Northwest Ordinance Sesquicentennial
In 1937, the United States celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society proposed a national celebration of this important document. The government of the Northwest Territory was organized on July 15, 1788 in Marietta, Ohio. Residents of Marietta formed a committee and lobbied President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the United States Congress for financial support. The federal government appropriated $100,000.00 for the event, and the other states that once comprised the Northwest Territory also contributed funds.
Two major events were featured during the celebration. One was an eight-act play that traced the development of the United States from 1754 to the establishment of the Northwest Territorial government in Marietta. The other commemorative event was a wagon train trip from Ipswich, Massachusetts, to Marietta. Thirty-six men left from Ipswich where the first settlers had departed for Marietta nearly 150 years earlier. The trip took approximately five months. The participants arrived in Marietta on April 7, 1938. In addition to the overland trip and the play, the Northwest Territory Celebration Commission sponsored several essay contests for people of all ages.
The sesquicentennial celebration was a success. During the 1930s, the Great Depression gripped the United States. Many Americans found themselves unemployed and homeless. The celebration helped remind people of their nation's past and provided them with hope that they and their country would be able to survive the economic crisis.