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Activity 9.1

Lesson Summary:  In this activity, you will demonstrate your understanding of the Northwest Ordinance by creating a persuasive poster.

    Activity Materials
    Activity 9.1 Materials
    Student Readings
    Student Reading 9.1: Reader's Theater: Northwest Territory

    Name _____________________________________

    Date __________________________________

    Student Reading 9.1:  Reader's Theater: Northwest Territory

    Cast of Characters:

    Narrator #1 Committee Member #4 Mother Johnson
    Committee Member #1 Thomas Jefferson Narrator #3
    Committee Member #2 Narrator #2 Rufus King
    Committee Member #3  Father Johnson Narrator #4
    Nathan Dane Matthew Johnson Narrator #5

    Scene 1: Meeting House in New York

    Narrator #1: Members of the Confederation Congress meet to discuss a problem that has sprung up as a result of the recent Revolutionary War victory.

    Committee Member #1: As much as I love our freedom, I’m afraid this war has cost our new nation dearly.

    Committee Member #2: We need to find a way to repay our debts. But how?

    Committee Member #3: How can our newly formed nation afford what we owe?

    Nathan Dane:  I believe I have an idea. Remember that our country has much land left to explore. Now is the time to do so!  Let’s see if we can encourage people to travel west and build new homes there. If we offer them land at a fair price, we will be able to pay back our debts. 

    Committee Member #4: I think you are on to something. That may be just the thing we need to help our country. But how do we make sure the people that buy land in this new territory live by the laws of our newly formed country?

    Thomas Jefferson: Gentlemen, give me some time to work on a plan. Can we meet back here shortly?

    Narrator #1: The members of the Continental Congress agree to give Thomas Jefferson the time he needs to work. They agree to meet again soon.

    Scene 2:  The Johnson Family house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Narrator #2: This act takes place as the members of the Johnson family sit down to eat supper.

    Father Johnson: You won’t believe what happened to me today!

    Matthew Johnson:  What happened, Pa? Tell us!

    Father Johnson:  I was stopped by the General store to pick up a few things for your mama here, and I couldn’t find a place to tie up Old Bess! There were probably 15 other horses waiting outside. I had to go halfway down the street just to find an empty spot!

    Mother Johnson: I noticed just the other day how crowded it was in church. Standing room only! Where are all of these people coming from?

    Father Johnson: Well, since the war ended, more people are moving to the colonies. There’s just not enough room for all of us anymore.  I’m starting to feel really crowded, Mary.

    Mother Johnson: Well, there’s not much we can do about that. The land outside of these new states is so wild and unknown. Certainly not suitable for civilized people like us!

    Matthew Johnson: Our teacher says that the land west of the mountains is full of Indians and wild animals!

    Mother Johnson: Well, I’m sure she is right. Now let’s finish eating before our dinner gets cold!

    Narrator #2: The family goes back to eating their food, but Father Johnson still looks bothered by the large amounts of people that have moved into the area. He has always dreamed of having his own farm and property one day. He still hasn’t gotten used to all of the people that have moved to Philadelphia since the war.

    Scene 3:  Back at the Meeting House in New York

    Narrator #3: The members of the Continental Congress take their seats as Thomas Jefferson rises to address the crowd.

    Thomas Jefferson: Gentlemen, I would like to present some ideas for expanding our land further west. I believe we will be successful in paying back our debts if we allow people to buy and settle in land west of the mountains. However, we need to agree upon the conditions of this proposition.

    Rufus King: After careful deliberation, we have decided upon the following main conditions. First, we feel that the land should be divided into separate states. Next, these states should be admitted into the United States once they reach a certain population close to that of the original states. Last, the land needs to be sold for a fair amount and the money used to pay the debts of the United States.

    Committee Member #1: That sounds like an excellent plan. Should we take a vote?

    Nathan Dane: Not so fast. I believe we are missing an important piece. I feel that slavery should be banned. Everyone living in this new land should experience the freedom upon which our country fought for and won!

    Narrator #3: Some discussion follows, but most of the members agree to these conditions. The Northwest Ordinance is signed and passed on July 13, 1787. The committee decides next how to best spread the word. They know they need to make people interested and excited about the new opportunity.

    Thomas Jefferson: Gentlemen, I present to you, the Northwest Ordinance. May it be the start of grand things to come for our country.

    All committee Members: Hear, hear!

    Scene 4:  Back at the Johnson Family home in Philadelphia

    Narrator #4: Matthew Johnson runs into the house, excitedly waving a paper in his hand and calling for his parents.

    Matthew: Pa, Ma! Look at what I got on my way home from school! Men with white hair were passing these out all over town! They said it came from the congress in New York.  It must be very important!

    Father Johnson: Well, let me take a look here. (He takes the paper and begins to read):  The Northwest Ordinance is here! The government is offering great amounts of land for sale in the territory west of our 13 states. Don’t miss out on this grand opportunity! Hurry and come west!

    Matthew: Oh Pa… sounds exciting! Can we go? Can we, can we please?

    Father Johnson: Well, I must admit it sounds very tempting. I am tired of feeling so crowded here. I feel that I could make a better living for us if I had more farmland to grow crops and raise animals. I will need to talk with your mother about it. It does say here, dear, that a public education will be available to settlers!

    Mother Johnson: That is definitely a good thing. I still worry about the dangers out there, though. What if we run into American Indians, or wild animals, or worse?

    Father Johnson: We will not make any decision tonight. This is something we will decide as a family.

    Narrator #4: The Johnsons are quiet as they sit by the fire and Father reads the details of the ordinance. They talk about it long into the night.

    Scene 5:  A few weeks later along a river port in Pennsylvania

    Narrator #5:  After much discussion, the Johnson family has decided to take part in this great opportunity. They are getting ready to board a flatboat in the river.

    Father Johnson: Mary, I know you still have some concerns about leaving our home behind, but try to remember all of the exciting adventures that still lie ahead of us! These new lands are waiting for people like us to come and make new lives here!

    Mother Johnson: You are right, John. I am ready to go now. I’m looking forward to everything we will see on our journey down the river into this new territory. We have packed well and our boat is a solid one. Here’s to a new adventure!

    Matthew: Northwest Territory, here we come!

    The End!


    The interactive assessment is not available in the sample chapter.


     Reading Comprehension Questions

    1. Name one reason Congress had to encourage people to move and settle in the Northwest Territory.
    2. Which of the following items was called for by the Northwest Ordinance?
      1. Free land
      2. No slavery
      3. Land would always remain a territory
      4. Population would remain under 50,000
    3. Name at least two dangers or concerns settlers faced when moving to the Northwest Territory.

     View/Download Reading (PDF)

    Northwest Ordinance

    View/Download Video Questions (PDF)

     View/Download Video Questions (Google Doc)



    The interactive assessment is not available in the sample chapter.

     Video Questions:

    1. True or False           The Northwest Ordinance was created to make sure land added to the United States could become part of the United States.
    2. True or False           In order to become a state of the United States, territories had to follow the steps written in the United States Constitution.
    3. The Northwest Ordinance was written in the year _______.
    Primary Sources and Maps
    Northwest Ordinance

    This document served as an ordinance for the territory to the northwest of the Ohio River.

    The interactive assessment is not available in the sample chapter.

     Reading Comprehension Questions

    1. What does ordinance mean?
    2. Why was the Northwest Ordinance created?
    3. Name one thing the Northwest Ordinance did for the Northwest Territory.

    Additional Downloads:

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