What were the underlying concerns and larger issues related to the Northwest Ordinance?

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Remember, the peace terms that ended the Revolutionary War, in addition to recognizing American independence, also saw a dramatic expansion in territory, with the United States extending further west to the Mississippi River. However, this expansion raised important political questions as to who would own these territories and how it was to be administered. You can even view this situation as a potential political crisis, given that individual states were actually taking advantage of this recent expansion by advancing territorial claims of their own.

Ultimately, the Northwest Ordinance determined that these newly acquired territories would not fall under the control of any of the original states. Instead, it created a procedure by which, over time, these new territories would eventually be allowed to apply for the status of statehood within the United States. Thus, it created the precedent that would guide the further expansion of the United States, and can be understood as one of the most significant achievements under the Articles of Confederation.

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