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America's History in the Making

Resource Archive: Search Results

The Utmost Good Faith Clause

Utmost Good Faith Clause of the Northwest Ordinance

Article III.
�Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and, in their property, rights, and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress; but laws founded in justice and humanity, shall from time to time be made for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them.

Continental Congress. "The Northwest Ordinance,"
July 13,1787. http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/ordinanc.html.

Creator Congress
Context The new nation had to decide how to create new territories and states, and how to treat indigenous nations.
Audience The nation
Purpose To establish law

Historical Significance

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was one of the few consequential pieces of legislation passed under the Confederation, before the new government described by the new Constitution took effect. The bill detailed how new territories would be created and administered. Though many settlers would find it too conservative, the bill ensured that territories could eventually become states with the same rights as the original thirteen.

Article III of the ordinance spoke to how the United States would treat the Indian nations that controlled the land settlers wished to take. The nation's leaders wished to acquire Indian land in a way that seemed just.

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