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[THE TEXT OF THIS DOCUMENT WAS TAKEN FROM THE 1994 U.S. CODE ON CD-ROM.]
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    USC - ORDINANCE OF 1787: THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIAL GOVERNMENT

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    ORDINANCE OF 1787: THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIAL GOVERNMENT

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    ORDINANCE OF 1787: THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIAL GOVERNMENT

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                 (THE CONFEDERATE CONGRESS, JULY 13, 1787)
       An Ordinance for the government of the territory of the United
                     States northwest of the river Ohio
      Section 1. Be it ordained by the United States in Congress
    assembled, That the said territory, for the purpose of temporary
    government, be one district, subject, however, to be divided into
    two districts, as future circumstances may, in the opinion of
    Congress, make it expedient.
      Sec. 2. Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That the
    estates both of resident and non-resident proprietors in the said
    territory, dying intestate, shall descent to, and be distributed
    among, their children and the descendants of a deceased child in
    equal parts, the descendants of a deceased child or grandchild to
    take the share of their deceased parent in equal parts among them;
    and where there shall be no children or descendants, then in equal
    parts to the next of kin, in equal degree; and among collaterals,
    the children of a deceased brother or sister of the intestate shall
    have, in equal parts among them, their deceased parent's share; and
    there shall, in no case, be a distinction between kindred of the
    whole and half blood; saving in all cases to the widow of the
    intestate, her third part of the real estate for life, and
    one-third part of the personal estate; and this law relative to
    descents and dower, shall remain in full force until altered by the
    legislature of the district.  And until the governor and judges
    shall adopt laws as hereinafter mentioned, estates in the said
    territory may be devised or bequeathed by wills in writing, signed
    and sealed by him or her in whom the estate may be, (being of full
    age,) and attested by three witnesses; and real estates may be
    conveyed by lease and release, or bargain and sale, signed, sealed,
    and delivered by the person, being of full age, in whom the estate
    may be, and attested by two witnesses, provided such wills be duly
    proved, and such conveyances be acknowledged, or the execution
    thereof duly proved, and be recorded within one year after proper
    magistrates, courts, and registers, shall be appointed for that
    purpose; and personal property may be transferred by delivery,
    saving, however, to the French and Canadian inhabitants, and other
    settlers of the Kaskaskies, Saint Vincents, and the neighboring
    villages, who have heretofore professed themselves citizens of
    Virginia, their laws and customs now in force among them, relative
    to the descent and conveyance of property.
      Sec. 3. Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That there
    shall be appointed, from time to time, by Congress, a governor,
    whose commission shall continue in force for the term of three
    years, unless sooner revoked by Congress; he shall reside in the
    district, and have a freehold estate therein, in one thousand acres
    of land, while in the exercise of his office.
      Sec. 4. There shall be appointed from time to time, by Congress,
    a secretary, whose commission shall continue in force for four
    years, unless sooner revoked; he shall reside in the district, and
    have a freehold estate therein, in five hundred acres of land,
    while in the exercise of his office.  It shall be his duty to keep
    and preserve the acts and laws passed by the legislature, and the
    public records of the district, and the proceedings of the governor
    in his executive department, and transmit authentic copies of such
    acts and proceedings every six months to the Secretary of Congress.
    There shall also be appointed a court, to consist of three judges,
    any two of whom to form a court, who shall have a common-law
    jurisdiction, and reside in the district, and have each therein a
    freehold estate, in five hundred acres of land, while in the
    exercise of their offices; and their commissions shall continue in
    force during good behavior.
      Sec. 5. The governor and judges, or a majority of them, shall
    adopt and publish in the district such laws of the original States,
    criminal and civil, as may be necessary, and best suited to the
    circumstances of the district, and report them to Congress from
    time to time, which laws shall be in force in the district until
    the organization of the general assembly therein, unless
    disapproved of by Congress; but afterwards the legislature shall
    have authority to alter them as they shall think fit.
      Sec. 6. The governor, for the time being, shall be
    commander-in-chief of the militia, appoint and commission all
    officers in the same below the rank of general officers; all
    general officers shall be appointed and commissioned by Congress.
      Sec. 7. Previous to the organization of the general assembly the
    governor shall appoint such magistrates, and other civil officers,
    in each county or township, as he shall find necessary for the
    preservation of the peace and good order in the same.  After the
    general assembly shall be organized the powers and duties of
    magistrates and other civil officers shall be regulated and defined
    by the said assembly; but all magistrates and other civil officers,
    not herein otherwise directed, shall, during the continuance of
    this temporary government, be appointed by the governor.
      Sec. 8. For the prevention of crimes and injuries, the laws to be
    adopted or made shall have force in all parts of the district, and
    for the execution of process, criminal and civil, the governor
    shall make proper divisions thereof; and he shall proceed, from
    time to time, as circumstances may require, to lay out the parts of
    the district in which the Indian titles shall have been
    extinguished, into counties and townships, subject, however, to
    such alterations as may thereafter be made by the legislature.
      Sec. 9. So soon as there shall be five thousand free male
    inhabitants, of full age, in the district, upon giving proof
    thereof to the governor, they shall receive authority, with time
    and place, to elect representatives from their counties or
    townships, to represent them in the general assembly: Provided,
    That for every five hundred free male inhabitants there shall be
    one representative, and so on, progressively, with the number of
    free male inhabitants, shall the right of representation increase,
    until the number of representatives shall amount to twenty-five;
    after which the number and proportion of representatives shall be
    regulated by the legislature: Provided, That no person be eligible
    or qualified to act as a representative, unless he shall have been
    a citizen of one of the United States three years, and be a
    resident in the district, or unless he shall have resided in the
    district three years; and, in either case, shall likewise hold in
    his own right, in fee-simple, two hundred acres of land within the
    same: Provided also, That a freehold in fifty acres of land in the
    district, having been a citizen of one of the States, and being
    resident in the district, or the like freehold and two years'
    residence in the district, shall be necessary to qualify a man as
    an elector of a representative.
      Sec. 10. The representatives thus elected shall serve for the
    term of two years; and in case of the death of a representative, or
    removal from office, the governor shall issue a writ to the county
    or township, for which he was a member, to elect another in his
    stead, to serve for the residue of the term.
      Sec. 11. The general assembly or legislature, shall consist of
    the governor, legislative counsel, and a house of representatives.
    The legislative council shall consist of five members, to continue
    in office five years, unless sooner removed by Congress; any three
    of whom to be a quorum; and the members of the council shall be
    nominated and appointed in the following manner, to wit: As soon as
    representatives shall be elected the governor shall appoint a time
    and place for them to meet together, and when met they shall
    nominate ten persons, resident in the district, and each possessed
    of a freehold in five hundred acres of land, and return their names
    to Congress, five of whom Congress shall appoint and commission to
    serve as aforesaid; and whenever a vacancy shall happen in the
    council, by death or removal from office, the house of
    representatives shall nominate two persons, qualified as aforesaid,
    for each vacancy, and return their names to Congress, one of whom
    Congress shall appoint and commission for the residue of the term;
    and every five years, four months at least before the expiration of
    the time of service of the members of the council, the said house
    shall nominate ten persons, qualified as aforesaid, and return
    their names to Congress, five of whom Congress shall appoint and
    commission to serve as members of the council five years, unless
    sooner removed.  And the governor, legislative council, and house
    of representatives shall have authority to make laws in all cases
    for the good government of the district, not repugnant to the
    principles and articles in this ordinance established and
    declared.  And all bills, having passed by a majority in the house,
    and by a majority in the council, shall be referred to the governor
    for his assent; but no bill, or legislative act whatever, shall be
    of any force without his assent.  The governor shall have power to
    convene, prorogue, and dissolve the general assembly when, in his
    opinion, it shall be expedient.
      Sec. 12. The governor, judges, legislative council, secretary,
    and such other officers as Congress shall appoint in the district,
    shall take an oath or affirmation of fidelity, and of office; the
    governor before the President of Congress, and all other officers
    before the governor.  As soon as a legislature shall be formed in
    the district, the council and house assembled, in one room, shall
    have authority, by joint ballot, to elect a delegate to Congress,
    who shall have a seat in Congress with a right of debating, but not
    of voting, during this temporary government.
      Sec. 13. And for extending the fundamental principles of civil
    and religious liberty, which form the basis whereon these
    republics, their laws and constitutions, are erected; to fix and
    establish those principles as the basis of all laws, constitutions,
    and governments, which forever hereafter shall be formed in the
    said territory; to provide, also, for the establishment of States,
    and permanent government therein, and for their admission to a
    share in the Federal councils on an equal footing with the original
    States, at as early periods as may be consistent with the general
    interest:
      Sec. 14. It is hereby ordained and declared, by the authority
    aforesaid, that the following articles shall be considered as
    articles of compact, between the original States and the people and
    States in the said territory, and forever remain unalterable,
    unless by common consent, to wit:
                                 ARTICLE I
      No person, demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner,
    shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship, or
    religious sentiments, in the said territories.
                                 ARTICLE II
      The inhabitants of the said territory shall always be entitled to
    the benefits of the writs of habeas corpus, and of the trial by
    jury; of a proportionate representation of the people in the
    legislature, and of judicial proceedings according to the course of
    the common law.  All persons shall be bailable, unless for capital
    offences, where the proof shall be evident, or the presumption
    great.  All fines shall be moderate; and no cruel or unusual
    punishments shall be inflicted.  No man shall be deprived of his
    liberty or property, but by the judgment of his peers, or the law
    of the land, and should the public exigencies make it necessary,
    for the common preservation, to take any person's property, or to
    demand his particular services, full compensation shall be paid for
    the same.  And, in the just preservation of rights and property, it
    is understood and declared, that no law ought ever to be made or
    have force in the said territory, that shall, in any manner
    whatever, interfere with or affect private contracts, or
    engagements, bona fide, and without fraud previously formed.
                                ARTICLE III
      Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good
    government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of
    education shall forever be encouraged.  The utmost good faith shall
    always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property
    shall never be taken from them without their consent; and in their
    property, rights, and liberty they never shall be invaded or
    disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress;
    but laws founded in justice and humanity shall, from time to time,
    be made, for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for
    preserving peace and friendship with them.
                                 ARTICLE IV
      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, subject to the Articles of Confederation, and to
    such alterations therein as shall be constitutionally made; and to
    all the acts and ordinances of the United States in Congress
    assembled, conformable thereto.  The inhabitants and settlers in
    the said territory shall be subject to pay a part of the Federal
    debts, contracted, or to be contracted, and a proportional part of
    the expenses of government to be apportioned on them by Congress,
    according to the same common rule and measure by which
    apportionments thereof shall be made on the other States; and the
    taxes for paying their proportion shall be laid and levied by the
    authority and direction of the legislatures of the district, or
    districts, or new States, as in the original States, within the
    time agreed upon by the United States in Congress assembled.  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 non-resident proprietors be
    taxed higher than residents.  The navigable waters leading into the
    Mississippi and Saint Lawrence, and the carrying places between the
    same, shall be common highways, and forever free, as well to the
    inhabitants of the said territory as to the citizens of the United
    States, and those of any other States that may be admitted into the
    confederacy, without any tax, impost, or duty therefor.
                                 ARTICLE V
      There shall be formed in the said territory not less than three
    nor more than five States; and the boundaries of the States, as
    soon as Virginia shall alter her act of cession and consent to the
    same, shall become fixed and established as follows, to wit: The
    western State, in the said territory, shall be bounded by the
    Mississippi, the Ohio, and the Wabash Rivers; a direct line drawn
    from the Wabash and Post Vincents, due north, to the territorial
    line between the United States and Canada; and by the said
    territorial line to the Lake of the Woods and Mississippi. The
    middle State shall be bounded by the said direct line, the Wabash
    from Post Vincents to the Ohio, by the Ohio, by a direct line drawn
    due north from the mouth of the Great Miami to the said territorial
    line, and by the said territorial line.  The eastern State shall be
    bounded by the last-mentioned direct line, the Ohio, Pennsylvania,
    and the said territorial line: Provided, however, And it is further
    understood and declared, that the boundaries of these three States
    shall be subject so far to be altered, that, if Congress shall
    hereafter find it expedient, they shall have authority to form one
    or two States in that part of the said territory which lies north
    of an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or
    extreme of Lake Michigan. And whenever any of the said States shall
    have sixty thousand free inhabitants therein, such State shall be
    admitted, by its delegates, into the Congress of the United States,
    on an equal footing with the original States, in all respects
    whatever; and shall be at liberty to form a permanent constitution
    and State government: Provided, The constitution and government, so
    to be formed, shall be republican, and in conformity to the
    principles contained in these articles, and, so far as it can be
    consistent with the general interest of the confederacy, such
    admission shall be allowed at an earlier period, and when there may
    be a less number of free inhabitants in the State than sixty
    thousand.
                                 ARTICLE VI
      There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the
    said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof
    the party shall have been duly convicted: Provided always, That any
    person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is
    lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive
    may be lawfully reclaimed, and conveyed to the person claiming his
    or her labor or service as aforesaid.
      Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That the resolutions
    of the 23d of April, 1784, relative to the subject of this
    ordinance, be, and the same are hereby, repealed, and declared null
    and void.
      Done by the United States, in Congress assembled, the 13th day of
    July, in the year of our Lord 1787, and of their sovereignty and
    independence the twelfth.
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