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Pierre Francois Tardieu:  Plan Des Achats Des Compagnies de L'Ohio et du Scioto

Maps of Midwest America (Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio)

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Title: Plan Des Achats Des Compagnies de L'Ohio et du Scioto

Map Maker: Pierre Francois Tardieu

Place / Date: Paris / 1787 ca

Coloring: Hand Colored

Size: 17 x 12.5 inches

Condition: VG+

Price: $16,500.00

Inventory ID: 0012bm


Early Real Estate Speculation in the Ohio Valley

Rare first state of this important map for the early development of the Ohio Valley, promoting the lands of the Scioto Company.

The map was published to accompany Prospectus pour l’éstablissement sur les rivières d’Ohio et de Scioto en Amérique, Paris, 1789. The prospectus and map were issued by the Scioto Company, which was associated with the Ohio Company, a group of American land speculators who in 1786 received a grant of several million acres from Congress along the Ohio in the vicinity of the Scioto and Muskingum Rivers.

The Scioto Company was organized to market some of these lands to prospective French investors and emigrants. The Scioto Company failed to meet its contract with the Ohio Company, and issued worthless deeds to about 150,000 acres before it collapsed in 1790.

The map shows all of the present State of Ohio from Lake Erie south to the Ohio River, and as far west as the Scioto. It includes the Seven Ranges of Townships, laid out in 1786 by Thomas Hutchins, Surveyor General of the United States, the first part of United States Territory surveyed according the pattern subsequently used for all territory as far west as the Pacific. Just to the west is the original Ohio Company Grant (colored pink), and beyond, in blue, is the proposed Scioto Company purchase.

A simplified and more common second state of the map was published in the same year. It omits many details shown on the first state, including the Seven Ranges, and the town of Marietta (“Mariana”), founded in 1787. Named in honor of Marie Antoinette, Thomas Smith speculated that the town may have been erased because of the Queen’s “considerable loss of popularity among the French people by 1789”.

The Scioto Company

The Scioto Company, was formed in 1787 by Colonel William Duer and several associates. It was reorganized in 1789, in Paris, as the Compagnie du Scioto and focused on attracting French investors. The Company had arranged to purchase of 4 million acres from the Ohio Company, occupying the western portion of their lands. For a time “Sciotomanie” spread through the salons of Paris, as many of the France’s wealthiest and most esteemed figures enthusiastically invested in the endeavor.

However, the Scioto Company proved to be only one of Duer’s several spectacular failures, ultimately defaulting on its payments to the Ohio Company. I n 1791, 218 French settlers arrived in Ohio to find that the Scioto Company was a chimera, and that no provisions had been made for their presence. Arriving in Marietta (founded in 1788), shown in manuscript on the map, the settlers were soon moved upriver to Gallipolis (also drawn in manuscript), a crude settlement that was created especially for them. Also added by hand is a trail running along the Ohio River along with the several forts, while the lengthy inscriptions surrounding the area give a detailed accounting of the amounts that were to be paid per acre, for land sales in these regions.

A 1794 opinion by the U.S. Attorney General officially voided the Scioto Company’s claims. On March 31, 1795, the U.S. Congress felt compelled to arrange for some form of restitution for the beleaguered French settlers, granting them 24,000 acres on the Ohio, just down river from the mouth of the Scioto. Elsewhere, French settlers were permitted to purchase the lands they occupied for $1.25 per acre.

This first state of this map was in print for a very short time and is quite rare.

References: Smith, The Mapping of Ohio, pp. 125-130, plate III; not in Phillips, Maps of America.

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Maps of Midwest America (Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio)