Viewing Jonathan Hughes: "The Great Land Ordinances." (1987).
"The Great Land Ordinances" is the name the late Jonathan Hughes gave to the ordinances of 1784, 1785, and 1787, which were passed by Congress under the Article of Confederation. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was, according to Hughes, "largely an update of the legislation of 1784, and it embraced the 1785 ordinance. That law laid out the scheme for celestial surveys, before the land went up for sale, with the lands divided into square townships of 36 square miles each, 6 miles by 6 miles. The 1785 survey system is part of the metaphorical American thumb-print and...is still the way Americans measure their lands." Because of the surveys, every parcel of land for sale had a "distinct trigonometric identity."