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Map of Ohio showing the boundaries of the Ohio Company Purchase on the lower right.
Rufus Putnam
Pioneer wagon
Plaque at Marietta, Ohio commemorating the Ohio Company of Associates

The Ohio Company of Associates, also known as the Ohio Company, was a land company which is today credited with becoming the first non-American Indian group to settle in the present-day state of Ohio. It was formed on March 1, 1786, by General Rufus Putnam, Benjamin Tupper, Samuel Holden Parsons and Manasseh Cutler, who had met in Boston, Massachusetts to discuss the settlement of the territory around the Ohio River.

Cutler was sent to New York to negotiate with the [Congress of the Confederation]] to help the company secure a claim on the portion of land they were interested in. While there, Cutler aligned himself with William Duer, secretary of the U.S. Treasury Board. Duer and his associates formed a steadfast group of New York speculators determined for the settlement of the area west of the Appalachians.[1] At this time, Congress desperately needed revenue. It was the economic strain and the pressure from Duer and Cutler that helped them to secure the incorporation in the Northwest Ordinance, for the government of the Northwest Territory of the paragraphs which prohibited slavery and provided for public education and for the support of the ministry.

After the creation of the Northwest Territory, Cutler suggested that the governor of the territory be General Arthur St. Clair, who was then serving as the President of Congress. Once St. Clair had been appointed to his new position, two new contracts were signed on October 27, 1787 between St. Clair, Cutler, and Major Winthrop Sargent, the secretary of the Ohio Company. The first was for the absolute purchase for the Ohio Company, of 1,500,000 acres (6,000 km²) of land at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers from a point near the site of the present Marietta, to a point nearly opposite the site of the present Huntington, West Virginia, for a payment of $1 million in government securities, then worth about 12¢ specie to the dollar. The contract also provided that one section of land in every township be devoted to the maintenance of public schools, another section be set apart for religious uses, and two entire townships be reserved for a university.

The second contract was an option to buy all the land between the Ohio and the Scioto rivers and the western boundary line of the Ohio Company's tract, extending north of the tenth survey township from the Ohio, this tract being preempted by Manasseh Cutler and Winthrop Sargent for themselves and others actually for the Scioto Company. Cutler's original intent was to buy for the Ohio Company only about 1,500,000 acres (6,000 km²), but on the July 27, Congress authorized a grant of about 5,000,000 acres (20,000 km²) of land for $3,500,000; a reduction of one-third was allowed for bad tracts, and it was also provided that the lands could be paid for in United States securities. On the same day, Cutler and Sargent for themselves and associates transferred to William Duer, then Secretary of the Treasury Board, and his associates one equal moiety of the Scioto tract of land mentioned in the second contract, it being provided that both parties were to be equally interested in the sale of the land, and were to share equally any profit or loss. However, the interest of the Scioto Company was only speculative, and their contract lapsed before any land was purchased. In contrast, the Ohio Company held a genuine plan of settlement.

In 1788, General Rufus Putnam laid out the plans for Marietta, the first permanent settlement in the present state of Ohio. Pioneers were sent out by the Ohio Company from New England to Marietta. The first purchase was in Washington, Meigs, Gallia, Lawrence and Athens Counties.

In 1792, a second purchase was made of over 200,000 acres (800 km²) in Morgan, Hocking, Vinton and Athens Counties, but in 1796, the Ohio Company divided its shares and ceased to be a genuine land company.

See also

Bibliography

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Additional references include:

  • Hildreth, S. P.: Pioneer History: Being an Account of the First Examinations of the Ohio Valley, and the Early Settlement of the Northwest Territory, H. W. Derby and Co., Cincinnati, Ohio (1848).
  • Hulbert, Archer Butler: The Records of the Original Proceedings of the Ohio Company, Volume I, Marietta Historical Commission, Marietta, Ohio (1917).
  • Hulbert, Archer Butler: The Records of the Original Proceedings of the Ohio Company, Volume II, Marietta Historical Commission, Marietta, Ohio (1917).

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