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Declaration of Independence U.S. Constitution

B. Northwest Ordinance of 1787
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    The Northwest Ordinance established guidelines for the government of the Northwest Territory, a large area bounded by the Great Lakes, Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, the state of Pennsylvania and Canada. It was one of the most important laws ever adopted, for it became a model for all territories that later entered the Union as states. Pioneers poured into the area, setting themselves up as territories under a governor, secretary and three judges. When the populaton reached 5,000 a bicameral (two house) legislature with a representative in Congress could be established. When the population reached 60,000 the area could apply for statehood. Ohio was the first state created in the Northwest Territory, followed by Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. Basic freedoms, similar to those under our Constitution, were guaranteed the new states. There were two new provisions. One called for publicly supported education and the other prohibited slavery in the Northwest Territory.

The Northwest Territory
Map of the Northwest Territory

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