1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ohio Company

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OHIO COMPANY, a name of two 18th century companies organized for the colonization of the Ohio Valley. The first Ohio Company was organized in 1749, partly to aid in securing for the English control of the valley, then in dispute between England and France, and partly as a commercial project for trade with the Indians. The company was composed of Virginians, including Thomas Lee (d. 1750) and the two brothers of George Washington, Lawrence (who succeeded to the management upon the death of Lee) and Augustine; and of Englishmen, including John Hanbury, a wealthy London merchant. George II. sanctioned a grant to the company of 500,000 acres generally N.W. of the Ohio, and to the eastward, between the Monongahela and the Kanawha rivers, but the grant was never actually issued. In 1750-1751 Christopher Gist, a skilful woodsman and surveyor, explored for the company the Ohio Valley as far as the mouth of the Scioto river. In 1752 the company had a pathway blazed between the small fortified posts at Will's Creek (Cumberland), Maryland, and at Redstone Creek (Brownsville). Pennsylvania, which it had established in 1750; but it was finally merged in the Walpole Company (an organization in which Benjamin Franklin was interested), which in 1772 had received from the British government a grant of a large tract lying along the southern bank of the Ohio as far west as the mouth of the Scioto river. The War of Independence interrupted colonization and nothing was accomplished.

The second company, the Ohio Company of Associates, was formed at Boston on the 3rd of March 1786. The leaders in the movement were General Rufus Putnam, Benjamin Tupper (1738-1792), Samuel Holden Parsons (1737-1789) and Manasseh Cutler. Dr Cutler was selected to negotiate with Congress, and seems to have helped to secure the incorporation in the Ordinance for the government of the North-West Territory of the paragraphs which prohibited slavery and provided for public education and for the support of the ministry. Cutler's original intention was to buy for the Ohio Company only about 1,500,000 acres, but on the 27th of July Congress authorized a grant of about 5,000,000 acres 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 27th of October 1787 Cutler and Major Winthrop Sargent (1753-1820), who had joined him in the negotiations, signed two contracts; one was for the absolute purchase for the Ohio Company, at 66⅔ cents an acre, of 1,500,000 acres of land lying along the north bank of the Ohio river, from a point near the site of the present Marietta, to a point nearly opposite the site of the present Huntington, Kentucky; the other was for 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 township from the Ohio, this tract being pre-empted by “Manasseh Cutler and Winthrop Sargent for themselves and others” — actually for the Scioto Company (see Gallipolis). 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. Colonists were sent out by the Ohio Company from New England, and Marietta, the first permanent settlement in the present state of Ohio, was founded in April 1788.