In the course of passing the Northwest Ordinance, the states gave up claims to land in what was then the West. This land was administered by the United States government, instead of the states', and so established federal administration of territories.
The ordinance dealt with the question of the admission of new states.
It also dealt, though without complete success, with the issue of the extension of slavery.
There is a link below to an article on the Northwest Ordinance.
On August 7, 1789, President George Washington signed the Northwest Ordinance of 1789 into law. The act was an ordinance to establish the Northwest Territory, the first organized territory of the United States, from lands south of the Great Lakes, north and west of the Ohio River, and east of the Mississippi River.
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