Putnam, Rufus (1738–1824), an American military leader and the founder of Marietta, Ohio, the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory. A cousin of Israel Putnam, he was born in Sutton, Massachusetts, and was trained as a millwright. During the Revolutionary War, in which he advanced to the rank of brigadier general, he was in charge of the defensive works around Boston and New York, saw action in the Hudson Valley, and helped construct fortifications at West Point.
In 1786 he helped organize the Ohio Company of Associates for the purpose of buying land. In 1788 Putnam led the first party of settlers to the site of Marietta, and for the rest of his life worked to develop the area. He served as judge of the Northwest Territory, 1790–96; made a treaty with eight Wabash Indian tribes in 1792; and was surveyor general of the United States, 1796–1803.