120 - Hip to Be Square: the Land Ordinance of 1785



The United States expanded westward in ever more rectangular fashion, leading to states out west that are so square, they’re only recognisable in their geographical context.


This map dates from the beginning of that expansion of ‘square-ness’, and provides an insight into the method of surveying, claiming and taking possession of new territories, as it was done in the US of that day.


In 1785, the US Congress adopted the Land Ordinance Act in order to raise money: under the Articles of Confederation, Congress couldn’t tax US citizens directly, but could raise money by selling land in the recently acquired Northwest Territory.


The Land Ordinance also provided for the division and organisation of the land to be sold, provisions that remained central to US land policy until the Homestead Act (1862). Those provisions were:
\n• Surveyed land was to be divided into square townships
\n• Each side of such township squares was to be 6 miles long (or 480 ‘chains’: 80 ‘chains’ to the mile)
\n• Each township was to be subdivided into 36 sections of 1 square mile (640 acres; 259 hectares) each
\n• Section #1 would be the northeasternmost one, the numbers then adding up westward. In the second row, the numbers would then again run west to east, zigzagging like this all the way down
\n• Each section could be further subdivided for sale to settlers and speculators
\n• Some sections were reserved for specific purposes. Public schools were often established in section #16 of each township. Sections #8, 11, 26 and 29 were at least in theory reserved as compensation for veterans of the Revolutionary War.


This map taken here from the Official Federal Land Records website of the Bureau of Land Management (US Dep’t of the Interior), the text based on the relevant Wikipedia entry.


LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Want to age gracefully? A new study says live meaningfully

Thinking your life is worthwhile is correlated with a variety of positive outcomes.

Surprising Science
  • A new study finds that adults who feel their lives are meaningful have better health and life outcomes.
  • Adults who felt their lives were worthwhile tended to be more social and had healthier habits.
  • The findings could be used to help improve the health of older adults.
Keep reading Show less