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Ohio Archæological and Historical Society
Publications, Volume XX

Ohio Archæological and Historical Society Publications, Volume XX [1911], Page 118 [Click for larger image]Page 118

EDITORIALANA. Vol. XX. No. 1. January, 1911. JEFFERSON'S ORDINANCE OF 1784. [Frequent inquiries have come to the Editor of the Quarterly concerning the nature of Jefferson's Ordinance of 1784. for the organization of the Northwest Territory and its bearing upon the later Ordinance of 1787. In reply to such inquiries we submit the following.] As early as the fall of 1776 and at various times later, up to the final peace agreement of 1783, Congress by resolution pledged bounty lands to those (officers) who served in the Continental Army. But until the cession of the claimant states, Congress had no lands at its disposal to fulfill its pledges. But the western territory was constantly in sight, and April 7, 1783, Timothy Pickering, member of Congress, wrote a friend that "there is a plan for the forming of a new state westward of the Ohio. Some of the principal officers of the army are heartily engaged in it. The propositions respecting it are in the hands of General Huntington and General Putnam." Neither Huntington nor Pickering is heard of again in the matter. But Rufus Putnam pressed it upon General Washington in repeated letters, which Washington answered, affirming his own interest in the scheme and saying he had urged it upon Congress. In June 1783, at Newburg, Washington's headquarters, nearly three hundred officers of the Continental line "who were about to exchange the hardships of war for the sufferings of poverty" petitioned Congress to "work out a district between Lake Erie and the Ohio River as the seat of a new colony," says Mr. Avery, "in time to be admitted one of the confederate states of America." Rufus Putnam was the prime mover in this petition — indeed the author of it — but nothing came directly of the project. Probably the same month (June) of this year (1783) that the army officers petitioned Congress for the benefits of the western lands, Theodoric Bland, at Washington's suggestion and supported by Alexander Hamilton, moved, in Congress, the adoption of an ordinance which was referred to a "grand committee," where it seems to have remained undisturbed. As we learn from the "Evolution of the Ordinance of 1787," by Jay A. Barrett, in the publications of the university of Nebraska, the Bland ordinance contained the following main provisions: (1) Lands should be substituted in place of all commutation for half pay and arrearages due the army — thirty acres for every dollar

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