The Western Question
INDEPENDENT VIRGINIA claimed a sizable portion of the American West -- not only Kentucky but the entire region between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes. The claims were based on the colony's charter of 1609, which extended Virginia's westward limit to the South Sea. Other states with sea-to-sea grants challenged portions of Virginia's territory, however, as did land companies which had made purchases from the Indians. When in 1776 the assembly sought to erect Kentucky into a county, the Indiana Company, together with other speculative interests, objected on the grounds that they had claims in the area as valid as Virginia's. The assembly compromised by dividing westernmost Fincastle County into two districts, one of which was Kentucky. Any more formal arrangements for Kentucky would have to await settlement of the land.
In December 1778 Maryland injected a further complication by refusing to ratify the Articles of Confederation until the larger states ceded to Congress their western lands. Behind this roadblock were Baltimore land speculators who, in league with some Philadel-