top of page

James Madison and Edward Tiffin

The James Madison Museum of Orange County Heritage is pleased to announce the donation of a land grant certificate, dated August 15, 1814, signed by President James Madison and Edward Tiffin, Commissioner of the General Land Office.

The purchaser of the land is believed to be the Peter Lanterman who served as a Private in the 19th Infantry, 3rd Brigade during the War of 1812. The land being purchased was part of land authorized by Congress for the “sale of the Lands of the United States in the Territory north west of the Ohio, and above the mouth of Kentucky river…” The certificate acknowledges payment in full for the land having been registered with the Canton office; transferring ownership of the land from the Federal Government to Mr. Lanterman.

The certificate bears two important signatures – President James Madison and Edward Tiffin. It was during Madison’s presidency the GLO was formed at a time when a young Constitution was being tested through the trials and tribulations of the War of 1812. President Madison named the former Governor of Ohio, Edward Tiffin, as the first chief commissioner of the GLO. When the British invaded Washington (August 24, 1814), Tiffin moved the records of the Office so they would be safe from seizure or destruction.

The embossed Seal of the United States General Land Office (GLO) in the lower left corner is still visible, depicting an eagle with leaves clasped in its beak and resting atop a farm implement and vegetation. The GLO was established by Act of Congress on April 25, 1812 to encourage homesteading and westward migration. Various adjustments were made over time until the GLO was dissolved by merging it with the U.S. Grazing Service; creating the Bureau of Land Management. The Bureau of Land Management is operational under the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Who was Edward Tiffin?

If you live in Ohio, you may recognize this name, he was the first governor of the state, though not an American by birth. Tiffin was born in Carlisle, England on June 19, 1766. He attended the common school and eventually studied medicine. In 1784, he immigrated to the United States and settled in Charles Town, Virginia; which is

now West Virginia. He continued his medical studies and attended lectures at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. For a time he practiced medicine in Charles Town but in 1792 Tiffin entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1796, he moved to Chillicothe, Ohio and engaged in preaching and the practice of medicine.

Tiffin's political career began in 1799, when he became a member, Territorial house of representatives through 1801. He served as speaker and was president of the convention that formed the Constitution of Ohio in 1802. In 1803, Tiffin was elected as the first Governor of the State of Ohio and re-elected in 1805. From 1807-1809 he was elected and served as a Democratic Republican to the U.S. Senate. He resigned on March 3,1809 and served as a Member and Speaker of the House of Representatives through 1811.

Tiffin resumed his medical practice in Chillcothe, Ohio until President James Madison appointed him to serve as the first Commissioner of the General Land Office, serving until October, 1814. Having obtained the consent of both the President and the Senate, Tiffin exchanged offices with Josiah Meigs to become the surveyor general of the Northwest Territory. He held the position until removed by President Andrew Jackson in 1829. Tiffin died in Chillicothe (Ross County), Ohio on August 9, 1829.

The framed certificate was delivered by John Peregoy and Bradley Toombs of “Finders Keepers” on behalf of the donor, Mr. Glen Moreno. Mr. Moreno, owner of the beautiful Greek Revival estate “Neala”, is a life-long collector of antique prints related to Virginia and U.S. Government. The Museum is grateful to Mr. Moreno for entrusting us with this special document and allowing us to share it with our community and visitors.

To read more about Edward Tiffin:

bottom of page