OUR BOUNDARIES. - By the treaty of 1783 our country was bounded on the north by a line (very much as at present) from the mouth of the St. Croix River in Maine to the Lake of the Woods; on the west by the Mississippi River; and on the south by the parallel of 31° north latitude from the Mississippi to the Apalachicola, and then by the present south boundary of Georgia to the sea. [1]

But our flag did not as yet wave over every part of the country within these bounds. Great Britain, claiming that certain provisions in the treaty had been violated, held the forts from Lake Champlain to Lake Michigan and would not withdraw her troops. [2] Spain, having received the Floridas back from Great Britain by a treaty of 1783, held the forts at Memphis, Baton Rouge, and Vicksburg, and much of what is now Alabama and Mississippi. [3]

A CENTRAL GOVERNMENT. - From 1775 to 1781 the states were governed, so far as they had any general government, by the Continental Congress. During these years there was no written document fixing the powers of Congress and limiting the powers of the states. While the war was going on, Congress submitted a plan for a general government, called Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union; but nearly four years passed before all the states accepted it. The delay was caused by the refusal of Maryland to approve the Articles unless the states having sea-to-sea charters would give to Congress, for the public good, the lands they claimed beyond the mountains. [4]

Congress therefore appealed to the states to cede their Western lands. If they would do this, Congress promised to sell the lands, use the money to pay the debts of the United States, and cut the region into states and admit them into the Union at the proper time. New York, Connecticut, and Virginia at last agreed to give up their lands northwest of the Ohio River, and on March 1, 1781, the Maryland delegates signed the Articles and by so doing put them in force. [5]

THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION. - In the government set up by the Articles of Confederation there was no President of the United States, no Supreme Court, no Senate. Congress consisted of a single body to which each state sent at least two delegates, and might send any number up to seven. The members were elected annually, were paid by the states they represented, could not serve more than three years in six, and might be recalled at any time. Each state cast one vote, and nine affirmative votes were necessary to carry any important measure. Congress could make war and peace, enter into treaties with foreign powers, coin money, contract debts in the name of the United States, and call upon each state for its share of the general expenses.

THE STATES CEDE LANDS. - Although three states had tendered their Western lands when Maryland signed the Articles, the conditions of cession were not at once accepted by Congress, and some time passed before the deeds were delivered. By the year 1786, however, the claims northwest of the Ohio had been ceded by New York, Virginia, [6] Massachusetts, and Connecticut. [7] South of the Ohio, what is now West Virginia and Kentucky still belonged to Virginia. North Carolina offered what is now Tennessee to Congress in 1784, [8] but the conditions were not then accepted, and that territory was not turned over to Congress till 1790. The long, narrow strip of western land owned by South Carolina was ceded to Congress in 1787. South of this was a strip owned by Georgia, and farther south lands long in dispute between Georgia and Spain and Congress. Georgia did not accept her present western limits till 1802.

MIGRATION WESTWARD. - Into the country west of the mountains the people were moving in three great streams. One from New England was pushing out along the Mohawk valley into central New York; another from Pennsylvania and Virginia was pouring its population into Kentucky; the third from North Carolina was overrunning Tennessee.

For this movement the hard times which followed the Revolution were largely the cause. Compared with our time, the means of making a livelihood were few and far less remunerative. Great mills and factories each employing thousands of persons had no existence. The imports from Great Britain far surpassed in value our exports; the difference was settled in specie (coin) taken from the country. The people were poor, and as land in the West was cheap, they left the East and went westward.

ROUTES TO THE OHIO VALLEY. - New England people bound to the Ohio valley went through Connecticut to Kingston, New York, on across New Jersey to Easton, Pennsylvania, and thence to Bedford, where they struck the road cut years before by the troops of General Forbes, and by it went to Pittsburg (p. 194). Settlers from Maryland and Virginia went generally to Fort Cumberland in Maryland, and then on by Brad dock's Road to Pittsburg, or turned off and reached the Monongahela at Redstone, or the Ohio at Wheeling (map, p. 201).

Such was the rush to the Ohio valley that each spring and summer hundreds of boats and arks left Pittsburg and Wheeling or Redstone, and floated down the Ohio to Maysville, Louisville, and other places in Kentucky. [9] The flatboat was usually twelve feet wide and forty feet long, with high sides and a flat or slightly arched top, and was steered, and when necessary was rowed, by long oars or sweeps. Some were arranged to carry cattle as well as household goods.

THE OHIO COMPANY OF ASSOCIATES. - Meanwhile, some old soldiers of New England and New Jersey who had claims for bounty lands, [10] organized the Ohio Company of Associates, and in 1787 sent an agent (Manasseh Cutler) to New York, where Congress was sitting, and bade him buy a great tract of land northwest of the Ohio, on which they might settle.