Report of Board of Treasury on Western Land Sales, 1787


[LC: CC Papers: no. 139, fol. 467:DS]

[April 4,1787]

The Board of Treasury63 to whom it was referred to Report a Plan for Selling for Public Securities, the Townships Surveyed in the Western Territory.—

Beg leave to Observe,

That agreeably to the Ordinance of the 20th May 1785,64 no Distribution or Sale of Lands can be made until seven Ranges shall have been completely Surveyed, and a Return made of the Surveys.

That the Geographer of the United States has lodged with the Boardn of Treasury, Surveys and Plats of Four Ranges of Townships, and fractional parts of Townships.65

That the Surveys of the said four Ranges, do not extend half thro' the same from South to North.

That the Townships, and fractional parts of Townships already Surveyed, are twenty six, amounting by a Calculation of the Geographer to 675,000 Acres.—

That one seventh part is allotted to the late Army, which is 96,428 Acres, leaving 578,572 Acres to be disposed of by the United States.—

That by the Ordinance aforesaid, the Board of Treasury are to have the original Surveys and Plats entered in a Book to be kept for that purpose, and also to send Copies of the same to the several Loan Officers;which with that to be entered in the Book to be kept by the Board, will make fourteen Copies of the same Surveys and Plats, which will create more expence and delay than is probably expedient in the present state of the Public Affairs.

That considering the Surveyors have already been employed two Years, it is not probable that in the course of another, they will have completely Surveyed the first seven Ranges.

From the foregoing considerations it has become expedient, in the Opinion of the Board, so far to alter the Ordinance, (as to the Lands already Surveyed) as it respects to their distribution to the several States;the Sale of the same by the Commissioners of the Loan Offices, and the Inhibition of any Sale 'till seven Ranges are compleatly Surveyed.

For this purpose they submit to the consideration of Congress, the following Resolves—

That after the Secretary at War shall have drawn for the proportionate quantity of the Lands already Surveyed, which were assigned to the late Army, agreeably to the Ordinance of the 20th May 1785, the remainder shall be Advertised for Sale in one of the News Papers at least, of each of the States, for the space of four Months from the date of the Advertisement, at the expiration of which time, the Sale of the Land shall commence in the place where Congress shall sit, and continue from day to day until the same shall be disposed of;provided that none of the Land shall be Sold at a less price than One Dollar per Acre, and that the Sale shall be made agreeably to the mode pointed out by the Ordinance aforesaid.

That one third of the Purchase Money shall be immediately paid in any of the Public Securities of the United States to the Treasurer of the said States;and that the remaining two thirds shall be paid in like manner in three Months after the date of the Sale, on which payment (a Certificate thereof being previously furnished by the Treasurer to the Board of Treasury) Titles to the Lands shall be given to the Purchasers by the Board of Treasury, agreeably to the Terms prescribed by the said Ordinance;Provided, that if the second payments shall not be made in three Months as aforesaid, the first payment shall be forfeited, and the Land shall again be exposed to Sale.

Ordered, That the Board of Treasury take the necessary Measures for carrying the aforesaid Resolutions into effect, and also for exhibiting the Surveys of the Lands.

All which is humbly Submitted

Samuel Osgood66
Walter Livingston67


63The second Board of Treasury, consisting of Samuel Osgood, Walter Livingston, and Arthur Lee, was created in 1784 after Robert Morris's resignation as Superintendent of Finance. All powers held by Morris during the Revolution were jointly conferred on the board, whose Secretary was William Duer.
64Ante, p. 12.
65These original plats are now in the U. S. General Land Office.
66Delegate in Congress from Massachusetts, 1780-1784;first Commissioner of the Treasury, 1785-1789 (Biog. Cong. Direct., 1913, p. 900).
67Delegate in Congress from New York, ibid., p. 813.

See Also:Carey, Mathew. Plat of The Seven Ranges Of Townships being Part of the Territory of the United States N.W. of the River Ohio... Philadelphia: M. Carey and Son, 1818

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