The Northwest Ordinance of July 13, 1787, was the most important achievement of the U.S. Congress under the Articles of Confederation, America's first attempt at a national government. The law was passed during the same summer that the Constitutional Convention was meeting in Philadelphia to create the Confederation's successor. The Northwest Ordinance established the machinery of territorial self-government with eventual statehood, letting the territory grow until its population was large enough to be represented along with the original states in the Congress. The ...

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