Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Tyler Boulware.

Committee Co-Chair

Joseph Hodge

Committee Member

Brian Luskey


Thomas Cresap and Christopher Gist, two common men from Maryland, began working for the Ohio Company of Virginia in 1748, in an attempt to expand the British Empire's claim in the Ohio River Valley by enlarging the colony of Virginia. This thesis analyses these two agents of empire and their trade and diplomacy with the Indians of the Ohio Valley, as well as their mapping and surveying. This thesis argues that these two "on the ground" agents were building the British Empire, through their work for the Ohio Company of Virginia. However, this was not their only imperial tie, there were many formal and informal ties that bound the Ohio Company to governmental officials. These ties often make it difficult to determine if Cresap and Gist were bring employed by the Ohio Company or the British Empire. This thesis explains the relationship between the Ohio Company, the Ohio Company employees and the British Empire and how the independent interests of the employees and the Company, made it possible for the British to expand into the Ohio River Valley, and compete in the race for empire in North America.