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236th Anniversary of the Northwest Territory Ordinance of 1787 Celebration


July 13, 2023    
10:00 am - 11:00 am


Muskingum Park
310 Front Street, Marietta, Ohio, 45750

Event Type

236th Anniversary of the Northwest Territory Ordinance of 1787 Celebration

Muskingum Park, Marietta, Washington County, Ohio


“Slavery Prohibited, Religion Necessary, and Education Forever Encouraged!”


The 236th Anniversary of the Ordinance of 1787 Celebration Committee wishes to invite the public to our ceremony on Thursday, July 13, 2023 at the Start Westward Monument in East Muskingum Park, Front Street, Marietta, Ohio, 45750.


10:00 am to 10:30am – First Congregational Church, the “Church of the Pioneers” bell ringing of the carillon will be performed with various patriotic tunes. Guests are invited to climb the steps into the bell tower to watch as Sean Lofty operates the wooden levers to engage the chimes.

10:30am – Program – 236th Northwest Ordinance of 1787 Commemoration at the “Start Westward Memorial”. Keynote Speakers: Ohio Representative & Assistant Minority Leader Dontavius L. Jarrells, Ranking Member of the Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education. Prior to his election to the Ohio House, Jarrells worked at the Franklin County Treasurer’s Office as the Chief of Communications.; Ohio Representative Don Jones, Chair of the Finance Subcommittee on Agriculture, Development, and Natural Resources & Member of the Primary and Secondary Education Committee. Jones was a teacher at Harrison Central High School for 23 years.

Northwest Ordinance, 1787; Supporting Public Education – In the Northwest Ordinance, the nation’s first legislators laid down the principles for public education. The ordinance, which predated the Constitution, framed the plan for governing the territories “north and west of the river Ohio” and their admission to the Union. (The ordinance also banned slavery and guaranteed religious and civil freedom.)

This event is a tribute to the Continental Congress and all Patriots of the American Revolution, and focuses on the history of the founding of the Northwest Territory under the Ordinance of 1787. Many historians describe the Ordinance as one of the top three “Human Rights” documents in the world. Author David McCullough described the Ordinance best on page 30 of his new book, The Pioneers; “the great Northwest Ordinance of 1787 stands alongside the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence as a bold assertion of the rights of the individual.”


DATES in HISTORY: July 13, 1787, the day the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 is adopted; July 9, 1788, the date Territorial Governor Arthur St. Clair arrived at Marietta; July 15, 1788 the day Gov. St Clair opened Territorial government for business.

Celebration Committee Co-Chairs: Marietta Mayor, Josh Schlicher; former Ohio Governor Nancy Hollister; Dr. Sharon Barnett, Board Member of The Multicultural Genealogical Center; Lila Hill, Marietta Daughters of the American Revolution; Jean Yost, Northwest Territory Museum Society, Campus Martius & Ohio River Museums.

Note: This is an outdoor event under the small temporary protective shelter covering the monument, in case of rain we will conduct the program in the First Congregational Church at 318 Front Street, Marietta, OH 45750 (Directly across the street from the monument.)


Ordinance of 1787 Celebration Program Support: City of Marietta; Museum of the Northwest Territory – Campus Martius; First Congregational Church; Marietta Chapter Sons of the American Revolution; Washington County Public Library; Washington County Veterans Service Office; The Multicultural Genealogical Center and the Marietta Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution.


HISTORIC BACKGROUND: Marietta, Washington County, Ohio, is the site of the first organized settlement and Capital of the Northwest Territory.  After the Revolutionary War, many New England officers and enlisted men formed the Ohio Company and left their homes for life on the frontier.  Landing at the mouth of the Muskingum (site of Fort Harmar and the 1st American Regiment of the U.S. Army) on 7 April 1788, a group of 48 patriots led by General Rufus Putnam, founded Marietta and started the western expansion of the United States.  Over the next several years, a great many soldiers, sailors, and/or their families came to live here in a county named for their leader, General George Washington. These men who had fought for their country’s independence in the American Revolution had lobbied with the new Congress for land as payment for their service.  One result of the efforts of these men was the creation of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 which established territories North of the Ohio River to Canada and East of the Mississippi River, abolished slavery (Article VI) and served as the model for the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution. The Northwest Ordinance was unanimously passed on 13 July 1787 as one of the first significant pieces of legislation passed by the Continental Congress after the war.  On 17 September 1787, almost 2 months to the day of the passing of the Northwest Ordinance, Congress slightly modified that Ordinance and adopted it as our U.S. Constitution.


ADDITIONAL PROGRAMMING: 9:30am to 5:00pm – The Museum of the Northwest Territory – Campus Martius, tour the General Rufus Putnam House, constructed in 1788 as part of the Campus Martius fortification. (Regular admission rates) Note: Territorial Governor Arthur St Clair and other officials conducted official business at the first Capital of the Northwest Territory, Campus Martius. Check out the exhibit “Celebrating the Pioneers,” based on the book The Pioneers by David McCullough, and explore the lives and personal objects owned by some of the individuals mentioned in the book.