Published Thu, Jul 12, 2012 1:22 pm Dateline
Historians and southeast Ohio residents are preparing to celebrate a milestone anniversary of an ordinance that affected the futures of five states.
The city of Marietta is celebrating the 225th Anniversary of the Northwest Territory Ordinance on July 13.
In 1787, that territory included all land west of Pennsylvania and northwest of the Ohio River, or, what are today the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Jean Yost, co-chair of the 225th Marietta & Northwest Territory committee, says the document is important because various legal and property rights were established and religious tolerance was proclaimed even before national leaders did so in the Constitution.
"To me, it is more important than the Constitution because in it, it prohibited slavery and set the guidelines that mostly was used in establishing the Constitution a couple months later," said Yost.
Yost says while the Ordinance established rights such as habeas corpus and trial by jury, it also banned punishments such as excessive fines and cruel and unusual punishment.
Knowing how great an impact this territory had on the Constitution, Yost says he's upset most of the country will not be recognizing this anniversary.
"I should hope that it will be celebrated all across the country, however, most look at our Declaration of Independence and the constitution and they ignore all the years in between," he explained.
The celebration is set for 11 a.m. and will be held at Start Westward Monument in East Muskingum Park.