Northwest Ordinance

Basic Information

Title: An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States North-West of the River Ohio

Date: July 13, 1787

Written By:Nathan Dane and Rufus King (assumed)


The Ordinance of 1787, or Northwest Ordinance, created the provisions for establishing government in new western territories. The Northwest Ordinance gave the territories more autonomy than the Ordinance of 1784, and was better able to meet their needs. It allowed Congress to appoint a governor with a limited term, as well as a secretary and three judges. Once the population of a territory reached who are free, white, male, and of voting age5,000 inhabitants they were able to elect representatives and form an assembly. Once the population reached 60,000, they could apply for full statehood.

Original Text

Sec. 3. Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That there shall be appointed from time to time by Congress, a governor, whose commission shall continue in force for the term of three years, unless sooner revoked by Congress; he shall reside in the district, and have a freehold estate therein in 1,000 acres of land, while in the exercise of his office.

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