Page images
PDF
EPUB

the ensuing summer and fall the United States Government acquainted the Indians with the provisions of the treaty, and entered into subordinate treaties of peace with the principal tribes.

Just before the treaty of Spring Wells (near Detroit) was signed, the Shawanee Prophet retired to Canada, declaring his resolution to abide by any treaty which the chiet's right sign. Some time afterward" he returned to the Shawanee settlement in Ohio, and lastly to the west of the Mississippi, where he died, in 1834. The British Government allowed him a pension from 1813 until his death.

POLITICAL.

Previous to the formation of the Northwestern Territory, the country within its bounds was claimed by several of the Eastern States, on the ground that it was included within the limits indicated by their charters from the English crown. In answer to the wishes of the Government and people, these States in a patriotic spirit surrendered their claims to this extensive territory, that it might constitute a common fund to aid in the payment of the national debt. To prepare the way for this cession, a law had been passed in October, 1780, that the territory so to be ceded should be disposed of for the common benefit of the whole Union; that the States erected therein should be of suitable extent, not less than 100 nor more than 150 miles square; and that any expenses that might be incurred in recovering the posts then in the hands of the British should be reimbursed. New York released her claims to Congress March 1, 1781; Virginia, March 1, 1784; Massachusetts, April 19, 1785, and Connecticut, Sept. 4, 1786.

Under the French and British dominion the points occupied on the eastern boundary of what is now the State of Michigan were considered a part of New France, or Canada. Detroit was known to the French as Fort Pontchartrain. The military commandant, under both governments, exercised a civil jurisdiction over the settlements surrounding their posts. In 1796, when the British garrisons at Detroit and Mackinaw were replaced by detachments by Gen.Wayne, Michigan became a part of the Northwestern Territory and was organized as the county of Wayne, entitled to one Representative in the General Assembly, held at Chillicothe.

In 1800, Indiana was made a separate Territory, embracing all the country west of the present State of Ohio and of an extension of the western line of that State due north to the territorial limits of the United States; in 1802, the peninsula was annexed to the Territory of Indiana, and in 1805 Michigan began a separate exist

That part of the Territory that lies east of a north and south line through the middle of Lake Michigan was formed into a distinct government, and the provisions of the ordinance of 1787 continued to regulate it. Under this constitution the executive power was invested in a governor, the judicial in three judges, and the legislative in both united; the officers were appointed by the general Government, and their legislative authority was restricted to the adoption of laws from codes of the several States. This form of government was to continue until the Territory should contain 5,000 free white males of full age. It then became optional with the peo. ple to choose a legislative body, to be supported by them; but subsequent legislation by Congress more liberally provided a Legislature at the expense of the general Government and also added to privi. leges in the elective franchise and eligibility to office; as, for example, under the ordinance a freehold qualification was required, both on the part of the elector and of the elected.

ence,

The first officers of the Territory of Michigan were: Wm. Hull, , Governor; Augustus B. Woodward, Chief Judge; Frederick Bates, Sr., Assistant Judge and Treasurer; John Griffin, Assistant Judge; Col. James May, Marshal; Abijah Hull, Surveyor; Peter Audrain, Clerk of the Legislative Board. May 5, 1807, Joseph Watson was appointed Legislative secretary; in November, 1806, Elijah Brush was appointed treasurer, to succeed Mr. Bates, and the books of the office were delivered over on the 26th of that month; and William McDowell Scott was appointed marshal in November, 1806, to succeed Col. May. The latter never held the office of judge of the Territory, but about 1800–'3 he was chief justice of the court of common pleas.

Augustus Brevoort Woodward was a native of Virginia; was appointed a judge of the Territory in 1805, his term of office expiring Feb. 1, 1824. He was soon after appointed judge of the Territory of Florida, and three years after that he died. The grand scheme of “Catholepistemiad,” or State University of Michigan, with its numerous 'details described under sesquipedalian names from the Greek, owed its origin to Judge Woodward.

John Griffin was appointed assistant judge in 1807, his term of office expiring Feb. 1, 1824. He was a native of Virginia, and died in Philadelphia about 1840.

James Witherell was a native of Massachusetts; was appointed a judge of the Territory April 23, 1808, his term of office expiring Feb. 1, 1824, when he was re-appointed for four years, and Feb. 1, 1828, he was appointed Territorial secretary.

When in 1818 Illinois was admitted into the Union, all the territory lying north of that State and of Indiana was annexed to Michigan. In 1819, the Territory was authorized to elect a delegate to Congress, according to the present usage with reference to Territories; previous to this time, according to the ordinance 1787, a Territory was not entitled to a delegate until it entered upon the "second grade of Government," and the delegate was then to be chosen by the General Assembly.

In 1823 Congress abolished the legislative power of the governor and judges, and granted more enlarged ones to a council, to be composed of nine persons selected by the President of the United

States from eighteen chosen by the electors of the Territory; and by this law, also, eligibility to office was made co-extensive with the right of suffrage as established by the act of 1819; also the judicial term of office was limited to four years. In 1825 all county officers, except those of a judicial nature, were made elective, and the appointinents which remained in the hands of the executive were made subject to the approval of the legislative council. In 1827 the electors were authorized to choose a number of persons for the legislative council, which was empowered to enact all laws not inconsistent with the ordinance of 1787. Their acts, however, were subject to abolishment by Congress and to veto by the territorial executives.

When Gen. Wm. Hull arrived at Detroit to assume his official duties as Governor, he found the town in ruins, it having been destroyed by fire. Whether it had been burned by design or accident was not known. The inhabitants were without food and shelter, camping in the open fields; still they were not discouraged, and soon commenced rebuilding their houses on the same site; Congress also kindly granted the sufferers the site of the old town of Detroit and 10,000 acres of land adjoining. A territorial militia was organized, and a code of laws was adopted similar to those of the original States. This code was signed by Gov. Hull, Augustus B. Woodward and Frederick Bates, judges of the Territory, and was called the “ Woodward code.'

At this time the bounds of the Territory embraced all the country on the American side of the Detroit river, east of the north and south line through the center of Lake Michigan. The Indian land claims had been partially extinguished previous to this period. By the treaty of Fort McIntosh in 1785, and that of Fort Harmar in 1787, extensive cessions had been either made or confirmed, and in 1807 the Indian titles to several tracts became entirely extinct. Settlements having been made under the French and English governments, with irregularity or absence of definite surveys and records, some confusion sprang up in regard to the titles to valuable tracts. Accordingly Congress established a Board of Commissioners to examine and settle these conflicting claims, and in 1807 another act was passed, confirming, to a certain extent, the titles of all such as had been in possession of the lands then occupied by them from the year 1796, the year of the final evacuation by the British garrisons. Other acts were subsequently passed, extending the same conditions to the settlements on the upper lakes.

As chief among the fathers of this State we may mention Gen. Lewis Cass, Stevens T. Mason, Augustus B. Woodward, John Norvell, Wm. Woodbridge, John Biddle, Wm. A. Fletcher, Elon Farnsworth, Solomon Sibley, Benj. B. Kircheval, John R. Wil. liams, George Morrell, Daniel Goodwin, Augustus S. Porter, Benj. F. H. Witherell, Jonathan Shearer and Charles C. Trowbridge, all of Wayne county; Edmund Munday, James Kingsley and Alpheus Felch, of Washtenaw; Ross Wilkins and John J. Adam, of Lenawee; Warner Wing, Charles Noble and Austin E. Wing, of Monroe county; Randolph Manning, O. D. Richardson and James B. Hunt, of Oakland; Henry R. Schoolcraft, of Chippewa; Albert Miller, of the Saginaw Valley; John Stockton and Robert P. Eldridge, of Macomb; Lucius Lyon, Charles E. Stuart, Edwin H. Lothrop, Epaphroditus Ransom and Hezekiah G. Wells, of Kalamazoo; Isaac E. Crary, John D. Pierce and Oliver C. Comstock, of Calhoun; Kinsley S. Bingham, of Livingston; John S. Barry, of St. Joseph; Charles W. Whipple, Calvin Britain and Thomas Fitzgerald, of Berrien; and George Redfield, of Cass. These men and their compeers shaped the policy of the State, and decided what should be its future. They originated all and established most of the great institutions which are the evidences of our advanced civilization, and of which we are so justly proud.

ADMINISTRATION OF GEN. CASS.

At the close of the war with Great Britain in 1814, an era of prosperity dawned upon the infant territory. Gen. Lewis Cass, who had served the Government with great distinction during the war, was appointed Governor. The condition of the people was very much reduced, the country was wild, and the British flag still waved over the fort at Mackinaw. There was nothing inviting to immi. grants except the mere facts of the close of the war and the existence of a fertile soil and a good climate. The Indians were still dangerous, and the country was still comparatively remote from the centers of civilization and government. Such a set of circumstances was just the proper environment for the development of all those elements of the “sturdy pioneer" which we so often admire in writing up Western history. Here was the field for stout and brave men; here was the place for the birth and education of real Spartan men,-men of strength, moral courage and indomitable perseverance.

At first, Gen. Cass had also the care of a small portion of Canada opposite Detroit, and he had only 27 soldiers for defending Detroit against the hostile Indians and carrying on the whole government. Believing that a civil governor should not be encumbered also with military duty, he resigned his brigadier-generalship in the army. But as Governor he soon had occasion to exercise his military power, even to act on the field as commander, in chasing away marauding bands of Indians. The latter seemed to be particularly threatening at this time, endeavoring to make up in yelling and petty depredations what they lacked in sweeping victory over all the pale-faces.

In times of peace Gov. Cass had high notions of civilizing the Indians, encouraging the purchase of their lands, limiting their hunting grounds to a narrow compass, teaching them agriculture and mechanics and providing the means for their instruction and religious training. The policy of the French and English had been

to pacify them with presents and gewgaws, merely to obtain a temporary foothold for the purpose of carrying on the fur trade. Those benefited by the trade lived thousands of miles away and had no interest in the permanent development of the country. The United States Government, on the other hand, indorsed Gov. Cass' policy, which was to result in the development of the wealth of the country and the establishment of all the arts of peace. Gens. Cass and Harrison were accordingly empowered to treat with the Indians on the Miami and Wabash; and July 20 a treaty was signed with the Wyandots, Senecas, Shawnees, Miamis and Delawares, which restored comparative tranquillity. During the summer, however, there was Indian war enough to call out all of Gov. Cass' men, in aid of Gen. Brown on the Niagara. Indians can never remain long at peace, whatever may be the obligations they assume in treatymaking Gov. Cass often headed his forces in person and drove the hostile tribes from place to place until they finally retreated to Saginaw.

An attempt was made to recover Mackinaw from the English in July of this year (1814), but the British works were too strong; however, the establishments at St. Joseph and at Sault Ste. Marie were destroyed. In the following winter the final treaty of peace was ratified between England and the United States. The population of the territory at this time was not over 5,000 or 6,000, scattered over a vast extent, and in a state of great destitution on account of the calamities of war. Scarcely a family, on resuming the duties of home, found more than the remnants of former wealth and comfort. Families had been broken up and dispersed; parents had been torn from their children, and children from each other; some had been slain on the battle-field, and others had been massacred by the ruthless savages.

Laws had become a dead letter, and morals had suffered in the general wreck. Agriculture had been alınost abandoned and commerce paralyzed; food and all necessaries of life were scarce, and luxuries unknown. Money was difficult to get, and the bank paper of Ohio, which was almost the sole circulating medium, was 25 per cent below par.

Such was the gloomy state of domestic affairs when Gen. Cass assumed the office of governor. Besides, he had the delicate task of aiding in legislation and of being at the same time the sole executive of the law. In 1817 he made an important treaty with the Indians, by which their title was extinguished to nearly all the land in Ohio, and a great portion in Indiana and Michigan. This treaty attached the isolated population of Michigan to the State of Ohio, made the Territorial government in a fuller sense an integral member of the federal Union, and removed all apprehension of a hostile confederacy among the Indian tribes along the lake and river frontier.

Hitherto there had not been a road in Michigan, except the military road along the Detroit river; but as the Indian settlements and lands could not now be interposed as a barrier, Gen. Cass called the

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »