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Legacy Library

Ohio Pioneers Virtual Exhibit: Northwest Territory

The Northwest Territory

The Northwest Territory

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and the involvement of Manasseh Cutler, the creation of the Northwest Territory, and the establishment of Fort Harmar.  
The Pioneers, pages 12-13: “It was intended that the Northwest Ordinance, should stipulate that in the whole of the territory there would be absolute freedom of religion and particular emphasis on education, matters New Englanders considered fundamental to a just and admirable society. Most importantly, there was to be no slavery. . . . As would be observed by historians long afterward, the Northwest Ordinance was designed to guarantee what would one day be known as the American way of life.”

Manasseh Cutler

Oil Painting: Manasseh Cutler

Manasseh Cutler
Artist: Copy by Sarah Emerson of a copy by E. Lakeman (Salem, MA), of original by Frothingham
Oil on canvas, ca. 1820-25.

Manasseh Cutler (1744-1823) was a New England minister, physician, teacher, and lawyer. In 1787, as an agent for the Ohio Company of Associates, he successfully negotiated with the Confederation Congress to purchase 1.5 million acres of land in the Ohio Country. In this role, he was influential in the drafting of the Northwest Ordinance, especially with regard to the provisions that prohibited slavery and encouraged education. Cutler is credited as the founder of Ohio University, the first school of higher education in the Northwest Territory.

Northwest Ordinance

Document facsimile: Northwest Ordinance 1787, page one

Full text of the Northwest Ordinance from

Panel 2

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Ohio Pioneers Exhibit Panel 2