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Histories:  Trempealeau Co. Historical Accounts:

"History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917":

Chapter 4:


Spain, France, England, United States

-As transcribed from page 36


Jurisdiction over Trempealeau County has been claimed by four nations, Spain, France, England and the United States; by the French and English colonial authorities; by the territorial officials of the Northwest Territory and of the Territories of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin; and by the officers of the counties of Crawford, La Crosse, Chippewa, Jackson and Buffalo.

Spain, by virtue of the discoveries of Columbus and others, confirmed to her by Papal grant (that 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 Soto's 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 explorations made by her subjects along the Atlantic coast, issued to various individuals 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 from Canada, who first visited it and traded with its natives. The names of Canada and New France were used interchangeably, to apply to the vast 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 area that is now Wisconsin, became by the Treaty of Paris, signed February 10, 1763 (a preliminary treaty having been signed at Fontainebleau, November 3, 1762), a part of the British empire.1

The success of the American Revolution, resulting in the Treaty of Paris,2 September 3, 1783, revived the claims of the coast States; but finally these claims were ceded to the Federal government, in order to form a national domain from which to create new States and Territories.3 The land having been acquired by the Federal authority, many plans were proposed for its government. Thomas Jefferson suggested that the territory be divided into ten States, of which the State of Michigania was to include Trempealeau County.


Resources for the above information:

For story of French, Spanish and English domain in this region, see: Moses M. Strong, Civil Government from 1512 to 1831, History of the Territory of Wisconsin (Madison, 1885), 151-165.

1 - For preliminary treaty of Nov. 3, 1162 (printed from Gentleman's Magazine, XXXIII, 411-479), and the Quebec Act (reprinted from British Statutes at Large - London, 1776, XII, 184-187), see: Thwaites, ed., Important Western State Papers, - Wis. Hist. Colls., XI, 36-60.  The Proclamation of King George established four separate governments in the acquired territory, but none included Wisconsin.  The Quebec Act extended the jurisdiction of Quebec to a tract of land embracing Wisconsin. But Virginia, in October, 1778, after the opening of the Revolution, claimed authority over land northwest of the Ohio, by establishing the county of Illinois, embracing a vast tract which included Wisconsin (Strong, History of the Territory of Wisconsin - Madison, 1885, 154-155). Virginia's claim was based on the King's grant in 1609 to the London Company, which concluded with the words "and all that Space and Circuit of Land Lying from the Sea-coast of the Precinct aforesaid up into the land throughout, from Sea to Sea, West and Northwest" - Carrie J. Smith, Making of Wisconsin (Chicago, 1908), 167.

2 - For provisional articles of Nov. 30, 1182 (309-312), definite treaty of Sept. 3, 1183 (314-318), Jay's treaty of Nov. 19, 1794 (318-335), see: Treaties and Conventions Concluded Between the United States of America and other Powers (Wash., 1873).

3 - For acts of relinquishment see: Lyman J. Nash and Arthur F. Belitz, revisors, Wisconsin Annotations (Madison, 1914), 1116-1787. For map of conflicting claims, see: Smith, Making of Wisconsin (Chicago, 1908), 168.



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