Miami Purchase

views updated


MIAMI PURCHASE, the next important colonization project in the Old Northwest after the grant to the Ohio Company of Associates, was first settled about eight months after Marietta (April 1788). The Miami purchase represented an important step in the incursion of white settlers into the Indian country on the north bank of the Ohio River. Extending northward from the Ohio, between the Miami and the Little Miami Rivers, it commanded not only the increasingly important Ohio River route but also the Miami–Maumee roadway to Lake Erie, while southward the Licking River gave ready access to the Kentucky bluegrass region. Benjamin Stites, an Indian trader, represented the possibilities of the Miami country to Judge John Cleves Symmes of Morristown, New Jersey, an influential member of the Continental Congress. After a personal inspection, Symmes enlisted the support of Jonathan Dayton, Elias Boudinot, and other important men to found a colony between the two Miamis. A contract with the Treasury Board on 15 October 1788 granted Symmes and his associates 1 million acres, for which, under the Land Ordinance of 1785, they agreed to pay $1 per acre. As in the Ohio Company purchase, section sixteen in each township was reserved for the support of education, and section twenty-nine for that of religion. Also, one entire township was set aside for a college. Symmes could not meet the payments in full, and in 1794 he received a patent for the Miami purchase that covered only 311,682 acres.

Symmes started for his new colony in July 1788 and made a temporary stop at Limestone, Kentucky. The first permanent settlement in the Miami purchase was made on 18 November 1788 by Benjamin Stites at Columbia, at the mouth of the Little Miami. The next settlement, on 28 December 1788, opposite the mouth of the Licking, was led by Israel Ludlow and Robert Patterson and was given the fanciful name Losantiville, which the first governor of the Northwest Territory, Arthur St. Clair, changed to Cincinnati, in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati. Symmes founded a third settlement on 2 February 1789 at North Bend. At first, the constant danger of Indian attacks confined the settlers, the majority of whom were from New Jersey, to the vicinity of Fort Washington, but gradually they went up the watercourses into the interior. Fort Hamilton, founded in 1791, became the nucleus of an advanced settlement, and after the Treaty of Greenville (1795), population spread quickly through the lands of the Miami purchase.


Cayton, Andrew R. L. The Frontier Republic: Ideology and Politics in the Ohio Country, 1780–1825. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1986.

The Correspondence of John Cleves Symmes. Edited by Beverly W. Bond Jr. New York: Macmillan, 1926.

Beverley W.BondJr./a. r.

See alsoCincinnati ; Land Companies ; Marietta ; Proclamation of 1763 ; Westward Migration .