Images de page

deny the being of God or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority either of the Old or New Testament, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department, within the State." The judicial power of the State was to be exercised by superior and inferior courts, but instead of having the judiciary and legislative powers coördinate, the judges, who were to hold their office during good. behavior, were to be appointed by joint ballot of the General Assembly. This certainly made the judiciary very responsive to the popular will, and may have been one reason why Jefferson called this constitution "the most republican yet formed in America," but being the creature of the legislature and dependent upon that branch, the judiciary did not have the freedom of action which is necessary for an impartial tribunal. This defect was in part remedied by the constitutional convention of 1834, which provided that the judges were to be elected by the people, and fixed the term of office at eight years. The experiment of having them continue in office during good behavior was not successful. They felt too secure in their seats and some of them conducted themselves in such an overbearing manner and were so neglectful of their duties that the people protested, and there were several cases of impeachment.

Another curious clause of the constitution of 1796 related to taxation. It set forth that all land liable to taxation was to be taxed equally and uniformly in such manner "that no one hundred acres shall be taxed higher than another, except town lots, which shall not be taxed higher than two hundred acres of land each; no freeman shall be taxed higher than one hundred acres; and no slave higher than two hundred acres on each poll."

New principles of constitutional law were brought out when Tennessee made its application for admission. It asserted its right to be admitted as a consequence of certain acts over which the nation had no authority. It claimed a

right to be admitted as a state of the Union without the agency or consent of Congress. The claim was the first instance of the kind, and Congress was wisely careful about establishing a precedent. Tennessee, unlike Vermont and Kentucky was not formed from a part of one of the older States. The land, like the land northwest of Ohio River had been ceded to Congress, and governed, as we have seen, as a territory under the control of Congress so that North Carolina had nothing to say about the statehood. When the constitutional convention had finished its work, the constitution was forwarded to the general government, with a notification that on March 28, 1796, the territorial government would end and the State government begin. When the 28th day of March arrived, Tennessee proceeded on the supposition that it was a State. Senators were elected, who presented themselves at Philadelphia, but Congress did not agree to this method of procedure. In the opinion of both Houses, Tennessee was not yet a member of the Union as a State, and could not be until it was formally admitted by Act of Congress. The right to admission was conceded, also that it was the duty of Congress to admit now that Tennessee had fulfilled the necessary conditions, and the words "shall be admitted" in the Federal Constitution were interpreted to mean that it might become a State after the State Constitution had been formed, but that the admission could only be consummated through an Act of Congress.

On May 5, 1796, the select committee of Congress, having in charge the request of the Tennessee country to be admitted as a State, replied, favoring its admission to all the rights of the original States. Objections were made that the people of Tennessee should not apply for admission until they had been formed into one or more States, and the only body having the right to form them into States was Congress; so that the first step in the movement toward admission was for Congress to determine whether the territory south of the Ohio should be formed into one or two States, and fix the boundaries of such State or States.

Objection was also made to the fact that the census, which was taken to decide whether the territory had a population large enough to fulfil the statehood requirement, had been taken by the territorial government. This was beyond its power under the ordinance, and should have been done by the United States. A third question arose: Had this census been fairly taken? There were evidences to show that the effort had been made to swell the number of inhabitants. It was probable that strangers and travellers had been enumerated several times over. The census had been taken at a time when there was the greatest immigration into the country, and the territorial law was peculiar in that it directed the enumeration of the people within the territory rather than of the inhabitants. The time of the taking of the census was spread over two months, instead of being confined to a few days; so that the same man might be taken in several different counties. There was no proof that unfair methods were used, but there was certainly the possibility of it, and it was considered dangerous to establish such a precedent.

Those who opposed the admission of Tennessee further contended that in the Constitution of the State as submitted to Congress there were marks of haste and inaccuracy; that it contained clauses repugnant to the Ordinance of 1787 and to the Constitution of the United States, and others which might cause conflict later between Tennessee and the United States. It was the more important that these matters should be settled now, because otherwise a precedent would be established that might be followed by other States in the West in a few years. The census question was considered to be of especial importance, because the number of representatives to which States were entitled in Congress was decided by their respective populations. No State had a right to take a census, and certainly a territory ought not to be allowed this privilege. The number of inhabitants returned by Tennessee allowed it to have two representatives; but it was probable, even if the census had

been taken fairly, that the number returned was greater than the number of actual inhabitants. One way suggested to free the nation from this difficulty was to admit Tennessee as a State and then take a census under national direction to determine how many representatives it should have.

On the other hand, it was contended that Tennessee ought to be admitted, because its State government was already in operation, and that to refuse to accept it would be to reduce it to the territorial condition again, to which its people would not willingly submit. If they had exceeded their powers, they had done so unwittingly.

Notwithstanding the many objections, after much discussion, on June 1, 1796, Congress passed a law admitting Tennessee into the Union, declaring that Congress, by the acceptance of the deed of cession of the State of North Carolina, was bound to form the territory into one or more States. It was enacted that only one State should be formed, and that this should be on an equal footing with the original States, and should be called the State of Tennessee. It was declared to be entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives of the Federal Congress. William Blount and William Cocke were chosen to represent the new State in the United States Senate.

John Sevier had been previously elected governor and was inaugurated on March 30, 1796. State affairs moved on smoothly during his administration. He was reëlected

for three successive terms. According to the Constitution of the State he could no longer succeed himself and Archibald Roane became governor in 1801. Sevier was again. elected to the governorship in 1803.



In our study of the northwest, we have thus far considered only the scattered communities formed by the different land companies, without considering their government. The land companies were able to get people to go into the wilderness, because of the certainty of a good government under the Ordinance of 1787. According to this ordinance, the temporary administration rested in the hands of the governor and judges. In October, 1787, Congress appointed Arthur St. Clair governor of the territory, and Samuel H. Parsons, John Armstrong, and James W. Varnum judges, and Winthrop Sargent secretary. Armstrong declined to serve, and John C. Symmes was appointed in his place. Dr. Cutler's choice for governor had been, as we have seen, his Connecticut friend and associate, Samuel H. Parsons. But while negotiating with Congress, he found that St. Clair, its president, wished to be governor, and that the bill for the land purchase would go through much more easily if he favored the appointment of St. Clair. This he did, requesting that Sargeant might be made secretary and Parsons first judge. These requests were granted.

Arthur St. Clair, first governor of the Northwest Territory, was a Scotchman by birth, and had received a university training in his own land. Through the influence of relatives, he obtained a commission in the British army. He served as an officer under Wolfe at the capture of Quebec. After the treaty of 1763, he resigned his

« PrécédentContinuer »