This report, made by the Committee on Lands Northwest of the Ohio Reserved for Virginia Officers and Soldiers, was compiled with other committee reports by the Clerk of the House for recordkeeping purposes. After the Revolutionary War, Virginia encompassed much of present-day Kentucky, West Virginia, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. In 1784, Virginia officially ceded most of this land to the United States. As a part of the agreed cession, the Commonwealth of Virginia stipulated a portion of this former claim be set aside for Virginia soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War as a reward for enlisting. The report documents the request that Congress continue to set aside acreage in modern-day Ohio for that purpose.
Many Virginians who fought in the Revolutionary War were eager to cash in on land grants owed to them for their service. Some grants were more generous than others, ranging from 100 to 15,000 acres depending on the claimant’s military rank and duration of service.
In the committee report, Virginia state officials stressed the need for these lands for soldiers. They also worried about the quality of the plots soldiers would be granted, calling much of the territory southeast of the Ohio River “barrens . . . not more than one tenth fit for cultivation,” insisting better quality land northwest of the river would likely be necessary.
In 1790, Congress designated the Virginia Military District in the area specified in the report. In 1852, Virginia ceded the remaining unclaimed territory in the military district to the federal government.