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Manasseli Cutler

CUTLER, Manasseli, clergyman, born in Killingly, Connecticut, 3 May 1742; died in Hamilton, Massachusetts, 28 July 1823. He was graduated at Yale in 1765, after which he engaged in the whaling business, and opened a store in Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard. Meanwhile he continued his studies, principally legal, and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1767. He conducted a few cases in the court of common pleas, but finding the profession uncongenial, he gave it up and removed to Dedham, where he studied theology under the direction of the Rev. Thomas Balch, whose daughter he had married. In 1770 he was licensed and preached for six months as a candidate at the Hamlet parish (then a part of Ipswich, but since 1793 the town of Hamilton). He was ordained pastor of the Congregational society in this parish on 11 September 1771, and remained associated with this organization until his death. Soon after the battle of Lexington he addressed the minutemen, then mustering in Ipswich, and accompanied them on horseback to Cambridge, where he saw the British as they retreated into Boston. He received a commission as chaplain in September 1776, and served under Colonel Ebenezer Francis in the 11th Massachusetts regiment. For his gallantry in the action in Rhode Island, on 28 August 1778, he was presented with a fine horse by his commander. Toward the close of the war, when the physician of the Hamlet parish was employed in the army, and the people were without proper medical advice, Mr. Cutler at once applied himself to the study of medicine, and soon mastered the science sufficiently to practice.

For several years thereafter his attention was divided between the physical and spiritual wants of his congregation. About this time his mind was directed to the study of botany by casually meeting with an English work on the subject, and he was the first to examine the flora of New England. Over 350 species were inspected by him, and classified according to the Linnaean system. His papers published on this subject are the first attempts at a scientific description of the plants of New England. In 1784, with six others, he ascended the White Mountains, and his party is said to have been the first to reach the summit. With the instruments that Dr. Cutler carried, it was computed that Mount Washington was 10,000 feet above the level of the sea--an error of about 3,400 feet. Two years later he became associated with a number of Revolutionary officers who, owing to the uncertain condition of affairs, had determined to settle in the west, and formed the Ohio Company for the purpose of haying their bounty lands located together. He was appointed, with Major Winthrop Sargent, agent of the company, and in this capacity visited Washington, where he contracted with the authorities for 1,000,000 acres of land northwest of the Ohio River, obtaining also an additional grant of 500,000 acres as an allowance for bad lands and incidental charges. On his return home, an expedition was fitted out for the intended settlement. He had a large wagon built and covered with black canvas, on which was painted in white letters the words "Ohio, for Marietta on the Muskingum." Forty-five men were engaged to accompany it, and to assist in the settlement and defense of the new country for three years.

In December 1787, the expedition left Cutler's house, their number was increased to sixty, and after a long journey they reached their destination, where, under General Rufus Putnam, on 7 April 1788, the settlement of Marietta was begun. Cutler made the trip in a sulky, and traveled in twenty-nine days a distance of 750 miles. During his stay in the west he examined the fortifications and mounds in the neighborhood, which he regarded as the work of a people more civilized than any existing tribes of Indians. After remaining a short time in Marietta he determined to return home, and, bidding farewell to the colony he did so much toward establishing, he departed for New England. In 1791 the degree of LL.D. was conferred on him by Yale. In 1795 he was tendered a commission as judge of the Supreme Court of the Ohio territory, but declined it. Later he was elected to the Massachusetts legislature, and then was sent to congress as a federalist, serving from 7 December 1801, till 3 March 1805. During his previous stay in Washington he drafted for Nathan Dane the celebrated ordinance of 1787, which ex-eluded slavery from the Northwest Territory. He declined a re-election to congress in 1804, and continued until his death to be pastor of the Church in Hamilton. He was elected a member of the American academy in 1781, and contributed the following papers to its "Proceedings": "On the Transit of Mercury over the Sun, 12 November 1782 " ; " On the Eclipse of the Moon, 29 March 1782, and of the Sun in the following April ";" Meteorological Observations, 1781, '82, '83" ; "An Account of some of the Vegetable Productions Naturally growing in this Part of America"; and "Remarks on a Vegetable and Animal Insect." He was a member of the American philosophical society, and of other learned and scientific bodies. He, assisted by Dr. William D. Peck, prepared the chapter on trees and plants in Belknap's "History of New Hampshire". He was also the author of a "Century Discourse" delivered at Hamilton, 27 October 1814.

--His son, Jervis, pioneer, born in Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, 19 September 1768; died in Evansville, Indiana, 25 June 1844. He was one of the pioneers from New England, led by General Rufus Putnam, who settled in Marietta, Ohio, in 1788. He was an officer in the militia, and also in the regular army. He acquired the art of engraving, and for years devoted his time to this pursuit. In 1823 Mr. Cutler removed to Nashville, Tennessee, and in 1841 settled in Evansville. He published " Topographical Description of the Western Country, with an Account of the Indian Tribes" (1812).

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