Congress Asserts Control Over the Northwest Territories

Understand that while the Congress of the Confederation was debating this bill (the Northwest Ordinance of 1787), the Constitution Convention was in full swing. Within two months of passing of the Land Ordinance of 1787, the Convention would present a document for ratification. Almost immediately after the Constitution was ratified in 1788, newly sworn-in President George Washington urged that the First U.S. Congress re-affirm the Land Ordinance of 1787.

Read More

Land Ordinance of 1785 Facilitates Public Schools

Since the land given to the U.S. was poorly, to be kind, surveyed, the first recommendation was to set standards on how the land would be surveyed. Western Ohio was chosen as the first territory in which townships would be created from six-mile by six-mile pieces of land called a section. Each township would be a square of 36 sections and the language in the Land Ordinance of 1785 provides the methodology of how surveyors would measure the land down to the individual lot.  

Read More

Rules of Engagement for Statehood

Immediately, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia claimed all the land from the Atlantic to the Mississippi. Connecticut claimed a sliver of land west of Pennsylvania. There was still some disputed land on the border of the U.S. and Canada and the southern border of Georgia north of western Florida, which would be resolved over time.

Members of the Continental Congress saw the lines drawn on a map as blatant land grabs by the individual states. So, what could the Continental Congress do?

Read More

The Trade That Led to Creation of D.C.

A national capital was not a new idea. Several sites were proposed under the Articles of Confederation, and all were in either NY, NJ, or PA, something the southern states would not accept. Under the Articles of Confederation, the Continental Congress did not have the power to create a national capital, so the issue died until the new Constitution empowered the Federal government to create a home.

Read More

England’s Country Children

What the new United States didn’t have was a stable currency, or a central bank or a strong central government, the yoke of British rule was gone. Yes, the economy was a mess, the Continental Congress was deeply in debt to its own citizens and to the Dutch, French and Spanish, all of whom paid for our independence.

Read More

Changing of the Guard Takes Time

Between 1783 and 1795, when the Jay Treaty was signed and ratified by Congress, the U.S. was often at loggerheads with Great Britain who was routinely violating the Treaty of Paris. The Jay Treaty brought some breathing space so the Founding Fathers could figure out how to make the newly ratified Constitution work.

Read More

Anatomy of a Privateer

Wealthy individuals or consortiums of like-minded investors would apply to their government for a letter of marque while at the same time having a vessel or vessels in mind that they would send to sea as privateers. In most cases, the ships were converted merchant men.

Read More

Privateering During the War of 1812

Madison signed the law on August 4th, 1812, allowing consortiums to be issued letters of marque which would enable the ships they owned to seize British ships and sell the vessel and the cargo. When Congress issued a letter of marque, it did not require any sort of reporting of what they captured or sank or if the consortium’s ship was captured by the British.

Read More

Three Times Is the Flag’s Charm

The act was passed on June 14th, 1777, which is now celebrated as Flag Day. However, the Continental Congress did not set a standard on how the stars were to be arranged. This led to all sorts of arrangements, but the most common one was a circle of 13 stars.

Read More