Congress Grants Connecticut the Western Reserve
What in the west was “reserved” and who reserved it?
When the American Revolution ended in 1783, the United States gained the Northwest Territory – an area of land that included the present states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota. Four states, Virginia, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut, claimed portions of the Northwest Territory for themselves.
Smaller states without western land claims argued that if the land claims of the larger states were recognized, people and businesses would leave the smaller states for the wealthier larger states. The only solution was for these lands to be turned over to the U.S. government.
All the states but one eventually did so. Do you know which state was the holdout?
It was Connecticut, which claimed land, called the Western Reserve, all the way to northeastern Ohio. Connecticut wanted the land to aid citizens who had suffered serious losses during the Revolution. Do you know how large the state of Connecticut would be today if it still retained that land?
This land stretched west from Connecticut to northeastern Ohio. Congress granted Connecticut a portion of its claim in 1786, and in 1792, Connecticut gave 500,000 acres of that land to citizens whose homes were burned during the American Revolution. In 1795 the Connecticut Land Company bought the remaining land in order to resell it and Cleveland was established in 1796 as the first permanent settlement in the reserve. In 1800, Connecticut and the United States agreed to make the Western Reserve part of the Ohio Territory.