The Northwest Ordinance

By 13 July 1787, when the Northwest Ordinance was passed, thirteen colonies originally established by Great Britain in North America had united and won independence. [1]  A governing body formally known as the United States in Congress Assembled had signed the 1783 Treaty of Paris with Great Britain. Under the terms of this treaty, Great Britain ceded to the United States the area north of the Ohio River and south of the British Canadian border, extending west from Pennsylvania to the Mississippi. The Northwest Ordinance provided for governance of this territory and established a process by which states could be formed from it. After the Constitution of the United States took effect, the Congress of the United States ratified the 1787 act, with a few small changes, in the Northwest Ordinance of 1789.

The Northwest Ordinance prescribed that at least three and no more than five states would be created from the territory, and that a state would be eligible to receive full recognition and representation once its population reached 60,000. The first state to be thus created was Ohio, which was admitted to the Union on February 19, 1803. The first state legislature convened on March 1, 1803, and this date is now celebrated as the anniversary of the state’s creation.

As I’ll explain in subsequent postings, the Northwest Ordinance played an important role in shaping Ohio, and its effects are still evident today.


[1] The thirteen colonies were Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia

The Northwest Ordinance was preceded by the Land Ordinance of 1784 and the Land Ordinance of 1785.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.