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The Articles of Confederation

Under the Articles of Confederation, the states remained sovereign and independent. Congress served as the last resort on appeal of disputes and was also granted the authority to make treaties and alliances, maintain armed forces and coin money. The articles also gave the colonists the freedom to travel from place to place within America to trade and transact easily. It offered protection against cruel and unlawful acts of ruling on the colonies by the British government.

The Land Ordinance of 1785

The ordinance laid the foundations of land policy in the United States. It established the basis for the Public Land Survey System. Land was to be systematically surveyed into six mile square townships. Each of the townships were sub-divided into 36 sections of 640 acres. These sections could then be further subdivided for sale to settlers and land speculators. The ordinance also established a way to fund public education. The 16th section of each township was reserved for the maintenance of public schools. The federal government also reserved sections 8, 11, 26 and 29 to compensate for the veterans of the Revolutionary War.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787

The Northwest Ordinance laid out the details of the state admission process so that when a territory reached 60,000 people it could create a constitution and apply for statehood. It also determined that any man who owned 50 acres of property in the Northwest Territory was entitled a vote. More property had to be owned in order to qualify for service in government. These restrictions were designed to restrict the influence of popular passions in the function of the newly established republic. Through the Northwest Ordinance, slavery and involuntary servitude was forbidden. This was a success for the southern states because the primary crop of most plantations at that time was tobacco. Tobacco could only be grown profitably with the help of slave labor. By outlawing slave labor in the Midwest, the southern planters protected themselves from economic competition. The Northwest Ordinance guaranteed freedom of religion, Habeas Corpus, right to bail and trial by jury, the protection from cruel and unusual punishment, the right to enter freely into private contracts, and the right to compensation for eminent domain. The Northwest Territory was also the first part of the United States to be surveyed under the Public Land Survey System.