Boundaries.When La Salle, on April 9, 1862, laid claim to all the territory drained by the Mississippi river and its tributaries in the name of France, and bestowed upon the region the name of "Louisiana," in honor of Louis XIV, then king of France, he set up the first boundaries ever established by a civilized nation to a territory including the present state of Kansas. At the Louisiana Purchase exposition, held at St. Louis, Mo., in 1904, the United States general land office had on exhibition a map showing the boundaries of the territory claimed by La Salle. The eastern boundary began on the western coast of Florida, at the mouth of the river of Palms, and extended northward by an irregular line along the watershed dividing the streams flowing into the Atlantic from those flowing westward into the Ohio and Mississippi rivers or southward to the Gulf of Mexico; the northern boundary was also an irregular line beginning at a point near the present city of Buffalo, N. Y., and extending in a northwesterly direction to the 49 parallel of north latitude, separating the basin of the great lakes from the Mississippi valley, and thence along the 49th parallel to the crest of the Rock mountains; the western boundary followed in a southeasterly direction the watershed dividing the western tributaries of the Mississippi from the waters of the Pacific slope, to a point on the Gulf of Mexico at about 92° west longitude; the southern boundary followed the gulf coast from this point to the place of beginning.
By the treaties of 1762-63, all that part of Louisiana lying east of the Mississippi passed into the hands of Great Britain, and that portion west of the great river became a Spanish possession. By the secret treaty of St. Ildefonso, which was concluded on Oct. 1, 1800, this province was ceded back to France, which nation, by the treaty of April 30, 1803, transferred it to the United States. Article III of the last named treaty provided that "The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated into the Union of the United States, and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages and immunities of citizens of the United States," etc. In accordance with this provision the Louisiana Purchase has been divided into states by the Federal government.
When Missouri was admitted in 1821, the western boundary of that state was fixed on a "north and south line passing through the mouth of the Kansas river." This boundary was changed by the act of Congress, approved June 7, 1836, adding to Missouri what is known as the "Platte Purchase," embracing all of the land lying between the original boundary and the Missouri river, north of the mouth of the Kansas. This purchase includes the present counties of Platte, Buchanan, Andrew, Holt, Nodaway and Atchison, in the State of Missouri. It was by the act of Congress admitting Missouri and the subsequent act, adding the above named territory to that state, that the eastern boundary of the State of Kansas was established.
Section 19 of the organic act of May 30, 1854, defined the boundaries of the Territory of Kansas as follows: "That all that part of the territory of the United States included within the following limits, except such portions thereof as are hereinafter expressly exempted from the operations of this act, to-wit: beginning at a point on the western boundary of the State of Missouri, where the thirty-seventh parallel of north latitude crosses the same; thence west on said parallel to the eastern boundary of New Mexico; thence north on said boundary to latitude thirty-eight; thence following said boundary westward to the east boundary of the territory of Utah, on the summit of the Rocky mountains; thence northward on said summit to the fortieth parallel of latitude; thence east on said parallel to the western boundary of the State of Missouri; thence south with the western boundary of said state to the place of beginning, be, and the same is hereby created into a temporary government by the name of the Territory of Kansas."
The part expressly exempted was "to include any territories which by treaty with an Indian tribe is not without the consent of said tribe to be included within the territorial limits or jurisdiction of any state or territory."
Next to the eastern boundary, the first line to be established, as provided for in the organic act, was that between Kansas and Nebraska, and in connection with that line there is some interesting history. As early as 1844 the secretary of war recommended the organization of a territory in the Indian country west of the Missouri river. An effort was made in 1848 to establish a territorial government there, but it was not until Oct. 12, 1852, that an election for a delegate to Congress was held at the Wyandotte council house. Abelard Guthrie received all the votes cast, but opposition to the movement developed and a second election was held at Fort Leavenworth. At that election Guthrie defeated a man named Banow by a vote of 54 to 16. On Nov. 20, 1852, Mr. Guthrie left Fort Leavenworth for Washington, and during the ensuing session of Congress he wielded considerable influence in forcing a consideration of the bill providing for the organization of Nebraska Territory. On Oct. 11, 1853, Rev. Thomas Johnson was declared elected delegate, after a bitter campaign between him and Mr. Guthrie. The people farther up the river voted for Hadley D. Johnson, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, but the returns from the district appear to have been ignored. Thomas Johnson went to Washington as soon as Congress met in Dec., 1853, but Hadley D. Johnson did not arrive there until early in Jan., 1854, when the latter began working for the establishment of two territories instead of one, with the result that the "two Johnsons," as they were called, got into a controversy and both were forced to vacate their seats. Both remained in Washington for awhile, however, to watch the trend of events. Hadley D. Johnson, in the Nebraska Historical Report (vol. ii, p. 80), gives the following account of how the 40th parallel came to be selected as the dividing line:
"As to the dividing line between Kansas and Nebraska, a good deal of trouble was encountered; Mr. Johnson and his Missouri friends being very anxious that the Platte river should constitute the line, which obviously would not suit the people of Iowa, especially as I believe it was a plan of the American Company to colonize the Indians north of the Platte river. As this plan did not meet with the approbation of my friends or myself, I firmly resolved that this line should not be adopted. Judge Douglas was kind enough to leave that question to me, and I offered to Mr. Johnson the choice of two linesfirst, the present line, or second, an imaginary line traversing the divide between the Platte and the Kaw. After considerable parleying, and Mr. Johnson not being willing to accept either line, I offered the two alternativesthe 40th degree of north latitude, or the defeat of the whole bill, for that session at least. After consulting with his friends, I presume, Mr. Johnson very reluctantly consented to the 40th degree as the dividing line between the two territories, whereupon Judge Douglas prepared and introduced the substitute in a report as chairman of the committee on territories, and immediately probably the hardest war of words known in American history commenced." (See Kansas-Nebraska Bill.)
On Aug. 26, 1854, the surveyor-general of the territories of Kansas and Nebraska received instructions to make the boundary line between Kansas and Nebraska "the principal base line wherefrom to start the surveys, both on the north in Nebraska, and on the south in Kansas; and that boundary is the parallel of 40° north latitude . . . . Your first operations will be to run and establish the base line, and continue the same for a distance of 108 miles on the parallel of 40° north latitude."
Pursuant to these instructions, John Calhoun, the surveyor-general, on Nov. 2, 1854, entered into a contract with J. P. Johnson, by which the latter was to run and mark the line for the 108 miles for $1,296. Johnson secured the services of Ira H. Smith as assistant, and began work about the middle of November. The 108 miles were run and marked in eighteen days, and on Jan. 12, 1855, the plats were forwarded to the general land office. Subsequently, Joseph Seidley, a surveyor of Springfield, Ill., and a Mr. Manly reviewed and condemned the work of Johnson and Smith. The survey was therefore set aside, the corners were ordered to be erased, and the line resurveyed for a distance of 60 miles, though Johnson received a little over $1,000 for the work he had done. A letter from J. M. Edmunds, commissioner of the general land office, to Gov. Crawford, under date of Aug. 31, 1865, says the 40th parallel was "astronomically established in 1854, by Capt. T. J. Lee, topographical engineer, U. S. A."
Several efforts were made by the people of Nebraska to have the territory lying between the 40th parallel and the Platte river annexed to Kansas, but the inhabitants of the latter state seem to have been generally satisfied with the lines as established by the organic act of 1854. The only instance to the contrary, of which any official record can be found, was on Jan. 25, 1859, when Gov. Medary forwarded to President Buchanan "joint resolutions passed by the legislative assembly of this territory, asking the annexation of that part of Nebraska Territory lying south of the Platte river."
An act of Congress, approved July 8, 1856, directed "the southern boundary line of the Territory of Kansas, from the State of Missouri to the Territory of New Mexico, to be surveyed and distinctly marked," etc. Four companies of the First cavalry and two companies of the Sixth infantry, under command of Lieut.-Col. Joseph E. Johnston, escorted the surveying party that ran the line in the summer and fall of 1857, and on Oct. 22, 1859, John B. Floyd, the secretary of war, transmitted to Lewis Cass, the secretary of state, a plat of the survey "to be forwarded to the Territory of Kansas." By the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the line of demarcation between free and slave territory was fixed at 36° 30', which would seem to have been the logical southern boundary of Kansas. The only reason for moving that boundary a half a degree farther north to the 37th parallel was probably because that was the line dividing the Cherokee lands from those of the Osages. This parallel was astronomically established by J. H. Clark and H. Campbell at the time the survey was made in 1857.
The western boundary, "the summit of the Rocky mountains," was rather vague, as at that time the surveys were so incomplete that the actual location and direction of the "summit" were not definitely determined. Old maps show the west line of Kansas territory as following the continental divide and including about two-thirds of the present State of Colorado, the divide running a short distance west of Leadville. But a new western boundary was established when Kansas was admitted into the Union in 1861. The Wyandotte constitution named the 25th meridian west of Washington as the western line of the proposed state, and this boundary was accepted by Congress, the act of Jan. 29, 1861, giving the boundaries as follows:
"Beginning at a point on the western boundary of Missouri, where the thirty-seventh parallel of north latitude crosses the same; thence west on said parallel to the twenty-fifth meridian of longitude west from Washington; thence north on said meridian to the fortieth parallel of latitude; thence east on said parallel to the western boundary of the State of Missouri; thence with the western boundary of said state to the place of beginning."
As a matter of fact, the western line of the state is three miles west of the meridian designated by the constitution and the act of admission. This is due to the fact that after the adoption of the constitution and the passage of the act, the surveyors in running the eastern line of an Indian reservation in what is now the State of Colorado made an error of three miles, so that the western boundary is really that much farther west than was originally intended, or 102° 2' west from Greenwich.
The eastern boundary has been a subject for discussion ever since Kansas became a state. Several times the claim has been advanced that changes in the location of the mouth of the Kansas river have occurred since the western boundary of Missouri was established as a north and south line passing through the mouth of that stream, and that these changes have moved the mouth of the river some six miles farther east. The line was established by Joseph C. Brown in 1823, and the official plats of the public land surveys, both in Missouri and Kansas, show the line as then marked. In the Kansas City Journal of March 6, 1899, appeared an article relating to this line, from the pen of W. P. Connelley, in which the writer says:
"I notice that the old controversy concerning the state line between the states of Kansas and Missouri has been out afresh this winter. The Kansas legislature has been asked to appropriate the sum of $5,000 to pay the expenses of a suit to settle the matter in the courts. Perhaps it would be as well that this be done. The result will settle nothing not already known to any and every person having investigated the matter. In 1884 this matter was all threshed over. At that time many Kansans would consent to no less than six miles of Missouri territory. As investigation proceeded the claim narrowed until the foot of Broadway, in Kansas City, Mo., was fixed as the point beyond which no Kansan could honorably retreat. I was county clerk of Wyandotte county, Kan., at that time, and an ardent supporter of the Kansas claimuntil I made an investigation of the matter. In that year I made an accurate and correct map and plat of every tract of land in Wyandotte county, and also prepared an accurate description of each tract, for the tax rolls of the county. It was necessary that I should locate definitely the state line . . . . The claim that the state line has been changed since 1823, or that it was then erroneously located, is a preposterous absurdity."
But aside from the claim of error in the state line, caused by the shifting of the mouth of the Kansas river, the boundary formed by the Missouri river along the northeastern part of the State of Kansas, has long been a matter of dispute. Gov. Martin, in his message to the legislature of 1885, called attention to the boundary question as follows:
"Our eastern boundary is defined in the organic act, the act of admission, and in our state constitution, as the western boundary of the State of Missouri. The location of that line from the mouth of the Kansas river to the north line of the state, is not definitely understood by our people nor by the inhabitants of Missouri. By the treaties between the United States and the Sacs and Foxes, the act of Congress of June 7, 1836, and the executive proclamation of March 28, 1837, it appears that the 'Platte Purchase' extended only to the Missouri river, and embraced only the territory lying between that river and the original boundary of the State of Missouri. Under the generally accepted rules of construction, our eastern line therefore extends to the left, or eastern bank, of the Missouri river, and at low water that stream lies wholly within this state. On account of the rightful taxation of the several great bridges which span the river, the jurisdiction of the courts, the service of civil and criminal process, on the river and on the bridges spanning it, the sovereignty over islands, and for other reasons that will suggest themselves, it is important that this line be definitely and generally understood, at as early a day as practicable. I recommend the reference of the question to the attorney-general for the suggestion of such action as shall be thought proper."
No action was taken by the legislature upon the governor's recommendation, probably for the reason that the members of the assembly felt the subject to be a rightful one for Congressional consideration. Federal Judge Dillon, in the case of Doniphan county vs. the St. Joseph Bridge company, decided that the boundary was at the middle of the channel of the Missouri river, and this only added to the confusion. On March 1, 1910, Congressman Charles F. Booher of Missouri introduced in the national house of representatives a resolution "to enable the states of Missouri and Kansas to agree upon a boundary line, and to determine the jurisdiction of crimes committed upon the Missouri river and adjacent territory." The resolution was favorably reported by the committee on judiciary on the 29th of the same month, passed the house on April 18, the senate on May 26, and was signed by the president on June 7, thus giving the two states all the authority necessary for the adjustment of this vital question.Pages 212-218 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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