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1787 Northwest Ordinance

Increasing numbers of settlers and land speculators, attracted to what are now the states of Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, prompted Congress to pass the Northwest Ordinance. The Northwest Ordinance is also known as the Freedom Ordinance and more formally called An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States, Northwest of the Ohio River. It was enacted in 1787 by the Congress of the Confederation of the United States. This confederation was the governing body in the country before the signing of the Constitution. The primary effect of the Northwest Ordinance was to declare that the land north of the Ohio River and East of the Mississippi would not only be settled but it would become part of the United States through the admission of new states rather than the expansion of existing states. It provided for at least three but no more than five states. The banning of slavery in the territory resulted in establishing the Oho River as the boundary between free and slave territory in the region between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. This was to set the stage for the balancing act between free and slave states that would consume American politics in the 19th century until the Civil War.

Internet: Northwest Ordinance
MJCPL: Lessons on the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 by John Patrick
MJCPL: Statehood and Union by Peter S. Onuf