Articles of Confederation

  • The Articles of Confederation

    The Articles of Confederation attempted to create national coordination while avoiding an overbearing national government. Drafted in 1777, it was not approved by the states until 1781. By creating a weak national government, states generally remained very independent. Its flaws would plague the United States until the end of the Critical Period.
  • Movement of Settlers Westward

    Large numbers of settlers rapidly moved to new stretches of land available in the West following the Revolutionary War. The legal problems resulting from this expansion were immense. Settlers demanded cheap land that they often had no legal right to. They also caused a great deal of conflict with Native Americans which triggered fears over a prolonged armed conflict.
  • The Ordinance of 1784

    The Ordinance of 1784 established stages for self-government in the West. Land would initially be divided into districts under the control of Congress. Over time, these districts would join the Union as member states. Created by Thomas Jefferson, the Ordinance of 1784 which would have prohibited slavery in the West was rejected in Congress by one vote.
  • The Ordinance of 1785

    The Ordinance of 1785 dictated that land be surveyed and divided into townships. Each township, being six miles, would again be divided into 36 sections. The remaining one mile squares would be sold at a minimum of $1.00 per acre while one of the 36 squares would be set aside for public schools. It only regulated land north of the Ohio River, known as the Old Northwest, and was violated by settlers rapidly moving westward ahead of the surveys.
  • Shay's Rebellion

    Shay’s Rebellion involved a group of debt-ridden Massachusetts farmers under the leadership of Daniel Shays. Because they did not pay their taxes or debts, their land was being seized. The group closed courts in order to prevent this. Governor Bowdoin reacted by sending an army which resulted in the arrest of 1,000 people.
  • The Northwest Ordinance of 1787

    The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 required the establishment of three to five states north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River. This allowed for the US to admit the Western population as equal members of the political system instead of ruling over them. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 falsely promised Native Americans good faith and that they could keep their land. Its exclusion of slavery in the Old Northwest was also violated.