On this day in 1749, the King of England granted a charter to the Ohio Company (which is not to be confused with a later company called the Ohio Company of Associates). This charter included several 100 thousand acres of land west and south of where the Ohio River is formed at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers (where Pittsburgh is now located) that could be sold by the company.
Although the King granted this land to the Ohio Company it was land already claimed by the French, and inhabited by 1000s of Native Americans. While the Native Americans had no concept of land ownership, the French did and when the Ohio Company began building trading posts in the area the French didn’t take kindly to these actions. The result of these incursions into their land claims eventually led to armed conflict between France and England.
In Europe this war was known as the Seven Year War. In North America, it was known as the French and Indian War (movie buffs will remember the movie The Last of the Mohicans and the book written by James Fenimore Cooper, was about this war). This conflict pitted many Native Americans against Great Britain and the colonists. Finally in 1763 a treaty between Great Britain and France was signed. This treaty ceded all of the French land claims east of the Mississippi River to Great Britain. France still held claim to the land west of that river. The Native Americans were promised that English colonists would remain east of the Allegheny Mountains.
This war was expensive for both France and England and in response to the cost, England began imposing heavy taxes on the American colonists. This led to claims by the Americans “taxation without representation.” It would later be the cause of a number of riots in Boston, and the famous “Boston Teat Party.” Eventually, it would result in the American Revolution.
After the French and Indian War, the Ohio Company had to be dissolved since the land west of the Allegheny Mountains it was formed to sell, was now off limits. Another company with a similar goal was formed after the American Revolution. This company was called the Ohio Company of Associates which actually set off and laid claim to lands west of the mountains and created the first seat of government in the Northwest Territory at a village they named Marietta after Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France.