Post # 170
From the two previous blogs, I’m sure I’ve left you with the impression that I hated learning. Not true. I did and do like history, (and a few other subjects have grown upon me). History was something unchanging, it “was what it was and it still is”. I’ve also jumped on the reading band-wagon. I’m not a fast reader, but I returned to reading in my late 40’s.
While reading about the History of Illinois, a startling fact jumped out. The most important legislation passed by the Congress after the Declaration of Independence was the Northwest Ordinance in 1787, it set the tone for western expansion and slavery. It was the Congress’s attempt to push the Indians out and open land for settling. The Northwest Territory was to include five states, which were to be , Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin. It also established anti-slavery north of the Ohio River.
From this territory, Ohio(1803) became the first of five (5) states. The northern border (the east-west line) for 3 of the 5 states was to run along the southern tip of Lake Michigan. When the Illinois Territorial Government met in 1817 in Kaskaskia (just outside of St. Louis, formerly and Indian village of over 10,000) to request statehood, the majority of the population and industry was located in the southern 1/3 of the state, except for Chicago. Chicago, would have been north of the east-west line from the southern tip of Lake Michigan, but Chicago politics played a role even in the early years. The Northwest Ordinance allowed for state line variation by consensus of the population, that point the request was push through Congress under the threat that Missouri was soon to request statehood which would change the balance of slave states represented in Congress. So, it was that Illinois boundary was changed.
In researching this northern boundary topic, I find that Illinois was not the only state with problematic boundaries. Apparently the initial map that Congress followed for the Ordinance of 1787 had the southern edge of Lake Michigan 7 miles further north. It was from this line that Ohio established its northern boundary and to which Indiana followed to meet the Indiana/Ohio corner.
Ohio as a state, claimed within its boundaries seven mile width strip from the original deemed southern point of Lake Michigan to point on Lake Erie, which included the future settlement of Toledo. The Territory of Michigan claimed the same land. As this topic was heated discussed in 1835, the Michigan Territorial Governor called out the militia and the Governor marching at it head captured governmental surveyors in the “Toledo Strip”. Apparently shots were fired, because all comments state that it was surprising that no one was killed during this controversy.
Congress debated the Michigan Statehood bill and offered a compromise, giving the Toledo Strip to Ohio and in return, giving Michigan the land known as the Upper Peninsula. You know the outcome….well, maybe you do. The controversy continued regarding Michigan boundary on and near Lake Erie and finally settled by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973!