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Article 4, Section 3, Clause 2



Document 1

Records of the Federal Convention

[2:321; Journal, 18 Aug.]

The propositions are as follows

To dispose of the unappropriated lands of the United States

[2:458; Journal, 30 Aug.]

It was moved and seconded to agree to the following proposition.

Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to alter the claims of the United States or of the individual States to the western territory but all such claims may be examined into and decided upon by the supreme Court of the United States

It was moved and seconded to postpone the last proposition in order to take up the following.

The Legislature shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States: and nothing in this Constitution contained shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims either of the United States or of any particular State

It was moved and seconded to add the following clause to the last proposition

"But all such claims may be examined into and decided upon by the Supreme Court of the United States"

which passed in the negative [Ayes--2; noes--8.]

On the question to agree to the following proposition

"The Legislature shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States: and nothing in this Constitution contained shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims either of the United States or of any particular State"

it passed in the affirmative

[2:464; Madison, 30 Aug.]

It was moved by Mr. L. Martin to postpone the substituted article, in order to take up the following.

"The Legislature of the U-- S-- shall have power to erect New States within as well as without the territory claimed by the several States or either of them, and admit the same into the Union: provided that nothing in this constitution shall be construed to affect the claim of the U-- S--. to vacant lands ceded to them by the late treaty of peace-- which passed in the negative: N. J. Del. & Md. only ay.

On the question to agree to Mr. Govr. Morris's substituted article as amended in the words following,

"New States may be admitted by the Legislature into the Union: but no new State shall be hereafter formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any of the present States without the consent of the Legislature of such State as well as of the General Legislature"

N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N. J-- no-- Pa. ay. Del. no. Md. no. Va. ay. N-- C. ay-- S. C-- ay. Geo. ay. [Ayes--8; noes--3.]

Mr. Dickinson moved to add the following clause to the last--

"Nor shall any State be formed by the junction of two or more States or parts thereof, without the consent of the Legislatures of such States, as well as of the Legislature of the U. States". which was agreed to without a count of the Votes.

Mr Carrol moved to add--"Provided nevertheless that nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to affect the claim of the U. S. to vacant lands ceded to them by the Treaty of peace". This he said might be understood as relating to lands not claimed by any particular States. but he had in view also some of the claims of particular States.

Mr. Wilson was agst. the motion. There was nothing in the Constitution affecting one way or the other the claims of the U. S. & it was best to insert nothing, leaving every thing on that litigated subject in statu quo.

Mr. Madison considered the claim of the U. S. as in fact favored by the jurisdiction of the Judicial power of the U-- S-- over controversies to which they should be parties. He thought it best on the whole to be silent on the subject. He did not view the proviso of Mr. Carrol as dangerous; but to make it neutral and fair, it ought to go farther & declare that the claims of particular States also should not be affected.

Mr. Sherman thought the proviso harmless, especially with the addition suggested by Mr. Madison in favor of the claims of particular States.

Mr. Baldwin did not wish any undue advantage to be given to Georgia. He thought the proviso proper with the addition proposed. It should be remembered that if Georgia has gained much by the Cession in the Treaty of peace, she was in danger during the war, of a Uti possidetis.

Mr. Rutlidge thought it wrong to insert a proviso where there was nothing which it could restrain, or on which it could operate.

Mr. Carrol withdrew his motion and moved the following,

"Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to alter the claims of the U. S. or of the individual States to the Western territory, but all such claims shall be examined into & decided upon, by the Supreme Court of the U. States."

Mr Govr Morris moved to postpone this in order to take up the following. "The Legislature shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the U. States; and nothing in this constitution contained, shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims either of the U-- S-- or of any particular State,"--The postponemt. agd. to nem. con.

Mr. L. Martin moved to amend the proposition of Mr Govr Morris by adding--"But all such claims may be examined into & decided upon by the supreme Court of the U-- States".

Mr. Govr. Morris. this is unnecessary, as all suits to which the U. S-- are parties-- are already to be decided by the Supreme Court.

Mr. L. Martin, it is proper in order to remove all doubts on this point.

Question on Mr. L-- Martin's amendatory motion

N-- H-- no. Mas-- no. Ct. no. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. no--States not farther called the negatives being sufficient & the point given up.

The Motion of Mr. Govr. Morris was then agreed to, Md. alone dissenting.

[2:578, 602; Committee of Style]

The Legislature shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States: and nothing in this Constitution contained shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims either of the United States or of any particular State.

. . . . .

The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States: and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular state.


The Founders' Constitution
Volume 4, Article 4, Section 3, Clause 2, Document 1
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a4_3_2s1.html
The University of Chicago Press

Farrand, Max, ed. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Rev. ed. 4 vols. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1937.

Easy to print version.


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