Ephraim Cutler was an early Ohio political leader and educator.
Cutler was born in Edgartown, Massachusetts, on December 13, 1767. His father was Manasseh Cutler, one of the original founders of the Ohio Company of Associates. Ephraim Cutler spent his early years training to become a lawyer. He also developed numerous other interests, including farming, ranching, storekeeping, and real estate speculation. During the early 1790s, he and his father sold roughly fifty percent of the 1.5 million acres of land granted to the Ohio Company by the Confederation Congress. In 1795, he left Massachusetts and moved to Ohio. He helped to establish Ames Township (modern-day Amesville) in 1797.
In 1801, Cutler began his political career. Ohio voters elected him to the territorial legislature. In 1802, he served as a delegate to the Ohio Constitutional Convention. Cutler was only one of seven Federalist Party members chosen for the convention. The remaining twenty-eight representatives consisted of twenty-six Democratic-Republicans and two undecided delegates. The Democratic-Republican Party favored an economy based on agriculture and small family farms. Federalists preferred a more diverse economy. Cutler favored a decentralized economy but was a champion of the common person. He took the lead at the constitutional convention in banning slavery and other forms of involuntary servitude in Ohio.
In the early 1800s, Cutler became one of the first Ohioans to seek broader markets for the state's produce. He routinely sent herds of Ohio cattle eastward to Virginia. There, Cutler fattened the cattle after their hard journey over the Appalachian Mountains and then sold them for a sizable profit in eastern cities. He continued to serve as a member of the state legislature and fought for state funding for canals and a state school system. In 1825, due to Cutler's efforts, Ohio approved a property tax to finance public education. Cutler also became a charter member and first librarian of the Coonskin Library in 1804. The library originally had fifty-one books purchased with animal pelts. Many of the original books are now housed at the Ohio Historical Society. Cutler was co-founder of Ohio University. He died at Constitution, Ohio, on July 8, 1853.