Ohio History Journal



Archaeological and Historical










The beginning of the year 1783 saw the Revolutionary war

virtually at an end, although the final treaty of peace was not

signed until September third. The colonies had achieved their

independence at the price of the lives of many, and the fortunes

of all of their defenders. The Continental currency, despite

the fiat of the government, had long since ceased to be of value.

Since 1780 all army supplies had been purchased with interest

bearing notes, payable in coin, issued by the Quartermaster

General by authority of Congress. These were known as "Con-

tinental specie certificates" and had depreciated to about one

sixth their par value. The troops were about disbanded; there

was no money to pay them. Many meetings were held among

the officers and many plans for securing the arrearages of pay

were discussed. All conferences came to the same conclusion.

The United States had no credit upon which to borrow money,

no power to enforce the collection of a tax, no property with

which to pay its debts. The only apparent resource was the

land west of the Alleghenies belonging to the Indians, the

In preparing this paper I have made liberal extracts from an essay

read by me before the Cincinnati Literary Club, in 1881, a few copies of

which were printed. I have also used, with consent of the publisher,

almost the whole of an article on the Scioto Purchase, published in the

Magazine of American History, December 1889.

Vol. IV-1

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English claim to which had been ceded to the United States by

the preliminary articles of peace made known in America in

March, 1783. Even there some of the States claimed prior

rights. Hoping by successful revolution to acquire these lands,

Congress had, in 1776 and 1780, agreed to give certain amounts

to all officers and soldiers who should serve through the war or

become disabled in it. About the first of April, 1783, Colonel

Timothy Pickering, then Quartermaster General, presented to a

meeting of officers a proposition, to be made to Congress on

behalf of the Army, for the formation of a new State, west of

the Ohio river, as follows:

"Proposition* for settling a new    State by such officers and

soldiers of the Federal army, as shall associate for that purpose.'

"1. That the United States purchase of the natives that

tract of country that is bounded by Pennsylvania on the east,

the river Ohio on the south, a meridian line drawn thirty miles

west of the river Scioto on the west, this meridian line to run

from the Ohio to the Miami River, which runs into Lake Erie,-

and by this river and Lake Erie on the north.

" 2. That, in the first instance, lands be assigned to the army

to fulfill the engagements of the United States by the resolutions

of September 16, 1776, August 13 and September 30, 1780, to-



To     a                                                                                                                                      major-general   ............ .. ................                      1,100             acres.

To  a                                                                                         brigadier-general ..............................               850          acres.

To  a                                                                                         colonel ......... ..... ........................   500          acres.

To  a lieutenant-colonel ..............................                             450 acres.

To  amajor ...... ............... ..................                                      400 acres.

To a captain ..................................                                                                                        300 acres.

To  a lieutenant .....................................                                                                                   200     acres.

To an ensign, or cornet  ...........................                                150 acres.

To a non-commissioned officer or soldier .............                 100 acres.

To the director of the military hospitals ...........                                                            850 acres.

To the chief physician and purveyor, each. .........                     500 acres.

To physicians, surgeons and apothecary, each ........                  450 acres.

To regimental surgeons, and assistants to the purveyor

and apothecary, each .................  ..                                                               400 acres.

To hospital and regimental surgeon's mates, each ....                                                 300 acres.


* Life of Timothy Pickering, Volume 1, page 546.

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc.               3


"3. That all associates who shall actually settle in the new

State, within one year after the purchase shall be effected, and

notice given by Congress or the committee of the associators,

that the same is ready for settlement (such notice to be published

in the newspapers of all the United States), shall receive such

additional quantities of land as to make their respective rights

in the whole to contain the following number of acres, to-wit:


A major-general ................................ 2,400 acres.

A brigadier-general ................................ 2,200 acres.

A  colonel.  ..........................................  2,000  acres.

A lieutenant-colonel ......................... 1,800 acres.

A major    ................... ..... ..................  1,600                       acres.

A captain  .................. .................... 1,400                             acres.

A lieutenant ............. ...................  .......                                1,200 acres.

An            ensign, or  cornet ................................                  1,000 acres.

A  sergeant ..........................................                                   700    acres.

Other non-commissioned officers and soldiers, each... 600 acres.

And 50 acres more for each member of a family, besides the

head of it.

"4. That the rights of the officers in the medical depart

ment be increased in like manner on the same condition.

"5. That all officers in the other staff departments, who

shall actually settle in the new State within the time above

limited, shall receive rights of land in the proportions last stated,

on an equitable comparison of their stations with the ranks of

the officers of the line and the medical staff.

"6. That this increased provision of lands shall extend to

all officers of the line and staff, and to all non-commissioned

officers and soldiers, who, during the present war, have performed

in the whole three years service, whether in service or not at the

close of the war, provided they present their claim and become

actual settlers in the new State by the time above limited.

"7. These rights being secured, all the surplus lands shall

be the common property of the State, and disposed of for the

common good; as for laying out roads, building bridges, erecting

public buildings, establishing schools and academies, defraying

the expenses of government, and other public uses.

"8. That every grantee shall have a house built and

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acres of land cleared on his right within - years, or the same

shall be forfeited to the state.

"9. That to enable the associators to undertake the settle-

ment of the new state, the United States defray the expenses of

the march thither, furnish the necessary utensils of husbandry

and such live stock as shall be indispensably necessary for com-

mencing the settlement, and subsistence for three years, to wit:

One ration of bread and meat per day to each man, woman and

child; and to every soldier a suit of clothes annually, the cost of

these articles to be charged to the accounts of arrearages due to

the members of the association respectively.

"10. That, for the security of the state against Indians,

every officer and soldier go armed, the arms to be furnished

by the United States and charged to the accounts of arrearages.

Ammunition to be supplied in the same way.

" 11. That a constitution for the new state be formed by

the members of the new state previous to their commencing the

settlement, two-thirds of the associators present at a meeting

duly notified for that purpose agreeing therein. The total ex-

clusion of slavery from the state to form an essential and irre-

vocable part of the constitution.

"12. That the associators so assembled agree on such gen-

eral rules as they shall deem necessary for the prevention and

punishment of crime and the preservation of the peace and good

order in the state, to have the force of laws during the space of

two years, unless an assembly of the state, formed agreeably to

the constitution, shall sooner repeal them.

"13. That the state so constituted shall be admitted into

the confederacy of the United States, and entitled to all the

benefits of the Union in common with the other members


"14. That at the above mentioned meeting of the as-

sociators, delegates be chosen to represent them in the Congress

of the United States, to take their seats as soon as the new state

shall be erected.

"15. That, the associators having borne together as breth-

ren the dangers and calamities of war, and feeling that mutual

friendship which long acquaintance and common sufferings give

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc.       5


rise to- it being also the obvious dictate of humanity to supply

the wants of the needy and alleviate the distresses of the

afflicted-it shall be an inviolable rule to take under the im-

mediate patronage of the State the wives and children of such

associators, who, having settled there, shall die, or by cause of

wounds or sickness, be rendered unable to improve their planta-

tions, or follow their occupations during the first twenty-one

years, so that such destitute and distressed families shall receive

such public aid as, joined with their own reasonable exertions,

will maintain them in a manner suitable to the condition of the

heads of them; especially that the children, when grown up,

may be on a footing with other children, whose parents, at the

original formation of the State, were in similar circumstances

with those of the former."

This paper was placed in the hands of General Rufus Put-

nam "for consideration, amendment and suggestion." Under

his direction a petition was prepared to Congress asking that the

lands, to which the signers were entitled, be located within the

tract described in Colonel Pickering's proposition, and that addi-

tional amounts be sold to them for public securities. This peti-

tion, signed by 288 officers of the Continental line, was for-

warded by General Putnam to General Washington, June 16,

1783. In his letter transmitting it, General Putnam referred to

his own interest in the subject, gave at length reasons why it

should be promptly considered, and urged General Washington

to use his influence with Congress to secure favorable action.

General Washington forwarded the petition and General Putnam's

letter to Congress, June 17, 1783, strongly recommending it. No

attention was given to it, for Congress was then engaged with the

claims of the various States to the same territory. These claims

were finally settled by the acceptance, March 1, 1784, of Vir-

ginia's deed of cession.  On April 23, 1784, an ordinance for

the temporary government of the Western Territory, drawn by

Thomas Jefferson, was adopted. It provided for the formation of

ten states in the territory. Within the limits named the residents

were given authority to at once form a state government by

selecting the constitution and laws of any existing State, subject

to change by a legislature of their own choosing. A population

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of twenty thousand was permitted to form a permanent constitu-

tion and government. Whenever any of these States should

have as many free inhabitants as the least populous of the

original thirteen States it could be admitted to the Union if its

government was republican and it would recognize the primary

ownership of the United States to the soil and assume its pro

rata of the federal debt.

On January 21, 1785, the United States acquired by treaty,

with part of the Indian tribes claiming it, their title to what

is now the State of Ohio. On May 20, following, an ordinance

was passed providing a method for the survey and sale of

the lands in the western territory.  This ordinance provided

for the survey of the lands, in sections, towns, and ranges

under general direction of Captain Thomas Hutchins, who was

styled the Geographer of the United States, assisted by a sur-

veyor from each state. When the first seven ranges were com-

pleted a report was to be made to the Secretary of War who was

to select by lot one-seventh of the lands to fulfill the engagements

of Congress to the army, four sections in each township were

reserved for future sale, one section in each township was set

apart for the support of schools therein, and the remainder was

to be offered at public sale at one dollar per acre in cash or gov-

ernment obligations at par. Town number one in each range

was to be sold entire, town number two by sections, and so on

alternately.  Gen. Rufus Putnam was appointed the surveyor

from Massachusetts.  Other engagements prevented him from

accepting and he secured the appointment of General Benjamin

Tupper in his place. The surveyors assembled at Pittsburgh in

the fall of 1785. Colonel Hutchins asked the Indians by *mes-

sage if they would protect the surveyors while at work. The

Indians discovering that he feared them, notified him to keep

away.  Most of the surveyors returned home in the winter.

Although they had not been beyond Fort Pitt yet, they had

heard glowing accounts of the fertility of the soil northwest of

the Ohio river from Indian traders, soldiers, adventurers and the

Indians themselves. On his return to Massachusetts General

*NOTE.- See Gen. Tupper to Gen. Putnam, Jan. 17, 1792. Magazine

American History, June 1891, page 503.

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc.       7


Tupper visited General Putnam at his home in Rutland. After

a night's conference they united in a call to all officers and sol-

diers of the late war who were entitled to lands in the Ohio

Country, and to all persons who desired to become adventurers

in that delightful region, to meet in their different counties and

appoint delegates to a meeting to be held at the Bunch of Grapes

Tavern in Boston, March 1, 1786, to form an association by the

name of the Ohio Company. At this meeting articles of associ-

ation were adopted. They state the design of the Association to

be to raise a fund in continental specie certificates "for the sole

purpose and entire use" of purchasing lands in the western terri-

tory. The fund was not to exceed one million dollars in conti-

nental specie certificates and one year's interest thereon. Each

share was to be one thousand dollars, and each share was to con-

tribute, in addition to one year's interest on the certificates, ten

dollars in specie, as an expense fund. No person was permitted

to hold over five shares.

In November, 1785, a detachment of troops under Major

Doughty was sent to the mouth of the Muskingum river, and a

fort, known thereafter as Fort Harmar, was established on its

western bank. On January 31, 1786, the Delaware, Shawnee

and Wyandot Indians by a treaty made at Fort Finney, ceded

to the United States all their claims to the territory northwest

of the Ohio river except certain reservations.  Early in the

summer of 1786 the surveyors commenced work on the seven

ranges and finished in December following.

On March 8, 1787, a meeting of the Ohio Company was

held in Boston. Two hundred and fifty shares only had been

subscribed.  The reason for the small subscription was the

impossibility of securing a compact body of lands under the

method of sale provided in the land ordinance of 1785. So cer-

tain were those present that all the shares would be quickly

placed if a satisfactory purchase could be negotiated that General

Rufus Putnam, General S. H. Parsons and Rev. Manasseh Cutler

were chosen directors and were ordered to make immediate appli-

cation to Congress "for a private purchase of lands and under

such descriptions as they shall deem adequate to the purposes of

the Company." The directors empowered General Parsons to

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apply to Congress advising him that their preference was to go

no farther west than a meridian line drawn through the western

cape of the Great Kanawha river, but leaving him free to exer-

cise his own judgment. General Parsons presented a petition in

May. In conference with the committee, to which the petition

was referred, he proposed a purchase of lands on the Scioto river.

There was not a quorum present; no action could be taken then

and General Parsons returned home. He reported his action by

letter to other members of the board. It greatly alarmed Gen-

eral Putnam who had long been convinced that a location between

the Muskingum and Big Kanawha rivers would comprise the best

lands in the West. In 1773 he had met Thomas Hutchins, who

had spent twenty years on the Ohio, the Mississippi and the

waters of the great lakes, in the English service.* He had seen

his map before its publication and from his account, verified by

subsequent inquiry, he had determined that this location com-

prised the best lands in the Western Territory, all things con-

sidered, for so large a tract as the Ohio Company required. His

own engagements made it impossible for him to go on to New

York where Congress was in session, and he insisted that Doctor

Cutler should go and take charge of the negotiation. Putnam

and Cutler united in a letter to Major Sargent, Secretary of the

Ohio Company, who was then in New York, telling him that they

could not on any account consent to the location proposed by

General Parsons, and asking him to prevent any action by Con-

gress until Doctor Cutler's arrival. Doctor Cutler started to New

York June 24. He spent two days, en route, with General

Parsons, at his home in Middletown, Connecticut, who made no

objection to his mission but gave him every aid in his power.

Doctor Cutler reached New York on the evening of July 5, and

on the following day made formal application to Congress for the

purchase of lands for the Ohio Company. He met the Committee

to whom the petition was referred on July 6, 7 and 9, and on

on the 10th had a long interview with Mr. Dane.

Congress was engaged in completing a form of government


* See letter General Putnam to M. Witham. Magazine American His-

tory, June, 1888.

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc.      9


for the Western Territory. Until that was finished no action was

expected or desired upon the proposed purchase of lands.

The ordinance of 1784 had proved entirely inoperative.

Many efforts had been made to devise a better one. The idea

of a temporary government under direct control of congress did

not take form until May 10, 1786, when an ordinance was

reported by a committee, of which James Monroe was chairman,

which provided for a governor, a council of five members and

five judges, to be appointed by Congress, who were to select

and enforce laws taken from an existing code until the popula-

tion of a district reached twenty thousand, when it might be ad-

mitted as a State in the manner stated in the ordinance of 1784.

No action was had upon this. Another ordinance in the same

form, somewhat improved, was reported to Congress April 26,

1787. It had passed to a third reading May 10, but Congress

adjourned without finally acting upon it. General Parsons had

presented the petition of the Ohio Company for a purchase

of lands on May 9. It may well be that it was at his request the

vote on the ordinance was postponed until the principal men in

the Ohio Company could have an opportunity to consider it.

No one else had the direct personal interest in it that they

had. There was no quorum in Congress until July 4. Doctor

Cutler again presented the petition of the Ohio Company July 6.

It was referred to a committee consisting of Edward Carrington,

Nathan Dane, Egbert Penson, Rufus King and James Madison.

The ordinance for the government of the territory was at once

called up and on the same day was referred to a committee con-

sisting of Edward Carrington, Nathan Dane, R. H. Lee, Smith,

of New York, and Kean, of South Carolina. King and Madi-

son were in Philadelphia attending the constitutional convention,

of which they were members. It will be noted that whenever

the representative of the Ohio Company met the committee

appointed to consider his petition for the purchase of lands he

also met Mr. Carrington and Mr. Dane, two of the most in-

fluential members of the committee who were considering the

governmental ordinance. A copy of the bill, which had passed

to a third reading May 10, was submitted to Dr. Cutler " with

leave to make remarks and propose amendments." On July 10

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he returned it with his observations and proposed amendments

and set out for a short visit to Philadelphia. On July 19 he re-

turned to New York, and writes in his journal that he was

furnished with the "ordinance establishing a government in

Western federal territory. The amendments I proposed have all

been made except one, and that is better qualified." It related

to taxation.  The principal change made in remodeling the

ordinance was the addition of the articles of compact, six in

number. Exactly what amendments Dr. Cutler proposed is no-

where recorded. That the remodeling was to accord with the

wishes and interests of the Ohio Company* there can be no

question. They alone were proposing a settlement. The orig-

inal proposition of Colonel Timothy Pickering, which was the

foundation of the company, provided that the settlers of the pro-

posed new State should form for its government before remov-

ing to it a completed constitution, an essential part of which

should be the total and irrevocable prohibition of slavery. They

were asking for a "private purchase of lands" in violation of

the existing law, and in preservation of their rights and their

property they required that no law " ought ever to be made

or have force in the said territory" to interfere with or in any

manner affect " private contract or engagements bona fide and

without fraud, previously formed."   The grants of land they

asked for the support of ministry, of school and the establish-


That the Ohio Company was the moving power in securing the pas-

sage of the ordinance of 1787 sufficiently appears in the following contem-

porary testimony:

Nathan Dane to Rufus King, July 16, 1787: "The Ohio Company ap-

peared to purchase a large tract west of the federal lands-about six

or seven millions of acres - and we wanted to abolish the old system and

get a better one for the government of the country."

R. H. Lee to General Washington, July 15,1787: " I have the honor

to enclose to you an ordinance that we have just passed in Congress for

establishing a temporary government beyond the Ohio, as a measure pre-

paratory to the sale of lands."

It is worth noting also that of the five territorial officials appointed by

Congress under the ordinance of 1787 four were members of the Ohio

Company. Governor St. Clair was a shareholder, Major Winthrop Sargent,

the secretary of the territory, was secretary of the Ohio Company, and

Judges Parsons and Varnum were members of its board of directors.

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc.       11


ment of a university, required to become effective, the mandate

to the legislature to foster religion and encourage the means

of education. Good faith to the Indians, their only neighbors,

was essential to friendly relations with them. The free use

of the navigable waters of the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence

was in the highest degree necessary to them.*

The governmental ordinance passed, Doctor Cutler pressed

Congress for immediate action on the position of the Ohio

Company. Much to his chagrin he found a considerable oppo-

sition. Colonel Duer, Secretary of the Board of Treasury came

to him with a proposition from some of the leading characters in

the city to extend the purchase and take in another company.

Major Sargent strongly advocated it. After carefully consider-

ing the plan, Doctor Cutler assented. By diligent work on the

part of all who were interested, Congress was induced to pass an

ordinance July 23, empowering the Board of Treasury to contract

with any person or persons for a grant of a tract of land bounded

by the seventh range of townships on the east; the Ohio river

on the south; the Scioto river on the west and a line drawn from

the northern boundery of the tenth township from the Ohio, due

west to the Scioto river on the north. Reservations were made

of one section in each township for schools, one for the purposes

of religion and three for future sale by Congress. Two entire

townships were given for a university. The price was one

dollar per acre cash or public securities at par subject to an

allowance of one third for bad lands. Land warrants were

admitted, acre for acre, in payment of not over one seventh the

amount of the purchase. A payment of five hundred thousand

dollars was to be made on closing the contract and the remainder

when the exterior line of the whole tract was run by the Geo-

grapher or other officer of the United States. No deed was to

be given until all payments were made. The Board of Treasury

was authorized to give a right to entry upon a portion of the

tract. This ordinance though in many respects stating terms more

favorable than the friends of the grant expected, did not permit

* For a thorough and exhaustive discussion of Dr. Cutler's agency in

forming the ordinance of 1787 see article in North American Review,

April, 1876, by Wm. F. Poole, L.L. D.

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the formation of two companies as proposed. Dr. Cutler there-

fore addressed a letter to the Board of Treasury stating the only

terms upon which he would enter into a contract. The principal

changes he asked were, first: that the terms of payment should

be half a million dollars when the contract was executed, half a

million more when the exterior line of the tract was run and the

remainder in six equal payments, computed from the date of the

completion of the survey by the Geographer; second, that the

lands assigned for the university should be located as nearly as

possible in the centre of the first million and half acres of land

paid for and, third, that a deed should be given for the first

million and a half acres when one million of dollars were paid.

As the grant was much greater than contemplated by the

Ohio Company, Doctor Cutler requested Major Sargent to join

him in this letter, which he readily consented to do. The Board

referred the letter to Congress and on July 27, Congress referred

it back to the Board directing them to accept the terms stated

in it without the least variation. This action placed the en-

tire tract of land described in the ordinance of July 23, at the

disposal of Manasseh Cutler and Winthrop Sargent, subject to

their obligations to the Ohio Company. Dr. Cutler started home

the same evening, after arranging with the Board of Treasury

that the first payment be made October 27. In his diary this

day he writes, "By this ordinance we obtained the grant of

nearly 5,000,000 acres of land amounting to three and one half

millions of dollars, one million and a half acres for the Ohio

Company and the remainder for a private speculation in which

many of the principal characters in America are concerned.

Without connecting this speculation similar terms and advantages

could not have been obtained for the Ohio Company."

This speculation was the Scioto Purchase. Colonel William

Duer projected it. The favorable "terms and advantages" ob-

tained by the Ohio Company by connecting this speculation with

it were the completion of its own negotiation upon terms dictated

by its agent; the guarantee of success by an agreement on the

part of Colonel Duer to loan to it one hundred thousand dollars

in public securities, if needed, in making the first payment to the

Board of Treasury; the advantage to its funds of the delay in

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc.     13


the final payment until the exterior line of the whole tract was

run; the powerful influence in its behalf of Colonel Duer and

others of the "principal characters of America" who were

associated with him. Colonel Duer obtained a number of sub-

scriptions to the shares of the Ohio Company. He also agreed

that he would manage the Scioto speculation and that those

persons who had taken an active part in promoting the Ohio

Company might have one-half interest in it.

On August 29, at a meeting of the Directors and Agents

of the Ohio Company, held at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern

in Boston, Doctor Cutler reported that, in consequence of the

resolves of Congress of July 23 and 27, he had agreed with

the Board of Treasury to purchase as much land as the Com-

pany's fund of one million of dollars would pay for and de-

scribed the lands as bounded on the east by the seventh range

of townships; south by the Ohio river; west by a meridian line

drawn through the western cape of the Great Kanawha river, and

extending north far enough to include the whole, with the reser-

vations stated in the resolve of Congress for schools, ministry,

the university and the three sections in each township held for

future sale. The report was received and his actions were "fully

approved, ratified and confirmed." The subscription to the shares

of the Company was nearly completed. The few shares not taken

were allotted "pro rata" to the different agents. The organiza-

tion was perfected by electing Gen. James M. Varnum to the

board of directors, and Colonel Richard Platt, of New York City,

treasurer. The Ohio Company was now fairly begun. All of

the conditions of success seemed to be fulfilled. There were two

clouds only on its horizon. Neither was as large as a man's

hand. The price of the public securities in which its shares

were payable had already advanced. Some of the Indians in the

Northwest Territory denied the right of their chiefs to sign away

their hunting grounds.

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In October, Doctor Cutler and Major Sargent returned to

New York City and on the 27th of that month the board of

treasury made a contract with them "as agents for the directors

of the Ohio Company of associates so called" for the sale of fif-

teen hundred thousand acres of land lying between the seventh

and the seventeenth ranges and the Ohio river. The considera-

tion was one million of dollars in public securities, one-half of

which was paid on signing the contract; the remainder was pay-

able one month after the exterior line of the tract had been sur-

veyed by the geographer or other proper officer of the United

States. No title was to pass to the Ohio Company until all pay-

ments were made, but the right was given to occupy and culti-

vate one-half of the tract fronting on the Ohio river between the

seventh and fifteenth ranges of townships.

On the same day the board of treasury made a contract with

"Manasseh Cutler and Winthrop Sargent for themselves and

associates" for the sale to them of the remainder of the tract

described in the ordinance of congress of July 25, 1787. Pay-

ments, at the rate of two-thirds of a dollar per acre in public

securities, were to be made in six semi-annual installments, the

first falling due six months after the exterior line of the tract

had been surveyed by the government. This was the Scioto pur-

chase.  It comprised over four million acres of land, three-

fourths of it west and one-fourth north of the Ohio Company


When these contracts were executed no lands had been sur-

veyed west of the seventh range of townships, the western boun-

dary of which intersects the Ohio river about five miles east of

the mouth of the Muskingum. The lines of the fifteenth range


* The contracts made by Mr. Barlow in France and much of his cor-

respondence with Colonel Duer are owned by the Historical and Philo-

sophical Society of Ohio. They were obtained in various places, after

years of persistent search, by Mr. John M. Newton, the accomplished

librarian of the Young Men's Mercantile Library of Cincinnati. Other

manuscripts referred to are in my possession. - E. C. D.

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc.      15


and the seventeenth range of townships are recognized in both

contracts as "to be laid out according to the land ordinance of

May 20, 1785." From calculations made by Captain Thomas

Hutchins, then geographer, or surveyor general, of the United

States, it was believed that the west line of the seventeenth

range would strike the Ohio river nearly opposite the mouth of

the Big Kanawha.

Simultaneously with the execution of the second or Scioto

contract, Cutler and Sargent conveyed to Colonel William Duer

of New York city a one-half interest in it, and gave him full

power to negotiate a sale of the lands in Europe or elsewhere

and to substitute an agent. Colonel Duer had agreed to loan to

the Ohio Company one hundred thousand dollars public securi-

ties; he was obliged to advance it $143,000 to enable it to make

its first payment. Soon after, Cutler and Sargent conveyed a

little over three-fourths of their retained interest in about equal

proportions to Generals Rufus Putnam, Benjamin Tupper,

Samuel H. Parsons, Colonel Richard Platt, Royal Flint and Joel

Barlow. Many others became interested with these in greater or

less proportions.

In May, 1788, Joel Barlow, who also held an interest by

assignment from Colonel Duer, was sent to Europe to negotiate

a sale of the lands or a loan upon them. He held a power of at-

torney from Colonel Duer, to which was attached a certified copy

of the contract of Cutler and Sargent with the board of treasury,

and their assignment and power to Colonel Duer. In all these

papers the lands are recognized as held by a right of pre-emption

only. Mr. Barlow met with no success until the summer of 1789,

when he made the acquaintance of William Playfair, an English-

man then residing in Paris. Principally through his efforts a

company was quickly organized in Paris, called the society of the

Scioto, to which in November, 1789, Mr. Barlow sold the right of

his principals to three million acres of land lying west of the

seventeenth range of townships. The price was six livres per

acre; the payments were to be made in installments, commencing

December 31, 1789, and ending April 30, 1794. The contract re-

cites that Barlow's powers were exhibited and proved, and pro-

vided that "as soon as and not before the said payments are re-

16 Ohio Arch

16        Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.  [VOL. 4


mitted arising from the price of the present sale, Mr. Barlow

binds his principals toward the society purchasing to put them in

possession and enjoyment of an amount of the three million acres

proportionate to the amount of the said payment at the aforesaid

rate of six livres per acre." The lands were to be located in

equal tracts from the seventeenth range westward. It also pro-

vided that the society might "re-sell all or a part of the three

million acres before the times fixed for the payment of their

price, provided that the said society gives up to the Sieur Barlow

under the title of pledge the agreements of the under purchasers."

Playfair and Barlow were both interested in the society of the

Scioto and, with M. Jean Antoine Chais de Soisson, became its

sub-agents for the sale of the lands.

Mr. Barlow did not send a copy of this contract to Colonel

Duer, but wrote him an abstract of it November 29. He added

that he was preparing an arrangement with the royal treasury of

France to exchange the obligations of the French society of the

Scioto for the American bonds held by it, and that either by that

method or by an immediate settlement on the lands, the payments

would be anticipated and the whole business closed within a year.

He had reason to hope that Major-General Duportail, subse-

quently minister of war of France, and Colonel Rochefontaine,

both of whom had served in America during the Revolution,

would go at the head of the first establishment. He urged that

the lines of the seventeenth and eighteenth ranges of townships

be ascertained without delay. He admitted that he had proceeded

as if Colonel Duer had already secured a modification of the con-

tract with the board of treasury, so that titles might be obtained

for the lands in smaller tracts as paid for, "by giving the com-

pany here power to re-sell portions before they made the first

payment on the contract, requiring as my security the deposit of

the payments for these portions." He insisted that at all events

five or ten thousand acres of land opposite the mouth of the

Great Kanawha "on the eighteenth range" must be secured on

which to locate the first settlers; that huts be built there to ac-

commodate at least one hundred persons, and that a person of

activity be sent from the settlement to Alexandria, Virginia, to

prepare for the reception of the settlers, and make the necessary

Click on image to view full size

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc.      17


arrangements for their journey to the lands. The expense of the

houses and the journey would be "paid by the agent of the people

the moment they arrive." On December 29, he wrote that he

expected to put Colonel Duer in funds to make the first pay-

ment of five hundred thousand dollars to Congress before it was

due, and that if the first settlers were pleased, half a million

of adventurers would follow. On the same date he authorized

Colonel Duer to draw on him for twenty thousand livres. Jan-

uary 25 following he authorized drafts for two hundred thousand

livres, in the same letter saying that the payments certainly

would be made.

On February 27, 1790, a meeting of the Scioto associates

in America was held at the house of Colonel Duer in New

York City, and he communicated to them the letters from Mr.

Barlow announcing the completion of the contract of sale.

General Rufus Putnam and Rev. Manasseh Cutler were then in

New York, as a committee appointed by the directors and agents

of the Ohio Company, to ascertain the number of shares sub-

scribed for on which no payments had been made, sell them

if possible, and effect a settlement with Congress. The survey

of the Ohio Company purchase was not completed, but it was

known in the fall of 1789 that the western boundary of the

seventeenth range of townships would intersect the Ohio river

some distance west of the mouth of the Great Kanawha. This

information had not been sent to Mr. Barlow, probably because

his American associates had long since given up all hope of ef-

fecting a sale through him. He had not sent any plats or ac-

curate information of the location of the lands sold by the

French Society of the Scioto, though it was evident from his

letters that they were in the eighteenth range of townships, and

that, relying on the information he had when he left America, he

had represented them as opposite or nearly opposite the mouth

of the Great Kanawha. The authority he had given to the

French society to give deeds in small tracts was especially dis-

pleasing to General Putnam, though it appeared from the corre-

spondence that Mr. Barlow had the money received from sales in

his own control. As a solution of the problem General Putnam

proposed to the associates that they purchase of the Ohio Com-

Vol. IV-2

18 Ohio Arch

18        Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.  [VOL. 4


pany its forfeited shares, the number of which had been defi-

nitely fixed at one hundred and forty-eight; take the three acre,

eight acre and one hundred and sixty acre lots, already set apart

for these shares in the part of the purchase which had been sur-

veyed, and locate the remainder, 196,544 acres, in a compact

body fronting on the Ohio river from a point opposite the mouth

of the Great Kanawha river to the western line of the seventeenth

range. So far as could be judged from the information at hand,

the American proprietors by making this purchase would enable

themselves to fulfill every obligation entered into by Mr. Barlow.

Before finally closing it, Colonel Duer, on April 20, entered into

a formal agreement with his associates which declared that "a

contract for the sale " of the lands included in the Scioto pur-

chase "having lately been made in Europe" it was agreed to

form a trust to secure to each one interested his proper share of

the profit and to aid Colonel Duer in managing the concern

of the sale. Royal Flint and Andrew Craigie were named as co-

trustees with Colonel Duer, who was to act as " superintendent

of the concerns of the proprietors." The powers and duties of

the trustees were defined to be: To see that the contract for the

sale of the lands was " carried into execution;" that remittances

of the purchase money were duly made to Colonel Duer, and by

him "in the first instance duly applied, as occasion shall require,

to, or towards, making good the payment for the lands purchased

by the parties to these presents of the United States."  The re-

mainder was to be divided in a manner prescribed. Immediately

after the execution of this agreement Colonel Duer made drafts

on Mr. Barlow for two hundred and twenty thousand livres,

as authorized in his letters of December 29 and January 25. On

April 23 the trustees closed a contract with the Ohio Com-

pany for the purchase, as proposed by General Putnam, of one

hundred and forty-eight forfeited shares. The consideration was

the same as required from the original subscribers, one thousand

dollars per share in continental specie certificates, exclusive of

one year's interest due thereon; and the same contribution to the

expense fund of the company, to wit: Ten dollars per share in

specie to be paid in sixty and ninety days, and one year's interest

on the specie certificates, to be paid in six months. The conti-

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc.        19


nental specie certificates were to be paid when the Ohio Company

made its final settlement with the United States, and the amount

was subject to a "deduction in ratable proportion with such sum

as may hereafter be remitted by the United States on the original

contract." The Scioto associates were given the same right

of entry, use and occupation as was permitted to the Ohio Com-

pany by its contract with the United States, but no "deed of

conveyance" was to be "required and demanded" until the

"payments were fully completed and made." The trustees also

released to the Ohio Company their right of pre-emption to

the million acres of land lying directly north of the Ohio Com-

pany purchase, which was not included in Mr. Barlow's sale

to the French Society of the Scioto.

Although the Ohio Company, under its right of entry, had

established a large number of settlers upon its lands, it could not,

under its contract, obtain a title to any part of them until its pay-

ments were fully made. An effort was being made to induce

Congress to reduce the price of the public lands to twenty cents

an acre, and make the reduction applicable to both the Ohio and

Scioto Companies' tracts. Secretary Hamilton had recom-

mended it in his report on funding the public debt, and a ma-

jority in Congress appeared to favor it. If made, the Ohio Com-

pany would be entitled, for the payments it had already made, to

a million acres of land in addition to the fifteen hundred

thousand acres embraced in its original purchase. The release

by the Scioto associates to it of the right of pre-emption to the

million acres directly north of the first tract gave it control of

the best lands in the territory east of the Scioto river. If no re-

duction in price was secured, the sale of the one hundred and

forty-eight shares at least made the original purchase safe. The

payment by Mr. Barlow of the drafts for two hundred and

twenty thousand livres would enable the Scioto associates to

purchase, at prices then current, continental specie certificates

enough to make payments for the one hundred and forty-eight

shares and to obtain deeds of lands sufficient to satisfy, as far

as could be learned, all of the sales made by the French So-

ciety of the Scioto. Both parties to this contract were equally

20 Ohio Arch

20        Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.  [VOL. 4


pleased, and with good reason, for it seemed to solve all their


The trustees appointed General Rufus Putnam their agent

and attorney to represent the shares, take charge of the lands,

and make preparations to locate the emigrants. He employed

Major John Burnham to enlist a company of men in New

England for service in clearing land, building houses and keep-

ing guard, and instructed him to go at once to Marietta, Ohio.

General Putnam himself went to Marietta early in May, employed

Colonel Meigs to make the necessary surveys for a town at the

present site of Gallipolis, sent Mr. James Backus to Alexandria,

Virginia, to meet and accompany, in their journey west, the

French emigrants, and gave to Major Burnham, who arrived

with his company early in June, instructions to proceed to

the mouth of Chickamauga creek (the present site of Gallipolis),

and clear a large tract of land and erect four block-houses and a

number of huts according to a plan which would be given by

Colonel Meigs. He also notified Colonel Duer that, owing to the

great scarcity of provisions in the territory, it would not do to

permit the emigrants to come west of the mountains until the

new crop had matured.

The emigrants began to arrive in Alexandria, Virginia, in

April, and by May 27, about six hundred had landed. The

agent sent by Colonel Duer to meet them had returned to New

York supposing that they had made another port, for they were

expected in March. Some people in Alexandria attempted to

persuade them that they had paid too high a price for their

land, informed them that the Scioto Company had no title, that

the Indians in the Northwest territory were numerous and hos-

tile, and that Virginia was, on all accounts, a much better place in

which to live. This, with the fact that there was no one at Alex-

andria to receive them, created much alarm, and Count de Barth,

the Marquis Lezay-Marnesia, and others of the leading men

among them were sent to New York to wait upon Colonel Duer,

inquire into the validity of their titles, and ascertain if they

could reside in the Western territory free from danger from the

Indians. They explained their plans fully to the secretary of

the treasury, Alexander Hamilton, and to a number of members

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc.      21


of Congress. President Washington and Secretary of War Gen-

eral Knox gave them assurance of protection, and promised

to station troops near the mouth of the Great Kanawha.

Colonel Duer exhibited to them printed copies of the law of

Congress authorizing the sale to Cutler and Sargent, their con-

tract with the board of treasury, and the contract made by

the Scioto associates with the Ohio Company, for the purchase

of the forfeited shares. He also explained to them the composi-

tion of the Scioto Company, and said to them that the entire

management of its affairs had been intrusted to himself alone,

and that he had for aid and counsel two agents, Royal Flint and

Andrew Craigie. Some modifications of Mr. Barlow's agree-

ments for transporting the settlers to their lands were made

by Colonel Duer with this committee. Upon its return to Alex-

andria, the journey of the emigrants over the mountains began,

under the leadership of Captain Isaac Guion, who was appointed

by the trustees as their principal agent in the West; General

Putnam, owing to his duties to the Ohio Company, having

declined to do more than superintend the surveys.

M. Bourogne, who came to America with the first party

of emigrants, went to New York with the committee from Alex-

andria, and while there ascertained the efforts being made by the

Scioto associates to secure a reduction in price of the lands. He

returned to France early in June. Sales of lands had about

ceased since the emigration. Mr. Barlow, instead of keeping in

his own hands the money received for sales of lands by the

French society, had left the management of the whole affair to

Playfair and M. Chais de Soisson. Colonel Duer's drafts came

forward in due course, were accepted, and fell due in August.

Playfair refused to provide for them. In his efforts to meet

them Mr. Barlow declared the contract of sale to the French

Society of the Scioto void because it had not met its payments,

and made a new sale to a company composed of M. Bourogne,

the Count de Barth, William Playfair, M. Coquet, General

Duvalette, and himself. This company was to assume the pay-

ments to the American government for the lands and to make

good all deeds given by the French Society of the Scioto. Fif-

teen sous per acre were to be paid to the American proprietors

22 Ohio Arch

22        Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.  [VOL. 4


as their profit. The money and securities in the hands of Mr.

Playfair were to be paid to this company, but it was not to be re-

quired to make any payments until at least three hundred

thousand acres were sold and only upon sale of each three hun-

dred thousand acres, and no limitation was placed upon the loca-

tion, within the entire tract, of the lands sold. If any reduction

in price of the land was secured, the profit from it was to be

shared equally by the parties to the contract. Mr. Barlow was

authorized to borrow, if he could, upon the credit of this com-

pany, one hundred and fifty thousand livres to apply on the

drafts of Colonel Duer.

The principal object of M. Bourogne and his friends in

making this contract was probably to secure the expected profit

to arise from a reduction in the price of the land and the certain

profit already realized from the sales of the society of the Scioto.

Mr. Barlow's hope was to force Playfair to "render his accounts

without ruining the business," and to provide something on

account of Colonel Duer's drafts. Mr. Playfair, while not de-

clining an interest in the new company, failed to turn over

the proceeds of former sales. Colonel Duer's drafts were returned


Mr. Barlow did not send a copy of this contract to Colonel

Duer, who seems to have first learned of it by a letter protesting

against it from Colonel Rochefontaine, who was interested in the

French society of the Scioto, and who was also a purchaser of

lands. Colonel Duer was now in a most embarrassing position.

To meet the unexpectedly large expense of establishing the

settlement, he had issued demand notes in the form of currency.

These were coming in daily, as rumors of Mr. Barlow's troubles

began to spread. Many of the emigrants refused to refund the

amounts advanced for their account until the titles to the lands

were perfected. The return of the drafts was a staggering blow

to his credit. Unaware of the exact condition of Mr. Barlow's

negotiations, unable to understand what had become of the

money received for the lands sold, or to form any correct judg-

ment as to the number of acres for which deeds had been given,

he called the trustees together, and with their assent sent Colonel

Benjamin Walker to France, with power to displace Mr. Barlow

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc.      23


or act with him, to at least obtain the money due for lands sold,

and to endeavor to get a clear understanding of the affair, and

to sell the right of preemption as orginally intended. By him

Colonel Duer wrote Mr. Barlow, notifying him that the trustees

refused to ratify the sale to M. Bourogne, and upraiding him in

the severest terms for the manner in which he had conducted the

business. He reminded him that he had not furnished copies of

any engagements, or any list of lands sold, or any statement of

receipts and disbursements; that except one thousand crowns,

sent for a special purpose, he had made no remittances, and that

he had assigned no reasons for not having honored the drafts.

He notified Mr. Barlow that he and he alone was responsible, not

only to the American proprietors but to the United States, for

the moneys received, which he had always represented were

under his own control. He added, "The advances and engage-

ments I am under in order to comply with the fallacious state-

ments of your prospectus, and to preserve your honor and

character from utter destruction, are no less than forty thousand

dollars, exclusive of large sums of interest for money borrowed.

This, at least, you are called upon by every tie of honor and

generosity to secure."

Colonel Walker arrived in Paris in December, 1790, and

was received by Mr. Barlow with every expression of joy and

satisfaction. He spent several weeks in endeavoring to untangle

Mr. Barlow's affairs. From Mr. Playfair he secured a statement

of account, showing sales of about one hundred and forty

thousand acres of land, and a long list of reasons for not having

settled with Mr. Barlow. The most diligent effort failed to

secure either money or property. Colonel Walker warned the

public, by advertisement in the principal cities of France, not to

purchase lands of Mr. Playfair, who meantime disappeared.

Mr. Barlow was penniless, and Colonel Walker advanced him

money for his family expenses. With the aid of Colonel Roche-

fontaine and General Duportail, then minister of war, an effort,

which promised well for a time, was made to form a new company

for the purchase of a smaller tract of land. News of the Indian

war defeated it. Early in May, 1791, Colonel Walker returned

to America, leaving Rochefontaine in charge of the negotiations.

24 Ohio Arch

24        Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.  [VOL. 4


He appears to have been convinced that in a favorable condition

of public affairs the lands might yet be sold. The Fates were not

propitious. The troubles in France grew worse. General

Duportail was denounced in the assembly, forced to resign

as minister of war in December, 1791, and a few months later

both He and Colonel Rochefontaine were obliged to flee to

America for their lives.

Several hundred emigrants reached the present site of Galli-

polis about the middle of October, 1790. Major Burnham's men

had prepared houses for them, and had cleared a considerable

space for garden lots. The Count de Barth and Marquis Marnesia

with a large party reached Marietta a few days later, and were

quartered in Fort Harmar while waiting the survey at the mouth

of the Scioto river, where Count de Barth wished to establish a

city. Before the surveyors were fairly at work, news came

of the defeat of General Harmar and the rising of the Indian

tribes along the entire border northwest of the Ohio river. This

put an effective stop to further surveys or settlements. Count

de Barth and the Marquis Lezay-Marnesia returned to New York

to negotiate further with Colonel Duer. Some of the people

who had come with them remained at Marietta; some went

to Gallipolis; others to the French settlements in different parts

of the country. The Indian war made it impossible for the

settlers at Gallipolis to do any work beyond range of the guns of

the block houses. Colonel Duer had established there a store, and

continued to supply them with the necessaries of life, taking

from those who had no money their deeds to lands and village

lots as security. In the spring of 1791 they began the cultiva-

tion of grapes on a large scale on the village lots which had been

cleared, and also to raise vegetables, for which they found a ready

market on the boats which were constantly plying up and down

the Ohio river. The defeat and rout of the army of General St.

Clair by the Indians, in November, 1791, was accepted by the

people as a sufficient excuse for not having their lands surveyed

and titles made good. Their worst troubles were to come.

In the spring of 1792 the directors and agents of the Ohio

Company met in Philadelphia, where Congress was then in ses-

sion, to effect a final settlement of its affairs. It had no title to

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc.     25


any of its lands. It had paid to the government one-half of the

amount due on its contract, and had in its treasury over three

hundred and fifty thousand dollars in securities and land warrants

applicable to the final payment, besides the amount due from the

trustees for the Scioto associates, who had paid nothing on account

of the purchase of the one hundred and forty-eight shares. The

securities in the treasury alone, owing to the rapid advance in the

price, were worth in money more than the entire amount of lands

in its purchase. Many of its share-holders were clamorous that

the contract be surrendered and the settlement abandoned, if

necessary, to secure a dividend of the residue of its funds.

After much negotiation Congress passed an act directing that a

deed be made to the Ohio Company for the 750,000 acres to

which it had the right of entry for the payment it had already

made, and for 214,285 acres additional to be paid for in land

warrants.  One hundred thousand acres, to be located in a

compact body adjoining the 750,000-acre tract, was deeded to

the directors, in trust, to be donated in one hundred-acre tracts

to actual settlers. While these negotiations were pending there

occurred a financial panic in New York. Colonel Duer failed,

and was imprisoned for debt. Royal Flint also failed. The con-

tract for the sale of the forfeited shares was surrendered and can-

celled. An earnest effort was made by the directors of the Ohio

Company who were or had been parties to the Scioto purchase

to have the donation tract located so as to include Gallipolis. In

this they failed, and, in fact, it was secured at all only by casting

vote of Vice-President John Adams in the United States Senate.

Gallipolis was included in the 750,000-acre tract, the boundaries

of which were fixed by the law of Congress and became at once

the property of the share-holders of the Ohio Company. The

donation tract was located on the waters of the Muskingum

where the Ohio Company had already promised land to men who

were performing military duty in its behalf.

The news of the failure of Colonel Duer, and of the fact

that they were occupying lands actually owned by the Ohio Com-

pany, were crushing blows to the inhabitants of Gallipolis. They

knew nothing of the long story of Colonel Duer's embarass-

ments. They only knew that they were far away from their

26 Ohio Arch

26        Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.  [VoL. 4


native land, confronted by a savage foe, homeless, friendless, and

that some one was to blame.

In the fall of 1793 M. Jean Gabriel Gervaise went to Phila-

delphia, and placed the interests of himself and others of the

residents of Gallipolis, who had purchased lands of the French

society of the Scioto, in the hands of Peter Stephen Duponceau,

a Frenchman by birth and a lawyer of high standing.   Mr.

Duponceau prepared a petition to the Congress of the United

States asking for a grant of lands to the French settlers, and

offering in their behalf to cede to the United States their claims

against the Scioto or Ohio Companies, if the prayer of the peti-

tion was granted. The petition was referred to the attorney-

general, William Bradford, by the Senate, with instructions to

report upon the validity of the claims of the petitioners against

the Scioto or Ohio Companies or other persons, and for the means

to be pursued for the obtainment of justice.

On March 24, 1794, the attorney-general communicated an

opinion to the Senate that the original right of purchase of the

entire tract included in both the Ohio Company and the Scioto

contracts was, in his judgment, in the Ohio Company, citing

in support of the opinion that that company had, October 4,

1788, passed a resolution to the effect "that their right of pre-

emption of the whole land mentioned in the resolve of Congress

cannot be justly called in question," and that if it could be shown

that the Ohio Company was a party to the sale in Europe it could

not successfully impeach the title of the settlers. He also stated

that he had been informed that the Ohio Company had sold to

William Duer and associates 100,000 acres of land including the

site of Gallipolis and the tract originally pointed out to the French

settlers; that, though the deed had since been delivered up and

cancelled, yet persons who had seen it declared it was an absolute

conveyance. Assuming these statements to be correct, it was

his opinion that the French settlers at Gallipolis had a valid, equit-

able title to the settlement, and to locate their purchases within

the bounds of the 100,000-acre tract conveyed to William Duer

and associates. The attorney-general added, however, that there

was reason to believe that the Ohio Company could not be con-

sidered a party to the sales in Europe, and that if it was not,

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc.      27


and the deed to 100,000 acres to Duer was not such as to convey

any title until the payment of the purchase money, then the

French settlers had no remedy but by action at law against the

parties who gave them deeds.

If the facts had been before the attorney-general when he

prepared his opinion he would have been convinced that the

Ohio Company had not and could not have any interest

in the Scioto purchase at the time the contracts were made. Its

"articles of agreement" provided that its funds should "not

exceed $1,000,000 in continental specie certificates," and that

the whole fund should be applied to the purchase of so much

land as its funds would pay for and no more, and its contracts

were so made. These articles were printed, were made a part of

the petition presented by its agents to Congress, were read in

full on the floor of the house by Mr. Holton of Massachusetts

while its petition was pending, and a copy was placed on the desk

of each member.

The members of the Board of Treasury were fully aware of

the intention of Messrs. Cutler and Sargent to make two distinct

purchases, and accept the authority of the law as ample. The

Ohio Company in a full meeting ratified the acts of its agents.

The loan made by Colonel Duer, which enabled the Ohio

Company to make its first payment, was full compensation to it

for the services rendered by its agents in securing the Scioto

purchase. At no regular meeting of the directors and agents of

the Ohio Company was any claim ever made to any right in the

Scioto purchase. The resolution referred to by the attorney-

general was passed at an informal meeting held by a minority of

dissatisfied share-holders upon an incorrect statement of the facts

of the purchase. As has been shown, the contract of sale made

to the Scioto associates by the Ohio Company, under which the

French settlers were assigned houses and lands at Gallipolis,

was not a deed conveying an absolute title, but a sale to them of the

shares in the Ohio Company forfeited for non-payment. The

Scioto associates acquired the same rights as the original


In May, 1794, the United States Senate passed an order

summoning the directors of the Ohio Company to appear before

28 Ohio Arch

28        Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.  [Vol. 4


it and show cause why so much of the tract of 750,000 acres

deeded to it in 1792 as was sufficient to satisfy the claims of the

French settlers should not be forfeited. The directors on receiv-

ing the order held a meeting and passed the following resolution:

"Resolved, That a particular statement of facts relative to the

matter referred to in said order of the Senate be made out and

transmitted to the Hon. Caleb Strong, Theodore Foster, and

Jona Trumbull, Esquires, members of the Senate, and Hon.

Benjamin Bourn, Uriah Tracy, and Dwight Foster, Esquires,

members of the assembly, in Congress, in order for the better

information of Congress and others whom it may concern.

There is great reason to believe that the business has been

grossly misrepresented, either through ignorance or a malicious

design to injure the company's interest.

Furthermore, Resolved, That in our opinion the interest of

the company may eventually be much promoted by appointing

the aforesaid six gentlemen agents for the directors of the Ohio

Company, they or any two of them to act and transact all

matters and things relative to the aforesaid order of the Senate

of May 18, 1794, awarding to their best discretion in as full and

ample a manner as the directors of the Ohio Company might

or could do, were they present; and that a power be made out

and executed accordingly." By the advice of these members no

response was made to the order of the Senate. It was a mat-

ter over which it had no jurisdiction.  The Senate took no

further action.

In January, 1795, the survey of the Ohio Company donation

tract was completed and offered free in lots of one hundred acres

to each settler. Notice by public advertisement was given to the

"French settlers at Gallipolis, with all others at that place,

to come forward by associations or individually and receive lands

if they please."

In March, 1795, Congress, in consequence of Mr. Dupon-

ceau's petition, passed an act granting 24,000 acres of land in

what is now Scioto County, Ohio, to the French settlers over

eighteen years of age, who would be in Gallipolis on November 1

following. Four thousand acres of this was given to M. Gervaise,

being the amount he had originally purchased from the French

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc

The Beginning of the Ohio Company, Etc.       29


Society of the Scioto, and the remainder was divided equally

among ninety-two persons, each receiving two hundred and

seventeen and two-fifths acres.

In December, 1795, the shareholders of the Ohio Company

held a meeting in Marietta to make a final division of its lands

and other property. The citizens of Gallipolis presented to them

a petition asking that a town site be given to the settlers. This

was refused, but fractional sections, twenty-eight and thirty-four

in town three, range fourteen, including all improvements, were

sold to them at $1.25 per acre.