Real Estate Speculators

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Real estate speculators, people who sought to purchase land cheaply and then resell it for a profit, were among the first European settlers of what would become Ohio.

As early as the 1740s, real estate speculators began to try to acquire land in modern-day Ohio. They hoped to either enhance or make their fortunes. Real estate speculators bought unimproved or undeveloped land on the frontier relatively cheaply and attempted to sell it at a profit. Many of the original European settlers of North America viewed the New World as a land of opportunity. A large number of people in the United States viewed the Ohio frontier in the same way two centuries later.

Some of the first people to engage in land speculation in present-day Ohio were the organizers of the Ohio Company. In 1748, the Ohio Company received 200,000 acres of land in the Ohio Country from the King of England. George Washington and Robert Dinwiddie were prominent members of the Ohio Company. Their interest in this land contributed to the French and Indian War. Following England's victory in the conflict, the British government issued the Proclamation of 1763. This act stated that English colonists could not live west of the Appalachian Mountains. England hoped that this would prevent conflicts between its colonists and the Native Americans living in the Ohio Country. British colonists ignored the Proclamation and continued to move west of the Appalachian Mountains. The controversy over the Proclamation of 1763 was one of the causes of the American Revolution.

With the United States' victory in the Revolution, a number of new companies hoped to acquire land in the Ohio Country at relatively low prices from the federal government. Some of these new organizations included the Ohio Company of Associates, the Scioto Company, and the Connecticut Land Company. Some of the men involved in these and other organizations included Manasseh Cutler, Israel Ludlow, Nathaniel Massie, Samuel Holden Parsons, Rufus Putnam, and John Cleaves Symmes. Many of these men made large profits from these ventures. Others lost their fortunes. Due to inaccurate surveys, some of these men and organizations claimed the same land or sold the same parcel of land to more than one person. During the late 1700s and the early 1800s, many of the court cases in the Northwest Territory and then the State of Ohio involved land disputes.

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