Land Ordinance of 1785


Map Code: Ax00566

In the Ordinance of 1785, Thomas Jefferson proposed that the vast new territories acquired under the Treaty of Paris should be incorporated into the new Union as separate (rather than expanded) states: the mechanism for new state creation would be further clarified in the North-West Ordinance of 1787. While these Ordinances tackled the political aspects of expansion, the Land Ordinance of 1785 addressed the settlement process itself. Under the auspices of the Surveyor General new land would divided into townships 6 miles square, forming 36 plots of a square mile each, of which the revenues from the 16th square would be reserved for funding public education. The point of beginning from which all these measurements would extend, was fixed at the point where the states of Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania met. The Ordinance would govern settlement of millions of square miles of the American continent, until superseded by the 1862 Homestead Act

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