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.) In 1789, Congress reenacted the ordinance and subsequently extended its provisions to other western territories as the United States became a transcontinental nation.