Northwest Ordinance

Passed by Congress on July 13, 1787, the Northwest Ordinance established laws, rules and principles under which territories Northwest of the Ohio River could be settled and incorporated into the United States. An important goal of the Northwest Ordinance was to spread Christianity to the Indian tribes. The landmark law reads:

SECTION 13. And, for extending the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty, which form the basis whereon these republics, their laws and constitutions are erected:

to fix and establish those principles as the basis of all laws, constitutions and governments, which forever hereafter shall be formed in the said territory:

to provide also for the establishment of states, and permanent government therein, and for their admission to a share in the federal councils on an equal footing with the original states, at as early period as my be consistent with the general interest:

SECTION 14. It is hereby ordained and declared by the authority aforesaid, that the following articles shall be considered as articles of compact, between the original states and the people and states of the said territory, and forever remain unalienable, unless by common consent, to wit:

ARTICLE I. No person, demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner, shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship or religious sentiments in the said territory...

ARTICLE III. Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.

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