- Name one reason Congress had to encourage people to move and settle in the Northwest Territory.
- Which of the following items was called for by the Northwest Ordinance?
- Free land
- No slavery
- Land would always remain a territory
- Population would remain under 50,000
- Name at least two dangers or concerns settlers faced when moving to the Northwest Territory.
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…..it 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!
Reading Comprehension Questions
Student Reading 9.2: Northwest Territory: Settlement
The Ohio Company led settlers from New England to Marietta, Ohio. Marietta was the first American settlement in the Northwest Territory. Marietta was located where the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers meet. This made it an ideal location to conduct trade and travel.
The settlers set up Marietta like the towns they had left in the east. It had a school and church, and wide streets. Settlers lived in town and planted crops outside of town. A fort was built around the settlement to protect the citizens from attack. The fort was named Campus Martius. Marietta became well known for trade, apple orchards, and shipbuilding.
The first permanent female settlers arrived in Marietta with their families between 1788 and 1789. These families often traveled several hundred miles by wagon and foot to get to Ohio. Their wagons could hold very little, so settlers only packed what they needed for the journey. These early years of settlement were difficult for women. They were often away from their husbands while the men worked in the fields or hunted.
Families lived in simple conditions until they were able to clear land to build a home. Women took care of their homes and raised their children. They raised livestock and farmed to help feed their families. In addition to their household duties, women often helped with farm chores and did men’s jobs when necessary. Women also helped set up churches and schools. If there were no schools, women taught their children at home. Surviving in the Northwest Territory took commitment and dedication from all members of the family.
Reading Comprehension Questions
Student Reading 9.3: The Northwest Ordinance: Three-Step Plan
The Northwest Ordinance listed three steps areas in the Northwest Territory had to go through to become a state. The first step was for Congress to appoint each area a governor, a secretary, and three judges. The governor was in charge of the volunteer army. He was also in charge of communicating and resolving disputes with the American Indians and creating laws for the area. The governor also chose men to fill other government jobs.
The second step happened once 5,000 free, white men lived in the area. During this step, the area would become a territory and could form a legislature. A legislature is a group of people that make laws for the area. The United States government allowed residents to elect their legislature. The legislature was made up of the House of Representatives and a legislative council. The legislative council was a group of five men who were selected by Congress. Each legislator in the House of Representatives had to be an adult male resident with at least two hundred acres of property. Each legislator on the legislative council had to be an adult who owned five hundred or more acres. To be able to vote in the territory, a person had to be an adult male who owned at least fifty acres of land.
Once a territory applied for statehood, they could write a State Constitution. The State Constitution had to give people basic rights, including religious freedom, trial by jury and many others. Slavery was against the law for any state created from the Northwest Territory. The states were also encouraged to provide public education. Once the State Constitution was written, it had to be approved by Congress. Ohio was the first state created from the Northwest Territory.
Reading Comprehension Questions
The Continental Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance on July 13, 1787. This was an act that not only created a government for the Northwest Territory, but also laid out a plan for admitting states to the new territory. After a state was admitted to the Union, its citizens were given certain rights and responsibilities. One limitation placed on citizens in the new territory was that they were forbidden from moving beyond the boundaries set forth in the Northwest Ordinance.
In order to earn the right to vote in the territory, a citizen had to be an adult male who owned at least fifty acres of land. If a resident did not own land, or was a squatter, he did not have the right to vote. In each new state, the state constitution gave basic rights to its citizens.
These rights included religious freedom, right to a trial by jury, and the right of bail. States were to encourage the education of the children who lived there, but providing an education was not a requirement for the newly formed states. Any state created out of the Northwest Ordinance could not allow slavery. The Ohio River was a natural dividing line between free and slave states.
The Northwest Ordinance also stated that American Indians living in the territory should be protected. It said American Indians’ land and property should not be taken without their consent. It also said that their property, rights, and liberty should never be taken away unless allowed by Congress.