The English cliam to this continent, like that of all the European governments which made claim thereto, was based on discovery. In 1496 King Henry VII granted a commission to John Cabot to discover countries then unknown to Christian people, and to take possession of them in the name of the King of England. Under this commission Cabot and his son Sebastian the following year discovered the continent of North America, and setting up the English standard, took possession of the same in the name of the King of England soume fourteen months prior to the discovery of the main land of America by Columbus. In 1498, John Cabot having in the meantime died, Sebastian made another voyage and explored the coast as far south as Virginia. From these discoveries England dates her claim to this continent.
In 1606 James I granted a charter to Sir Thomas Gates and others, authorizing them to colonize the New World. Under this charter two companies werer formed. One, called the London Company, was to send out the "First Colony of Virginia," who were to settle between the 34th and 38th degrees of north latitude, and whose possessions were to extend inland without bound; under this grant the first permanent English settlement in America was made, at Jamestown, in 1607. The other company under this charter, called the Western Company, was to send out the "Second Colony of Virginia," who were to settle between the 41st and 45th degrees of north latitude. This county is embraced within the first of these grants.
On May 23, 1608, the London Company was granted a new charter by King James under letters patent running to Robert, Earl of Salisbury, and others, constituting them a body corporate under the style of "The Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and Planters of the City of London for the First Colony of Virginia." By this patent the company was granted "All the lands, countries and territories situate, lying and being in that part of North America called Virginia, from the point of land called Cape or Point Comfort all along the seacoast to the northward two hundred miles; and from said Cape or Point Comfort all along the seacoast to the southward two hundred miles, and all that space and circuit of land lying from the seacoast of the precinct aforesaid up into the land throughout from the sea, west and northwest; and also all the islands lying within one hundred miles along the coast of both seas of the precinct aforesaid, with all the soil, grounds, rights, privileges and appurtenances to these territories belonging, and in the letters patent particularly enumerated."
In March, 1612, a third charter was granted this London company, but without changing the boundaries of its grant from what they were under its prior charter.
By the terms of the first charter of which I have spoken, the superior council of the company were appointed by the king; and under the king's advice and direction this company was to ordain and remove the resident council. The king retained the supreme legislative authority in himself. Emigrants were promised that they and their children should continue Englishmen. The state religion of England was established here, and capital punishment was prescribed for several offenses. Lands were to descend according to the laws of England.
By the second charter the powers reserved to the king in the first were given to the company. The council were to be elected by the shareholders, and they might endow emigrants with the rights of Englishmen. Colonists were given a few acres of ground, and the right of private property was firmly established. By the third charter, power was transferred from the council to the company, through which the colonists might be granted all the rights belonging to the people of England. Under this charter the first American representative legislature assembled at Jamestown on July 30, 1619. In 1624, in an action of quo warranto, this corporation was dissolved by judgment of the court of King's Bench, and its rights reverted to the crown of England.
By the treaty of Paris, signed on February 10, 1763, entered into between Great Britain, Spain and France, the latter released to the former all claim to the territory east of the Mississippi except New Orleans, while all the territory west of that river was ceded to France. From this time we ceased to be a dependency of the English and became attached to the French crown.
In 1762, by the secret treaty of Fontainbleau, France ceded upper Louisiana, embracing the territory we now occupy, to Spain, though the latter did not take possession of the same till 1770.
On October 1, 1800, by the treaty of St. Ildefonso, Spain retroceded Louisiana to France. Those who lived here from 1770 to 1800 were therefore under Spanish rule, and all changes of title during that time must have been by Spanish laws.
On April 30, 1803, the treaty of Paris was concluded by the provisions of which the French Republic sold the entire province of Louisiana to the United States, since which time we have been a part of her territory and subject to her laws.
On October 1, 1803, the law was approved authorizing the President to take possession of the French (Louisiana) purchase, and to provide for its government until a government should be provided by Congress.
On March 26, 1804, the President approved the act dividing the French purchase into two districts, viz.: the Territory of Orleans, to embrace all the purchase lying south of the 33d degree of latitude, for which a territorial government was provided; and all the purchase lying north of that line was designated the District of Louisiana, the government of which was placed under the governor and judges of the Indiana Territory, and these officers were authorized to exercise legislative as well as executive and judicial functions over the district.
In pursuance of the authority conferred by this act of Congress, the governor and judges of the Indiana Territory ordained and promulgated a body of laws, most of which went into operation October 1, 1804. Various crimes were defined and punishments therefor provided; courts were established; slavery was recognized throughout the territory, and minute regulations were prescribed for the conduct and government of negroes; provision was made for recording legal instruments, for licensing attorneys, for practice in court, and for marriage.
By act of Congress of March 3, 1805, the District of Louisiana was changed to the Territory of Louisiana, and a territorial government provided, consisting of a governor and three judges, who were also to exercise legislative functions.
By act of Congress approved June 4, 1812, and which went into operation on the first Monday of December, 1812, the name of the Territory was changed from Louisiana to Missouri, and a legislative assembly was added to the executive and judicial departments of government.
By a law of the General Assembly of the Territory of Missouri, approved January 19, 1816, the common law of England, so far as not inconsistent with the laws of the United States, was declared to be in force, but the doctrine of survivorship in case of joint tenancy, it was expressly declared, should never be in force.
On March 6, 1820, the famous compromise measure of Henry Clay became a law by the approval of the President, whereby that portion of the Territory of Missouri embraced within the bounds of the present State of Missouri was authorized to form a constitution and be admitted into the Union as a State, and from all the remainder of said Territory, lying north of 36 degrees 30 minutes, slavery and involuntary servitude were forever excluded. In pursuance of this authority a constitution was adopted and Missouri was fully admitted into the Union by proclamation of the President, dated August 10, 1821.
In 1850 the slavery agitation was reopened in Congress, and several acts passed as another compromise, among them the establishment of territorial government for New Mexico and Utah, with provisions in each for their admission "into the Union with or without slavery, as their constitutions may prescribe at the time of their admission;" and an act making more stringent provisions for the apprehension and return of fugitive slaves.
By "An act to regulate trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes, and to preserve peace on the frontiers," approved June 30, 1834, Congress declared all the territory west of Missouri and Arkansas "Indian Country," and attached, among others, the Osage country to the Territory of Arkansas, and declared the laws of the United States providing for the punishment of crimes committed in territory under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States to be in force in such Indian Country. This arrangement continued to the formation of the territorial government.
Transcribed from History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901
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