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What is arguably one of the most important documents in US history was celebrated Wednesday morning at the Start Westward Monument in Muskingum Park.

A celebration of the 235th anniversary of the Northwest Territories Ordinance of 1787 was led by the ringing of First Congregational Church bells and a color guard from the sons of the Marietta Chapter of the American Revolution presenting flags.

John Carey, Director of the Appalachian Governor’s Office, was on hand to present Susan Vessels, Interim Mayor of Marietta and City Council Chair, with a proclamation from Governor Mike DeWine.

Kimberly Murnieks, Ohio’s director of budget and management and member of the Ohio Commission for the American Half-Centennial, also addressed the crowd of locals, including representatives from Marietta Main Street. , the Washington County Historical Society, the Veterans Service Commission, and the Marietta City Council.

The keynote speaker was Todd Kleismit, director of the Ohio Commission for the Semi-Quintennial of the United States, who gave a brief summary of Ordinance and how it shaped the United States. He also talked about how the committee has four years to plan for the 250th anniversary of the United States and how.

According to TeachingAmericanHistory.org, the Northwest Ordinance laid out a plan that was later used as the country expanded into the Pacific.

The new states, which eventually became Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, with parts of Minnesota also included, would be admitted to the Union on equal footing with the states of originally followed a three-stage method: a congressional-appointed governor, secretary, and three judges would govern in the first stage; a territorial assembly and a non-voting delegate to Congress would be elected in the second phase; and a state constitution would be drafted and Union membership sought in the third phase, when the population reached 60,000, the site said.

The new state constitution must be republican in form. The ordinance protected religious freedom and other individual rights and emphasized the importance of education. The territorial government was prohibited from taking tribal lands and properties without Indian consent.

The ordinance prohibited slavery (although it also contained a fugitive slave clause). As slavery was not outlawed in the territory to the south, the ordinance effectively introduced a dividing line between non-slavery and slave states that would affect expansionist policies until the Civil War.



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