We're Free... Let's Grow!

Lesson Plan

As soon as America won its independence, the new government had to start making decisions about how things would work in the nation they’d just created. With the end of the Revolutionary War, America’s geographical size doubled… but how should new territory be added to the United States? In this lesson, students learn about the issues raised by this American “first” and the challenges the nation faced with its new Northwest Territory. 


  • Identify the Northwest Territory as part of new territory the U.S. acquired from Great Britain as part of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
  • Describe the role of the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance in incorporating the Northwest Territory into the United States.
  • Use maps to depict the new territory’s incorporation.
  • Explain the tension between U.S. and Native American interests in the territory, including U.S. policy toward native tribes.
  • Distinguish incorporation of the Northwest Territory as an accomplishment of the U.S. government under the Articles of Confederation.