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Ohio Company of Associates

Ohio Company of Associates, organization for the purchase and settlement of lands on the Ohio River, founded at Boston in 1786. Its organizers were a group of New England men, most of them former American Revolutionary army officers. In July, 1787, one of the directors, Dr. Manasseh Cutler, was sent to New York to a meeting of Congress to negotiate the land purchase. There he shrewdly allied himself with a group of New York speculators led by William Duer, secretary of the U.S. Treasury Board. Congress desperately needed revenue, and the prospect of selling large tracts of land in Ohio hastened its passage of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. In order to conclude the matter quickly, Cutler suggested the appointment of Gen. Arthur St. Clair, then president of Congress, as governor of the Northwest Territory. On Oct. 27 two contracts were signed by Cutler and Winthrop Sargent, secretary of the Ohio Company. The first gave to the company 1,780,000 acres (720,340 hectares) of land at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers 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, made for William Duer, gave to the Scioto Company (as Duer and his associates were known) the option to buy 5,000,000 acres (2,023,428 hectares) of land on the Ohio and Scioto rivers. The Scioto Company's scheme was purely speculative, and its contract lapsed before any land was purchased. The Ohio Company, however, had a genuine plan of settlement. In Apr., 1788, Gen. Rufus Putnam, one of the directors, began settlement of the company's land and laid out Marietta. In 1796 the company divided its shares and ceased to be a significant land company.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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