Marietta Historical Commission.

Ohio in the time of the confederation [electronic resource] online

. (page 1 of 16)
Online LibraryMarietta Historical CommissionOhio in the time of the confederation [electronic resource] → online text (page 1 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


B 3 bll ID 4



;. -• S I




•v.': - .-:•'


• ■■: - ■'.-.




fffl 3teifli







■-■.■■' -■.'....■
■■■■-■■',■ - ■■■■

■^^'Vv'' ■■■■ ■■■

■■': : :V. :: . v. :.....•! ; - ■■'• :'


•••-■•..'■•'■•-' / \ '■''"■ ■ «

■•'•-.•;■• ■>/ ;■:,•.•'. :-..■;, ■■;;



• S5I E ' j!J3liMr' *iie*' , "^!P **

—■■-■~r;:...- .:.;


•-':-•■•• - W BK . *■






(Created by the Trustees of Marietta College, February, 1916)


Edwy E. Brown
A. George Bullock
Mary C. Bullock
Charles S. Dana*
Beman G. Dawes
Charles G. Dawes
Rufus C. Dawes

Francis H. Dewey
Arthur F. Estabrook
Charles A. Hanna
Harry B. Hoyt
John Kaiser
Marietta College
Edward E. MacTaggart

John Mills
William W. Mills
William P. Palmer
Benjamin B. Putnam
Edwin F. Rorebeck
Benj. F. Strecker
Peter G. Thomson



Willis A. Bailey
Homer C. Bayless
George C. Best
Charles H. Bosworth
William W. Boyd
Edward H. Brenan
J. Lawrence Buell
Rowena Buell
Warren Burns
H. G. Chamberlain
J. Plumer Cole
John Dana
Theodore F. Davis *
Henry M. Dawes
Lee S. Devol
William W. Dollison
Charles P. Dyar
Isaac C. Elston, Jr.
Aaron A. Ferris
Edward B. Follett
Seymour J. Hathaway


Julia E. Hickok
James F. Hovey
George H. Howison*
Karl G. Kaiser
Thomas H. Kelley
Jesse V. McMillen
Marietta Public Library
Edward A. Merydith
Clarence C. Middleswart
Edward C. Moore
Charles Penrose
Beman A. Plumer
Horace Porter
Daniel J. Ryan
John E. Sater
Harvey E. Smith
Harry P. Warrener
Asa Wilson Waters
George White
Walter A. Windsor
George M. Withington
William H. Wolfe



Professor of American History, Marietta College

GEORGE JORDAN BLAZIER, Secretary and Treasurer

Librarian, Marietta College

* Deceased




(JJktrietta College historical Collections, Volume 3




Professor of American History, Marietta College; Chairman Marietta

Historical Commission; Lecturer, National War Work Council, Y. M.

C. A. of the United States

> >

» i ■









Introduction: A Territory in the Making xi

Part One: The Antecedents of the
Ordinance of 1784 .... 1

Part Two : Ohio in the Papers of the Con-
tinental Congress 92

Part Three: Journal of John Matthews 187


A Map of the Ohio Company Purchase 20

(From a plate loaned by the Western Reserve His-
torical Society)

A French Plan of the Lands of the

Ohio and "Scioto" Companies . . 100

(From a plate loaned by the Western Reserve His-
torical Society)

Martin's Map of Ohio Surveys . . 180

(By permission of the author)

A Territory in the Making

This volume, chronologically, should have been
the first in the present Series. There was a pro-
priety, however, in permitting the original rec-
ords of the Ohio Company to have the right of
way, as being the most important and significant
document to be issued under these auspices.

The purpose of this book is to fill a want, felt
by the editor and many colleagues who conduct
classes on the history of the West, in the shape
of a volume giving the documentary materials in
convenient form which any class or reader must
study in order to understand the ideas and ideals
which slowly crystallized into our first Territory
— the "Territory North West of the River
Ohio. ' ' This growth is not sensed by a study of
the ordinances and land laws of 1784, 1785, and
1787 alone, even when supplemented by the ex-
cellent writings of Adams, Hinsdale, Turner,
Alden, Alvord. Barrett, Treat, or Thwaites and
Kellogg. In order to make the volume fully
serve the time-saving purpose suggested, the
editor has been emboldened to devote a number
of pages to reprints of documents not easily to be
secured in the average library and not always

xii Introduction

orderly arranged in the students' perspective
when once in hand.

Following the pages of reprints of theories
and plans of trans-Ohio colonization and State-
making, the reader will find the most important
documents in the Papers of the Continental Con-
gress which relate to the Ohio region in this pre-
territorial period, mostly relating to Thomas
Hutchins's activities in surveying the Seven
Ranges, with tangible sidelights on the irrepress-
ible character of the squatter movement across
the Ohio River.

Taking a hint from the satisfaction expressed
by many charter and sustaining members of the
Commission in the value to the non-professional
of an introduction which links the documents
presented into an understandable whole, the edi-
tor will briefly sketch the story contained in the
material here published. With it as a guide,
student, as well as general reader, will find, it is
hoped, a completer interest in the documents
themselves. To succeed in this respect were
better than to satisfy the formulas of the scien-
tific critic.

One might loosely describe the growth of the
territory north and west of the Ohio River in
terms of evolution, as sub-organic, organic, and
super-organic. Of the middle and latter period
many students have developed treatises, on the

Introduction xiii

ordinances, the creation of States, and the mani-
fold problems of statehood. Of the nebulous
primary era, we have had the international
phases of territorial and land colonization pro-
jects made clearer by several writers, particu-
lar^ Alden and Alvord. There is need and room
for more adequate treatment of the purely
American schemes and theories for the coloniza-
tion and government of what is commonly known
as the "Old Northwest." There is a double
importance in emphasizing them because, while
they show the aims and ideals of individuals and
reflect the spirit of the times, they came to some-
thing — they created ordinances and founded
Commonwealths. There is an Old Testament
history of the West and a New Testament, and
the break between the two was greater — meas-
ured in everything save years — than the biblical
parallel will show. The documentary material
of England's imperial designs relating to the
West does not contain the seeds of the New Dis-
pensation — the theories of Deane and Paine and
Pelatiah Webster, of Bland, Putnam, Pickering,
Howell, Washington, and Jefferson. The Que-
bec Act with its extension "of the same absolute
rule" (as the author of the Declaration of Inde-
pendence phrased it) was of Malachi ; the plan of
Deane 's federated, self-governed State at the con-
fluence of the Ohio and Mississippi, is of St.



It was for Silas Deane of Groton, Connecti-
cut, secret agent for the Continental Congress in
France, first to offer suggestions concerning the
use of western territory as a national asset. Al-
ready, as outlined elsewhere, 1 Congress, in Sep-
tember, 1776, had made its offer of bounty lands
to men and officers who would enlist in the ser-
vice ; while it is not so stated it is clear that in the
back of their heads the members of the Congress
contemplated fulfilling this promise by granting
land in the "Old Northwest" — thus mortgaging
for public benefit a conquest it was hoped their
armies would make. In December of the same
year Deane wrote the Secret Committee from
Paris outlining the first definite plan to charge
this war bill to western lands. The plan as here-
in outlined in detail, 2 called for the grant of a
tract of twenty-five million acres at the junction
of the Ohio and Mississippi, in the present State
of Illinois, to a company of Americans and Euro-

1 These Collections, i, xv; the act of Congress read: "That Con-
gress make provision for granting lands, in the following propor-
tions: to the officers and soldiers who shall so engage in the service,
and continue therein to the close of the war, or until discharged by
Congress, and to the representatives of such officers and soldiers as
shall be slain by the enemy.

' ' Such lands to be provided by the United States, and whatever
expense shall be necessary to procure such lands, the said expense
shall be paid and borne by the states in the same proportion as the
other expenses of the war, viz. To a colonel, 500 acres; to a lieuten-
ant colonel, 450; to a major, 400; to a captain, 300; to a lieutenant,
200 ; to an ensign, 150 ; each non-commissioned officer and soldier,
100." — Journals of the Continental Congress (1906), v, 763.

2 Doc. i.

Introduction xv

peans. One-fifth of every "settlement" should
be reserved by the Congress for sale by the na-
tional government; the company should engage
to place a certain number of inhabitants on the
land within seven years and regulate civil gov-
ernment, taking the advice of Congress in such
measures, and thus "form a distinct State Con-
federated with and under the general regulations
of the United States General of America."
Deane estimated that a company could be formed
in Europe with a capital stock of one hundred
thousand pounds to establish the State on the
Mississippi as outlined. The scheme is an in-
teresting medley of ancient and modern ideas,
the retaining of "one-fifth part of all lands,
mines, etc. r harking back to Columbus and
Cabot, and the plan allowing "the company" to
' ' form a distinct State ' ' bespeaks the new consti-
tutional era of a decade later, the clause permit-
ting the inhabitants to have "a voice in Con-
gress" as soon as they are "called on . . . to
contribute" to public expenses is a plain putting
in practice the doctrine of the Declaration of In-
dependence. The reservations for the national
government forecast the "Congress Lands" of
the later ordinances.

The obvious obstruction in the path of carry-
ing out any plan like Deane 's (aside from the
detail of ending European claim of sovereignty
by winning the war) was the need of having the

xvi Introduction

several States claiming western land relinquish
those claims. In our brief sketch of the process
by which this was accomplished. 3 the psychic and
moral influence of the theories like Deane's, of
eventual-federated-statehood for the western
provinces, was only mentioned; and while the
economic disturbance to be caused in the older
commonwealths by the opening of unlimited re-
gions for healthy and adventurous pioneering
and a resultant loss of a "balance of power"
were potent arguments, the great plain facts of
the case were that the rich West would be occu-
pied by friend or foe, that the logical dream of
every far-seeing man was a republic of conti-
nental dimensions — let what upsettings of equil-
ibrium come that might.

Thomas Paine was such a man, and though his
proposed "State" — outlined in his Public Good
in 1780 — was south of the Ohio River it was a
western State and his ideas concerning it secured
the attention that any work by the author of
Common Sense and The Crisis received. In
these treatises he advocated the use of western
lands for the creation of a fund "for the benefit
of all," with Congress acting in the role of "con-
tinental trustees. ' ' 4 Later Paine advances a plan
of a new State of between twenty and thirty mill-

3 These Collections, i, xv-xxiv.

* Doc. ii. For the words ' ' continent " or " continental ' ' the un-
initiated must supply ' ' nation " or " national " as we use those words

Introduction xvii

ion acres bounded in general by the Allegheny
Mountains on the east, the Ohio River on the
north, the North Carolina line on the south and
on the west by a straight line from the ' ' Falls of
the Ohio" (Louisville) to the southern boun-
dary. 5 He called this "fighting the enemy with
their own weapons" because his State occupied,
in part, the proposed site of the Vandalia colony
which was to have redowned to "the emolument
of the Crown of England " ; to use it now, by way
of securing a fund to fight England, aroused all
of Paine 's latent enthusiasm.

He estimated that twenty million acres could
be sold (through land offices established in Eu-
rope) for four million pounds — a fund sufficient
to carry on the war three years. To satisfy Vir-
ginian objections to the loss of a western empire
Paine brilliantly forecasts the probable aliena-
tion of the trans-Allegheny Virginians, in effect
casting a true prophesy of what took place when
Kentucky broke from the Old Dominion; he
points out the value of a buttress State and the
value of the import trade which must pass
through Virginia. Among other suggestions and
prophecies which tumble with such facility from
Paine 's pen, one notes the idea of western lands
being used to reimburse those whose property is
despoiled by war, as happened by the grant of
the "fire-lands" later in Ohio.

Although antedated by Silas Deane in advo-

s Doc. iii.

xviii Introduction

eating the amalgamation of western States with
the "original Thirteen" on terms of equality,
Paine may well be remembered as the chief
early champion of this epoch-making idea ; more
accurately than was done by any other at the time
does he trace the probable steps — the settling
of the matters of boundaries, the creation of an
organic law by the national Congress which
should be supplanted, when the State acquired a
given population, by a constitution drafted by
the inhabitants themselves; he advocates the
right of an embryonic western State to a non-
voting representative in Congress and reechoes
his argument in Common Sense concerning the
necessitv of a constitutional convention of all the
States to define and describe the powers of Con-

It is plain that real progress was being made
in the development of men's ideas in these years
1776-1780 as to what should be the character of
the first American State west of the Alleghenies.
While the departures from the ideas which were
in the thoughts of those who planned the western
States of the Revolutionary period like Vandalia
are marked — necessitated by the separation of
the Colonies from the Mother Country — certain
of the olden theories remained; in the reserva-
tion called for in the Vandalia grant of three
hundred acres "for the purpose of a glebe for

Introduction xix

the support of a minister of the church of Eng-
land" we have the kernel of the later reserva-
tions for schools and religion of the Ordinance
of 1787 ; in general, however, the charters for the
proposed colonies followed the ancient type, as
that of the Massachusetts Bay charter. 6

By 1780 these ideas crept into the acts passed
by the Continental Congress. The question of
western cessions was precipitated by Maryland,
and various representatives began to show
friendship in proportion to the shallowness of
their States' claim, as witness New York.

By October, 1780, Congress was ready to out-
line in plain words the position of the govern-
ment toward the West as soon as the States
claiming that region should relinquish their
claims, namely that it "be settled and formed
into distinct republican states which shall become
members of the federal union, and have the same
rights of sovereignty, freedom, and independence
as the other states." 7 The main point at issue
being settled, all details were waived for future
determination, excepting only the probable di-
mensions of the future States; one hundred
miles square was set as the minimum size and
one hundred and fifty the maximum.

From this date on public interest and discus-

6 George Henry Alden, New Governments West of the Alleghenies
Before 1780, 29.
" Docs, iv and v.

xx Introduction

sioii centered in the manifold questions raised
by the problem which Congress had settled in

The main discussion was led in 1781 by the
able retired clergyman-economist Pelatiah Web-
ster who came into large reputation five years be-
fore for his advocacy of "continental currency"
to meet the struggling Colonies' debts. Mr.
Webster strongly opposed selling or mortgaging
western lands to foreigners and boldly advanced
fresh plans that seemingly won the respect of all
thinking men and, more than any one man on
definite record, hastened the day when the Or-
dinance of 1784 could be passed. 8 In his homely
but graphic phrase he urged that Congress pre-
serve the goose which could in time lay a golden
egg a day instead of killing it "in order to tear
out at once all that was in her belly." In out-
spoken confidence in the future value of western
lands and of future growth of western popula-
tion he is outranked only by the Washington who
wrote that classic "Letter to Harrison" three
years later. Every thought of his as to the de-
tail of handling the western country was "path-
breaking" in its effect.

He first proposed that all emigrants be vigor-
ously kept out of the West until a portion could
be surveyed into tiers of townships of from six

s Doc. vi.

Introduction xxi

to ten miles square ; survey-bef ore-sale and com-
pact settlement were thus advanced simultan-
eously. He proposed that no land be sold at less
than a Spanish dollar an acre, and that a second
tier of townships should not be put on sale until
the first had been disposed of. The plan, he
said, would obviate the inconveniences and dan-
gers of hit-or-miss settlements as had been made
in the South; it would effectually prevent spec-
ulation by absentee promoters as no land would
be sold except to an actual settler; public senti-
ment in favor of law and order would advance
methodically with the advancing tiers of town-
ships; by such a uniform advance could the
problem of Indian relations be handled best.
From any view-point, although his ideas may
only in a measure have been original with him,
all generations which have profited from the wis-
dom and liberality of the Ordinances of 1784 and
1785 must recognize Pelatiah Webster's manful
wrestling with the many-sided problem and the
vital contribution that he made, or the ideas, at
least, of which he became chief spokesman.

A new and important element now enters into
the development of the western problem with the
conclusion of the Revolutionary War — an army
clamoring for a fulfillment of the government's
promise of bounty lands and standing ready to
accept, in payment for services, the only asset
in the governments possession, western lands.



The two schools of thought, heretofore represent-
ed by Paine and Webster, the one favoring the
killing of the goose for its immediate egg and the
other favoring its preservation for steady fu-
ture production, find their counterpart in the
post-Revolutionary period in the writings of
Pickering and Bland who offered the "Army"
and the "Financier's" plans.

With this changing phase in the discussion the
new ideas are found to be much more similar in
character than is true of Paine 's and Webster's
plans, the one marked difference being that no
longer did men plan a western State to be dis-
posed of by setting up land offices in Europe and
the sale of lands to individuals or companies
across the sea. Though the two new schools
which supplanted the old had much in common,
as the names suggest, one had migration and set-
tlement as its chief objective and the other the
use of the West as a national asset. In working
out a final decision, through numerous compro-
mises, both ideas contributed to the final solution.

Timothy Pickering, who, as Adjutant-General
and Quartermaster-General, had won for himself
an enviable reputation during the Revolution,
became spokesman for the army with reference
to western lands and Statehood. 9 The "Pick-
ering Plan" called for the creation of a new

9 Doc. viii.

Introduction xxiii

State bounded, by the Pennsylvania line, the Ohio
and Maumee river and Lake Erie; the western
line was to be a meridian running northward
from a point on the Ohio River thirty miles west
of the mouth of the Scioto River. This State
was to be settled by those of the disbanded army
entitled to bounty lands banded together as "as-
sociators," the government, in a parental way,
to aid the movement by supplying means of
transportation, rations, utensils, arms, etc., etc.
The unclaimed lands were to be sold by the State
for its own benefit ; the associators were to adopt
their own constitution and the State was to be
admitted into the Union on equal terms with the
original States. Compared with the earlier
plans, Pickering's scheme is notable because it
ignores Webster's compact settlement and sur-
vey-bef ore-sale ideas, also because it first voices
the use of money accruing from the sale of undis-
posed lands for "schools and academies" and the
"total exclusion of slavery" from the new State.
This general plan, as we have suggested, was
Pickering's probably in the same sense that the
Declaration of Independence was Jefferson's —
it voiced the ideas of his coterie of friends and
advisers and was framed in his language. How-
ever, no document of the hour, written by the
adherents of the "army" school, quite equals in
interest the broad outlook and sane judgment of
General Rufus Putnam's contemporaneous

xxiv Introduction

"Thoughts ou A Peace Establishmeut for The
United States of America" 10 and his letter to
General Washington of June 16, 1783. Though
different in purpose and character, the two docu-
ments play into each other. The original copy
of the "Thoughts on A Peace Establishment" is
endorsed on the back "Requested by Gen'l Wash-
ington"; it is a military survey of the United
States, its chief harbors, defenses, and lines of
communications and is remarkable for its pro-
posal to defend the trans- Allegheny provinces by
a line of forts stretching from the Ohio River at
Yellow Creek to Lake Erie, at the present site of
Cleveland. Following this outline of the strate-
gic military keys of the continent, is a well con-
sidered plan of a "regular Continental Militia"
calling for the maintenance of fifty-four com-
panies of infantry, twelve companies of artillery,
and one company of artificers. Writers on our
military history, who have decried our studied
policy of unpreparedness, would do well to note
that one trenchant writer of the Revolutionary
era, of wide experience, was advocating at this
time an army of some proportions (30,000 men
and officers) on a basis of compulsory military

General Putnam's letter to Washington ac-
companied the ' ' Petition of the Subscribers, Offi-
cers in the Continental Line" which we have

io Doe. x.

Introduction xxv

printed elsewhere. 11 That petition was based, on
the Pickering outline; it called for the setting
apart of a State between the boundaries drawn
by Pickering which was "in time to be admitted
one of the confederated States of America.''
General Putnam's accompanying letter 12 de-
serves high place in the annals of the building
of the "Old Northwest;" its breadth of view, its
amazing foresight and its ring of hopeful pa-
triotism are, alike, unequalled by any document
of the tune. The lines of Putnam's State coin-
cided with those of Pickering's, the whole to
contain about seventeen and one-half million
acres; like Webster, he advocates the township
system, and, like Pickering, he suggests lands
allotted for schools; but Putnam goes a step
further than either and includes land for the
support of religion. He opposes large grants to
individuals but forecasts his own Ohio Company
of 1788 by suggesting that others beside officers
and soldiers be allowed to "petition for charters
on purchase." His scheme, however, is pre-
eminently that of a soldier's, and he repeats his
arguments in favor of military establishments at
strategic points. Clearer than any man at the

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryMarietta Historical CommissionOhio in the time of the confederation [electronic resource] → online text (page 1 of 16)