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ten 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 northwestward of the river Ohio,” in these words following, to wit:
“Whereas the congress of the United States did, by their act of the sixth day of September, in the year one thousand seyen hundred and eighty, recommend to the several states in the union, having claims to waste and unappropriated lands in the western country, a liberal cession to the United States, of a portion of their respective claims, for the common benefit of the union: and whereas this commonwealth did, on the second day of January, in the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty-one, yield to the congress of the United States, for the benefit of the said states, all right, title, and claim, which the said commonwealth had to the territory northwest of the river Obio, subject to the conditions annexed to the said act of cession. And whereas the United States in congress assembled have, by their act of the thirteenth of September last, stipulated the terms on which they agree to accept the cession of this state, should the legislature approve thereof, which terms, although they do not come fully up to the propositions of this commonwealth, are conceived, on the whole, to approach so nearly to them, as to induce this state to accept thereof, in full confidence, that congress will, in justice to this state, for the liberal cession she hath made, earnestly press upon the other states claiming large trasts of waste and uncultivated territory, the propriety of making cessions equally liberal, for the common benefit and support of the union. 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 on behalf of this state, by proper deeds or instrument in writing, under their hands and seals, to convey, transfer, assign, and make over, unto the United States in congress assembled, for the benefit of the said states, all right, title, and claim, as well of soil as jurisdiction, which this commonwealth hath to the territory or tract of country within the limits of the Virginia charter, situate, lying, and being, to the northwest of the river Ohio, subject to the terms and conditions contained in the before recited act of congress of the thirteenth day of September last; that is to say, upon condition that the territory
so ceded shall be laid out and formed into sfates, containing suitable extent of territory, not less than one hundred, nor more than one hundred and fifty miles square, or as near thereto as circumstances will admit: and that the states so formed shall be distinct republican states, and admitted members of the federal union; having the same rights of sovereignty, freedom, and independence, as the other states.
That the necessary and reasonable expenses incurred by this state, in subduing any British posts, or in maintaining forts and garrisons within, and for the defence, or in acquiring any part of, the territory so ceded or relinquished, shall be fully peimbursed by the United States: and that one commissioner shall be appointed by congress, one by this commonwealth, and another by those two commissioners, who, or a majority of them, shall be authorized and empowered to adjust and liquidate the account of the necessary and reasonable expenses incurred by this state, which they shall judge to be comprised within the intent and meaning of the act of congress, of the tenth of October, one thousand seven hundred and eighty, respecting such expenses.
That the French and Canadian inhabitants, and other settlers of the Kaskaskies, St. Vincents, and the neighboring villages, who have professed themselves citizens of Virginia, shall have their possessions and titles confirmed to them, and be protected in the enjoyment of their rights and liberties. That a quantity not exceeding one hundred and fifty thousand acres of land, promised by this state, shall be allowed and granted to the then colonel, now general George Rogers Clarke, and to the officers and soldiers of his regiment, who marched with him when the post of Kaskaskies and St. Vincents were reduced, and to the officers and soldiers that have been since incorporated into the said regiment, to be laid off in one tract, the length of which not to exceed double the breadth, in such place, on the northwest side of the Ohio, as a majority of the officers shall choose, and to be afterwards divided among the said officers and soldiers in due proportion, according to the laws of Virginia. That in case the quantity of good land on the southeast side of the
Ohio, upon the waters of Cumberland river, and between the Green river and Tennessee river, which have been reserved by law for the Virginia troops, upon continental establishment, should, from the North Carolina line bearing in further upon the Cumberland lands than was expected, prove insufficient for their legal bounties, the deficiency should be made up to the said troops, in good lands, to be laid off between the rivers Scioto and Little Miami, on the northwest side of the river Ohio, in such proportions as have been engaged to them by the laws of Virginia. That all the lands within the territory so ceded to the United States, and
pot reserved for, or appropriated to, any of the beforementioned purposes, or disposed of in bounties to the officers and soldiers of the American army, shall be considered as a common fund for the use and benefit of such of the United States as bave bee come, or shall become, members of the confederation or federal alliance of the said states, Virginia inclusive, according to their usual respective proportions in the general charge and expendi. ture, and shall be faithfully and bona fide disposed of for that purpose, and for no other use or purpose whatsoever. Provide ed, that the trust hereby reposed in the delegates of this state, shall not be executed unless three of them at least are present in congress
And whereas the said general assembly, by their resolution of June sixth, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three, had constituted and appointed us, the said Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Hardy, Arthur Lee, and James Monroe, delegates to represent the said commonwealth in congress for one year, from the first Monday in November then next following, which resolution remains in full force: Now, therefore, know ye, that we, the said Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Hardy, Arthur Lee, and James Monroe, by virtue of the power and authority committed to us by the act of the said general assembly of Virginia, before recited, and in the name, and for and on behalf, of the said commonwealth, do, by these presents, convey, transfer, assign, and make over, unto the United States, in congress assem. bled, for the benefit of the said States, Virginia inclusive, all right, title and claim, as well of soil as of jurisdiction, which the said commonwealth hath to the territory or tract of country within the limits of the Virginia charter, situate, lying, and being, to the northwest of the river Ohio, to and for the uses and purposes and on the conditions of the said recited act. In testimony 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-four, and of the independence of the United States the eighth.
Resolved, That the United States in congress assembled are ready to receive this deed, whenever the delegates of the state of Virginia are ready to execute the same.
The delegates of Virginia then proceeded and signed, sealed, and delivered the said deed; whereupon congress came to the following resolution:
The delegates of the commonwealth of Virginia having executed the deed,
Resolved, That the same be recorded and enrolled among the aets of the United States, in congress assembled.
Resolved, That it be, and it hereby is, recommended to the legislature of Virginia, to take into consideration their act of cession: and revise the same, so far as to empower the United States in congress assembled, to make such a division of the territory of the United States, lying northerly and westerly of the river Ohio, into distinct republican states, not more than five nor less than three, is the situation of that country and future circumstances may require; which states shall hereafter become-members of the federal union, and have the same rights of sovereignty, freedom, and independence, as the original states; in conformity with the resolution of congress, of the tenth October, 1780.
According to order, the ordinance for the government of the territory of the United States northwest of the river Ohio, was read a third time, and passed, as follows:
An ordinance for the government of the territory of the United
States northwest of the river Ohio. 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.
Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That the estates both of resident and non-resident proprietors in the said territory, dying intestate, shall descend to, and be distributed among their children, and the descendants of a deceased child, in equal parts, the descendants of a deceased child or grand child to take the share of their deceased parent in equal parts among them: and where there shall be no children or descendants, then in equal parts to the next of kin, in equal degree; and among collaterals, the children of a deceased brother or sister of the intestate shall have, in equal parts among thin, their deceased parents' share; and there shall, in no case, be a distinction between kindred of the whole and half blood; saving in all cases to the widow of the intestate, her third part of the real estate for life, and one third part of the personal estate; and this law relative to descents and dower, shall remain in full force until altered by the legislature of the district. And until the govenor and judges shall adopt laws as herein after mentioned, estates in the said territory may be devised or bequeathed hy wills in writing, signed and sealed by him or her, in whom the estate may be, (being of full age,) and attest.. ed by three witnesses; and real estates may be conveyed by lease
and release, or bargain and sale, signed, sealed and delivered, by the person, being of full age, in whom the estate may be, and-attested by two witnesses, provided such wills be duly proved, and such conveyances be acknowledged, or the execution thereof duly proved, and be recorded within one year after proper magia istrates, courts, and registers, shall be appointed for that purpose; and personal property may be transferred by delivery; saving, however, to the French and Canauian inhabitants, and other settlers of the Kaskuskies, Saint Vincents, and the neighboring villages, who have heretofore professed themselves citizens of Virgi.. nia, their laws and customs now in force among them, relative to the descent and conveyance of property. -. Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That there shall be appointed, from time to time, by congress, a governor, whose commission shall continue in force for the term of three years, unless suoner revoked by congress: he shall reside in the district, and have a freehold estate therein, in one thousand acres of land, while in the exercise of his office.
There shall be appointed, from time to time, by congress, a secretary, whose commission shall continue in force for four years, unless sooner revoked; he shall reside in the district, and have a freehold estate therein, in five hundred acres of land, while in the exercise of his office; it shall be his duty to keep and preserve the acts and laws passed by the legislature, and the public records of the district, and the proceedings of the governor in bis executive departnent; 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 to form a court, who shall have a .common law juri-diction, and reside in the district, and have each therein a freehold estate, in five hundred acres of land, wbile in the exercise of their offices; and their commissions shall continue in force during good behavio r.
The governor and judges, or a majority of them, shall adopt and publish in the district, 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 laws siiall be in force in the district until the organization of the general a-sembly therein, unless disapproved of by congress; but afterwards the legislature shall have authority to alter them as they shall think fit.
The governor for the time being, shall be commander in chief of the militia, appoint and commission all officers in the same, below the rank of general officers; all general officers shall be appointed and commissioned by congress,
Previous to the organization of the general assembly, the go sernor shall appoint such magistrates and other civil oficers, in