In 1802, Ohio Company member and soon-to-be Ohio University founder Manasseh Cutler submitted an act to the state legislature seeking to found a university in Athens, Ohio. This act was approved by the legislature with a few small amendments, and cleared the way for the establishment of a institution named American Western University. American Western never materialized, but the ideas and some of the very same language reappeared in the 1804 act establishing Ohio University.
The gallery below contains the 1802 charter in its entirety, along with some highlighted texts and physical characteristics that we in the Mahn Center find particularly interesting. These include instances where the document was edited during its creation, and explanations of how the charter was written and put together. You can also click through on any page and to view this document in the Ohio University Libraries Digital Collections, where you’ll find additional descriptive information, options for downloading, and, if you’re having trouble with some of that 19th century handwriting, a full transcript!