Libraries acquire Symmes Purchase manuscript

A new manuscript has been acquired by the University Libraries and is now part of the Walter Havighurst Special Collections. The manuscript documents the purchase of land that encouraged settlement in southwest Ohio, by John Cleves Symmes of New Jersey, who served in the Continental Congress. Within the purchase was designated a one square mile tract of land to establish an academic institution. The handwritten 8-page document details the Symmes Purchase, also known as the Miami Purchase, and subsequent events.

The Symmes Purchase includes an area of land in Ohio in what is now Hamilton, Butler and Warren Counties. In the original act, an academic institution would have been established near Lebanon, OH; unfortunately that plot of land was sold. A year later, in an amendment of the law enabling Miami University, chartered by the State of Ohio in 1809, the location of the school was “moved” to Oxford, Ohio.

Symmes was the father-in-law of the ninth U.S. President, William Henry Harrison. Symmes Hall on East Quad was named in Symmes’ honor in 1949. The manuscript has been encapsulated, which will protect it as it is examined to minimize wear and tear on the document. It is being transcribed and digitized and will be added to the Libraries’ online Digital Archive which will enable it to be accessed world-wide by students and researchers.

This manuscript complements the copy of the Act enabling Miami University and the subsequent amendment in 1810 and a copy of the Survey of the Symmes Purchase already held in Special Collections. The Symmes Purchase manuscript will be on display in the Special Collections during Alumni Weekend, June 17-19, 2010.