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Pickering proposed that the Congress should purchase this tract from the Indians, and then make grants to the soldiers, according to a schedule. One of his propositions contained the first suggestion we have as to a future national policy of making grants for educational purposes. It read:
7. These rights being secured, all of the surplus lands shall be the common property of the State, and to be disposed of for the common good; as for laying out roads, building bridges, creating public buildings, establishing schools and academies, defraying the expenses of government, and other public uses.
The First Survey. -- This suggestion seems to have borne fruit in the legislation of the two years later, ordering a survey and fixing a method of disposing of the western lands. This act reads as follows:
AN ORDINANCE for ascertaining the mode of disposing of lands in the Western territory, Adopted by the Congress of the Confederation, May 20, 1785.
Be it ordained by the United States in Congress assembled, That the territory ceded by individual States to the United States, which has been purchased of the Indian inhabitants, shall be disposed of in the following manner: The surveyors, as they are respectively qualified, shall proceed to divide the said territory into townships of six miles square, by lines running due north and south, and others crossing them at right angles, as near as may be.
The plats of the townships, respectively, shall be marked by subdivisions into lots of one mile square, or 640 acres, in the same direction as the external lines, and numbered from 1 to 36, always beginning the succeeding range of the lots with the number next to that with which the preceding one concluded.
There shall be reserved the lot No. 16 of every township, for the maintenance of public schools, within the said township.
The only lands surveyed under this plan were the “Seven Ranges in southeastern Ohio, and in 1796 a different plan of numbering (Section 1 being at the northeast corner of the townships, instead of at the southeast) was adopted. This plan has been followed generally since. In the meantime, six different types of survey had been instituted in Ohio.
Ordinance of 1787.— In July, 1787, a New England company, known as The Ohio Company of Associates, applied to Congress for the purchase of 1,500,000 acres of land on the Ohio. After some negotiation the sale was effected, and just preceding it the famous Ordinance of 1787 was adopted. The Ordinance contained one famous provision :
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An ORDINANCE for the Government of the territory of the United States northwest of the River Ohio. Adopted by the Congress of the Confederation, July 13, 1787.
Be it ordained by the United States in Congress assembled, That the said territory, for the purposes of temporary government, be one district, subject, however, to be divided into two districts, as future circumstances may, in the opinion of Congress, make it expedient.
It is hereby ordained and declared by the authority aforesaid, That the following articles shall be considered as articles of compact between the original States and the people and States in the said territory and forever remain unalterable, unless by common consent, to wit: * * *
ART. 3d. Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.
Ten days later Congress adopted an ordinance for the drawing up of the contract for the sale, which was signed three months later. This ordinance contained the following provisions :
Powers to the Board of Treasury to contract for the sale of the Western Territory. Adopted by the Congress of the Confederation, July 23, 1787.
The lot No. 16 in each township, or fractional part of a township, to be given perpetually for the purposes contained in the said (1785) Ordinance. The lot No. 29, in each township, or fractional part of a township, to be given perpetually for the purposes of religion. Lots No. 8, 11, and 26 to be reserved for the future disposition of Congress. . . . Not more than two complete townships to be given perpetually for the purpose of a university, to be laid off by the purchaser or purchasers, as near the center as may be, so that the same shall be good land, to be applied to the intended object by the legislature of the state.
This settled the question of the control of the university sections and endowment, but left the control of the common school system undecided. Similar terms, with the exception that no university grant was made, were inserted in the contract for the sale of 1,000,000 acres of land in southwestern Ohio, to John C. Symmes, in 1788.
In 1788 the requisite nine states had ratified the Federal Constitution, and with the inauguration of the national government in 1789 the following article of the Constitution was brought into effect :
ART. IV, SEC. 3, & 2. – The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular state.
Petitions for Land. -- Not until the admission of Ohio, in 1802, at least, can we consider any national policy as to educational grants to have been in any way decided upon. In the meantime petitions for grants were sent to Congress from various quarters. The following petition from the Mississippi Territory, as reported in the Annals of Congress, is illustrative:
House of Representatives, Monday, December 23, 1799. A petition of Thomas Burling and others, inhabitants of the Mississippi Territory, in behalf of themselves and the people of the said Territory, was presented to the House and read, praying the confirmation of all grants of land legally and justly obtained from the Spanish Government, prior to the ratification of the late treaty between the United States and her Catholic Majesty.
Also a petition of John Henderson, and others, inhabitants of Natchez, in the said Territory, praying the aid and patronage of Congress in the establishment of a regular ministry of the Gospel among them, and of schools for the education of their youth.
Ordered, That the said petitions do lie on the table.
House of Representatives, Tuesday, December 24, 1799. — Ordered, That the petitions of John Henderson and others, and of Thomas Burling and others, inhabitants of the Mississippi Territory, presented yesterday, be referred to Messrs. Sewall, Chauncey, Wall, Evans and Hill; that they do examine the matter thereof, and report the same, with their opinion thereupon, to the House.
The committee reported, later, adversely on the confirmation of the grants, but made no mention of the proposition of lands for the Gospel and for schools. No action taken on such by the House during this Congress. In the Senate the following action was taken :
Senate, Tuesday, December 24, 1799. – Mr. Tracy presented a petition of Thomas Burling and others, inhabitants of certain lands on the borders of the Mississippi, praying confirmation of their grants made by the Spanish Government; and also that a disposal be made of the vacant lands in that Territory. ...
Ordered, That the petitions and papers above mentioned be referred to Messrs. Tracy, Gunn, and Ross, to consider and report thereon to the Senate.
Senate, Tuesday, April 8, 1800. — The Senate took into consideration the report of the committee on the petition of Thomas Burling and others, inhabitants of the Mississippi Territory; and the report was adopted, as follows:
That the petitioners solicit an Act of Congress for the confirmation of grants of land made by the Spanish Government, prior to the Treaty of April, 1796; and likewise for confirming the claims for land to those who were occupants before that time.
The committee are of the opinion it would be improper for the Legislature of the Union to do anything upon the subject of said petition, while the interfering claims to the lands in said Territory remain unsettled. They therefore report that the prayer of said petition is unreasonable.
The Senate also took into consideration the report of the same committee, on the letter of John Henderson to Winthrop Sargent, and the extract of a letter from Governor Sargent, and the report was adopted as follows:
That the inhabitants of the Mississippi Territory, request an appropriation of lands in the Territory, by Congress, for the support of “clergymen and seminaries of learning, and such like purposes,” in the same manner that appropriations have been made in the Northwest Territory.
The committee are of the opinion that the unsettled condition of claims to lands in the Mississippi Territory renders it improper at this time to make appropriations of lands for any purposes.
They therefore report that the request of said inhabitants is unreasonable.
2. Ohio establishes a Type, and a Policy With the admission of Ohio as a state a definite precedent was established, and this was followed in the matter of educational grants thereafter.
[Poore, B. P., Federal and State Constitutions, II, 1454.) AN ACT, to enable the people of the eastern division of the territory northwest of the river Ohio 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, and for other purposes. Approved, April 30, 1802.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled ; * * *
Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That the following propositions be, and the same are hereby, offered to the convention of the eastern State of the said territory, when formed, for their free acceptance or rejection, which, if accepted by the convention, shall be obligatory upon the United States :
First. That the section, numbered sixteen, in every township, and, where such section has been sold, or disposed of, other lands equivalent thereto and most contiguous to the same, shall be granted to the inhabitants of such township, for the use of schools.
Second. That the six miles reservation, including the saltsprings, commonly called the Scioto salt-springs, the salt-springs near the Muskingum River, and in the military tract, with the sections of land which include the same, shall be granted to the said state for the use of the people thereof, and the same may be used under such terms and conditions and regulations as the legislature of the said State shall direct; Provided, The said legislature shall never sell or lease the same for a longer period than ten years.
Third. That one-twentieth part of the net proceeds of the lands lying within the said State sold by Congress, from and after the thirtieth day of June next, after deducting all expenses incident to the same, shall be applied to the laying out and making public roads, leading from the navigable waters emptying into the Atlantic, to the Ohio, to the said State, and through the same, such