|New lands to the west constituted
a serious challenge for the new government. Whites were eager to take possession
of tne land, against the wishes of Native Americans. Following the
procedures outlined in the Ordinance of 1785 (including one that towns
be six miles square, subdivided into thirty-six 640-acre sections, and
that the community reserve the
income from one section for the support of public schooling), the authors of the Northwest Ordinance (probably jurist Nathan Dane of Massachusetts and politician Rufus King of New York) formulated a plan that was subsequently put to good and frequent use as the country expanded to the Pacific.
Three principal provisions were ordained
in the document: (1) a division of the Northwest Territory into "not less
than three nor more than five States"; (2) a three-stage method for admitting
a new state to the Unionówith Congress appointing a governor, secretary,
and three judges in the first phase; election of an assembly and one nonvoting
delegate to Congress in the second phase; and the drafting of a state constitution
and, request for admission to the Union in the third phase, when the population
reached sixty thousand; and (3) a bill of rights protecting religious freedom
and other individual rights. In addition, the ordinance encouraged education
and forbade slavery. Officially titled "An Ordinance for the
Government of the Territory of the United States North-West of the River
Ohio," the Northwest Ordinance became law on July 13, 1787, in the Second
Continental Congress. The Ordinance provided a method for admitting new
states to the union from the territory and promised settlers of the Northwest
Territory the same individual liberties that had been fought
|AN ORDINANCE FOR THE GOVERNMENT
OF THE TERRITORY OF THE UNITED STATES NORTHWEST OF THE RIVER OHIO.
SECTION 1. Be it ordained by the United States in Congress assembled, That the said territory, for the purposes of temporary government, be one district, subject, however, to be divided into two districts, as future circumstances may, in the opinion of Congress, make it expedient....
SEC. 3. Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That there shall be appointed from time to time by Congress, a governor, whose commission shall continue in force for the term of three years, unless sooner revoked by Congress; he shall reside in the district, and have a freehold estate therein in 1,000 acres of land, while in the exercise of his office....
SEC. 5. The governor and judges,
or a majority of them, shall adopt and publish in the district such
laws of the original States, criminal and civil, as may be nec essary and
best suited to the circumstances of the dis trict, and report them to Congress
from time to time: which laws shall be in force in the district until
the organization of the General Assembly therein, unless disapproved of
by Congress; but afterwards the Legislature shall have authority to alter
them as they
SEC. 6. The governor, for the time being, shall be commander in chief of the militia, appoint and commission all officers in the same below the rank of general officers; all general officers shall be appointed and commissioned by Congress....
SEC. 9. So soon as there shall be
five thousand free male inhabitants of full age in the district, upon giving
proof thereof to the governor, they shall receive authority, with time
and place, to elect a representative from their counties or townships to
represent them in the general assembly: Provided, That, for every five
hundred free male inhabitants, there shall be one representative, and so
on progressively with the number of free male inhabitants shall the
right of representation
SEC. 11. The general assembly
or legislature shall consist of the governor, legisiative council, and
a house of representatives... And the governor, legislative council,
and house of representatives, shall have authority to make laws in all
cases, for the good government of the district, not repugnant to the principles
and articles in this ordinance established and declared. And all bills,
having passed by a majority in the house, and by a majority in the council,
SEC. 14. ART. 1. No person, demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner, shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship or religious sentiments, in the said territory....
ART. 3. Religion, morality, and knowledge,
being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools
and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. The utmost good
faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property
shall never be taken from them without their consent; and, in their property,
rights, and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless in
just and lawful wars authorized by Congress; but laws founded
ART. 5. There shall be formed in
the said territory, not less than three nor more than five States; and
ART. 6. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted: Provided, always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid.
Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That the resolutions of the 23rd of April, 1784, relative to the subject of this ordinance, be, and the same are hereby repealed and declared null and void.
Done by the United States, in Congress assembled, the 13th day of July, in the year of our Lord 1787, and of their sovereignty and independence the twelfth.