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Trade, industry, and economic democracy

The rich Loyalists who fled the U.S.A. left behind some large pieces of good land that were divided among deserving patriots. Although land that the king and his unrepentant subjects had owned was sold to help pay off the war debt, few attacks were made on former Loyalists who chose to stay in the new country. Because America didn't have royalty or an aristocracy, there was some measure of economic democracy even before the political democracy of the Revolution got going. That may be one reason why the United States didn't experience as much violence after its change of government as France did a few years later.

Commerce and industry got off to a good recovery after the Revolution. Although the United States was outside the British family, it still had the whole non-British world with which to trade. American ships were landing in China as soon as they could get out of port after the peace treaty was signed. River-powered industry was encouraged in New England as soon as the restrictions of old England were gone. Building a business wasn't always easy. The new country had to compete with British manufacturers who were dumping, for cheap prices, products that had been bottled up by the war.

Expanding the country

The ink had barely dried on the Treaty of Paris when Congress sat down to plan for the expansion of the United States into its western lands. The Land Ordinance of 1785 provided that the land in the old Northwest Territory — covering what are now Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin — should be sold to help pay off the national debt. The proceeds from the sale of 1 out of 36 sections went to support local schools, a gift to education that was unheard of in the rest of the world.

Then even more important, the Northwest Ordinance (1787) let the new lands pass quickly from dependent territories to full partnership as states as soon as any given territory had 60,000 residents. It also banned slavery in the Northwest Territory.


Question: What was the major purpose of the Northwest Ordinance?

Answer: The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 provided rules for admission of new states and prohibited slavery in the Northwest Territory.

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