The Northwest Ordinance: Constitutional Politics and the Theft of Native Land

The Northwest Ordinance: Constitutional Politics and the Theft of Native Land

by Robert Alexander


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The Northwest Ordinance: Constitutional Politics and the Theft of Native Land by Robert Alexander

 Passed by Congress in July 1787, the Northwest Ordinance laid out the basic form of government for all U.S. territory north of the Ohio River. That summer, the Constitutional Convention drafted the defining document of the American Republic as a whole. A bargain struck between Congress and the Convention outlawed slavery north of the Ohio, but gave Southern states a Congressional and Electoral College representation based on population figures that included slaves—each valued at three-fifths of a free white citizen.
Because of this agreement, the western lands acquired from Great Britain after the Revolutionary War were divided into slave and free states—a compromise which, when it failed, precipitated the Civil War 74 years later. For years most historians denied that this political deal took place. Drawing on contemporary letters and documents, this detailed analysis re-examines the Ordinance and how Congress silently permitted the South’s “peculiar institution” to move westward.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476665191
Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
Publication date: 06/13/2017
Pages: 228
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.20(d)

About the Author

Robert Alexander has published two books of fiction and a narrative history of the Civil War, and has edited five literary anthologies. He divides his time between Madison, Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.


Minneapolis, Minnesota

Date of Birth:

August 23, 1952

Place of Birth:

Chicago, Illinois


B.A. in Russian Language and Creative Writing, Michigan State University, 1976

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Foreword by Staughton Lynd 1

Preface 7

Introduction 9

 1. The Year 1787 Had Started 17

 2. Meanwhile in Philadelphia 24

 3. Beginning with the Treaty of Lancaster 30

 4. Now Back to the Constitutional Convention 44

 5. A Brief History of the United Illinois and Wabash Land Company 53

 6. Under the Articles of Confederation 59

 7. Philadelphia in July 67

 8. History of the ­Anti-Slavery Clause 73

 9. New York in July 1787 86

10. Treaty at the Mouth of the Great Miami 95

11. Back to Philadelphia 105

12. Logan’s Raid 120

13. Back in New York 128

Appendix A. Abraham Yates’s Solitary Vote Against the Northwest Ordinance 137

Appendix B. Johnson v. M’Intosh 149

Appendix C. Speech of the United Indian Nations 154

Appendix D. Complete Text of the Northwest Ordinance and the Resolve of 1784 157

Chapter Notes 165

Bibliography 195

Index 209

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