« VorigeDoorgaan »
lina, Mr. Smith, of New York, Mr. Dane, of Massachusetts, and Vr. Henry, of Maryland, appointed to propose a “plan of temporary government for such districts or new States as shall be laid out by the United States upon the principles of the acts of cession from individual States, and admitted into the Confederacy,” made a report, which was taken up for consideration on the 29th, and, after some discussion, and several motions to amend, the further consideration was postponed.
On the 26th of April, 1787, same committee (Mr. Johnson, Mr. Pinckney, Mr. Smith, Vir. Dane, and Mr. llenry) reported “ an ordinance for the government of the Western Territory.” It was read a second time, and amended on the 9th of May, and the next day was assigned for the third reading. On the 10th, the order of the day for the third reading was called for by the State of Massachusetts, and was postponed. On the 9th and 10th of May, Massachusetts was represented by Mr. Gorhan, Mr. King, and Mr. Dane. The proposition which, on Mr. King's motion, was “committed” on the 16th of March of the preceding year, was not in the ordinance, as reported by the committee, nor was any motion made in the Congress to insert it as an amendment.
The following is a copy of the ordinance as amended and ordered to a third reading :
AN ORDINANCE FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THE WESTERN TER
RITORY. It is hereby ordained by the United States, in Congress assembled, that there shall be appointed, from time to time, a governor, whose commission shall continue in force for the term of three years, unless sooner revoked by Congress.
There shall be appointed by Congress, from time to time, a secretary, whose commission shall continue in force for four years, unless sooner revoked by Congress. It shall be his duty to keep and preserve the acts and laws passed by the General Assembly, and public records of the district, and of the proceedings of the governor in his executive department, and transmit authentic copies of such acts and proceedings every six months to the Secretary of Congress.
There shall also be appointed a court to consist of three judges, any two of whom shall form a court, who shall have a common law jurisdiction, whose commissions shall continue in force during good behavior.
And, to secure the rights of personal liberty and property to the inhabitants and others, purchasers in the said districts, it is hereby ordained that the inhabitants of said districts shall always be entitled to the benefits of the act of habeas corpus and of the trial by jury.
The governor and judges, or a majority of them, shall adopt and publish in the districts such laws of the original States, criminal and civil, as may be necessary and best suited to the circumstances of the district, and report them to Congress from time to time, which shall prevail in said district until the organization of the General Assembly, unless disapproved of by Congress; but, afterward, the General Assembly shall have authority to alter them as they see fit; provided, however, that said Assembly shall have no power to create perpetuities.
The governor, for the time being, shall be commander-inchief of the militia, and appoint and commission all officers in the same below the rank of general officers; all officers of that rank shall be appointed and commissioned by Congress.
Previous to the organization of the General Assembly, the governor shall appoint such magistrates and other civil officers, in each county or township, as he shall find necessary for the preservation of peace and good order in the same. After the General Assembly shall be organized, the powers and duties of magistrates and other civil officers shall be regulated and defined by the said Assembly ; but all magistrates and other civil officers, not herein otherwise directed, shall, during the continuance of this temporary government, be appointed by the governor.
The governor shall, as soon as may be, proceed to lay out the district into counties and townships, subject, however, to such alterations as may thereafter be made by the legislature, so soon as there shall be five thousand free male inhabitants, of full age, within the said district. Upon giving due proof thereof to the governor, they shall receive authority, with
time and place, to elect representatives from their counties or townships, as aforesaid, to represent them in General Assembly: provided, that for every five hundred free male inhabitants there shall be one representative, and so on progressively with the number of free male inhabitants shall the right of representation increase, until the number of representatives amounts to twenty-five; after which the number and proportion of representatives shall be regulated by the legislature: provided, that no person shall be eligible or qualified to act as a representative, unless he be a citizen of one of the United States, or have resided within such district three years, and shall likewise hold, in his own right, in fee-simple, two hundred acres of land within the same: provided, also, that a freehold or life estate in fifty acres of land in the said district, if, a citizen of any of the United States, and two years' residence, if a foreigner, in addition, shall be necessary to qualify a man as elector for the said representative.
The representatives thus elected shall serve for the term of two years, and, in case of the death of a representative, or removal from office, the governor shall issue a writ to the county or township for which he was a member, to elect another in his stead, to serve for the residue of the time.
The General Assembly shall consist of the governor, a legislative council, to consist of five members, to be appointed by the United States, in Congress assembled, to contirue in office during pleasure, any three of whom to be a quorum, and a House of Representatives. who shall have a legislative authority complete in all cases for the good government of said district: provided, that no act of the said General Assembly shall be construed to affect any lands the property of the United States : and provided, further, that the lands of the non-resident proprietors shall in no instance be taxed higher than the lands of residents.
All bills shall originate indifferently either in the council or House of Representatives, and, having been passed by a majority in both Houses, shall be referred to the governor for his assent, after obtaining which they shall be complete and valid; but no bill or legislative act whatever shall be valid or of any force without his assent.
The governor shall have power to convene, prorogue, and dissolve the General Assembly when, in his opinion, it shall be expedient.
The said inhabitants or settlers shall be subject to pay a part of the Federal debts, contracted or to be contracted, and to bear a proportional part of the burdens of the government, to be apportioned on them by Congress, according to the same common rule and measure by which apportionments thereof shall be made on the other States.
The governor, judges, legislative council, secretary, and such other officers as Congress shall at any time think proper to appoint in such district, shall take an oath or affirmation of fidelity; the governor before the President of Congress, and all other officers before the governor, prescribed on the 17th day of January, 1785, to the Secretary of War, mutatis mutanitis.
Whensoever any of the said States shall have of free inhabitants as many as are equal in number to the one-thirteenth part of the citizens of the original States, to be computed from the last enumeration, such State shall be admitted by its delegates into the Congress of the United States, on an equal footing with the said original States: provided, the consent of so many States in Congress is first obtained as may at that time be competent to such admission.
Resolved, That the resolutions of the 230 of April, 1784, be and the same are hereby annulled and repealed.
Such was the ordinance for the government of the Western Territory, when it was ordered to a third reading, on the 10th of May, 1787. It had then made no further progress in the development of those great principles for which it has since been distinguished as “one of the greatest monuments of civil jurisprudence.” It made no provision for the equal dis. tribution of estates. It said nothing of extending the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty-nothing of the rights of conscience, knowledge, or education. It did not contain the articles of compact, which were to remain unaltered forever, unless by common consent.
We now come to the time when these great principles were first brought forward.
On the 9th of July, 1787, the ordinance was again referred. The committee now consisted of Mr. Carrington, of Virginia, Mr. Dane, of Massachusetts, Mr. R. H. Lee, of Virginia, Mr. Kean, of South Carolina, and Mr. Smith, of New York. Mr. Carrington, Mr. Lee, and Mr. Kean, the new members, were a majority
This committee did not “merely revise the ordinance;" they prepared and reported the great Bill of Rights for the territory northwest of the Ohio.
The question is here presented, why was Mr. Carrington, a new member of the committee, placed at the head of it, to the exclusion of Mr. Dane and Mr. Smith, who had served previously? In the absence of positive evidence, there appears to be but one answer to this question. The opinions of all the members were known in Congress. In the course of debate, new views had been presented, which must have been received with general approbation. A majority of the committee were the advocates of these views, and the member by whom they were presented to the House was selected as the chairman. There is nothing improbable or out of the usual course of proceeding in this. Indeed, the prompt action of the committee and of the Congress goes very far to confirm it.
On the 11th of July (two days after the reference), Mr. Carrington reported the ordinance for the government of the territory of the United States north-west of the River Ohio. This ordinance was read a second time on the 12th (and amended, as stated below), and, on the 13th, it was read a third time, and passed by the unanimous vote of the eight States present in the Congress.
On the passage, the yeas and nays (being required by Mr. Yates) were as follows:
New Hampshire (absent). New York-
Mr. Smith, aye.
Mr. Haring, aye.
Mr. Yates, no.