3. Northwest Ordinance

Aug. 20, 1794; Battle of Fallen Timbers, Gen “Mad” Anthony Wayne defeated a coalition of First Nations.


PLUNGING FORWARD with the PBS  video on Marietta / the Ohio Company here.

23 December 1783  General George Washington surrenders his sword and commission to the Continental Congress, the only military leaders in history to do so other than Cincinnatus.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787,  ( An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States, North-West of the River Ohio ) was an act of the Congress of the Confederation of the United States. The primary effect of the ordinance was the creation of the Northwest Territory as the first organized territory of the United States out of the region south of the Great Lakes, north and west of the Ohio River, and east of the Mississippi River. On August 7, 1789, the U.S. Congress affirmed the Ordinance with slight modifications under the Constitution. It established the precedent by which the United States would expand westward across North America by the admission of new states, rather than by the expansion of existing states.

Necessary to the compromises that led up to the Constitution later that year, northerners did not want to compete against slave labor, so the region north of the Ohio Rivers was stipulated to be free of slave labor. The French traveler and writer, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “In the United States, people abolish slavery for the sake not of the Negroes but of the white men.”

Report of Henry Knox on the Northwestern Indians (June 15, 1789)

KNOX: “. . . . In examining the question how the disturbances on the frontiers are to be quieted, two modes present themselves, by which the object might perhaps be effected; the first of which is by raising an army, and extirpating the refractory tribes entirely, or 2dly by forming treaties of peace with them, in which their rights and limits should be explicitly defined, and the treaties observed on the part of the United States with the most rigid justice, by punishing the whites, who should violate the same.”

In “Indian Country,” radical historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz writes, “It was here–in the Ohio Valley, the “old Northwest”–that the U.S. military was formed, in five decades of unrelenting war, of annihilation unto unconditional surrender.” Fort Washington, at what is now 412 E 4th Street, Cincinnati,  “a major military base,” played a significant role.  Following Geo. Washington’s letter of June 16,1 783 to the President of the Congress, a series of forts were established along the frontier, including one across from Kentucky’s Licking river, in 1789.

Fort Washington was the site that Generals Hamar, St.Clair and Wayne set out to remove the Indians from the Northwest Territory.

In an article for the American Enterprise Institute,  “Toward A Global Cavalry,” Thomas Donnelly supports this point of view, remarking the U.S. Military today is “Like the cavalry of the Old West….” He says,  “the realignment of our network of overseas bases into a system of frontier stockades is necessary to win a long-term struggle against an amorphous enemy across the arc of instability.”




Greenville Treaty Line


1795 Treaty of Grenville

President Thomas Jefferson’s January 18, 1803  Secret Message to Congress Regarding the Lewis & Clark Expedition, lays out his policy of assimilation as well as his interest in “numerous tribes, who furnish great supplies of furs and peltry to the trade of another nation, carried on in a high latitude, through an infinite number of portages and lakes, shut up by ice through a long season.”

Jefferson’s letter to the Governor of the Indiana Territory,William Henry Harrison, February 27, 1803.  Panicked by news recently received of Napoleon taking possession for France of  Spain’s lands west of the Mississippi, Jefferson urges Harrison to be “prepared against the occupation of Louisiana by a powerful and enterprising people…”  To do this Jefferson lays out his Indian removal policy, “To promote this disposition to exchange lands which they have to spare and we want for necessaries, which have to spare and they want, we shall push our trading houses, and be glad to see the good and influential individuals among them run in debt, because we observe that when these debts get beyond what the individuals can pay, they become willing to lop them off by a cession of lands…”

Cession of state lands to federal government

* * *

Also Bob Brodbeck will join us.  Bob, a local genealogist, will share the story of his ancestral Schierberg family’s origins in the Grandduchy of Oldenburg (Germany) and the reasons for their emigration to America and Cincinnati.


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