Northwest Territory

Territory Northwest of the River Ohio
Organized incorporated territory of United States



Seal of Northwest Territory

Meliorem lapsa locavit
"He has planted one better than the one fallen"
Location of Northwest Territory
CapitalMarietta (1788–1799)
Chillicothe (1799–1803)[1]
GovernmentOrganized incorporated territory
 • 1787–1802Arthur St. Clair
 • 1802–1803Charles Willing Byrd
 • Northwest OrdinanceJuly 13, 1787
 • Affirmed by United States CongressAugust 7, 1789
 • Indiana Territory createdMay 7, 1800
 • Statehood of OhioMarch 1, 1803

The Northwest Territory in the United States (also known as the Old Northwest[2]) was formed after the American Revolutionary War, and was known formally as the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio. It was the initial post-colonial Territory of the United States and encompassed most of pre-war British colonial territory west of the Appalachian mountains north of the Ohio River. It included all the land west of Pennsylvania, northwest of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River below the Great Lakes. It spanned all or large parts of six eventual U.S. States (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the northeastern part of Minnesota). It was created as a Territory by the Northwest Ordinance July 13, 1787, reduced to Ohio, eastern Michigan and a sliver of southeastern Indiana with the formation of Indiana Territory July 4, 1800, and ceased to exist March 1, 1803, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Ohio, and the remainder attached to Indiana Territory.

At its inception the Territory was a vast wilderness sparsely populated by Indians including the Delaware, Miami, Potawatomi, Shawnee and others; there were only a handful of French colonial settlements, and Clarksville at Falls of the Ohio. At the territory's dissolution, there were dozens of towns and settlements, a few with thousands of settlers, mostly in Ohio chiefly along the Ohio and Miami Rivers and around the Great Lakes.

The region was ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Paris of 1783.The Congress of the Confederation enacted the Northwest Ordinance in 1787 to provide for the administration of the territories and set rules for admission of jurisdictions as states. On August 7, 1789, the new U.S. Congress affirmed the Ordinance with slight modifications under the Constitution.

Initially, the Territory was governed by martial law under a governor and three judges, but as population increased, a legislature, the Territorial General Assembly, was formed. Administratively, the Territory was divided into a succession of counties, eventually totaling 13.

Conflicts between settlers and Native American inhabitants of the Territory resulted in the Northwest Indian War culminating in General "Mad" Anthony Wayne's victory at Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. The subsequent Treaty of Greenville 1795 opened the way for settlement of southern and western Ohio.

The territory

The Northwest Territory included all the then-owned land of the United States west of Pennsylvania, east of the Mississippi River, and northwest of the Ohio River. It incorporated most of the former Ohio Country except a portion in western Pennsylvania, and eastern Illinois Country. It covered all of the modern states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as the northeastern part of Minnesota. Lands west of the Mississippi River were the Louisiana Province of New France (acquired by the United States in 1803 by the Louisiana Purchase); lands north of the Great Lakes were the British Province of Upper Canada, and lands south of the Ohio River constituted Kentucky County, Virginia, admitted to the union as the state of Kentucky in 1792. The area included more than 260,000 square miles (670,000 km2) and comprised about 1/3 of the land area of the United States at the time of its creation. It was inhabited by about 45,000 Native Americans and 4,000 traders, mostly Canadien and British. Among the tribes inhabiting the region were the Shawnee, Delaware, Miami, Wyandot, Ottawa and Potawatomi. Notably, the Miami capital along with British trading posts was at Kekionga at the site of present day Fort Wayne, Indiana. Neutralizing Kekionga became the focus of the Northwest Indian War, the driving events in the early evolution of the territory.

The state cessions that eventually allowed for the creation of the Territories North and South West of the River Ohio