VANDALIA COLONY was an aborted settlement on the Ohio River, sponsored in the early 1770s by the Grand Ohio Company, often referred to as the Walpole Company. Although the colony never materialized, the movement behind it was typical of the great land speculation schemes that were so numerous in England and America in the eighteenth century. This project counted among its backers many prominent persons—Benjamin Franklin, for example—on both sides of the Atlantic.
The plan originated in the Indiana land grant, offered by the Six Nations to a group of Pennsylvania traders in 1768 to reimburse them for losses sustained in Pontiac's War. Samuel Wharton and William Trent, agents of the Indiana Company, proceeded to England early in 1769 to seek royal confirmation of the grant. This group was reorganized on 27 December 1769 as the Grand Ohio Company. It then petitioned to purchase an additional tract of some 20 million acres south of the Ohio River.
The new colony, to be called Vandalia, would have a separate government of the royal type. Although many of the proprietors were Englishmen holding high official positions, the project encountered strong opposition from influential British quarters and from rival speculative interests in Virginia that claimed almost the same territory. In 1773 the grant appeared imminent, but the outbreak of hostilities in 1775 ended all hope of success. In 1781 Wharton and others tried to persuade Congress to recognize the abortive Vandalia grant, but strong opposition finally killed it.
James, Alfred P. The Ohio Company: Its Inner History. Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1959.
Wayne E.Stevens/a. r.