NORTHWEST ORDINANCE OF 1787

Northwest Ordinance of 1787

Four principle provisions of the document:

  1. Admission of new states
  • Defined by other prior acts that the western region of the United States would be admitted as distinct states and newly admitted states would not be allowed to expand.
  • The Northwest Ordinance detailed the process of admitting a territory when population exceeded 60,000 people it could create a constitution and apply for statehood.  This procedure was first applied to Ohio in 1803.
  1. Voting rights and office-holding

Any man who ownind fifty acres of property in the Northwest Territory was entitled to a vote. More property had to be owned in order to qualify for service in government.  These restrictions intended to restrict the influence of popular passions in the new republic.

  1. Slavery forbidden in the Northwest Territory

Slavery and involuntary servitude was forbidden in the Northwest Territory, thereby making the Ohio River a natural dividing line between the free and slave states.

  1. Individual rights preserved
  • Freedom of religion
  • Habeas corpus
  • The right to bail and trial by jury
  • No cruel and unusual punishment
  • Right to enter freely into private contracts
  • Right to compensation for eminent domain
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