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General Assembly to make or pass any grant of lands lying within the bounds of the colonies of the Massachusetts Bay and New Plymouth, and province of Main, in such manner as heretofore they might have done by virtue of any former charter or letters patent; which grants of lands, within the bounds aforesaid, we do hereby will and ordain to be, and continue forever of full force and effect, without our further approbation or consent. And so as nevertheless, and it is our royal will and pleasure that no grant or grants of any lands lying or extending from the river of Sagadehock to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Canada rivers, and to the main sea northward and eastward, to be made or passed by the Governor and General Assembly of our said province, be of any force, validity, or effect, until we, our heirs, or successors, shall have signified our or their approbation of the same."* [3 William and Mary, Vol. 1, 462.
By virtue of the several charters and grants above noted, the States of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New-York, and Virginia, asserted claims to the western territory at the period of the American Revolution.
VI. SUCCESSION OF THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE RIGHTS OF ENGLAND.
The British Government, upon succeeding to the rights of the King of France, took military possession of the territory north-west of the river Ohio, and by means of commandants and agents, labored with assiduity to secure the favor of the native proprietors. But little, however, was done for the white settlers, the fur trade being the engrossing object of governmental endeavors in this quarter until the people of the United States succeeded to all the rights of Great Britain to the soil. [Vide Ante 59, for the Definitive Treaty.]
* The first Massachusetts charter was granted on 4th of March, 1628, to Sir Henry Rosewell and others, by Charles I., and was vacated by quo warranto, in 1684. [Clarke's U. S. Land Laws, 79.]
VII. CESSIONS BY VIRGINIA, NEW-YORK, MASSACHUSETTS AND CONNECTICUT, RECOMMENDED BY CONGRESS.
By an act of Congress, passed on the sixth day of September, 1780, the States having or preferring any claim to lands in the western country, were recommended to cede the same, or a portion thereof, to the General Government, for the benefit of the Union. [Journal of Congress 1780, Vol. 2, 582.]
VIII. THE CESSION OF NEW-YORK.
"To all who shall see these presents, we, James Duane, William Floyd, and Alexander McDougall, the underwritten delegates for the State of New York in the honorable Congress of the United States of America, send greeting :
“Whereas, by an act of the Legislature of the said State of New-York, passed at a session held at Albany, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty, entitled 'An act to facilitate the completion of the articles of confederation and perpetual union among the United States of America,' it is declared that the People of the State of NewYork were, on all occasions, disposed to manifest their regard for their sister States, and their earnest desire to promote the general interest and security, and more especially to accelerate the federal alliance, by removing, as far as it depended upon then, the impediment to its final accomplishment, respecting the waste and uncultivated lands within the limits of certain States; and it is thereby enacted by the People of the said State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, and by the authority of the same, that it might and should be lawful to and for the delegates of the said State in the honorable Congress, and they, or the major part of them, so assembled, are thereby fully authorized and empowered, for, and on behalf of that State, and by proper and authentic acts or instruments, to limit and restrict the boundaries of the said State in such manner and form as they shall judge to be expedient, either with respect to the jurisdiction, as well as the right or pre-emption of soil, or reserving the jurisdiction in part or in the whole, over the lands which may be ceded or relinquished with respect only to the right of pre-emption of the soil; and by the said act it is further enacted that the territory which may be ceded or relinquished by virtue thereof, either with respect to the jurisdiction as well as the right or pre-emption of soil, or the right or pre-emption of soil only, shall be and inure for the use and benefit of such of the United States as shall become members of the federal alli nce of the said States, and for no other use or purpose whatsoever; and, by the said act, it is provided and enacted that the trust reposed by virtue thereof, shall not be executed by the delegates of the said State, unless at least three of the said delegates shall be present in Congress; and whereas, by letters patent under the great seal of the said State of NewYork, bearing date the 29th day of October last past, reciting that the Senate and Assembly had, on the 12th day of September, then last past, nominated and appointed us, the said James Duane, William Floyd, and Alexander McDougall, together with John Morin Scott and Ezra L'Hommedieu, delegates to represent the said State in the Congress of the United States of North America, therefore, in pursuance of the said nomination and appointment, the People of the said State of New-York did thereby commission us, the said James Duane, William Floyd, and Alexander McDougall, and the said John Morin Scott and Ezra L'Hommedieu, or any majority who should from time to time, attend the said Congress; and if only one of the said delegates should at any time be present in the said Congress, he should, in such case, be authorized to represent the said State in the said Congress, as by an authentic copy of the said act, and an exemplification of the said commission, remaining among the archives of Congress, fully appears:
"Now, therefore, know ye, that we, the said James Duane, William Floyd, and Alexander McDougall, by virtue of the power and authority, and in the execution of the trust reposed in us, as aforesaid, have judged it expedient to limit and restrict, and we do, by these presents, sor and in behalf of the said State of New York, limit and restrict the boundaries of the said State in the western parts thereof, with respect to the jurisdiction, as well as the right or pre-emption of soil, by the lines, and in the form following, that is to say: a line from the northeast corner of the State of Pennsylvania, along the north bounds thereof to its north west corner, continued due west until it shall be intersected by a meridian line, to be drawn from the forty-fifth degree of north latitude, through the most westerly bent or inclination of lake Ontario; thence by the said meridian line to the forty-fifth degree of north latitude, and thence by the said forty-fifth degree of north latitude; but if, on experiment, the above described meridian line shall not comprehend twenty miles due west from the most westerly bent or inclination of the river or strait of Niagara, then we do, by these presents, in the name of the People, and for and on behalf of the State of New-York, and by virtue of the authority aforesaid, limit and restrict the boundaries of the said State in the western parts thereof, with respect to jurisdiction, as well as the right of pre-emption of soil, by the lines, and in the manner following, that is to say: a line from the northeast corner of the State of Pennsylvania, along the north bounds thereof, to its northwest corner, continued due west until it shall be intersected by a meridian line, to be drawn from the forty-fifth degree of north latitude, through a point twenty miles due west from the most westerly bent or inclination of the river or strait Niagara; thence by the said meridian line to the forty-fifth degree of north latitude, and thence by the said forty-fifth degree of north latitude: and we do, by these presents, in the name of the People, and for and on behalf of the State of New York, and by virtue of the power and trust committed to us by the said act and commission, cede, transfer, and forever relinquish, to and for the only use and benefit of such of the States as are, or shall become parties to the articles of confederation, all the right, title, interest, jurisdiction, and claim, of the said State of New York, to all lands and territories to the northward and westward of the boundaries to which the said State is in manner aforesaid limited and restricted, and to be granted, disposed of, and appropriated in such manner only as the Congress of the said United or Confederated States shall order and direct.
"In stimony whereof, we have hereunto subscribed our names, and affixed our seals, in Congress, the first day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-one, and of our independence the fifth.” [Clarke's U.S. Land Laws, 86.]
" To all who shall see these presents, we, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Hardy, Arthur Lee, and James Monroe, the under-written delegates for the commonwealth of Virginia, in the Congress of the United States of America, send greeting:
“ Whereas the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, at their sessions begun on the 20th day of October, 1783, passed an act, entitled 'An act to authorize the delegates of this State in Congress to convey to the United States, in Congress assembled, all the right of this commonwealth to the territory north westward of the river Ohio,' in these words following, to wit:”
[Here follows the preamble of the act.]
“Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that it shall and may be lawful for the delegates of this State to the Congress of the United States, or such of them as shall be assembled in Congress, and the said delegates, or such of them so assembled, are hereby fully authorized and empowered for and