Enclosure No. 2. Report of the Special Committee of Congress on Western Land Cessions
1st. That Congress do, in Behalf of the United States, accept the Cession made by the State of New York, as contained in the Instrument of Writing executed for that Purpose by the Agents of New York dated the Day of last past, and now upon the Files of Congress: and that the President do take the proper Measures to have the same legally authenticated & registered in the public Records of the State of New York. The Reasons that induced your Committee to recommend the Acceptance of this Cession are
1st. It appeared to your Committee that all the Lands belonging to the six Nations of Indians & their Tributaries, have been in due form put under the Protection of the Crown of England by the said six Nations, as appendant to the late Government of New York, so far as respects Jurisdiction only (vid: Mins. of Council of New York 1636 to 1660, & Paper annexed No 2).
2dly. That the Citizens of said Colony of New York have borne the Burthen, both as to Blood & Treasure, of protecting & supporting the sd. six Nations of Indians & their Tributaries, for upwards of 100 Years last past, as the Dependents & Allies of the sd. Government.
3dly. That the Crown of England has always considered & treated the Country of the sd. six Nations & their Tributaries, inhabiting as far as the 45th. Degree of N: Lat: as appendant to the Government of New York.
4thly. That the Neighbouring Colonies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pensylvania Maryland & Virginia, have also from time to time, by their public acts recognized & admitted the said six Nations & their Tributaries to be appendant to the Government of New York.
5thly. That by Congress accepting this Cession, the Jurisdiction of the whole western Territory belonging to the six Nations & their Tributaries will be vested in the United States, greatly to the advantage of the Union.
RESOLVED That Congress do earnestly recommend to the States of Massachusetts & Connecticut that they do without Delay release to the United States in Congress assembled all Claims & Pretensions of Claim to the said Western Territory, without any Condition or Restrictions whatever.
RESOLVED That Congress can not, consistent with the Interest of the United States, the Duty they owe their Constituents, or the Rights necessarily vested in them as the Sovereign Power of the United States, accept the Cession proposed to be made by the State of Virginia, or guarranty the Tract of Country claimed by them in their Act of Cession referred to your Committee.
1st. It appeared to your Committee, from the Vouchers laid before them, that all the Lands ceded or pretended to be ceded to the United States by the State of Virginia are within the Claims of the States of Massachusetts Connecticut & New York, being Part of the Lands belonging to the six Nations & Tributaries.
2dly. It appeared that great Part of the Lands claimed by the State of Virginia, & requested to be guarrantied to them by Congress, is also within the claims of the State of New York being also part of the Country of the said six Nations & their Tributaries.
3dly. It also appeared that a large Part of the Lands last mentioned as aforesaid are to the Westward of the western Boundary-Line of the late Colony of Virginia, as established by the King of Great Britain in Council, previous to the present Revolution.
4thly. It appeared that a large Tract of the said Lands hath been legally & equitably sold &conveyed away under the Government of Great Britain, before the Declaration of Independence[,] by Persons claiming the absolute Property thereof.
5thly. It appeared that in the Year 1776 a very large Part thereof was separated & appointed for a distinct Government & Colony by the King of Great Britain, with the Knowledge & Approbation of the Government of Virginia.
6thly. The Conditions annexed to the said Cession are incompatible with the Honour Interest & Peace of the United States; and therefore in the Opinion of your Committee altogether inadmissible.
RESOLVED that it be earnestly recommended to the State of Virginia, as they value the Peace Wellfare & Increase of the United States, that they reconsider their said Act of Cession, and by a proper Act for that Purpose cede to the United States all Claims & Pretensions of Claims to the Lands & Country beyond a reasonable western Boundary, correspondent with their former Acts while a Colony under the Power of Great Britain, and agreeable to their just Rights of Soil & Jurisdiction at the Commencement of the present War, and that free from any Conditions & Restrictions whatever.
Your Committee further report that they have had a Conference with the Agents of the several Petitioners calling themselves the Indiana, Vandalia, Illinois & Wabash Compani[es] and also of Colo: Croghan, and have seen &carefully examined their several Vouchers & Deeds; to which Conferrence your Committee invited the Delegates for Connecticut, New York, & Virginia, but the Delegates for Virginia refused to attend.
On the Whole your Committee are of Opinion That the Purchases by Colo: Croghan, & the Indiana Company, were made bona fide for a valuable Consideration, according to the then Usage & Custom of purchasing Land from the Indians, with the Knowledge Consent & Approbation of the Crown of Great Britain, & the then Governments of New York and Virginia; and therefore do recommend that it be Resolved That if the said Lands are finally ceded or adjudged to the United States, in Point of Jurisdiction, that Congress will confirm to such of the sd. Purchasers who are & shall be Citizens of the United States, or either of them, their respective Shares & Proportions of said Lands, making a reasonable Deduction for the Value of the Quitrents reserved by the Crown of England.
It appeared to your Committee that divers Persons residing in, & being Subjects of Great Britain and now Enemies of these States, together with divers Citizens of these United States (but who bear a small proportion of the whole Number of the Company) applyed to the Crown of England in the Year and agreed to purchase the Tract of Land called Vandalia lying on the Back [lands] of Virginia, from the Alleghany Mountains to the River, and which was agreed to be erected into a Colony by the King & Council: that the said Agreement & Purchase was compleated, all to affixing the Seals, and passing all the usual Forms of Office; by which the said Company was put to very great Expences in negociating the same. But as it is altogether incompatible with the Interests, Government and Policy of these United States, to permit such extravagant and immoderate Grants of Land to be vested in individual Citizens of these States, they can not in Justice to the United States recommend the Confirmation & Establishment of the said purchase, in case the said Lands shou'd be ceded or adjudged to the United States; but in order to do the strictest Justice to such of the said Company who are & shall remain Citizens of these United States, or any of them, your Committee propose the following Resolution.
RESOLVED that in Case the said Lands shou'd be adjudged or ceded to these United States in Congress assembled, that on the said purchasers, or such of them as shall remain Citizens of these United States, releasing to Congress all their & each of their rights Title Claim & Demand to all & every Part of the said Lands, to & for the Use of the United States, Congress will fully & amply reimburse to them & each of them, their Heirs or Assigns, their & each of their full Shares and Proportions of all their Purchase Money, Expences & Charges accrued on the said Lands, by distinct & separate Grants of Lands, out of the said several Tracts of Land, to the full Amount & Value thereof.
Your Committee having also fully considered the petition of the Illinois & Wabash Companies do report the following Resolution.
RESOLVED that the Petition of the Illinois & Wabash Companies be dismissed.
1st. It appeared to the Committee by the Confession of the Agent of the said Companies, that the said Purchase had been made without the License of the then Government, or other public Authority, and as your Committee conceive, contrary to the common & known Usage in such Cases established.
2dly. That the said Purchases were made of certain Indians without any public Treaty or other proper Act of Notoriety.
3dly. That one of the Deeds beginning on the North Side of the Illinois River contains only a Number of Lines, without comprehending any Land whatsoever.
4thly. The Wabash Purchase has been made since the present Revolution, when Congress had an Agent for Indian Affairs residing at Fort Pitt; who had no Notice thereof.
5thly. That the six Nations & their Tributaries claim the same Lands in Opposition to the Indians conveying the same in Deeds to the said Companies. Your Committee having been convinced in the Course of their Investigation of this Business, that many Inconveniencys will arise to the Citizens of these United States in Congress assembled, unless their Jurisdiction with Regard to Indian Affairs is more clearly defined & established, do recommend the following Resolution for the Consideration of Congress.
RESOLVED That the sole Right of superintending, protecting, treating with, & making Purchases of the several Indian Nations situate & being without the Bounds of any of the different States in the Union, is necessarily vested in the United States in Congress assembled, for the Benefit of the United States, and in no other Person or Persons within the said States.
RESOLVED that no Person or Persons Citizens of these United States, or any particular State in the Union, in their separate Capacity can or ought to purchase any unappropriated Lands belonging to the Indians, without the Bounds of their respective States, under any Pretence whatever.
RESOLVED That whenever the United States in Congress assembled shall find it for the Good of the Union to permit new Settlements on unappropriated Lands, they will erect a new State or States, to be taken into the federal Union, in such Manner, that no one States so erected shall exceed the Quantity of 130 Miles square, and that the same shall be laid out in Townships of the Quantity of about six Miles square.
RESOLVED That whenever such new State or States shall be erected by Congress, they will make good all reasonable Engagements made to the Officers & Soldiers in the United States, or any of them.
RESOLVED That whenever such new States shall be erected, that the bona fide Setlers within the same, at the time of the E[r]ection of such State, shall be confirmed in their respective Titles to their reasonable Settlements, on the same Terms, as shall be allowed to other new Setlers.
RESOLVED That Congress will reimburse all just & reasonable Expences that may have heretofore accrued to any of the States, since the present Revolution, in conquering, protecting or defending any of the unappropriated Lands so erected into a State or States.
RESOLVED That Nothing herein before determined by Congress shall be construed so as to support any Claim or Right in Congress in Point of Property of Soil to any Lands belonging to the Indian Nations, unless the same have been bona fide purchased of them by the Crown of England, or which may hereafter be purchased by the United States in Congress assembled, for the Use of the United States, and that at a public Treaty held for that Purpose.
Report of the Committee read in Congress Novemr. 3d. 1781.