The New International Encyclopædia/Putnam, Rufus
|←Putnam, Mary Traill Spence (Lowell)||The New International Encyclopædia
|Edition of 1905. See also Rufus Putnam on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.|
PUTNAM, Rufus (1738-1824). An American soldier. He was born in Sutton, Mass.; was a millwright's apprentice there from 1754 to 1757; enlisted as a private soldier for service in the French and Indian War in 1757; and became an orderly sergeant in 1759 and an ensign in 1760. While an apprentice he studied diligently during his leisure hours, gaining a fair knowledge of mathematics and history, and after 1760 devoted himself to the study of surveying, in which he soon became markedly proficient. He entered the Continental Army as lieutenant-colonel in May, 1775, planned the defenses at Roxbury, and in August, 1776, was appointed chief engineer of the army with the rank of colonel. Preferring field service, however, he was placed in command of a Massachusetts regiment in November, and in 1777 served with great gallantry in the campaign against Burgoyne. In 1779 he aided his cousin, Israel Putnam, in completing the West Point fortifications, and in 1783 was made brigadier-general. He was a member for several terms of the Massachusetts Legislature, and during Shays's Rebellion was General Lincoln's aide. In 1786 he, with Gen. Benjamin Tupper, organized a company, composed of officers and soldiers of the Revolutionary War, to form a settlement in what is now Ohio. He was one of three directors appointed by this company (the Ohio Company) in 1787 to secure a tract of land from Congress, and, chiefly through his efforts, 1,500,000 acres were obtained at 66 2-3 cents per acre. This tract was located at the junction of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers, whither in 1788 Putnam led the first party of settlers, laying out Marietta (q.v.), the first organized settlement in the Northwest Territory. He was one of the judges of the United States Court in the Northwest Territory from 1790 to 1796, concluded an important treaty with the Indians at Vincennes, Ind., in 1792, was Surveyor-General of the United States from 1796 to 1803, and was a member of the Ohio constitutional convention in 1802. In 1812 he organized the first Bible society west of the Alleghanies. His manuscript diary, an interesting document, has been preserved. There is an autobiography, written in 1812 and also in manuscript, deposited in the college library, Marietta, Ohio. Consult: Journal of General Rufus Putnam, 1757-60 (Albany, 1886); also Cone, Life of Rufus Putnam (Cleveland, 1886).