State Land Claims
The state land claims were as follows:
- State Land Claims: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, claimed that their "from sea to sea" charters gave them lands between the mountains and the Mississippi River
- State Land Claims: New York claimed that they had bought the Native Indian title to land in the Ohio valley
- State Land Claims: The other six states consisting of Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland did not have "from sea to sea" charters, and so had no claims to western lands
Objections to State Land Claims
Three states without land claims, consisting of New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, objected to the state land claims. They argued that the claims of their sister states were invalid and they refused to adopt the Articles of Confederation unless the land that was being claimed was given to Congress to be used to pay for the cost of the Revolutionary War. The reasons for the objections that were given by New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland were:
- The Mississippi valley had been discovered, explored, settled, and owned by France and therefore the state land claims for this area were invalid
- Great Britain had never owned any land in the Mississippi valley until France ceded the country in 1763 following their defeat in the French Indian War when the Peace Treaty of Paris 1763 was signed and Great Britain received all French lands east of the Mississippi River
- When the lands were passed to Great Britain the King had issued the Proclamation of 1763 that drew the "Proclamation Line," turning the Mississippi valley into Indian country, and so cut off any claim of the colonies in consequence of British ownership
- The objecting states concluded that the western lands were therefore the property of the King - not the colonies
The objectors further argued that now that the states were in arms against him, his lands ought to be seized by Congress and used for the benefit of all the states.
State Land Claims - Maryland stands firm
For three years the land claiming states refused to be convinced by these objections and arguments. However, Maryland stood fast and made it clear that they were determined not to adopt the Articles of Confederation until their demands were complied with. The land claiming states began to yield.
- In February, 1780, New York ceded her claims to Congress
- In January, 1781, Virginia gave up her claim to the country north of the Ohio River
Note: In 1784 Massachusetts ceded her strip of land in the west, following the example set by New York and Virginia.
State Land Claims are Settled
Maryland had now carried her point, and on March 1, 1781, her delegates signed the Articles of Confederation. As all the other states had ratified the Articles of Confederation, this act on the part of Maryland made them law, and March 2, 1781, Congress met for the first time under a form of government that the 13 states were pledged to obey. Approval of the ratification of the Articles of Confederation brought into being the United States as a united, sovereign and national state - America had become the United States. The Congress of the Confederation then passed the Northwest Ordinance on July 13, 1787 which provided for the rapid and orderly expansion of the new nation across the continent.