LAND ORDINANCE OF 1785

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND-
The Land Ordinance of 1785 was adopted by the United States Congress on May 20,1785. Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress did not have the power to raise revenue by direct taxation of the inhabitants of the United States. Therefore, the immediate goal of the ordinance was to raise money through the sale of land in the largely unmapped territory west of the original colonies acquired from Britain at the end of the Revolutionary War. The ordinance was also significant for establishing a mechanism for funding public education. Section 16 in each township was reserved for the maintenance of public schools. Many schools today are still located in section sixteen of their respective township .



The Land Ordinance of 1785 divided much of the U.S. into a system of townships and ranges to facilitate the sale of land to settlers in the west.


CHARACTERISTICS~


* Land was to be systematically surveyed into square "townships", six miles (9.656 km) on a side.
* Each of these townships were sub-divided into à

thirty-six"sections" of one square mile (2.59 km²) or 640 acres.

* These sections could then be further subdivided for sale to settlers and land speculators.


HOW TO READ THE TOWNSHIP AND RANGE SYSTEM?


Each township has a number corresponding to its distance north or south. Townships in the first row north of a baseline are called T1N (Township 1 North), the second row to the south is T1S. The second number of the township is known as the range (location east or west of a meridian). First column townships are designed R1E (Range 1 East).



HOW IT APPLIES TODAY?

The township and range system helps explain location in the U.S. It explains the location of highways across the Midwest, farm fields in Iowa, and major streets in Chicago.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_Ordinance_of_1785 (external link)