The Northwest Territory, also called the Old Northwest, was the region north of the Ohio River, south of Canada, east of the Mississippi River and west of the thirteen original states. The area would eventually become the states of Ohio (in 1803), Indiana (in 1816), Illinois (in 1818), Michigan (in 1837), Wisconsin (in 1848) and Minnesota (in 1858). The abundance of inexpensive land gave opportunities to make a living to a wide range of people. Life in the Northwest was daily challenging, as settlers and Native Americans battled with each other and with the environment. Eventually, towns and cities developed from trading posts as transportation improved and populations increased.
Indians and settlers faced harsh winters, as well as threats of attacks from each other. The settlers were challenged by the lack of easy access to the amenities of the East. Only the strongest and most determined were able to make a success. Nevertheless, animals for food and furs were plentiful, as was land for cultivation. These opportunities allowed people of different economic backgrounds to achieve great success. The difficulties of life in the Northwest encouraged a "no-nonsense" attitude among many. People who would have faced discrimination out East, such as free blacks, found greater freedom in the Northwest.
South of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River were the states of the Southwest, also called the Old Southwest. These states were Kentucky (statehood in 1792), Tennessee (statehood in 1796), Mississippi (statehood in 1817) and Alabama (statehood in 1819). Mississippi and Alabama became part of the "deep south," along with Louisiana, which was admitted to the Union in 1812. Kentucky and Tennessee belonged more to the West than the other states of the Southwest. These "upper south" states had slavery, but had fewer plantations and slaves than states further south.