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Chapter 5
Pages 34 ~ 36

From the book
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge and Others
Published Winona, MN by H. C. Cooper, Jr., & Co., 1920
Republished Currently by Higginson Books

Jurisdiction over Wabasha county has been claimed by four nations: Spain, France, England and the United States; by the French and English colonial authorities; by Louisiana District; by the executive power of the territory of Indiana; by the territories of Louisiana, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota, and by the State of Minnesota.

Wabasha County was one of the original counties of the territory, and with the possible exception of small portions from 1853 to 1854, the land in the present county has remained included in a county of the same name.

Spain, by virtue of the discoveries of Columbus and others, confirmed to her by the Papal grant of Alexander VI, May 4, 1493, may be said to have been the first European owner of the entire valley of the Mississippi River, but she never used this claim as a ground for taking actual possession of this part of her domains other than was incidentally involved in De Sota's [sic] doings. The name of Florida was first applied to the greater part of the eastern half of North America, commencing at the Gulf of Mexico, and proceeding northward indefinitely.

England, basing her claims on the exploration made by her along the Atlantic coast, issued to various individual s and "companies" charters to vast tracts of land extending from the Atlantic westward.

Practically, however, the upper Mississippi Valley may be considered as having been, in the first place, Canadian soil, for it was Frenchmen form Canada who first visited it and traded with its natives. The names of Canada and New France were used interchangeably to apply to the fast French possessions of the American continent. The name, Louisiana, was invented by La Salle and applied by him to the entire Mississippi Valley. But, generally speaking, the Canada, or New France, of the eighteenth century took in the upper Mississippi Valley, while the name Louisiana was used for the lower valley.

At the close of the great European conflict which found its echo in the so-called French and Indian War in America, the Mississippi became an international boundary. The preliminary treaty of peace signed by representatives of England, Spain and France, at Fontainbleau, Nov. 3, 1762, confirmed by the definite treaty signed at Paris, Feb. 10, 1763, made the Mississippi from its source to about the 31st degree of north latitude the boundary between the English colonists on this continent and French Louisiana. But on the first mentioned date, representatives of Spain and France had signed a secret treaty by which French Louisiana, including New Orleans, was ceded to Spain.

At the close of the Revolutionary War, the territory east of the Mississippi, and north of the 31st parallel, passed under the jurisdiction of the United States. By the definite treaty of peace between the United States and Great Britain, ratified at Paris, Sept. 3, 1783, a part of the northern boundary of the United States, and the western boundary thereof, was established as follow: "Commencing at the most northwestern point of the Lake of the Woods, and from thence on a due course west to the Mississippi River (the Mississippi at that time was thought to extend into what is now Canada), thence by a line to be drawn along the middle of the Mississippi River until it shall intersect the northernmost part of the 31st degree of north latitude." (U. S. Statutes at Large, Vol. 8, page 82).

By the secret treaty of Saint Ildefonso, signed Oct. 1, 1800, Spain receded the indefinite tract west of the Mississippi to France, which nation did not, however, take formal possession until three years later, when a formal transfer was made from Spain to France, in order that France might formally transfer the tract to the United States under the Treaty of April 30, 1803.

By an Act of Congress, approved Oct. 31, 1803, the President of the United States was authorized to take possession of this territory, the fact providing the "all military, civil and judicial powers exercised by the officers of the existing government shall be vested in such person and persons, and shall be exercised in such manner as the President of the United States shall direct." (United States Statutes at Large, Vo. 2, page 245.)

December 20, 1893, Louisiana was formally turned over to the United States by M. Laussat, the civil agent of France, who a few years previous, November 30, had received a formal transfer from representatives of Spain. The region comprehended in the "Louisiana Purchase" as the land thus transferred to the United States was called, included all the country west of the Mississippi, except those portions west of the Rock y Mountains actually occupied by Spain, and extended as far north as the British territory. The Louisiana Purchase, therefore, embraced Wabasha county.

By an Act of Congress, approved March 26, 1804, all that portion of the country ceded by France to the United States under the name of Louisiana, lying south of the 33rd degree of north latitude, was organized as the territory of New Orleans, and all the residue thereof was organized as the District of Louisiana. The District of Louisiana was therefore the first territorial affiliation of Wabasha county. The act creating the District provided that the executive power then vested in the government of Indiana should extend to the new District. Wabasha county, therefore, had it at that time been transferred from the Indians to the whites, would have fallen under the executive power of Indiana Territory as a part of Louisiana District.

Indiana had been created a territory from the Northwest Territory, May 7, 1800, and was admitted as a State Dec. 11, 1816. In the meantime, however, March 3, 1805, Louisiana had been organized as a Territory, with full territorial powers. The name, Louisiana, however, on April 30, 1812, was taken by the Territory hitherto known as Orleans, and Louisiana, with its present boundaries, became on that date a State in the Union.

For two years thereafter there were in existence both a State and a Territory of Louisiana. But by an Act of Congress, approved June 4, 1814, that part of the Louisiana Purchase north of the State of Louisiana was given the name of Missouri with full territorial powers. The struggles in Congress which led to the Missouri Compromise; the agreement that all the area west of the Missouri and north of the parallel 36'36' should forever be free from slavery, and the final admission of Missouri as a State with her present boundaries Aug. 10, 1821, are a vital part of the history of our Nation. This admission of Missouri as a State left the land to the northward, including Wabasha county, without a fountainhead of territorial government from that date until June 28, 1834, when it was attached to the Territory of Michigan, which had been created Jan. 11, 1805. The present Wabasha county was therefore placed under the jurisdiction of Michigan Territory. Michigan was admitted as a State, Jan. 26, 1837, the act having been passed by Congress April 20, 1836.

When Wisconsin Territory was organized by a n Act of congress, April 20, 1836, all of the Louisiana Purchase north of the State of Missouri was placed under its jurisdiction. This included what is now Wabasha county. Wisconsin became a State May 29, 1848.

The Act creating the Territory of Iowa, June 12, 1838, divided the Territory of Wisconsin along the Mississippi River, and gave the name of Iowa to the western part. Iowa remained a Territory from 1838 to 1846. The greater part of southern and southeastern Minnesota was within the jurisdiction of Clayton county. Henry H. Sibley was a justice of the peace in that county. The county seat was 250 miles distant from his home in Mendota at the mouth of the Minnesota River, and his jurisdiction extended over a region of country which, as he expressed it, was "as large as the empire of France."

Iowa was admitted as a state December 28, 1849, and admitted as a state May 11, 1858.

Minnesota was created as a territory March 3, 1849, and admitted as a state May 11, 1858.

It will therefore be seen that the territorial claim of title to Wabasha county was first embraced in the papal grant to Spain, May 4, 1493. It was then included in the indefinite claims made by Spain to lands north and northwest of her settlements in Mexico, Florida ad the West Indies; by the English to lands west of their Atlantic coast settlements, and by the French to lands south, west and southwest of their Canadian settlements. The first definite claim to territory now embracing Wabasha county was made by La Salle at the mouth of the Mississippi, March 8, 1682, in the name of the King of France, and the second (still more definite) by Perrot, near the foot of Lake Pepin, May 8, 1689. This was also a French claim. France remained in tacit authority until February 10, 1763, when, upon England's acknowledging the French authority to lands west of the Mississippi, France, by a previous secret agreement, turned her authority over to Spain. Oct. 1, 1800, Spain ceded the tract to France, but France did not take formal possession until Nov. 30, 1803, and almost immediately, Dec. 20, 1803, turned it over to the United States, the Americans having purchased it from Napoleon, April 30 of that year.

March 26, 1804, the area that is now Wabasha county was included in Louisiana District, under the executive power of the officials of Indiana Territory, and so remained until March 3, 1805. From March 3, 1805, until June 4, 1814, it was a part of Louisiana Territory. From June 4, 1814, to August 10, 1821, it was a part of Missouri Territory. From August 10, 1821, until June 28, 1834, it was outside the pale of all organized government, except that Congress had general jurisdiction. From June 28, 1834, to April 20, 1836, it was a part of Michigan Territory. From April 20, 1836, to December 28, 1846, it was a part of the Territory of Iowa, and was included in the boundaries at first proposed for the state of Iowa. From Dec. 28, 1846, to March 3, 1849, it was again without territorial affiliation. From March 3, 1849, to May 11, 1858, it was a part of Minnesota Territory and on the latter date became an integral part of the Sovereign State.

End of Chapter