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Historical Vignette 019 - A U.S. Stamp Commemorates our Second Chief Engineer

Many domestic and international postage stamps relate to individuals, events, and projects in Corps history. One such stamp bears the likenesses of Brig. Gen. Rufus Putnam, the second Chief Engineer (April-December 1776), and The Reverend Manasseh Cutler. The U.S. Postal Service issued the 3-cent stamp in 1937 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Northwest Ordinance.

In 1786 Putnam helped found the Ohio Company of Associates to settle lands newly acquired by the United States along the Ohio River. As the company’s lobbyist, Reverend Cutler arranged for the purchase of more than 1.5 million acres in the territory (at less than 10 cents an acre). This activity spurred the Continental Congress to approve the Northwest Ordinance on 13 July 1787. The Ordinance provided for organizing and governing the territory--including the creation of "not less than three nor more than five states"-- and advanced education, maintained civil liberties, and excluded slavery. Under its provisions, Ohio became a state in 1803.

Brig. Gen. Rufus Putnam

 

As the leaders of a group of settlers, Putnam and Cutler founded Ohio’s first permanent settlement at Marietta in 1788. Using the engineering skills he had honed laying out defenses in Boston and New York City, and serving as Chief Engineer during the Revolution, Putnam also oversaw construction of Campus Martius, a fortification to protect Marietta. President George Washington appointed Putnam a judge of the Northwest Territory in 1790, and he served as Surveyor General of federal public lands (1796-1803).

 

First Day Cover for the 150th Anniversary, Northwest Ordinance of 1787

 

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April 2001