“A VALUABLE BUFFER ZONE AGAINST THE COLONIES OF THE EUROPEAN POWERS IN NORTH AMERICA”: RARE FIRST OFFICIAL PRINTING OF THE LAND-GRANT ACT GOVERNING THE TERRITORY NORTH-WEST OF THE OHIO, APPROVED BY WASHINGTON ON MARCH 3, 1791
UNITED STATES CONGRESS. Act for Granting Lands to the Inhabitants and Settlers at Vincennes and the Illinois County, in the Territory north-west of the Ohio, and for confirming them in their Possessions… Approved, March the third, 1791. [Philadelphia: Printed by Francis Childs and John Swaine, 1791]. Folio, original sheet measures 8 by 11 inches, printing on recto and verso; pp.2. $2500.
First official printing of a key early land-grant Act, a rare folio printing of one of the very first laws to reach into new western territories, passed by the First Congress under the supervision of Secretary of State Jefferson and approved into law by Washington on March 3, 1791.
This is a rare printing of the 1791 Land Grant Act—among the very first to concern territory so far to the west. Passed by America’s First Congress and approved by Washington on March 3, 1791, the law grants land to pioneers in the area northwest of the Ohio River, in what is now Indiana and Illinois. As a key representation of America’s vital interest in the territories, this law reflects the early planning of Secretary of State Jefferson, who saw such land “as a valuable buffer zone against the colonies of the European powers in North America,” and puts into practice his planning for “stages of orderly territorial government” (Randall, 362). In addition the law answers a need to manage “225 million acres of public land [acquired] under the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1783” and land added through states’ cessions of western claims. As such this Act allows Revolutionary War veterans “to locate their bounty land warrants in a military tract located in the center of Ohio territory” (Lamar, 613) and further awards land to those who moved to the Illinois territory in 1783, partly in anticipation of “services soon to be needed in the approaching Indian War” (Esarey, History of Indiana, 136). Disbound from congressional Acts issued at the end of each session by Childs & Swaine, chief printers for Congress “during its ten years in Philadelphia” (Powell, 99). OCLC lists three copies of this Act. Evans 23853.
An about-fine copy of this important document in western history.