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After having established a line of trading posts through the country, and secured the favor of the Indian tribes, measures were adopted for planting permanent settlements therein. The French Government conceded the right of the natives to occupy the country during their pleasure, but claimed the title to be in the King of France.
The first colonial establishment was erected at Detroit, under a grant from Louis XIV. to Antoine De La Motte Cadillac, in 1701. The extent of this grant was fifteen acres square, and under the authority contained in it, the same was established as a seigneury. There had been a fort at this point from 1664, and another at Mackinaw.
In 1720, settlements were made at Kaskaskia and Cahokia, and in 1730 at Vincennes. After this, several other French settlements were planted in the territory.
During the period of French jurisdiction over the territory north west of the river Ohio, its inhabitants were subjected to the law of Canada, which was the Coutume De Paris, or Custom of Paris. However suitable that law may have been for its theatre and occasion, it was illy adapted to these forest settlements, and could not be enforced' with strictness or uniformity. Its feudal character and concomitants had an influence, however, beyond the pale of its provisional requirements, and induced a serf-like obedience to all officers in command at the posts, whose authority was arbitrary and severe.
The Commandants were invested with authority to convey or grant land to the settlers with the permission of the Governor General of Canada, but subject to the confirmation of the King of France, who claimed the original and ultimate title in case of escheat. These grants contained reservations and appendages, and were modeled after the patents in use in Canada. The patentees or purchasers were required to erect their dwellings on ground, with a front of an arpen and a half, running forty arpens back, in order to keep the settlements in a close line along the banks of the lakes and rivers, the better to protect themselves against the savages, and the more conveniently to act together in an emergency. They were also required to improve their land within three years from the date of their deeds, and were prohibited from working thereon at the trades of blacksmithing or gunsmithing, under the penalty of forfeiture. Each grant also reserved the right of shooting rabbits, hares, and partridges, and required the grantee to plant or assist in planting a May-pole at the door of the principal Manor annually, on the first day of May. [Vide Coutume De Paris, in 3 Vols.).
CAPITULATION AND SURRENDER BY THE FRENCH TO GREAT BRITAIN.
The title asserted by the King of France to the Northwestern Territory, on account of the colonization and settlement thereof, was surrendered in 1760, to Great Britain, and confirmed to that government by treaty stipulations, in 1763.
Whilst the settlements were yet few and feeble, and the settlers themselves were buffeting the hard fortunes of a wilderness life, the Earl of Chatham conceived and put in operation a plan for circumventing and defeating any further extension of French jurisdiction over this region of country -a plan that was consummated by the sending hither of a large military force, which, co-operating with the colonial troops, met and defeated the French on the heights of Abraham. After this event, the Canadian possessions were, by the Marquis De Vandreuil, capitulated and surrendered to General Amherst. The articles bear date November, 1760, but were not confirmed until the execution of a treaty by and between the two governments, in 1763. [Vide Hist. of New-France, Vol. 1.)
v. CHARTERS AND OTIIER ACTS UNDER WHICH THE STATES
OF MASSACHUSETTS, CONNECTICUT, NEW-YORK AND VIRGINIA, PREFERRED CLAIMS TO THE WASTE AND UNAPPROPRIATED LANDS IN THE WESTERN COUNTRY.
In the reign of James the First, his majesty granted a charter to the Virginia colony, under date of May 23, 1609, the sixth section of which was in the following words: “And we do also, of our special grace, &c., give, &c., unto the said Treasurer and Company, &c., all those lands, countries and territories, situate, lying and being in that part of America called Virginia, from the point of land called Cape or Point Comfort, all along the sea coast to the northward two hundred miles, and from the said Point or Cape Comfort, all along the sea coast to the southward two hundred miles; and all that space and circuit of land lying from the sea coast of the precinct aforesaid, up into the land throughout, from sea to sea, west and north-west ; and also all the islands within one hundred miles along the coast of both seas of the precinct aforesaid."* [7 James I., Vol. 1, 465.]
On the 23d day of April, 1662, a colonial charter was granted to CONNECTICUT, containing the following grant and confirmation: “And know ye further, that we, of our abundant grace, certain knowledge, and mere motion, have given, granted and confirmed, and by these presents for us, our heirs and successors, do grant and confirm unto the said Governor and Company, and their successors, all that part of our dominions in New England, in America, bounded on
The charter of 10th April, 1606, extended but fifty miles inland from the Atlantic; the second charter, being the one from which the above extract was taken, bounded the colony by the Pacific on the west; and the third, dated March 12, 1612, added to the domain all islands within three hundred leagues of the coast. On the 15th July, 1624, a commission for the government of Virginia was issued, without making any alteration in the boundaries thereof. The subsequent grants to Lord Baltimore and William Penn, carried away some of the territory on the north, and those to the proprietors of Carolina, on the south. [Vide Documents in State Department at Washington, and also Jefferson's Notes on Virginia.]
the east by Narragansett river, commonly called Narragansett bay, where the said river falleth into the sea; and on the north by the line of the Massachusetts plantation; and on the south by the sea; and in longitude as the line of the Massachusetts colony, running from east to west, that is to say, from the said Narragansett bay on the east, to the south sea on the west part, with the islands thereunto adjoining," &c., &c. [14 Car., 2.
Although this grant seems to have been quite indefinite, in respect to the western boundaries, yet Connecticut assumed that it gave her some interest in the domain orth-west of the Ohio. (See Clarke's U. S. Land Laws, 80.)
The grantof Charles Second to James, Duke of York, (afterward King James the Second, the annexation of the territory of the Six Nations, the provincial charters, and the subsequent independence of New York, were claimed to invest that State with a title to some portion of the public domain. [See Grant to Duke of York, Ante, 57.]
Theclaim of MASSACHUSETTS was derived from her charter of 1691. The following passages occur in that document:
“William and Mary, by the Grace of God, King and Queen of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, &c., to all to whom these presents shall come, greeting : We do by these presents, for us, our heirs, and successors, will and ordain, that the territories and colonies commonly called or known by the names of the colony of the Massachusetts Bay and colony of New Plymouth, the province of Main, the territory called Accada or Nova Scotia, and all that tract of land lying between the said territories of Nova Scotia and the said province of Main, be erected, united, and incorporated ; and we do by these presents unite, erect, and incorporate the same into one real province, by the name of our .province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England; and of our special grace, certain knowledge, and mere motion, we have given and granted, and by these presents, for us, our heirs, and successors, do give and grant unto our good subjects, the inhabitants of our said province or territory of the Massachusetts Bay, and their successors, all that part of New England, in America, lying and extending from the Great River, commonly called Monomack, alias, Merimack, on the north part, and from three miles northward of the said river, to the Atlantic, or western sea or ocean, on the south part, and all the lands and hereditaments whatsoever lying within the limits aforesaid, and extending as far as the outermost points or promontories of land called Cape Cod and Cape Malabar, north and south, and in latitude, breadth, and in length, and longitude, of and within all the breadth and compass aforesaid throughout the main land there, from the said Atlantic or western sea and ocean, on the east part, towards the south sea, or westward, as far as our colonies of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and the Naragansett country; and also all that part and portion of main land beginning at the entrance of Piscataway harbor, and so to pass up the same into the river of Newich wannock, and through the same into the furthest head thereof, and from thence north westward, till one hundred and twenty miles be finished, and from Piscataway harbor mouth aforesaid, northeastward along the sea coast to Sagadehock; and from the period of one hundred and twenty miles aforesaid to cross overland to the one hundred and twenty miles before reckoned, up into the land from Piscataway harbor, through Newichwannock river; and also the north half of the Isles of Shoals, together with the Isles of Capawock and Nantucket, near Cape Cod aforesaid, and also the lands and hereditaments lying and being in the country or territory commonly called Accada or Nova Scotia, and all those lands and hereditaments lying and extending between the said country or territory of Nova Scotia, and the said river of Sagadehock, or any part thereof.