National Geographic : 1899 Mar
82 ORIGINAL TERRITORY OF THE UNITED STA TES together they were a sovereign power. It was as a continental force that the people won their independence, and the Nation is in reality older than the States. All this was felt even at the moment, and on the day the committee for drafting the Declaration of Independence was appointed another committee was directed to prepare the form of a confederation. The power which declared independence and thereby created new sovereignties knew itself to be a mere illusion, except as its acts were ratified by the force of the united nation. But when the Declaration had in effect brought into being thirteen sovereigns in place of one, new problems burst into view. Each of these new states claimed all the rights granted by its own fundamental laws, and in addition its share of the power hitherto accorded to the Crown. What, then, was to be the dis position of those "Crown lands" which were not within the actual bounds of any colony, although originally included in their charters-that vast territory lying between the Alleghany mountains and the Mississippi, which had been won in battle from the rule of France ? Six states-Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia-by reason of their original char ters or subsequent treaties, claimed the ownership of all the lands west of their actual boundaries as far as the Mississippi river. It is true that a royal proclamation had been issued in 1763 prohibiting colonial governors from granting patents of land beyond the sources of the rivers flowing into the Atlantic, and that in 1774 the " Crown lands," as they were called, north west of the Ohio were annexed to the royal province of Quebec; but these were-considered by the colonies unjust encroachments, for had they not freely sacrificed lives and money to conquer this same country from New France? The other colonies,however, hemmed in by inelastic boundaries, protested against these large pretensions, maintaining that possessions which had been acquired by the force and sacrifice of all should not be appro priated for the aggrandizement of a part. New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Mary land, denied a share of this great territory, saw in the claims of the "land states " not only an evident injustice in refusing them a part in the fruits of a common victory, but a menace to the equilibrium of the states by the arrested development of some 8 See map of Land Claims of the Thirteen Original States.