With special thanks to Constituting America and Heritage College, we will be taking part in their project:The U.S. Constitution: A Reader. It is a 90 day challenge to learn and dive deeper into understanding the Constitution.
In case you missed it, catch up with day 19 HERE. We hope you are enjoying this journey to dig deeper into what inspired those who wrote the Constitution. If you are, TWEET IT!
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The Northwest Ordinance
Go west! At least that was the idea. And that idea set forth the model for expanding America.
America’s Independence was still young, but that’s what drew the attention of everyone. People were searching for their own independence. It’s what caused people to flood the colonies. America was a magnet that needed to expand.
Introduce: The Northwest Ordinance. A blueprint for the expansion of America. This would help lay the foundation of things to come as America looked to the areas of the west.
So, why did they adopt this new ‘ordinance?’ Simple. There was structure needed for the newly claimed land, and this provided that.
It laid out the groundwork necessary to form a governing body. The ordinance laid out very clearly what United States wanted, and it did so in an orderly way. At the time, some politicians wanted it laid out so orderly that when it came time to divide the land, they wanted it done in equal blocks. However, others saw fit to use natural landmarks such as rivers and bodies of water to be the dividing lines.
The beginnings of ‘local government’ were set forth with this ordinance also. It issued specific measures as how to lay it out and also what to do in the case of expansion.
Another few things that it did was to prohibit slavery in new territories, protect people’s religious liberties, and promote the idea of being entitled to a fair trial.
Those were some of the reasons people were drawn to America to begin with. The idea of Natural Rights had been born. People were free, and they wanted that right to be protected. They also wanted to be able to freely practice their religions. The idea of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was what it was all about. These were among the Natural Rights that were cherished and were to be preserved.
It also stated that “the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” They wanted people to know that education was important to the cause of America. Did this mean that education was to be managed and governed by the government? Not at all. As a matter of fact, it meant the complete opposite. It placed that responsibility onto the people. It was encouraged. It doesn’t mean that everyone had to do it, it meant that education was important.
This ordinance was a simple plan. It didn’t call for complexity in government. It laid out a very simple structure to follow, which was to be led by the people of the communities. They knew what was best for themselves. They didn’t want a bloated governing body. Things were a lot simpler then. Something we should look to today.
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