On This Day, July 13, 1787 – Northwest Ordinance Sets Rules for More States

northwest nap

1787 – Congress enacts the Northwest Ordinance, structuring settlement of the Northwest Territory and creating a policy for the addition of new states to the nation. The members of Congress knew that if their new confederation were to survive intact, it had to resolve the states’ competing claims to western territory.

In 1781, Virginia began by ceding its extensive land claims to Congress, a move that made other states more comfortable in doing the same. In 1784, Thomas Jefferson first proposed a method of incorporating these western territories into the United States. His plan effectively turned the territories into colonies of the existing states. Ten new northwestern territories would select the constitution of an existing state and then wait until its population reached 20,000 to join the confederation as a full member. Congress, however, feared that the new states — 10 in the Northwest as well as Kentucky, Tennessee and Vermont — would quickly gain enough power to outvote the old ones and never passed the measure.

Three years later, the Northwest Ordinance proposed that three to five new states be created from the Northwest Territory. Instead of adopting the legal constructs of an existing state, each territory would have an appointed governor and council. When the population reached 5,000, the residents could elect their own assembly, although the governor would retain absolute veto power. When 60,000 settlers resided in a territory, they could draft a constitution and petition for full statehood. The ordinance provided for civil liberties and public education within the new territories, but did not allow slavery. Pro-slavery Southerners were willing to go along with this because they hoped that the new states would be populated by white settlers from the South. They believed that although these Southerners would have no slaves of their own, they would not join the growing abolition movement of the North.


1099 – The Crusaders launched their final assault on Muslims in Jerusalem.

1534 – The Ottoman armies captured Tabriz in northwestern Persia.

1558 – Led by the court of Egmont, the Spanish army defeated the French at Gravelines, France.

1585 – A group of 108 English colonists, led by Sir Richard Grenville, reached Roanoke Island, NC.

1643 – In England, the Roundheads, led by Sir William Waller, were defeated by royalist troops under Lord Wilmot in the Battle of Roundway Down.

1754 – At the beginning of the French and Indian War, George Washington surrendered the small, circular Fort Necessity in southwestern Pennsylvania to the French.

1812 – The first pawnbroking ordinance was passed in New York City.

1832 – Henry Schoolcraft discovered the source of the Mississippi River in Minnesota.

1835 – John Ruggles received patent #1 from the U.S. Patent Office for a traction wheel used in locomotive steam engines. All 9,957 previous patents were not numbered.

1863 – Opponents of the Civil War draft began three days of rioting in New York City, which resulted in more than 1,000 casualties.

1875 – David Brown patented the first cash-carrier system.

1878 – The Congress of Berlin divided the Balkans among European powers.

1896 – Philadelphia’s Ed Delahanty became the second major league player to hit four home runs in a single game.

1931 – A major German financial institution, Danabank, failed. This led to the closing of all banks in Germany until August 5.

1941 – Britain and the Soviet Union signed a mutual aid pact, that provided the means for Britain to send war material to the Soviet Union.

1954 – In Geneva, the United States, Great Britain and France reached an accord on Indochina which divided Vietnam into two countries, North and South, along the 17th parallel.

1972 – Carroll Rosenbloom (owner of the Baltimore Colts) and Robert Irsay (owner of the Los Angeles Rams) traded teams.

1978 – Lee Iacocca was fired as president of Ford Motor Co. by chairman Henry Ford II.

1982 – The All-Star Game was played outside the United States for the first time. It was played in Montreal, Canada.

1984 – In Arkansas, Terry Wallis was injured in a car accident and was left comatose. He came out of the coma in June of 2003.

1985 – Live-Aid concerts took place in Philadelphia, PA, and London, England.


1998 – “Image of an Assassination” went on sale. The video documentary is of Abraham Zapruder’s home video of U.S. President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas.


1998RealNetworks Inc. rolled out a test version of RealSystem G2. G2 is a streaming video and audio delivery system.

2000 – The United States and Vietnam singed a major trade agreement. The pact still needed to be approved by the U.S. Congress.

Source: On-This-Day.Com; History.Com

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