Manasseh Cutler, Rufus Putnam, Winthrop Sargeant, and Benjamin Tupper of the Ohio Company conceived Ohio University, which was encouraged by the Ordinance of 1787 and the Northwest Territorial Legislature in 1799, incorporated as the American Western University in 1802, and chartered by the Ohio State Legislature on February 18, 1804. The university is the first institution of higher learning in the Northwest Territory, second west of the Allegheny Mountains, and the first in the United States to be endowed with land by the government with proceeds used to pay for its operations-revenue from two townships was set aside to support the university. Opened on June 1, 1809, as an academy with three students, Ohio University awarded its first undergraduate degrees in 1815.
"Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged." The Ordinance of 1787, Article III
"Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, that there shall be an University instituted and established in the town of Athens?by the name and style of the Ohio University." Land Laws for Ohio, 1804
Thomas Ewing and John Hunter, Class of 1815, earned the first college degrees in the Northwest Territory.
Cutler Hall, built between 1816-1819, is the oldest building dedicated to higher education in the Northwest Territory and is on the National Register of Historic Places.