the latter by the chiefs, Roundhead and Splitlog. The American made a brave resistance. Unfortunately, Gen. Winchester was taken prisoner, and this troops for want of proper direction, fell into confusion, and were defeated with considerable loss.
Gen. Proctor received the surrender of the detachment, consisting of 35 officers and 487 non-commissioned officers and privates; composed of young men of the first respectability, from Ohio and Kentucky, upon the express condition of protection from the Indians. But the infamous leader was more imbued with the sentiments of his savage allies, than with the dictates of civilized and honorable warfare, or respect of his own character. Disregarding his promise, he marched immediately for Fort Malden, leaving the wounded Americans without guard. The consequence was, the Indians commented on indiscriminate slaughter upon the wounded and captive prisoners. They were dragged from their houses, killed, and scalped in the streets, and their bodies , horribly mangled, left exposed in the highways. Some of the buildings were set on fire, and their inmates forced into the flames, as they attempted to escape. This event is known by the Battle of Frenchtown, or "the Massacre at the river Raisin."
On the 10th of September, Com. Perry, who commanded the American squadron on Lake Erie, met the British fleet, of a superior force, and gained a complete victory. Gen. Harrison was soon after joined by Gov. Shelby, and with their forces united, sailled for Fort Malden, which they occupied on the 28th September; Gen. Brock having evacuated it, and retreated in anticipation of the movement. Detroit was vacated on the 29th.
Gen. Harrison followed in pursuit of the British army, to the Moravian villages, situated on the banks of the Thames. The enemy's force consisted of 600 regulars, commanded by Gen. Brock, and 1,000 Indians led by the noted chief Tecumseh. The engagement took place between the belligerents, on the 5th October. Tecumseh, the principal reliance of the Indians, was killed, the British army singularly defeated, and nearly all taken prisoners. In July, 1814, an attempt was made to recover the post at Mackinac, but it failed of success. An armistice was concluded with the Indians, October 18th, by which the future peace of the Territory was secured. By commission of the President, dated October 20th, 1813, Gen Lewis Cass, of Ohio, who was last in command of the fort at Detroit, was appointed Governor of the Territory, which office he continued to hold with distinguished ability, till his appointment of Secretary of War, in 1831. October 5th, 1814, William Woodbridge, of Ohio, was appointed Secretary of the Territory. Mr. Woodbridge continued to hold this office till 1828, when he was succeeded by James Witherell. This was a very important office, and the faithful discharge of its duties by Mr. Woodbridge, is manifested by inspection of the executive record kept during that period.
The wholesome administration of Gov. Cass forms a new era in the history of Michigan. The first public land surveys were commended in 1816 and '17, and in 1818, they were, by proclamation of the President, brought into market for public sale. From this period, the prosperity of Michigan may date its commencement. By act of Congress, passed in 1819, the Territory was authorized to send a delegate to that body, and the right of suffrage, in this case, extended to all taxable citizens. In 1818, all the territory lying north of the present State of Illinois and Indiana, was annexed to Michigan. IN 1819, a treaty was held with the Chippewas of Saginaw, by which, the United States received a cession of all the lands lying east of a line commencing at a point nearly west of Detroit, and sixty miles west of the principal meridian, and running from thence to the head of Thunder Bay, and from thence, with the Thunder Bay river, to its moth. In 1821, all that portion of the Peninsula, lying west of this line, and the western boundary line of the cession of 1807, extending north to Grand river, was ceded to the United States. The next and last cession was made in 1836, and embraced the remainder of the Peninsula, and so much of the Upper Peninsula, as lies east of the Chocolate river of Lake Superior, and the Skonawba river of Green Bay.
In 1823, an essential change was made in the form of the territorial government. This alteration was made by an act of Congress, which abolished the legislative power of the Governor and judges, and transferred the same, with enlarged powers, to a council, consisting of nine persons, selected by the President of the United States, from eighteen chosen by the electors of the Territory. The judicial office was limited to a term of four years. By an act of Congress, passed February 5, 1825, the legislative council was increased to thirteen members, selected by the President, from twenty-six elected by the qualified electors of the Territory, and by his nomination, appointed by and with the advice and consent of the senate. By an act, approved January, 1827, the electors were authorized by choose, directly, thirteen representatives, who were to constitute the legislative council, without the farther sanction of either the President or Congress.
In 1828 James Witherell entered upon the duties of the office of Secretary of the Territory. In July, 1830, he was succeeded by the appointment of Gen. John T. Mason, of Kentuckey. In July, 1831, Gen. Geo. B. Porter, of Pennsylvania, was appointed governor, and Stevens T. Mason secretary. Gov. Porter entered upon the duties of his office the 22nd September following.
Some indications of Indian hostilities had existed for several years, but war did not commence till the summer of '32. This was known as the Black Hawk war, and was confined in its effects more to that part of Michigan (now constituting the territory of Wisconsin,) than to the Peninsula. July 6th, 1834, the office of governor became vacant by the decease of Gov. Porter. But by provision of law for the government of the territory in case of the death, removal, resignation, or necessary absence of the governor, the secretary of the territory was required to execute the powers and perform the all the duties of governor during the vacancy. The functions of the office consequently devolved upon the secretary, Mr. Mason.
By the authority of an act of the legislative council passed the 6th September, 1834, a census was taken and the number of free white inhabitants in the prescribed limits of Michigan was found to be 87,273. By the ordinance of '87 and subsequent acts of Congress conferring the benefits contained in its provisions, upon this territory, Michigan was entitled to be admitted into the Union as a State as soon as her free white population numbered 60,000. Congress having delayed the necessary steps toward this consummation, the preliminaries were commenced by the territory by the enumeration before mentioned. By an act of the council, passed January 26, 1835, a convention was authorized to be held at Detroit on the second Monday of May following, to be composed of eighty-nine delegates elected by the people on the 4th of April, 1835. The convention met upon the day specified and continued in session till the 24th of June. The most important act of this convention was the formation of the present constitution of the State.
The proceeding of Ohio and Michigan during the spring, summer and autumn of 1835, in their attempts forcibly to sustain their respective claims to disputed territory, are so recent, and were so universally notorious at the time, as to require but a bare allusion to it in this place. It is sufficient to state, that the two parties by their respective legislatures, with decided unanimity, not only laid claim to it, but, without waiting the arbitration of the higher authorities, clothed their respective executives with power, the one to sustain, and the other to extend jurisdiction over the territory in dispute. demonstrations by military force were made upon the southern boundary by Governs Mason and Lucas, and as might have been expected, a high state of excited public feeling preceded and followed. The most serious inconvenience, however, suffered by either party, was the apprehension and temporary imprisonment of a few persons. Some, who were called from their respective occupations to sustain the laws of the state, viewed with indignation the indiscretion of the parties: while, by others, of both parties, the scene is remembered more as a romantic pastime, a martial array, displayed with all 'the pomp,' if not 'the circumstance of glorious war.'
The fact it seems difficult to conceive of two sister States seriously going to war upon a point legitimately subject to peaceable settlement by one of the branches of the general government. As means of pacifying the preciptant hostilities of the belligerents, Messrs. Richard Rush and Benjamin C. Howard had been appointed by the president mediators between the parties, but with less beneficial results than was anticipated.
To give a brief statement of the case touching this
disputed territory, and likewise to give a connected view
of the history of legislation upon the subject by congress,
it becomes necessary in the following sketch to
recapitulate some of the events previously recited in this
The line claimed by Michigan as her rightful southern boundary, extends due east from the southern extreme of Lake Michigan to, and through Lake Erie, to the western line of Pennsylvania. That portion of country north of this line, within the present jurisdiction of Indiana, is ten miles in width, bounded west by Lake Michigan, east by the western boundary line of Ohio, north by an east and west line 105 miles long, and on the south by an east and west line about 130 miles long. The tract is estimated to contain about 1160 miles, or upwards of thirty entire townships. That portion (the western tract) within the present jurisdiction of Ohio, north of the disputed line, is disputed line, is bounded east by Lake Erie, west by the eastern boundary of Indiana, north by that part of a line (known as Harris' line) about seventy-two miles in length, running from the southern extreme of Lake Michigan to the northern Cape of the the Maumee Bay, and which is east of Indiana; and on the south by the line (known as the Fulton's line) about ninety miles long, being the east and west line claimed by Michigan. The greatest width of this tract on the east is nearly seven miles, and on the west about five miles, containing about 468 square miles, or thirteen townships.
The eastern tract claimed by Michigan as falling within her original boundary, as defined by the ordinance of '87, but within the present jurisdiction of Ohio, lies in the north eastern part of the state of Ohio, bounded east by the western boundary line of Pennsylvania, north by Lake Erie, and south by the aforesaid line running due east from the southern extreme of Lake Michigan. It includes the greater portion of Ashtabula county, the northern part of Gaauga, and a small portion of Cuyahoga county, supposed to cover an extent of ten or eleven hundred square miles, or perhaps the amount of thirty townships.
The eastern tract has always been under the jurisdiction of Ohio; the western tract has ever been under the jurisdiction of Michigan until wrested from her by Ohio, sanctioned by the odious and illegal act of Congress of June 15th, 1836. The tract lying within the present jurisdiction of Indiana, was under the jurisdiction of Michigan from 1805 to 1816, when by another illegal act of Congress it was assigned to Indiana.
The excellence of the western tract, together with the importance of being in possession of the valuable harbors of the bay, and the outlet of the most important river of the lake, had a tendency to increase the warmth of contention between Ohio and Michigan, to a degree, greater perhaps, than might have been expected under other circumstances.
The origin of this dispute was not dissimilar to the causes which produced the several State and colonial contentions for boundary among the original States of the confederacy, all of which arose either from ignorance of local geography, the unappreciated importance of the incipient colony, or an unpardonable disregard to the sacredness of vested rights. The crown did not seem to consider that a right once granted was so far aliened as to divest itself of all power over future resumption and disposition, although consonant with natural law and with the common law of England. At least, such is the natural inference from a simple view of the acts of the crown in disposing of the possessions held in America. In consequence of these loose notions or inadvertence to rights once given, grants and chartered rights were conferred upon one company, and at a succeeding day, the same territory was included in the charter of another. Hence ensued contentions and conflicting jurisdictions.
The condition and territorial relation of Michigan much resembled that of the ancient colonies. The thirteen original States having succeeded to the possessions of the crown in America, proceeded to make disposition of the same in the creation of similar establishments for their government; but with the light of all former painful experience, it is not a little surprising that with respect to Michigan, the same error should be committed by Congress, in assigning territorial limits, especially as a territory is destined eventually to hold rank with the States of the confederacy. It would seem that some of the laws touching this territory were passed under the erroneous apprehension that Michigan was not a regularly organized territory; that she was not a person artificial in law, but a wild, vacant possession, without any rights, and subject to any disposition congress might deem fit to make for it.
As before stated, Michigan claims for her southern boundary, a line running east across the Peninsula from the southern point of Lake Michigan, extending through Lake Erie, to the Pennsylvania line; a claim founded in a rightvested, a right (inalienable except by common consent) accruing to her by compact; which compact is the Ordinance of '87, the parties to which were the thirteen original States, and the territory north-west of the Ohio; and, by the succession of parties under statutory amendments to the Ordinance and laws of Congress, the United States on the one part, and each territory north-west of the Ohio, (as far as effected by their provisions) on the other. Michigan claims under the prior grant or assignation of boundary. Indiana and Ohio claim upon subsequent acts of Congress admitting them into the Union, and removing their northern boundaries to the confines of their present jurisdiction. How far the claims of the parties are tenable, may be seen by the following recited acts.
The celebrated Ordinance of 1787, "for the government of the Territory of the United States north-west of the river Ohio," declares therein contained "articles of compact between the original States and the people and States in the said territory, and forever to remain unalterable, unless by common consent." This Ordinance defines the territory to include all that region lying north and north-west of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi rivers. In the fifth article it is provided that there shall be formed not less than three, nor more than five States, within its confines. The boundaries of the three States are define so as to include the whole territory, conditioned however, that if it should be found expedient by Congress to form the one or two more States mentioned, Congress is authorized to alter the boundaries of the three States "so far as to form one or two States in that part of the said territory which lies north of an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan."
The first act touching this point, is an act of Congress approved April 30th, 1802, which was to enable the people of Ohio to form a constitution, and to admit her into the Union, &c. The boundary of that State is declared to be "on the north by an east and west line drawn through the southerly extreme of Lake Michigan, running east, after intersecting the due north line aforesaid, from the mouth of the great Miami, until it shall intersect Lake Erie, or the territorial line, and thence, with the same, through Lake Erie to the Pennsylvania line." The constitution of Ohio adopted the same line, with this condition; "Provided, always, and it is hereby fully understood and declared by this convention, that if the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan should extend so far south, that a line drawn due east from it should not intersect Lake Erie, or if it should intersect Lake Erie east of the mouth of the Miami river, then in that case, with the assent of the Congress of the United States, the northern boundary of this State shall be established by and extend to a direct line, running from the southern extremity of Lake Michigan to the most northerly cape of the Miami Bay, after intersecting the due north line from the mouth of the Great Miami as aforesaid, thence north-east to the territorial line, and by said territorial line to the Pennsylvania line."
At the succeeding session of Congress, the constitution of Ohio was submitted to Congress, and referred to a committee of the House of Representatives, which, through its chairman, Mr. Randolph, reported that with regard to this part of the boundary, "as the suggested alteration was not submitted in the shape of a distinct proposition, by any competent authority, for approval or disapproval, it was no necessary or expedient for Congress to act on its at all." And it was not acted upon, until another disposition was made of it, as we shall see, in 1805. The proposition was considered by all parties concerned, to be of a distinct character, requiring special consent of Congress to make it a valid part of the constitution of Ohio, and, that it has ever been so regarded by Ohio, her continued application to Congress for the right of extending her boundary to the proposed line, sufficiently proves.
The 3d section of the act of 1802, above mentioned, provides that all that part of the territory lying north of this east and west line, from the southern extreme of Lake Michigan, shall be "attached to, and made a part of, the Indiana territory," "subject to be hereafter disposed of by Congress, according to the right reserved in the fifth article of the Ordinance aforesaid; and the inhabitants therein shall be entitled to the same privileges and immunities, and subject to the same rules and regulations, in all respects whatever, with all other citizens residing within the Indiana territory."
The net act in order is that approved January 11th, 1805, entitled "an act to divide the Indiana territory into separate governments." By this act, the territory of Michigan is established, its boundaries defined, a similar government to that provided by the Ordinance of '87, and the provisions of an act for the government of the North-Western Territory, conferred upon it: all the rights, privileges, and advantages of the Ordinance aforesaid conferred upon its inhabitants, and its southern boundary defined to be "a line drawn cast from the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan, until it intersects Lake Erie." It does seem that the question of boundary between Michigan and Indiana, and between Michigan and Ohio, with regard to the western tract, in a legal point of view, was irretrievably settled by this act, so far as Congress had to do with it. Even if the Ordinance had no binding effect, this must be conclusive. "The consent of Congress" had not been given to the line conditionally proposed in the constitution of Ohio, but, on the contrary, the dissent of Congress is expressly given by this act itself, while the proposition of Ohio is pending, and the line is established agreeably to one of the lines defined in the constitution of Ohio previously proposed and accepted by Congress, and agreeably to the fifth article of the Ordinance of '87, at least, so far as regards the boundary line west of Lake Erie. By this act, Congress gave to Michigan what was solicited by Ohio, divested it self of all future right of its disposition, by vesting that right in an artificial person of its own creation, the territory of Michigan.
To any change restricting the boundary of Michigan after this act, her formal and unequivocal assent became necessary, an assent which she has never given, although the controversy for the present is suspended. All acts of Congress after this of 1805, restricting her boundary, must be considered nugatory, and, as Congress had discharged its final constitutional duty, all controversies of boundary between Michigan and another territory or State, properly became questions of judicial cognizance, subject to the decision of that tribunal only whose jurisdiction extends "to controversies between two or more States," and "to all cases in law and equity arising under the constitution and laws of the United States."
At some periods of the controversy the claim of Ohio seems to have rested upon the omission of Congress to act upon the question at the time of accepting her constitution, by which a feigned admission of her right to the claimed boundary was inferred: and yet, at other periods, she appeared to deem the question unsettled by insisting upon the action of Congress in its disposition. Accordingly we find by act of Congress approved the 20th May, 1812, the Surveyor General authorized, under direction of the president, to cause a survey to be made of the boundary between Ohio and Michigan as established agreeably to the act entitled "an act to enable the people of the eastern division of the territory north-west of the river Ohio (now State of Ohio) to form a constitution and state government, and for the admission of such State into the Union." and, "to cause to be made a plat or plan of so much of the boundary line as runs from the southerly extreme of Lake Michigan to Lake Erie," and. For some cause the line was not immediately surveyed. In 1816 an appropriation was made for the purpose, and in 1818 the line was run. Inconsequence of a resolution introduced in the house of representatives April 24th, 1820, the claim underwent a rigid examination before the committee of public lands, of which Mr. Anderson, of Kentucky, was chairman. The claim of Ohio was strenuously urged by her delegation, and as ably opposed by Mr. Woodbridge, the then delegate from Michigan. The final result was the unanimous report of the committee in favor of the due east and west line claimed by Michigan, though little to the satisfaction of the unceasing importunity of Ohio; and nothing but the pressure and hurry of business prevented the passage, by both houses, of a resolution recognizing that the true boundary line between Ohio and Michigan.
The extension of the jurisdiction of Indiana upon the soil of Michigan was marked with less acerbity of feeling, though against the accent of Michigan. The southwestern border of the Territory then contained but few, if any settlements, and but comparatively little was known respecting its value. The act was passed likewise upon an exparterepresentation of the case, consequently with less regard to the interests of Michigan. This act, approved April 19, 1816, entitled "an act to enable the people of Indiana Territory to form a constitution and State government, and for the admission of such State into the Union, on an equal footing with the original States," defines the northern boundary of that State to be "an east and west line, drawn through a point ten miles north of the southern extreme of Lake Michigan." Thus Michigan was deprived of a valuable tract of territory on her southern frontier by an act of assumption of power by Congress, as untenable in law as repugnant to the act of 1805, and the sacred rights of Michigan.
In the early part of September, 1835, Charles Shaler, of Pennsylvania, received the appointment of Secretary, in place of Mr. Mason, but the office not being accepted, John S. Horner, of Virginia, was appointed in his place. He arrived in Detroit and commenced the duties of his office on the 21st of the month. At the first election on the first Monday in October, the Constitution was submitted to , and ratified by the people. Stevens T. Mason was elected Governor, Edward Mundy, Lieut. Governor, and Isaac E. Crary representative in Congress. The first session of the legislature under the Constitution was commended at the capitol, in the city of Detroit, on the first Monday of November, at which John Norvell and Lucius Lyon were elected Senators to congress.
A regular election for delegation to Congress was held as usual under the territorial laws, and George W. Jones, of Wisconsin, received the necessary certificate and obtained his seat in Congress, although by the official returns the Hon. William Woodbridge was entitled to it, having the greatest number of votes. A highly important act was passed March 8th, 1836, appointing the Hon. William A. Fletcher to prepare a code of laws for the government of the State. This code was accordingly prepared. At an extra session held specially for the purpose, and the regular session following, it was submitted, revised, and passed into a law, to take effect September, 1838.
In May, 1836, the western part of Michigan having been erected into a distinct Territory by the name of Wisconsin, the acting Governor for Michigan Territory was appointed its Secretary. By act of Congress passed June 15, 1836, the Constitution and State government of Michigan was accepted; and "upon condition," of accepting the prescribed boundary, admitted into the Union.
This act could be viewed by the people of Michigan in no other than an odious light, as an act of injustice. The conditions of the compact, contained in the Ordinance of '87, had long since been complied with, by possessing the requisite number of inhabitants, and by forming a constitution for State government, which was essentially republican, and was as such accepted by Congress. By the Ordinance, Michigan had a right to the east and west line drawn through the southern extreme of Lake Michigan to the Pennsylvania line, for her southern boundary; and by the act of 1835, she had a right to a line drawn through the southern extreme of Lake Michigan, through the middle of the lake to the northern extremity, and then a line due north to the northern boundary of the United States, for her western boundary. After Congress had given the eastern tract, of more than a thousand square miles, to Ohio, by the act of 1802,, beside, between eleven and twelve hundred square miles to Indiana, by the act of 1816, it would seem, that the work of excision, on the part of Congress, ought to have ceased. But another operation was yet left in reserve. Notwithstanding the boundary had been filled by the Ordinance of '87, and gain confirmed by the act of 1805, still, in the face of these acts, Congress presumed to require as a condition, that Michigan should purchase her admission into the Union, in accepting for her southern boundary the line claimed by Ohio, and thus giving to Ohio an invaluable tract of about 470 square miles, apparently, as a supposed equivalent, in exchange for a wild and comparatively scandinavian waste on the shores of Lake Superior.
The sequel is well known, and might be here omitted, were it not that it may be immediately connected with the future adjudication of the question. In the history of nations and States, it is not unfrequent to find, that, in cases of great public emergency, requiring the greatest unanimity of public sentiment, party divisions and discord intervene, to retard, if not prevent, their successful termination. This was unhappily the case with Michigan. Although a decided unanimity prevailed with regard to the justness of her claim to the tract in dispute, yet, under the circumstances, the expediency of retaining or relinquishing her right, had become a subject of contention between two formidable parties. A year had already elapsed since the formation of the State Constitution, and half that period spent by her delegation to Congress in fruitless solicitation for admission. Some began to despond. One party seemed to consider the participation in the benefits of the Union paramount to all other considerations. The force of this had a greater weight at that time, from the fact that a large amount of surplus revenue was about to be distributed among the several States; and which, it was supposed, might be lost to the State, by an unseasonable admission; therefore, by farther delay, there was much to lose and nothing to gain. By the other party these reasons had no weight. Rather than to submit to so gross an act of injustice, they were inclined to forego the inconveniences which might result from delay, till a more favorable action of Congress. Full reliance was placed in Congress ultimately to do her justice by unconditionally admitting the State into the confederacy; that the State, having a present right to admission, would consequently have an equitable right to her proportionate share of the surplus revenue, which Congress could not refuse to grant, whenever she was admitted. Thus stood the parties when a special session of the legislature convened at Detroit, on the 11th July, 1836. On the 20th, an act was approved, providing for the election of delegates to a convention, to accept or reject the proposition of Congress. It provided that fifty delegates should be elected, and that the convention should be held at Ann Arbour, on the 26th of September. This convention was composed of a full representation of both parties. On the 30th, it adjourned, dissenting to the proposed boundary by a vote of 28 to 21, and three delegates were appointed to repair to Washington, at the net session of Congress, to cooperate with our representatives on the general interest of the State.
This dissent was unsatisfactory to a considerable portion of the people, and without waiting the regular call of a convention by the legislature, means were resorted to, by which to reverse it. During the autumn, two respectable primary assemblies of that portion of the people assenting to the conditions, were held, one in the county of Wayne, and the other in the county of Washtenaw, two of the most populous counties in the State. A second convention of the people was proposed to be held, for another trial of the question; and the Governor was requested to call the same by proclamation. Although the proposed convention was approved of, yet the issue of a proclamation, unauthorized by law, was, for its alleged want of validity, very properly declined by the executive. However, a convention had been decided upon, and, on the 14th of November, a circular from the proper officers of the assenting party, was issued, which recommended the qualified voters in the several countries to meet on the 5th and 6th of December, and elect delegates to attend a convention; that the number of delegates bet twice the number elected to the popular branch of the legislature, and that the election be conducted at the proper places, by the same officers, and agreeably to the legal formalities governing other elections. The election was accordingly held, though unattended by those who dissented to the proposition of boundary, or who considered the convention as void from its illegality. The delegates elected to this convention, met at Ann Arbour on the 14th December, and on the 15th, unanimously resolved to accept the condition imposed in the proposition of Congress; but at the same time, protesting against the constitutional right of Congress to require this preliminary assent as a condition of admission into the Union.
The proceedings of this convention were immediately submitted to Congress. As might have been expected, in the debate on the subject, the validity of the last convention was called in question. By some, it was urged that this convention was entirely ex-parte; that, having been voluntarily originated from a portion only of the people, being unauthorized by any legal provision, it could not, by its acts, bind the remaining portion of the community, nor even itself, or those whom it represented, any more than the voluntary expression of any other public assemblage of the people; that questions of this magnitude, affecting the sovereignty of a State, could only be determined by the people, according to such form, as the supreme power of the State might prescribe. By others, it was urged, that while the assent of a majority of the people was necessary, it was immaterial how that assent was given, whether according to a prescribed law of the State, or not, it was sufficient if the will of a majority of the people was ascertained; and moreover, that no act of Congress had prescribed any mode by which the people should give their assent; and, that the recent convention had expressed the will of a majority of the people of the State, evidence of a change in public opinion since the first convention, was adduced to prove. By others, again, it was maintained, that the expression of the first convention, authorized by the legislature at the extra session, was the only legal expression of the will of the people of Michigan on the question; that the proposition of Congress, requiring the State to relinquish part of her territory, to obtain admission, was wholly gratuitous, was unjust and wrong and ; that any determination Congress might make upon the validity of the latter convention, would be equally gratuitous, and could neither alter the facts in the case, whatever they might be, nor the rights of the State; that former proceedings ought to be disregarded, and that Michigan ought to be unconditionally admitted into the Union, on an equal footing with the other States of the confederacy; that thereby Congress would have discharged a duty incumbent on it, and the contending parties might be at liberty to settle the controversy, before the proper judicial tribunal of the country.
These were some of the opinions and arguments elicited by the parties in debate on the subject. However conflicting these opinions might be, there seemed, withal, to be a disposition in all parties, to admit the State, although the dissatisfaction of some, at the irregularity of the proceedings in accomplishing the object, and the obnoxious preamble coupled with the act of admission, prevented their votes being given in the affirmative. The final decision was made by an act approved the 26th of January, 1837, which, after asserting, by preamble, that the people of the State had given their consent to the proposed boundaries, in the convention of the 15th December, declared Michigan "to be one of the United States, and admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, in all respects whatever."
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