The Northwest Ordinance, 1787

Before the ink had dried on the U.S. Constitution, representatives of the thirteen colonies tried to figure out how new states might be added to their union. The result of their deliberations was the Ordinance of 1787, or the Northwest Ordinance, adopted July 13, 1787, by the Second Continental Congress.

The Northwest Ordinance specified four principal things. First, it authorized a provisional government for the vast territory northwest of the Ohio River that the United States had obtained at the end of the Revolutionary War. Second, it provided a method for making new governments out of that territory (the rules under... more...

Original Documents and Other Primary Sources

Link to article: The surveyor that laid out Madison recalls his days in the field in 1837.The surveyor that laid out Madison recalls his days in the field in 1837.
Link to article: A Wisconsin surveyor describes running lines in the 1830's.A Wisconsin surveyor describes running lines in the 1830's.
Link to manuscript: How the Ordinance of 1787 was drafted, by one of its authors.How the Ordinance of 1787 was drafted, by one of its authors.
Link to map: The English map America just before the Revolution (1776).The English map America just before the Revolution (1776).
Link to map: States and territories created under the Northwest Ordinance.States and territories created under the Northwest Ordinance.
Link to map: The rectangular survey gets underway in Wisconsin, 1835.The rectangular survey gets underway in Wisconsin, 1835.
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