Opening the Northwest Territory to Settlement

The Revolutionary War was over.  The new United States now reached across the Allegheny Mountains to the Mississippi River.  Part of the new lands were the Northwest Territory where we live today.

The young country was experiencing financial problems.  Too much continental currency had been printed during the war, which made it close to worthless.  This caused much distress for veterans who had been paid with these continental dollars.

The United States was anxious to settle these new lands.  The Congress decided to give land  to the veterans of the Revolutionary War as payment for their service. The Ordinance of 1785 as written by Congress, determined how the land would be surveyed and divided, but it did not lay out a plan to govern the new territory. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was written to do just that, thus opening the door to settlement.

Please click on the read titles to pull up the PDF.

1. Opening the NWT to Settlement-Teacher Guide

2. New Americans Look Westward-4 As interest grows in settlement of the Northwest Territory, Congress grants land to Revolutionary War veterans as payment for their service.

3. Hard Times and Worthless Money  Veterans had been paid in continental currency which was now worthless.  This caused much distress as taxes rose to support the new country.

4. Northwest Ordinance:A Plan for Government Congress created the Ordinance of 1785, then the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 to pave the way to settlement of the Northwest Territory.        

5. 4th Ohio Social Studies Learning Standard-#5 The articles above corresponds with  the Ohio Social Studies Learning Standard for Grade 4

Additional Resources:



This feature length historical documentary is the story of the Ohio Company of Associates, a group of Revolutionary War officers and soldiers, and how, in 1788, they first opened the door for westward expansion of the new United States.  At Marietta, Ohio, they began the first legal, organized American settlement in the old Northwest Territory. Divided into 12 chapters which can be watched individually.  Please contact Julie Lambert for a copy.



Along the Ohio Trail                                 Join your trail guide Simon for a hike through Ohio’s history! As you read Along the Ohio Trail, you’ll learn about what makes our state different from all the others.  This is in easy to use PDF format.