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On this day in 1787, Congress adopted the Northwest Ordinance

July 13

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 13 of July, repeating indefinitely

On this day in 1787, Congress adopted the Northwest Ordinance, which established formal procedures for transitioning American territories into states, encouraged public education, and, perhaps most importantly, banned slavery in the Northwest Territory.

Did you know? The Northwest Territory consisted of the current states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and parts of Minnesota.

Almost fifty years after the Ordinance, Alexis de Tocqueville described its impact on Ohio society while writing on the difference between the free state of Ohio and the slave state of Kentucky:

“The population of Kentucky, which has been peopled for nearly a century, grows slowly. Ohio only joined the Confederation thirty years ago and has a million inhabitants. Within those thirty years, Ohio has become the entrepot for the wealth that goes up and down the Mississippi; it has opened two canals and joined the Gulf of Mexico to the North Coast; meanwhile Kentucky, older and perhaps better placed, stood still.

These differences cannot be attributed to any other cause but slavery. It degrades the black population and enervates the white. Its fatal effects are recognized, and yet it is preserved and will be preserved for a long time more…”

Landscape in Ohio, John Insco Williams, 1867


July 13
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