Thomas Jefferson had proposed an ordinance to deal with the lands won along with independence from Britain in 1784, and not belonging to any State, any lands that might be relinquished when considered to have been granted by Royal Charter. The Continental Congress ratified the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 on July 13, 1787. The First Congress under the newly ratified Constitution, which met from March 4, 1789, to March 4, 1791, then reaffirmed that same ordinance. This slightly revised version reaffirmed on July 13, 1789, and is known as the Northwest Ordinance of 1789.
The Fourth Article, unchanged in the two versions, reads, in part:
Article the Fourth. The said territory, and the States which may be formed therein, shall forever remain a part of this Confederacy of the United States of America… The legislatures of those districts or new States, shall never interfere with the primary disposal of the soil by the United States in Congress assembled, nor with any regulations Congress may find necessary for securing the title in such soil to the bona fide purchasers. No tax shall be imposed on lands the property of the United States; and, in no case, shall nonresident proprietors be taxed higher than residents.
Second, it would provide land for people to populate the barren regions, first, across the Allegheny Mountains, then on to the Mississippi River, next to the Rocky Mountains, and finally to the Pacific Ocean.
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