Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lysander Spooner petitions Congress, 1839

In the late 1830s, a young Lysander Spooner was involved in real estate speculation in the Maumee River basin of Ohio. In 1837, he purchased 80 acres along the Maumee, including the town of Gilead, now know as Grand Rapids. Charles Shively's biography tells some of the story of Spooner's adventures. Gilead was not ultimately destined to become the great trading city between Toledo and Fort Wayne. The effects of the Panic of '37, and plans by the State of Ohio to build a dam above Gilead, doomed Spooner's plans. But it appears that he continued to fight until at least early 1839, when he presented a memorial to the U. S. Senate, seeking rights to improve navigation in the region of the "grand rapids" of the Maumee.

Grand Rapids, Ohio, is about 10 miles down the road from the town where I currently live, so for me this is local history as well as anarchist biography. And this particular episode in Spooner's Ohio endeavors seems mostly undocumented. I'll have to see if the archive here at BGSU has any more pieces of the puzzle.

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