Petition to Congress by Democratic Republicans of Wayne County
Settlements in distant portions of Indiana Territory suffered serious inconvenience and, on occasion, pecuniary loss because of difficulties of travel and communication. As indicated in Harrison's Proclamation of December 5, 1804, residents of Wayne County (Michigan) had been unable to participate in the voting on advancing to the second grade "in Consequence of the proclamation not arriving in time." The following petition from Wayne County shows their strong desire for a separate territorial government: (17)
[Referred December 6, 1804]
The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress Assembled
The Democratic Republicans of the County of Wayne in the Territory of Indiana, come collectively forward for the first time, in order to state to Congress, the situation and the wishes of these frontier Settlements.-
We ask of Congress a Division of the Indiana territory,--and a separate local government for those Settlements, which at this time compose the County of Wayne; whose southern boundary shall be, a line drawn from the southern extremity of Lake Michigan in such a southeasterly direction, until it meets the western boundary of the State of Ohio, or Lake Erie, as to include within said local government, the small settlements at the old forts Defiance, and Miamis, and also all the settlements on, and adjacent to River Raisin.
Not, that we would be obstinately troublesome, in the repetition of requests, which have been once denied us--but subjected as we have been, to a variety of embarrassments arising naturally out of our present organization, we are induced to believe, that Congress will, without reluctance, give their attention to the reconsideration of our claims, founded, as we conceive in justice and in policy.-
Suffer us to entreat you, to have justice promptly and impartially administered: compel us not to wander seven hundred miles, thro' inhospitable deserts, for the redress of wrongs, which the uncertainty of punishment, and the hopes of impunity, have, perhaps in many instances caused us to suffer.-
Persons capitally punishable, are seldom prosecuted to convictions. They remain in confinement for the want of competent authority to try them, until they are forgotten, when, with the assistance of their associates in guilt, they break their bonds, and deride, from the opposite bank, the impotence of our Magistrates.-
In civil matters too, the delay and the expense are equally fatal.- During the last eight years, we have had but two Circuit Courts.- The Creditor is deterred from an appeal to the laws, under the painful assurance, that altho' justice is not sold, it costs more than, some among us are, able to pay.-
These evils permit us to observe, will now be felt with accumulated weight, since the attention of our Governor and Judges, must now be shared with us by a large tract of additional Territory, annexed during your last session to the Indiana.
You know precisely our situation, our Wants, & our necessities. It will be unnecessary for us to repeat, with minutes, the arguments which were formerly detailed, in support of the justice, and the reasonableness of our pretensions.-
Our intercourse with Vincennes, always dilatory, circuitous and difficult, is now almost at an end, by a change in our Postrout to Warren in the State of Ohio. The people of Vincennes and of Detroit, governors and governed, as well as corresponding traders, can no longer rely on the mail conveyance, which must of necessity be substituted by expresses or by casual opportunities.
But at the same time that we remark this superadded difficulty in our correspondence with Vincennes, we must be permitted to express our obligations for a more ready ready [sic] and expeditious intercourse with the seat of the general government which this change will probably afford us.-......................................................................................................................
We patiently submit ourselves to your decision, whatever it may be, and desire you to be persuaded of our unlimited confidence.
Attest Go Hoffman Secretary
(17) Carter (ed.), Territorial Papers, VII, 240-42; Barnhart and Carmony, Indiana, I, 110-11