Ohio: A Bicentennial Portrait

Ohio: A Bicentennial Portrait

Hardcover

$39.95

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780763155902
Publisher: BrownTrout Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 11/01/2002
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 12.10(w) x 12.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Introduction: WORTHY OF STATEHOOD

Ohio's bicentennial year is 2003. In 1803, Ohio became the pioneer state of the old Northwest Territory, which embraced also what are now the states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin (as well as the northeast corner of Minnesota). Actually, a controversy has simmered over the past two centuries as to the exact date on which Ohio became a state, since Congress never bothered to pass any formal act of admission of Ohio to the Union. Some students of the question even maintain that Ohio—far from being the seventeenth state to join the Union—has in fact never attained legal statehood.

To try and fix the date on which Ohio became a state, one has a lengthy slate of candidates to pick from—none of them entirely satisfactory. Will the real date of Ohio statehood please stand up?

On April 30, 1802, President Jefferson signed into law the Enabling Act by which Congress constrained the boundaries of the potential state of Ohio and authorized the territory's population of "free white male adult inhabitants" to elect county representatives to draft a constitution of state government.

Ohio's first Constitutional Convention accordingly met in the territorial capital of Chillicothe on November 1, 1802, and adopted a state constitution on November 29, 1802, which called for a public election of state senators and representatives, governor, sheriffs, et al.although no public referendum on the state constitution itself. This election was held in January 1803. (The Congressional Biographical Directory long gave November 29, 1802, as the date that Ohio became a state.)

On January 19, 1803, a United States Senate committee reported that Ohio had met the constitutional pre-requisites for statehood. On February 19, 1803, the Senate enacted and President Jefferson signed a bill enabling Ohio to apply for admission to the Union. (February 19, 1803, was the official statehood date that the U.S. Mint initially assigned to Ohio in its State Quarters Program, which issued Ohio's commemorative quarter in 2002).

On March 1, 1803, the first Ohio General Assembly, comprised of a state house of representatives and a senate, convened. (Never a body to minimize its own importance, the state legislature later chose March 1, 1803, as its official date for Ohio statehood. The significance of this date was buttressed at the federal level by a Congressional decision in 1806 to disallow suits by former Northwest Territorial officials for back pay or expenses past March 1, 1803. On the advice of the advisory committee appointed by the governor of Ohio in 2001, the U.S. Mint amended its official date for Ohio statehood to March 1, 1803.)

On March 3, 1803, the Ohio's first governor, Edward Tiffin, assumed office. (The Senate Manual long gave this as Ohio's official date of statehood.)

On April 15, 1803, the Northwest Territorial judges gave up their offices. On October 17, 1803, the first federal senators and representatives from Ohio took their seats in Congress.

All of these are lovely dates in their own ways. But on none of them did Congress ever follow up its Enabling Act of February 19, 1803, with another act declaring the State of Ohio a member of the Union—as it has done for each of the other forty-nine states. Not until Ohio's sesquicentennial year of 1953 did Ohio undertake to remedy this oversight. The state legislature dispatched a petition to Congress by horseback for a formal declaration of Ohio's admission to the Union, retroactive to the date of the state legislature's own inception. On August 7, 1953, Congress cheerfully complied with a joint resolution declaring Ohio to be one of the United States as of March 1, 1803.

Lest it be supposed that the Congressional act of 1953 finally settled the question of the date and fact of Ohio's statehood to everybody's satisfaction, it should be noted that one school of legal thought regards the act of 1953 as being fatally flawed by its retroactive provision, as violating federal statutes against ex post facto legislation. By this argument, Ohio became a state neither in 1802, 1803, nor in 1953. Rather, Ohio is still in fact a territory within the Northwest Territory.

During what is conventionally regarded as its Northwest Territorial period (1787-1803), Ohio was first part of the unorganized Northwest Territory (1787-1799), then a part of the organized Northwest Territory (1799-1800), and then the organized Northwest Territory minus the Indiana Territory (1800-1803). The territory between the Great Lakes and the Ohio River east of the Mississippi River had been claimed by France since the middle of the seventeenth century, based on discovery and occupation. The English contested the French claim on the basis of the Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut charters, under which these colonies extended westward to the Pacific Ocean; as well as subsequent claims by New York and Pennsylvania. The century-old imperial contest came to a head in The Seven Year's War (1756-1763), at the end of which France was compelled to cede to Great Britain all its territorial claims in North America east of the Mississippi (except for two tiny islands at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence).

With the Northwest wrested from the French, Great Britain immediately rescinded its own recognition of the very claims of her colonies to this territory which she had successfully asserted against France and instead forbade all colonial grants west of the Alleghenies. Britain's subsequent annexation of the Northwest to the province of Quebec by the Quebec Act (1774) was one of the principal colonial grievances against the Crown that precipitated the War of Independence. During that war, the Northwest was won for the Americans by George Rogers Clark. Those states without pretensions to western territories (New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland) refused to ratify the Articles of Confederation submitted in 1777 until Congress assured in 1781 that all title to the trans-Allegheny territories should pass to the Union. In consequence, New York ceded its claims to the United States in 1780, Virginia in 1784, Massachusetts in 1785, and Connecticut in 1786. Connecticut, however, excepted a 120-mile strip bordering Lake Erie called the Western Reserve, which was not ceded until 1800. Virginia reserved a tract between the Little Miami and Scioto Rivers, known as the Virginia Military District, for her soldiers in the War of Independence.

When the War was over and these cessions had been made, thousands of veterans desired the opportunity to repair their broken fortunes in the Northwest. In 1786, the second Ohio Company, composed mainly of New England soldiers, was organized in Boston with a view toward founding a new state between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Congress, hopeful of large revenues from western land sales, passed the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which provided for the temporary government for the Northwest Territory and for the gradual admission of its constituent districts into the Union. Each district was to be administered by a governor and judges appointed by Congress until it attained a population of 5,000 free adult males, at which time it would become a territory and form its own representational legislature. A territory might then be admitted to the Union as a state once it had attained a population of 60,000 free adult males, under the proviso that the whole Northwest Territory must eventually comprise no less than three and no more than five states. Of these, the easternmost (Ohio) was to be bounded on the north, east, and south by the Great Lakes, Pennsylvania, the Ohio River—and on the west by a line drawn due north from the mouth of the Great Miami River all the way to the Canadian border (so including the eastern half of the modern state of Michigan), if there were to be three states; or otherwise to a latitude drawn eastward through the extreme south bend of Lake Michigan, if there were to be five states—as would in fact prove to be the applicable case as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota (the northern half of which fell within the Northwest Territory) successively joined the Union.

After adoption of the Northwest Ordinance, pioneers poured into the easternmost territory, which would naturally be the first to qualify for statehood. There were four main centers of initial settlement, originating respectively in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Virginia. The second Ohio Company—under the leadership of General Rufus Putnam and Dr. Manasseh Cutler—founded Marietta, the first permanent settlement in Ohio, at the mouth of the Muskingum in 1788. Dr. Cutler's skillful negotiations with Congress had helped to secure the incorporation in the Northwest Ordinance of the articles that prohibited slavery in the Northwest Territory, provided for the support of public education, and safeguarded the property and civil rights of Indians. Within months, the first governor of the Northwest Territory—General Arthur Saint Clair—arrived in Marietta to establish the first Territorial government. Second, an association of New Jerseymen, organized by John Cleves Symmes, secured a grant from Congress in 1788-1792 to a strip on the Ohio River between the Great Miami and the Little Miami Rivers, known as the Symmes Purchase. Third, a small company of Connecticut people removed to the Western Reserve under Moses Cleaveland and founded Cleveland in 1796. Finally, the Virginia Military District, the 4.2-million-acre tract between the Scioto and Little Miami Rivers that was reserved in 1784 for bounties to Virginia continental troops, was colonized in large measure by people from that state, whose main towns were Manchester and Chillicothe—respectively founded as "Massie's Station" in 1790 and "Massieville" in 1796, by Nathaniel Massie, an English-born Virginian who had been appointed deputy surveyor of the Virginia Military District.

It was in Chillicothe, on July 4 of its foundation year of 1796, that there arrived a travel-stained young orphan from Virginia who would soon rise to be the man who may best lay claim to the title: "Father of Ohio statehood." When Thomas Worthington rode into this rude settlement of log cabins being raised on the rich bottom land of the Scioto River, he was a 23-year-old with a grown man's job. By virtue of his rank in the Virginia militia during the Revolution, General William Darke—Thomas Worthington's Berkeley County neighbor and guardian—had been awarded an extensive allotment of bounty land in the Virginia Military District and had delegated his ward to locate and survey the tract. So delighted was Worthington with what he found that he proceeded to trade his plantation estate in the Lower Shenandoah Valley for bounty land in the Scioto River Valley and remove to Chillicothe with his wife, manumitted slaves, brother, and brother-in-law—Edward Tiffin, destined to be elected the first Governor of the State of Ohio. Leveraging his Virginia patrician connections, Worthington was appointed major of militia and deputy surveyor-general of the Northwest Territory almost immediately upon his return to Chillicothe in 1798. Demonstrating precocious skills as a speculator and politician, Worthington quickly enlarged his lands, fortune, and social and military rank in the Northwest Territory. By 1802, Colonel Worthington—only 29—had established himself as a prominent and influential partisan in Ohio's bid for statehood.

On the evening on November 29, 1802, Worthington was champing at the bit. A blizzard was carpeting Chillicothe with another foot of snow and he had no choice but to delay his departure for Washington. A few hours earlier, he and the other delegates to Ohio's First Constitutional Convention had voted 34 to 1 to adopt, as the prerequisite to the Ohio territory's application for statehood, the state constitution that they had hammered out in the preceding 29 days. The lone dissenter was Judge Ephraim Cutler, the Massachusetts-born son of Dr. Cutler who distrusted the pro-slavery tendencies of the Virginian faction and would go on to establish in 1804 Ohio's first circulating library Amesville's 51-title Coonskin Library (now preserved by the Ohio Historical Society)and in 1806 Ohio's first Underground Railroad station, at his home in Constitution.

Before adjourning, the jubilant delegates deputized Worthington to hand-deliver the constitution to Congress. Worthington was chosen to be the Convention's emissary because he was physically fit for the arduous winter journey; because he had proven himself a personable and persuasive politician; and—most importantly—because he was well-connected in Washington. Indeed, Worthington was a friend and political prot�g� of President Thomas Jefferson, who would be certain to embrace both his young friend and the prospect of a Democratic Republican Ohio's casting its three electoral votes for himself in 1804.

When the snow ("the deepest I ever saw in the month of November," Worthington wrote in his journal) at last relented, Worthington saddled up on December 7 and set out northeast on Zane's Trace, the rough bridle path that Ebenezer Zane had blazed six years before. The horseback journey from Chillicothe to Washington might be expected to take two to three weeks, depending on the weather and the fitness of mount and rider. Colonel Samuel Huntington, a recent Democratic Republican convert from Cleveland and Ohio's future governor, and William Lytle, a land speculator who had amassed 39,000 acres in Clermont County, rode with him as far as Zanesville, where on December 9 the trio lodged at an inn owned by John McIntire, the town's founder and Zane's brother-in-law. Thereafter, Worthington mentions no traveling companions in his diary; just his nightly stopovers and the "weather, very cold." As he plodded across the snowy Ohio wilderness and threaded the Appalachian passes, Worthington had plenty of solitary leisure to rehearse aloud his upcoming speech to Congress and his conversations with the President, as well as to savor in silence the momentous events that had lately unfolded in Chillicothe, cradle of Ohio statehood.

Worthington doubtless pondered with distaste the character of General Arthur St. Clair, who had been appointed first governor of the Northwest Territory in 1787 and still held that office in the new territorial capital of Chillicothe. His gubernatorial appointment had been the last act of the Continental Congress while St. Clair was the President of the United States under the Articles of Confederation. The most historic act of Congress under St. Clair's Presidency had been the passage of the Northwest Ordinance, which St. Clair himself had championed. Once installed in his wild new domain, which constituted fully half the total area of the United States, General St. Clair, whose reputation had survived his court-martial during the Revolutionary War for abandoning Fort Ticonderoga to the British whilst its commander in 1777, led an ill-managed punitive expedition of 1,400 militia and irregulars into Indian country in 1791 that ended in the loss of almost two-thirds of his command to an attack by Little Turtle and Blue Jacket's numerically inferior forces at the Wabash River. St. Clair's disaster ranks to this day as the costliest defeat ever inflicted by Indians on a U.S. army.

Incapacitated by gout and age, St. Clair himself barely escaped to Cincinnati, the seat of territorial justice which he himself had named after the Society of the Cincinnati, over the Pennsylvania chapter of which he presided. The Wabash River deb�cle touched the lives of many settlers on the frontier, including Worthington, who lost in it his surrogate brother, Joseph Darke. St. Clair resigned his general's commission to avoid another court-martial but succeeded in staying in office as governor. General "Mad" Anthony Wayne took over the prosecution of the Indian campaign, which he brought to a military conclusion in the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, and to a diplomatic conclusion with the treaty of Greenville in 1795, which formalized a wholesale cession of Indian lands in southern and eastern Ohio. During the decade ensuing his disgrace as a military leader, Governor St. Clair led the territorial executive in an acrimonious power struggle with the increasingly restive territorial legislature. The former sought to preserve Federalist centralization of power in the person of the governor; the latter fought to redistribute power to Democratic Republican land barons by means of the representative innovations of statehood.

The powerful Democratic Republican caucus in the territorial legislature—headed by the Chillicothean nabobs Thomas Worthington, Edward Tiffin, Michael Baldwin, and Nathaniel Massie—locked horns with Governor St. Clair, who used his veto power to block all legislative attempts to enable statehood. The accelerating rate of settlement after the Battle of Fallen Timbers had made inevitable the activation of the mechanism provided in the Northwest Ordinance for an initial splitting of the vast unorganized Northwest Territory into a smaller organized Northwest Territory in the east and a new unorganized territory in the west.

The contentious question was where the western boundary of that first organized Northwest Territory should be drawn. St. Clair pronounced that boundary to be the Scioto River, with the happy result that the Jeffersonian cabal of pro-statehood Chillicotheans would be excluded from the legislature of the organized Northwest Territory to the east of the Scioto. Worthington led the counterattack, appealing directly to the United States Congress to affirm the provision in the Northwest Ordinance that the western boundary of the first organized territory should be the meridian running north from the mouth of the Great Miami. On May 7, 1800, Congress so affirmed in the Division Act: the organized territory east of the line still being called the Northwest Territory, with its capital in Chillicothe; all the unorganized territory to the west of the line now to be a new administrative entity called the Indiana Territory.

In 1799, the territorial legislature had chosen as the unorganized territory's non-voting representative to Congress the Chillicothe faction's candidate, William Henry Harrison (a Virginian who had been Wayne's aide-de-camp at Fallen Timbers and would eventually be elected the ninth President of the United States), over Arthur St. Clair Jr. (the governor's son). The Chillicothe faction had long chafed at an institutional check on the rate of population growth in the Northwest Territory toward the statehood-eligibility threshold of 60,000 "free inhabitants" (which was to say, white males of voting age with freeholds of at least fifty acres). Before 1799, only 50,000 acres of Ohio's public land had been purchased under the Land Act of 1796, which required a $1,280 down payment for 640 acres—a prohibitively large outlay for many thousands of prospective settlers. Harrison persuaded Congress to cut drastically the minimum size and down payment of land purchases and to open new land offices in Marietta, Cincinnati, Steubenville, and Chillicothe to handle the ensuing boom. Worthington, in charge of the Chillicothe land office, made a fortune and many grateful friends. In 1800, President John Adams named Harrison, whom the Chillicothean faction wished to replace St. Clair as governor of the organized Northwest Territory, the governor of the newly created Indiana Territory.

Having removed the Democratic Republican candidate from contention, President Adams reappointed St. Clair to yet another three-year term as governor of the Northwest Territory. Emboldened by his reappointment, St. Clair revived his plan to divide and conquer the Chillicothe party. He rallied Federalists and anti-Chillicothe representatives in the territorial legislature to vote 12-8 on December 21, 1801, to subdivide the organized Northwest Territory at the Scioto River into two organized territories with separate capitals at Cincinnati and Marietta. In point of fact, St. Clair was not the first to conceive the project of placing the easternmost state's western border along the Scioto River. When he drafted a Congressional plan in 1784 for the governmental evolution of the Northwest Territory, Jefferson had envisioned an eventual state to be called "Washington" east of the Scioto River and two states to be called "Metropotamia" and "Saratoga" west of the Scioto. Ironically, St. Clair's selection of the same boundary seventeen years later was intended to gerrymander the Jeffersonian party and delay indefinitely the inception of statehood in the Northwest Territory.

Three days after this vote, on Christmas Eve, a mob of pro-statehood "Bloodhounds" gathered outside St. Clair's mansion in Chillicothe to burn the governor in effigy and threaten his person with violence. Worthington defused the crisis by turning his pistol on Baldwin, leader of the Bloodhounds, and threatening to shoot his own ally unless the mob dispersed. At a holiday reception in the governor's mansion the next evening, William Rufus Putnam—the twenty-one-year-old Massachusetts-born eldest son of the founder of Marietta—toasted the future of two states separated by the Scioto River. Once again, Virginia-born Democratic Republicans of Chillicothe could only with difficulty be restrained from doing Christmas violence to the governor and his Federalist supporters.

Cooler Chillicotheans circulated statehood petitions and grievances against the governor, who had branded the pioneer population of the Northwest Territory "a multitude of indigent and ignorant people...ill qualified to form a constitution and government for themselves," being witless tools of "ambitious, designing and envious men." Foremost among these men whom St. Clair condemned, Worthington set off to Washington in January 1802 with the petitions in hand and met privately with President Jefferson and the leaders of the Democratic Republican-dominated Congress. Worthington's representations bore their desired fruit in the form of the Enabling Act of April 30th, 1802, by which Congress authorized the convocation of a territorial convention to form a state constitution, such state to coincide with the entire existing organized territory. With St. Clair's scheme to subdivide the organized territory thus blocked, the constitutional convention assembled in Chillicothe on November 1.

In an address to this assembly, St. Clair challenged its legal competence and issued an arguably seditious threat: ""We have the means in our own hands to bring Congress to reason, if we should be forced to use them." Worthington promptly sent the text of the intemperate address to Jefferson, who as promptly signed St. Clair's dismissal and instructed the new Democratic Republican governor, Charles Willing Byrd, to deliver it in person. On Christmas Day, 1802, one year to the day after the celebrations of his apparent defeat of the Chillocothean faction, St. Clair left Chillicothe in disgrace to retire to his estate in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, where he would brood upon his double humiliation in Ohio until his death in 1818.

Upon arriving in Georgetown on December 19, Worthington heard the welcome news of St. Clair's fall two days before St. Clair himself did. Next day found Worthington quaffing Bordeaux beside a roaring fireplace and answering the eager questions of a President who had already initiated secret preparations for both the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Passionately interested in the West for both political and scientific reasons, Jefferson wanted to know everything about this territory that was on the verge of becoming the seventeenth state and the crucible for the continued westward expansion of the United States. As he had swayed in his saddle over the past two weeks, Worthington had been mentally preparing himself for Jefferson's avalanche of questions.

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, Ohio was—Worthington's boosterish visions of an agrarian Arcadia notwithstanding—an all but unbroken wilderness. A hawk might fly almost any course over it and see nothing below but a bland and boundless sea of trees. Ohio was the heart of one of the world's great hardwood forests, stretching from Canada's muskegs to Florida's tropics, from the Appalachians to the Great Plains. Within the overall sameness of Ohio's virgin landscape, to be sure, there flourished much subtle and occasional variety. When our peregrine hawk would settle to roost in the hill country of southeastern Ohio, the sheltering tree would more likely be an oak than it would to the west and north, where beeches and maples predominated. Sylvan homogeneity was punctuated here and there by little fire-born prairies, winding watercourses, and swarms of post-glacial ponds and bogs. The biggest bog of all was the Great Black Swamp, which stretched across northwestern Ohio on both sides of the Maumee River. Wild animals welcomed the slow-moving newcomers as an easy source of protein. Mountain lions ravaged livestock. Wolves attacked a Supreme Court justice in Cleveland. A circuit preacher by the name of Joseph Badger belied his earthbound namesake by praying all night in the crown of a forty-foot tree while a brawny black bear preyed in the lower boughs. Sleepless pioneer farmers battled squirrel hordes plundering their cornfields.

At McIntire's Inn in Zanesville, Worthington had heard fishy tales of the Muskingum River Valley: muskellunge and catfish big as a man being pulled into fifty-foot canoes whittled from tulip trees by Daniel Boone; mussels big as a dinner plate; cavernous hollow sycamores in which squatter families and gangs of bandits made their homes; salt licks bristling with sheaves of perfect crystals. Incredible bird stories rang truer: flocks of passenger pigeons that canopied the sky during their migrations. Meriwether Lewis, a former aide of General Wayne who had become President Jefferson's personal secretary, recorded just such a sky-darkening event in 1803 above the Ohio River while on his way to his eponymous expedition. Three years later, frontier ornithologist Alexander Wilson would measure one flock a mile wide and 240 miles long and estimate that it contained two billion birds. In 1813, young John James Audubon would gaze upon a continuous torrent of passenger pigeons passing overhead for three days, producing a prodigious pain in his neck. The seemingly inexhaustible numbers of its species having been commercially hunted to extinction for the savory meat of their foot-long bodies, the last passenger pigeon would die in 1914 in the Cincinnati Zoo.

Ohio's natural fecundity was reflected in the explosive rate of growth of its immigrant human population in the fifteen years preceding statehood. The first permanent white settlement, Marietta, was founded in 1788; in the 1800 census, Ohio's official population was logged at 45,365 free white males; by 1803, the latter subpopulation had reached about 70,000. The earliest rash of settlements—Marietta, Cincinnati (1789), Massie's Station (1790), Steubenville (1790), and Gallipolis (1790)—was succeeded some years later by a second wave—Chillicothe (1796), Cleveland (1796), Dayton (1796), Franklinton (1797), Zanesville (1797), Youngstown (1798), Warren (1798), Ravenna (1799), and Lancaster (1800). In 1803, such towns as Canton (1805), Toledo (1820), Akron (1825), Findlay (1821), and Lima (1831) were not yet glints in a founder's eye. By and large, the settlements that existed in 1803 were pestilential log-cabin shantytowns. Fran�ois Andr� Michaux, a botanist sent to North America by the French government to collect plants to re-stock the depleted forests around Paris, reported in 1802 that his French compatriots who huddled in the sixty log cabins constituting Gallipolis—to which they had been lured in 1790 by promises of a civilized metropolis spun by a shady spin-off company of the second Ohio Company"breathe[d] out a miserable existence." Disease, especially dysentery and malaria, took a dreadful toll on Ohio settlers already weakened by deprivation.

Rootlessness, too, was rampant in Ohio's population of 1803. Ohio's settlements were filled with transients and often were transient themselves. Twelve of twenty-five settlements built in Hamilton County in 1795 had been abandoned by 1803. A typical Ohio town lost more than half its founders in its first decade. Many pioneers trudged west to Ohio, only to discover frontier life insupportably crude or unprofitable. Moses Cleaveland, for instance, pulled up stakes and returned to Connecticut after platting his misspelled namesake in 1797. Less disheartened emigrants leapfrogged west instead of retreating east: buying up cheap land on the frontier, clearing it, selling it for a profit to incoming settlers; then jumping west to recycle their increased capital in land speculation on the next frontier.

Congress approved Ohio's application for statehood on the basis of its prospectus rather than its portfolio: indeed, Ohio entered the Union with a paltry $10,950 in its budget. Hard currency was devilishly hard to come by in Ohio. Frontier currency was fundamentally non-monetary: crops, livestock, labor, land. Worthington accepted land from the federal government as payment for surveying tracts in the Virginia Military District in 1797. The federal government paid Zane for blazing his Trace with land grants at Zanesville, Lancaster, and Chillicothe—all now joined by the new path. To drum up hard currency, merchants had to resort to such roundabout strategies as bartering cloth for settler-grown corn; milling the corn; bartering the cornmeal for saddles; selling the saddles to the army for dollars; buying cloth, etc.

Ohio's "industrial" output in 1803 was limited to the modest quantities of cornmeal, flour, and timber that could be processed in the proprietary gristmills and sawmills of landed magnates such as Worthington. Pioneers distant from such mills had to pulverize their grain with hand-mills, which required two hours of grueling labor to feed one adult per day. Marietta had a shipbuilder turning out bullet-proof flatboats, whose mediocre quality anticipated their customary fate of being broken up for lumber in New Orleans. The state's first iron furnace would not be built until 1804, near Youngstown. Blacksmiths, scarce in 1803, received land and other incentives to settle on the frontier. Non-metallurgical manufacturing was strictly a cottage craft, practiced as needed by the users. Although coal was discovered as early as 1770, Ohio's mineral wealth—bituminous coal, petroleum, natural gas, sandstone, grindstone, limestone, lime, gypsum, clay, and iron—would not begin to be tapped until 1828.

Public improvements were high on the agenda of Worthington's powwow with Jefferson. At the dawn of statehood, Ohio's regional transportation system consisted predominantly of natural trans-Allegheny waterways such as the Ohio River, together with a few wilderness paths posing as roads: Zane's Trace (linking Wheeling, Virginia, to Maysville, Kentucky across southeastern Ohio); the Great Trail (linking Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Detroit, Indiana Territory, across northern Ohio); and the Lake Trail (linking Buffalo to Cleveland along the sandy ridges of the northeastern shore of Ohio). Although these wilderness trails might be adequate to the slow trundling of emigrants in Conestoga wagons, they were quite inadequate for pack trains and freight wagons hauling perishable or bulky goods to river ports and distant markets.

Without proper roads, economic intercourse between the Ohio hinterland and the cosmopolitan eastern seaboard must remain tenuous. Without proper roads, an isolated and autarkic Ohio might be seduced by the promise of superior economic benefits to be accrued from direct ties to European powers with presences or pretensions in the Mississippi River Valley: England, Spain, France. Highways were essential to Ohio's incorporation into the United States—but who would pay? Congress had recently resolved the dilemma in principle with its Enabling Act of 1802, which appropriated five percent of revenues from public land sales to finance a federal highway to link the "Old Thirteen" and the Northwest Territory. Finally begun in 1811 at Cumberland, Maryland, the macadamized National Road (also called the Cumberland Road) would reach the Ohio border at Wheeling in 1818 and its western terminus at Vandalia, Illinois, in 1837.

In the meanwhile, Ohio's export commodities-flour, pork, bacon, lard, feathers, butter, cheese, hemp, potatoes, salt, whisky, beeswax, bear and deer skins—must be shipped down the Mississippi River system in flatboats to New Orleans for trans-shipment. With the opening of the trans-Allegheny region by the United States Congress, the freedom of shipping on the Mississippi became vital to the prosperity and growth of the new settlements. Spain had conceded these interests in her treaty with the United States in 1795, by guaranteeing freedom of navigation and the privilege of deposit at New Orleans. In 1800-1802, however, the entire Mississippi Valley was retroceded to France. The transfer of Louisiana from so weak a neighbor as Spain to so powerful and ambitious a state as France filled the United States with apprehension for its western territories, and negotiations were undertaken to extract from France the same trade concessions as Spain had pledged. Although Napoleon readily granted these concessions, he had also instructed the Spanish puppet governor to suspend the right of deposit at New Orleans only two months before. Moreover, reports from London indicated that a British expedition against New Orleans was being prepared. War fever was rising in the United States.

The assurance of the freedom of Mississippi shipping was therefore at the very top of Jefferson and Worthington's conversational agenda. Congress would soon empower Jefferson's delegates in Paris to seek to buy New Orleans for two million dollars. Napoleon, fearful of an Anglo-American alliance as renewed war with Britain loomed, would put all the Louisiana Territory (whose million square miles were five times the size of continental France) on the table for what amounted to less than three cents an acre. The delegates would jump on the offer and the resulting treaty would reach Washington on Bastille Day, 1803. Meriwether Lewis would rendezvous near Louisville with William Clark, one of Wayne's commanders at Fallen Timbers, on October 15, 1803—four days before Senator Worthington would vote federal funding for both the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The final item on Jefferson and Worthington's agenda was a discussion of the internal and external threats to peace in Ohio. The tribes party to the Treaty of Greenville—the Wyandots, the Delawares, the Shawnees, the Ottawas, the Chippewas, the Pottawatomies, the Miamis, the Weeas, the Kickapoos, the Piankashas, the Kaskaskias, and the Eel-River tribe—retained all of Ohio west of the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas Rivers and north of an irregular line stretching from Fort Laurens (Tuscarawas County), through Fort Loramie (Shelby County), to Fort Recovery in (Mercer County)roughly the northwestern third of the state-to-be. In addition to the other two-thirds of Ohio, the tribes had ceded by the same treaty tracts in Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, including the sites of Sandusky, Toledo, Defiance, Fort Wayne, Detroit, Mackinac, Peoria, and Chicago.

Though a general peace had prevailed on the frontier under the treaty since 1795, settlers near the treaty line still perceived their Native Americans neighbors as a chronic threat to their safety. British agents operated openly in the treaty lands, providing Indian warriors with guns, ammunition, whisky, and provocative counsel. The appearance of any warrior—Indian, redcoat, or bluecoat—on the wrong side of the treaty line would produce panic. In the summer of 1799, for example, a band of Shawnee braves in war paint and brandishing British muskets rode up to Fort Loramie. Alarmed settlers mustered for war, but the mounted warriors withdrew to their side of the treaty line without violence.

Jefferson confided to Worthington his long-term Indian policy, which he hoped to implement in his second term: piecemeal extinguishment of Indian titles by negotiated purchase rather than war, in tandem with promotion of the organized westward emigration of frontier tribes. In Jefferson's second term, Ohio tribes would indeed sell land: in the Western Reserve, from the Cuyahoga River to the western border of present Erie and Huron counties, for $18,000 in 1805; and a another tract north of the Maumee River in 1807. Anxiety would rise again to fever pitch on the Ohio frontier in 1807, however, when news arrived that the H.M.S. Leopard had fired on the U.S.S. Chesapeake off the Virginia coast after she refused to be searched for deserters, making war between Britain and the United States all but inevitable. White settlers would worry about Prophetstown, the trans-tribal village founded in 1805 south of the treaty line near Greenville by charismatic Shawnee chief, Tecumseh, and his brother, "The Prophet" Tenskwatawa, as the nucleus of an envisioned democratic confederacy of warriors aroused by the continuing cession of tribal lands to resist further encroachment by white settlers. The latter would fear that Prophetstown could be used as an advance staging area for a British and Indian invasion led by Tecumseh. Acting Ohio governor Thomas Kirker would send Worthington to Greenville to powwow with Tecumseh, Tenskwatawa and Blue Jacket, the Shawnee chief who had defeated St. Clair sixteen years earlier.

Worthington would warn the Indian leaders not to take sides if a second war were to begin between the United States and Britain: "But if they [the 5,000 American soldiers mustering for the imminent war] find you have let the British put the tomahawk into your hands to be used against them, they will destroy you for your folly." Blue Jacket would obligingly denounce the British and aver that "we have laid down the tomahawk never to take it up again." Worthington would thereupon bring the chiefs to Chillicothe to meet the governor and be dazzled by his own hospitality at the just-finished mansion on his 5,000 estate just west of Chillicothe, which he had named Adena (from Hebrew for "delightful"). According to some historians, Tecumseh had been born nearby.

A century later, the curator of the Ohio Historical Society, William Corless Mills, would excavate a large mound on Worthington's former estate and determine that it had been built two thousand years before by a Native American culture to which he gave the name of Worthington's estate. The Adena Mound would thereby become the type locality for the prehistoric Adena Culture, whose material manifestations—most noticeably its massive burial mounds—are centered in the valleys of Ohio and its tributaries but extend as far north as New York, as far east as New Jersey, and as far south as Alabama. After Mills' salvage excavation in 1901, the bimillennial Adena Mound would be razed to facilitate agriculture. Worthington's mansion, by contrast, would still stand at the turn of the next century in a superb state of preservation amid 300 acres saved from his Adena estate by the Ohio Historical Society, whose opening of a visitors' center there in 2003 would commemorate Worthington's contribution to the occasion of Ohio's bicentennial celebration. Ohioans gazing from the visitors center across the Scioto River to the Mount Logan range of hills would remember from seventh grade instruction that they were admiring the same view as depicted on the Great Seal of the State of Ohio, adopted back in 1868. Gazing over the flat fields where the Adena Mound once stood, twenty-first century visitors might be less likely to remember the success of Jefferson's long-range plan for the Indians of Ohio. By cessions of 1804-08 and 1817-18, the state of Ohio secured all of the lands of the Indians except their immediate homes, and these were finally exchanged for territory west of the Mississippi, with the last remnant emigrating in 1841. Today, there are in the state of Ohio no federally-recognized Indian reservations or state-recognized tribes.

Several days after his interview with Jefferson on December 20th—Christmas Day, the very day that St. Clair was slinking out of Chillocothe—Worthington wrote to Massie from Washington: "Our friends appear highly pleased with the proceedings in our quarter and so far appear heartily disposed to render every attention of our affairs...He [Jefferson] informs me the most prompt measures have been pursued to do away the difficulties." But not quite prompt enough for the boys back in Chillicothe, who held public elections for Ohio state offices in January, a full month before the United States Senate would enact or President Jefferson sign the bill enabling Ohio to apply for admission to the Union on February 19, 1803. For this month of constitutional limbo (if such does not indeed persist down to the present day), Ohio was in fact the maverick pseudo-state that St. Clair had warned so stridently against. At the convening of the first Ohio General Assembly on March 1, 1803, the Chillicothean coterie ruled the roost: brother-in-law Tiffin was the governor; Massie and Baldwin were the speakers of the Senate and House, respectively; and Worthington was United States Senator. On April 1, 1803, the General Assembly approved its single largest expenditure of the year: a reimbursement of $582 to Senator Worthington for expenses incurred on his historic ride to Washington.

Worthington lived long enough to ride a steamboat on the Ohio River, sire ten children, and break ground for the National Road and Ohio's canal and public school systems. After serving as Ohio's fourth governor, Worthington served as U.S. Senator again, state legislator, Ohio canal commissioner, and trustee of Ohio University and the National Bank in Chillicothe—making and losing fortunes along the way as a farmer, speculator, mill owner, distiller, meat packer, boat builder, stock investor, and military outfitter. He corresponded with eight of the first nine American presidents, as well as such illustrious men as John Jacob Astor, Albert Gallatin, Thomas Paine, and Henry Clay. At Adena, he entertained myriad notables, such as President James Monroe, New York Governor DeWitt Clinton, and Chief Tecumseh. Tecumseh's death in the Battle of the Thames, won by Major General William Henry Harrison over the British in 1813, might well be said to mark the end of the Ohio's frontier chapter. Worthington's death on a business trip in New York City in 1827 fairly marks the conclusion of the first chapter of Ohio's statehood.

First Chapter

Introduction: WORTHY OF STATEHOOD

Ohio's bicentennial year is 2003. In 1803, Ohio became the pioneer state of the old Northwest Territory, which embraced also what are now the states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin (as well as the northeast corner of Minnesota). Actually, a controversy has simmered over the past two centuries as to the exact date on which Ohio became a state, since Congress never bothered to pass any formal act of admission of Ohio to the Union. Some students of the question even maintain that Ohio far from being the seventeenth state to join the Union--has in fact never attained legal statehood.

To try and fix the date on which Ohio became a state, one has a lengthy slate of candidates to pick from none of them entirely satisfactory. Will the real date of Ohio statehood please stand up?

On April 30, 1802, President Jefferson signed into law the Enabling Act by which Congress constrained the boundaries of the potential state of Ohio and authorized the territory's population of "free white male adult inhabitants" to elect county representatives to draft a constitution of state government.

Ohio's first Constitutional Convention accordingly met in the territorial capital of Chillicothe on November 1, 1802, and adopted a state constitution on November 29, 1802, which called for a public election of state senators and representatives, governor, sheriffs, et al.although no public referendum on the state constitution itself. This election was held in January 1803. (The Congressional Biographical Directory long gave November 29, 1802, as the date that Ohio became a state.)

On January 19, 1803, a United States Senate committee reported that Ohio had met the constitutional pre-requisites for statehood. On February 19, 1803, the Senate enacted and President Jefferson signed a bill enabling Ohio to apply for admission to the Union. (February 19, 1803, was the official statehood date that the U.S. Mint initially assigned to Ohio in its State Quarters Program, which issued Ohio's commemorative quarter in 2002).

On March 1, 1803, the first Ohio General Assembly, comprised of a state house of representatives and a senate, convened. (Never a body to minimize its own importance, the state legislature later chose March 1, 1803, as its official date for Ohio statehood. The significance of this date was buttressed at the federal level by a Congressional decision in 1806 to disallow suits by former Northwest Territorial officials for back pay or expenses past March 1, 1803. On the advice of the advisory committee appointed by the governor of Ohio in 2001, the U.S. Mint amended its official date for Ohio statehood to March 1, 1803.) On March 3, 1803, the Ohio's first governor, Edward Tiffin, assumed office. (The Senate Manual long gave this as Ohio's official date of statehood.)

On April 15, 1803, the Northwest Territorial judges gave up their offices. On October 17, 1803, the first federal senators and representatives from Ohio took their seats in Congress. All of these are lovely dates in their own ways. But on none of them did Congress ever follow up its Enabling Act of February 19, 1803, with another act declaring the State of Ohio a member of the Union as it has done for each of the other forty-nine states. Not until Ohio's sesquicentennial year of 1953 did Ohio undertake to remedy this oversight. The state legislature dispatched a petition to Congress by horseback for a formal declaration of Ohio's admission to the Union, retroactive to the date of the state legislature's own inception. On August 7, 1953, Congress cheerfully complied with a joint resolution declaring Ohio to be one of the United States as of March 1, 1803.

Lest it be supposed that the Congressional act of 1953 finally settled the question of the date and fact of Ohio's statehood to everybody's satisfaction, it should be noted that one school of legal thought regards the act of 1953 as being fatally flawed by its retroactive provision, as violating federal statutes against ex post facto legislation. By this argument, Ohio became a state neither in 1802, 1803, nor in 1953. Rather, Ohio is still in fact a territory within the Northwest Territory.

During what is conventionally regarded as its Northwest Territorial period (1787-1803), Ohio was first part of the unorganized Northwest Territory (1787-1799), then a part of the organized Northwest Territory (1799-1800), and then the organized Northwest Territory minus the Indiana Territory (1800-1803). The territory between the Great Lakes and the Ohio River east of the Mississippi River had been claimed by France since the middle of the seventeenth century, based on discovery and occupation. The English contested the French claim on the basis of the Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut charters, under which these colonies extended westward to the Pacific Ocean; as well as subsequent claims by New York and Pennsylvania. The century-old imperial contest came to a head in The Seven Year's War (1756-1763), at the end of which France was compelled to cede to Great Britain all its territorial claims in North America east of the Mississippi (except for two tiny islands at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence). With the Northwest wrested from the French, Great Britain immediately rescinded its own recognition of the very claims of her colonies to this territory which she had successfully asserted against France and instead forbade all colonial grants west of the Alleghenies. Britain's subsequent annexation of the Northwest to the province of Quebec by the Quebec Act (1774) was one of the principal colonial grievances against the Crown that precipitated the War of Independence. During that war, the Northwest was won for the Americans by George Rogers Clark. Those states without pretensions to western territories (New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland) refused to ratify the Articles of Confederation submitted in 1777 until Congress assured in 1781 that all title to the trans-Allegheny territories should pass to the Union. In consequence, New York ceded its claims to the United States in 1780, Virginia in 1784, Massachusetts in 1785, and Connecticut in 1786. Connecticut, however, excepted a 120-mile strip bordering Lake Erie called the Western Reserve, which was not ceded until 1800. Virginia reserved a tract between the Little Miami and Scioto Rivers, known as the Virginia Military District, for her soldiers in the War of Independence.

When the War was over and these cessions had been made, thousands of veterans desired the opportunity to repair their broken fortunes in the Northwest. In 1786, the second Ohio Company, composed mainly of New England soldiers, was organized in Boston with a view toward founding a new state between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Congress, hopeful of large revenues from western land sales, passed the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which provided for the temporary government for the Northwest Territory and for the gradual admission of its constituent districts into the Union. Each district was to be administered by a governor and judges appointed by Congress until it attained a population of 5,000 free adult males, at which time it would become a territory and form its own representational legislature. A territory might then be admitted to the Union as a state once it had attained a population of 60,000 free adult males, under the proviso that the whole Northwest Territory must eventually comprise no less than three and no more than five states. Of these, the easternmost (Ohio) was to be bounded on the north, east, and south by the Great Lakes, Pennsylvania, the Ohio River and on the west by a line drawn due north from the mouth of the Great Miami River all the way to the Canadian border (so including the eastern half of the modern state of Michigan), if there were to be three states; or otherwise to a latitude drawn eastward through the extreme south bend of Lake Michigan, if there were to be five states--as would in fact prove to be the applicable case as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota (the northern half of which fell within the Northwest Territory) successively joined the Union.

After adoption of the Northwest Ordinance, pioneers poured into the easternmost territory, which would naturally be the first to qualify for statehood. There were four main centers of initial settlement, originating respectively in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Virginia. The second Ohio Company--under the leadership of General Rufus Putnam and Dr. Manasseh Cutler founded Marietta, the first permanent settlement in Ohio, at the mouth of the Muskingum in 1788. Dr. Cutler's skillful negotiations with Congress had helped to secure the incorporation in the Northwest Ordinance of the articles that prohibited slavery in the Northwest Territory, provided for the support of public education, and safeguarded the property and civil rights of Indians. Within months, the first governor of the Northwest Territory General Arthur Saint Clair arrived in Marietta to establish the first Territorial government. Second, an association of New Jerseymen, organized by John Cleves Symmes, secured a grant from Congress in 1788-1792 to a strip on the Ohio River between the Great Miami and the Little Miami Rivers, known as the Symmes Purchase. Third, a small company of Connecticut people removed to the Western Reserve under Moses Cleaveland and founded Cleveland in 1796. Finally, the Virginia Military District, the 4.2-million-acre tract between the Scioto and Little Miami Rivers that was reserved in 1784 for bounties to Virginia continental troops, was colonized in large measure by people from that state, whose main towns were Manchester and Chillicothe respectively founded as "Massie's Station" in 1790 and "Massieville" in 1796, by Nathaniel Massie, an English-born Virginian who had been appointed deputy surveyor of the Virginia Military District.

It was in Chillicothe, on July 4 of its foundation year of 1796, that there arrived a travel-stained young orphan from Virginia who would soon rise to be the man who may best lay claim to the title: "Father of Ohio statehood." When Thomas Worthington rode into this rude settlement of log cabins being raised on the rich bottom land of the Scioto River, he was a 23-year-old with a grown man's job. By virtue of his rank in the Virginia militia during the Revolution, General William Darke--Thomas Worthington's Berkeley County neighbor and guardian--had been awarded an extensive allotment of bounty land in the Virginia Military District and had delegated his ward to locate and survey the tract. So delighted was Worthington with what he found that he proceeded to trade his plantation estate in the Lower Shenandoah Valley for bounty land in the Scioto River Valley and remove to Chillicothe with his wife, manumitted slaves, brother, and brother-in-law Edward Tiffin, destined to be elected the first Governor of the State of Ohio. Leveraging his Virginia patrician connections, Worthington was appointed major of militia and deputy surveyor-general of the Northwest Territory almost immediately upon his return to Chillicothe in 1798. Demonstrating precocious skills as a speculator and politician, Worthington quickly enlarged his lands, fortune, and social and military rank in the Northwest Territory. By 1802, Colonel Worthington only 29 had established himself as a prominent and influential partisan in Ohio's bid for statehood.

On the evening on November 29, 1802, Worthington was champing at the bit. A blizzard was carpeting Chillicothe with another foot of snow and he had no choice but to delay his departure for Washington. A few hours earlier, he and the other delegates to Ohio's First Constitutional Convention had voted 34 to 1 to adopt, as the prerequisite to the Ohio territory's application for statehood, the state constitution that they had hammered out in the preceding 29 days. The lone dissenter was Judge Ephraim Cutler, the Massachusetts-born son of Dr. Cutler who distrusted the pro-slavery tendencies of the Virginian faction and would go on to establish in 1804 Ohio's first circulating library Amesville's 51-title Coonskin Library (now preserved by the Ohio Historical Society)and in 1806 Ohio's first Underground Railroad station, at his home in Constitution.

Before adjourning, the jubilant delegates deputized Worthington to hand-deliver the constitution to Congress. Worthington was chosen to be the Convention's emissary because he was physically fit for the arduous winter journey; because he had proven himself a personable and persuasive politician; and most importantly because he was well-connected in Washington. Indeed, Worthington was a friend and political prot�g� of President Thomas Jefferson, who would be certain to embrace both his young friend and the prospect of a Democratic Republican Ohio's casting its three electoral votes for himself in 1804.

When the snow ("the deepest I ever saw in the month of November," Worthington wrote in his journal) at last relented, Worthington saddled up on December 7 and set out northeast on Zane's Trace, the rough bridle path that Ebenezer Zane had blazed six years before. The horseback journey from Chillicothe to Washington might be expected to take two to three weeks, depending on the weather and the fitness of mount and rider. Colonel Samuel Huntington, a recent Democratic Republican convert from Cleveland and Ohio's future governor, and William Lytle, a land speculator who had amassed 39,000 acres in Clermont County, rode with him as far as Zanesville, where on December 9 the trio lodged at an inn owned by John McIntire, the town's founder and Zane's brother-in-law. Thereafter, Worthington mentions no traveling companions in his diary; just his nightly stopovers and the "weather, very cold." As he plodded across the snowy Ohio wilderness and threaded the Appalachian passes, Worthington had plenty of solitary leisure to rehearse aloud his upcoming speech to Congress and his conversations with the President, as well as to savor in silence the momentous events that had lately unfolded in Chillicothe, cradle of Ohio statehood.

Worthington doubtless pondered with distaste the character of General Arthur St. Clair, who had been appointed first governor of the Northwest Territory in 1787 and still held that office in the new territorial capital of Chillicothe. His gubernatorial appointment had been the last act of the Continental Congress while St. Clair was the President of the United States under the Articles of Confederation. The most historic act of Congress under St. Clair's Presidency had been the passage of the Northwest Ordinance, which St. Clair himself had championed. Once installed in his wild new domain, which constituted fully half the total area of the United States, General St. Clair, whose reputation had survived his court-martial during the Revolutionary War for abandoning Fort Ticonderoga to the British whilst its commander in 1777, led an ill-managed punitive expedition of 1,400 militia and irregulars into Indian country in 1791 that ended in the loss of almost two-thirds of his command to an attack by Little Turtle and Blue Jacket's numerically inferior forces at the Wabash River. St. Clair's disaster ranks to this day as the costliest defeat ever inflicted by Indians on a U.S. army.

Incapacitated by gout and age, St. Clair himself barely escaped to Cincinnati, the seat of territorial justice which he himself had named after the Society of the Cincinnati, over the Pennsylvania chapter of which he presided. The Wabash River deb�cle touched the lives of many settlers on the frontier, including Worthington, who lost in it his surrogate brother, Joseph Darke. St. Clair resigned his general's commission to avoid another court-martial but succeeded in staying in office as governor. General "Mad" Anthony Wayne took over the prosecution of the Indian campaign, which he brought to a military conclusion in the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, and to a diplomatic conclusion with the treaty of Greenville in 1795, which formalized a wholesale cession of Indian lands in southern and eastern Ohio. During the decade ensuing his disgrace as a military leader, Governor St. Clair led the territorial executive in an acrimonious power struggle with the increasingly restive territorial legislature. The former sought to preserve Federalist centralization of power in the person of the governor; the latter fought to redistribute power to Democratic Republican land barons by means of the representative innovations of statehood.

The powerful Democratic Republican caucus in the territorial legislature headed by the Chillicothean nabobs Thomas Worthington, Edward Tiffin, Michael Baldwin, and Nathaniel Massie locked horns with Governor St. Clair, who used his veto power to block all legislative attempts to enable statehood. The accelerating rate of settlement after the Battle of Fallen Timbers had made inevitable the activation of the mechanism provided in the Northwest Ordinance for an initial splitting of the vast unorganized Northwest Territory into a smaller organized Northwest Territory in the east and a new unorganized territory in the west.

The contentious question was where the western boundary of that first organized Northwest Territory should be drawn. St. Clair pronounced that boundary to be the Scioto River, with the happy result that the Jeffersonian cabal of pro-statehood Chillicotheans would be excluded from the legislature of the organized Northwest Territory to the east of the Scioto. Worthington led the counterattack, appealing directly to the United States Congress to affirm the provision in the Northwest Ordinance that the western boundary of the first organized territory should be the meridian running north from the mouth of the Great Miami. On May 7, 1800, Congress so affirmed in the Division Act: the organized territory east of the line still being called the Northwest Territory, with its capital in Chillicothe; all the unorganized territory to the west of the line now to be a new administrative entity called the Indiana Territory.

In 1799, the territorial legislature had chosen as the unorganized territory's non-voting representative to Congress the Chillicothe faction's candidate, William Henry Harrison (a Virginian who had been Wayne's aide-de-camp at Fallen Timbers and would eventually be elected the ninth President of the United States), over Arthur St. Clair Jr. (the governor's son). The Chillicothe faction had long chafed at an institutional check on the rate of population growth in the Northwest Territory toward the statehood-eligibility threshold of 60,000 "free inhabitants" (which was to say, white males of voting age with freeholds of at least fifty acres). Before 1799, only 50,000 acres of Ohio's public land had been purchased under the Land Act of 1796, which required a $1,280 down payment for 640 acres--a prohibitively large outlay for many thousands of prospective settlers. Harrison persuaded Congress to cut drastically the minimum size and down payment of land purchases and to open new land offices in Marietta, Cincinnati, Steubenville, and Chillicothe to handle the ensuing boom. Worthington, in charge of the Chillicothe land office, made a fortune and many grateful friends. In 1800, President John Adams named Harrison, whom the Chillicothean faction wished to replace St. Clair as governor of the organized Northwest Territory, the governor of the newly created Indiana Territory. Having removed the Democratic Republican candidate from contention, President Adams reappointed St. Clair to yet another three-year term as governor of the Northwest Territory. Emboldened by his reappointment, St. Clair revived his plan to divide and conquer the Chillicothe party. He rallied Federalists and anti-Chillicothe representatives in the territorial legislature to vote 12-8 on December 21, 1801, to subdivide the organized Northwest Territory at the Scioto River into two organized territories with separate capitals at Cincinnati and Marietta. In point of fact, St. Clair was not the first to conceive the project of placing the easternmost state's western border along the Scioto River. When he drafted a Congressional plan in 1784 for the governmental evolution of the Northwest Territory, Jefferson had envisioned an eventual state to be called "Washington" east of the Scioto River and two states to be called "Metropotamia" and "Saratoga" west of the Scioto. Ironically, St. Clair's selection of the same boundary seventeen years later was intended to gerrymander the Jeffersonian party and delay indefinitely the inception of statehood in the Northwest Territory.

Three days after this vote, on Christmas Eve, a mob of pro-statehood "Bloodhounds" gathered outside St. Clair's mansion in Chillicothe to burn the governor in effigy and threaten his person with violence. Worthington defused the crisis by turning his pistol on Baldwin, leader of the Bloodhounds, and threatening to shoot his own ally unless the mob dispersed. At a holiday reception in the governor's mansion the next evening, William Rufus Putnam the twenty-one-year-old Massachusetts-born eldest son of the founder of Marietta toasted the future of two states separated by the Scioto River. Once again, Virginia-born Democratic Republicans of Chillicothe could only with difficulty be restrained from doing Christmas violence to the governor and his Federalist supporters.

Cooler Chillicotheans circulated statehood petitions and grievances against the governor, who had branded the pioneer population of the Northwest Territory "a multitude of indigent and ignorant people...ill qualified to form a constitution and government for themselves," being witless tools of "ambitious, designing and envious men." Foremost among these men whom St. Clair condemned, Worthington set off to Washington in January 1802 with the petitions in hand and met privately with President Jefferson and the leaders of the Democratic Republican-dominated Congress. Worthington's representations bore their desired fruit in the form of the Enabling Act of April 30th, 1802, by which Congress authorized the convocation of a territorial convention to form a state constitution, such state to coincide with the entire existing organized territory. With St. Clair's scheme to subdivide the organized territory thus blocked, the constitutional convention assembled in Chillicothe on November 1.

In an address to this assembly, St. Clair challenged its legal competence and issued an arguably seditious threat: ""We have the means in our own hands to bring Congress to reason, if we should be forced to use them." Worthington promptly sent the text of the intemperate address to Jefferson, who as promptly signed St. Clair's dismissal and instructed the new Democratic Republican governor, Charles Willing Byrd, to deliver it in person. On Christmas Day, 1802, one year to the day after the celebrations of his apparent defeat of the Chillocothean faction, St. Clair left Chillicothe in disgrace to retire to his estate in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, where he would brood upon his double humiliation in Ohio until his death in 1818.

Upon arriving in Georgetown on December 19, Worthington heard the welcome news of St. Clair's fall two days before St. Clair himself did. Next day found Worthington quaffing Bordeaux beside a roaring fireplace and answering the eager questions of a President who had already initiated secret preparations for both the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Passionately interested in the West for both political and scientific reasons, Jefferson wanted to know everything about this territory that was on the verge of becoming the seventeenth state and the crucible for the continued westward expansion of the United States. As he had swayed in his saddle over the past two weeks, Worthington had been mentally preparing himself for Jefferson's avalanche of questions.

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, Ohio was Worthington's boosterish visions of an agrarian Arcadia notwithstanding--an all but unbroken wilderness. A hawk might fly almost any course over it and see nothing below but a bland and boundless sea of trees. Ohio was the heart of one of the world's great hardwood forests, stretching from Canada's muskegs to Florida's tropics, from the Appalachians to the Great Plains. Within the overall sameness of Ohio's virgin landscape, to be sure, there flourished much subtle and occasional variety. When our peregrine hawk would settle to roost in the hill country of southeastern Ohio, the sheltering tree would more likely be an oak than it would to the west and north, where beeches and maples predominated. Sylvan homogeneity was punctuated here and there by little fire-born prairies, winding watercourses, and swarms of post-glacial ponds and bogs. The biggest bog of all was the Great Black Swamp, which stretched across northwestern Ohio on both sides of the Maumee River. Wild animals welcomed the slow-moving newcomers as an easy source of protein. Mountain lions ravaged livestock. Wolves attacked a Supreme Court justice in Cleveland. A circuit preacher by the name of Joseph Badger belied his earthbound namesake by praying all night in the crown of a forty-foot tree while a brawny black bear preyed in the lower boughs. Sleepless pioneer farmers battled squirrel hordes plundering their cornfields.

At McIntire's Inn in Zanesville, Worthington had heard fishy tales of the Muskingum River Valley: muskellunge and catfish big as a man being pulled into fifty-foot canoes whittled from tulip trees by Daniel Boone; mussels big as a dinner plate; cavernous hollow sycamores in which squatter families and gangs of bandits made their homes; salt licks bristling with sheaves of perfect crystals. Incredible bird stories rang truer: flocks of passenger pigeons that canopied the sky during their migrations. Meriwether Lewis, a former aide of General Wayne who had become President Jefferson's personal secretary, recorded just such a sky-darkening event in 1803 above the Ohio River while on his way to his eponymous expedition. Three years later, frontier ornithologist Alexander Wilson would measure one flock a mile wide and 240 miles long and estimate that it contained two billion birds. In 1813, young John James Audubon would gaze upon a continuous torrent of passenger pigeons passing overhead for three days, producing a prodigious pain in his neck. The seemingly inexhaustible numbers of its species having been commercially hunted to extinction for the savory meat of their foot-long bodies, the last passenger pigeon would die in 1914 in the Cincinnati Zoo.

Ohio's natural fecundity was reflected in the explosive rate of growth of its immigrant human population in the fifteen years preceding statehood. The first permanent white settlement, Marietta, was founded in 1788; in the 1800 census, Ohio's official population was logged at 45,365 free white males; by 1803, the latter subpopulation had reached about 70,000. The earliest rash of settlements--Marietta, Cincinnati (1789), Massie's Station (1790), Steubenville (1790), and Gallipolis (1790)--was succeeded some years later by a second wave Chillicothe (1796), Cleveland (1796), Dayton (1796), Franklinton (1797), Zanesville (1797), Youngstown (1798), Warren (1798), Ravenna (1799), and Lancaster (1800). In 1803, such towns as Canton (1805), Toledo (1820), Akron (1825), Findlay (1821), and Lima (1831) were not yet glints in a founder's eye. By and large, the settlements that existed in 1803 were pestilential log-cabin shantytowns. Fran�ois Andr� Michaux, a botanist sent to North America by the French government to collect plants to re-stock the depleted forests around Paris, reported in 1802 that his French compatriots who huddled in the sixty log cabins constituting Gallipolis to which they had been lured in 1790 by promises of a civilized metropolis spun by a shady spin-off company of the second Ohio Company"breathe[d] out a miserable existence." Disease, especially dysentery and malaria, took a dreadful toll on Ohio settlers already weakened by deprivation.

Rootlessness, too, was rampant in Ohio's population of 1803. Ohio's settlements were filled with transients and often were transient themselves. Twelve of twenty-five settlements built in Hamilton County in 1795 had been abandoned by 1803. A typical Ohio town lost more than half its founders in its first decade. Many pioneers trudged west to Ohio, only to discover frontier life insupportably crude or unprofitable. Moses Cleaveland, for instance, pulled up stakes and returned to Connecticut after platting his misspelled namesake in 1797. Less disheartened emigrants leapfrogged west instead of retreating east: buying up cheap land on the frontier, clearing it, selling it for a profit to incoming settlers; then jumping west to recycle their increased capital in land speculation on the next frontier.

Congress approved Ohio's application for statehood on the basis of its prospectus rather than its portfolio: indeed, Ohio entered the Union with a paltry $10,950 in its budget. Hard currency was devilishly hard to come by in Ohio. Frontier currency was fundamentally non-monetary: crops, livestock, labor, land. Worthington accepted land from the federal government as payment for surveying tracts in the Virginia Military District in 1797. The federal government paid Zane for blazing his Trace with land grants at Zanesville, Lancaster, and Chillicothe--all now joined by the new path. To drum up hard currency, merchants had to resort to such roundabout strategies as bartering cloth for settler-grown corn; milling the corn; bartering the cornmeal for saddles; selling the saddles to the army for dollars; buying cloth, etc.

Ohio's "industrial" output in 1803 was limited to the modest quantities of cornmeal, flour, and timber that could be processed in the proprietary gristmills and sawmills of landed magnates such as Worthington. Pioneers distant from such mills had to pulverize their grain with hand-mills, which required two hours of grueling labor to feed one adult per day. Marietta had a shipbuilder turning out bullet-proof flatboats, whose mediocre quality anticipated their customary fate of being broken up for lumber in New Orleans. The state's first iron furnace would not be built until 1804, near Youngstown. Blacksmiths, scarce in 1803, received land and other incentives to settle on the frontier. Non-metallurgical manufacturing was strictly a cottage craft, practiced as needed by the users. Although coal was discovered as early as 1770, Ohio's mineral wealth--bituminous coal, petroleum, natural gas, sandstone, grindstone, limestone, lime, gypsum, clay, and iron would not begin to be tapped until 1828.

Public improvements were high on the agenda of Worthington's powwow with Jefferson. At the dawn of statehood, Ohio's regional transportation system consisted predominantly of natural trans-Allegheny waterways such as the Ohio River, together with a few wilderness paths posing as roads: Zane's Trace (linking Wheeling, Virginia, to Maysville, Kentucky across southeastern Ohio); the Great Trail (linking Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Detroit, Indiana Territory, across northern Ohio); and the Lake Trail (linking Buffalo to Cleveland along the sandy ridges of the northeastern shore of Ohio). Although these wilderness trails might be adequate to the slow trundling of emigrants in Conestoga wagons, they were quite inadequate for pack trains and freight wagons hauling perishable or bulky goods to river ports and distant markets.

Without proper roads, economic intercourse between the Ohio hinterland and the cosmopolitan eastern seaboard must remain tenuous. Without proper roads, an isolated and autarkic Ohio might be seduced by the promise of superior economic benefits to be accrued from direct ties to European powers with presences or pretensions in the Mississippi River Valley: England, Spain, France. Highways were essential to Ohio's incorporation into the United States--but who would pay? Congress had recently resolved the dilemma in principle with its Enabling Act of 1802, which appropriated five percent of revenues from public land sales to finance a federal highway to link the "Old Thirteen" and the Northwest Territory. Finally begun in 1811 at Cumberland, Maryland, the macadamized National Road (also called the Cumberland Road) would reach the Ohio border at Wheeling in 1818 and its western terminus at Vandalia, Illinois, in 1837.

In the meanwhile, Ohio's export commodities-flour, pork, bacon, lard, feathers, butter, cheese, hemp, potatoes, salt, whisky, beeswax, bear and deer skins must be shipped down the Mississippi River system in flatboats to New Orleans for trans-shipment. With the opening of the trans-Allegheny region by the United States Congress, the freedom of shipping on the Mississippi became vital to the prosperity and growth of the new settlements. Spain had conceded these interests in her treaty with the United States in 1795, by guaranteeing freedom of navigation and the privilege of deposit at New Orleans. In 1800-1802, however, the entire Mississippi Valley was retroceded to France. The transfer of Louisiana from so weak a neighbor as Spain to so powerful and ambitious a state as France filled the United States with apprehension for its western territories, and negotiations were undertaken to extract from France the same trade concessions as Spain had pledged. Although Napoleon readily granted these concessions, he had also instructed the Spanish puppet governor to suspend the right of deposit at New Orleans only two months before. Moreover, reports from London indicated that a British expedition against New Orleans was being prepared. War fever was rising in the United States.

The assurance of the freedom of Mississippi shipping was therefore at the very top of Jefferson and Worthington's conversational agenda. Congress would soon empower Jefferson's delegates in Paris to seek to buy New Orleans for two million dollars. Napoleon, fearful of an Anglo-American alliance as renewed war with Britain loomed, would put all the Louisiana Territory (whose million square miles were five times the size of continental France) on the table for what amounted to less than three cents an acre. The delegates would jump on the offer and the resulting treaty would reach Washington on Bastille Day, 1803. Meriwether Lewis would rendezvous near Louisville with William Clark, one of Wayne's commanders at Fallen Timbers, on October 15, 1803--four days before Senator Worthington would vote federal funding for both the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The final item on Jefferson and Worthington's agenda was a discussion of the internal and external threats to peace in Ohio. The tribes party to the Treaty of Greenville the Wyandots, the Delawares, the Shawnees, the Ottawas, the Chippewas, the Pottawatomies, the Miamis, the Weeas, the Kickapoos, the Piankashas, the Kaskaskias, and the Eel-River tribe retained all of Ohio west of the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas Rivers and north of an irregular line stretching from Fort Laurens (Tuscarawas County), through Fort Loramie (Shelby County), to Fort Recovery in (Mercer County)roughly the northwestern third of the state-to-be. In addition to the other two-thirds of Ohio, the tribes had ceded by the same treaty tracts in Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, including the sites of Sandusky, Toledo, Defiance, Fort Wayne, Detroit, Mackinac, Peoria, and Chicago.

Though a general peace had prevailed on the frontier under the treaty since 1795, settlers near the treaty line still perceived their Native Americans neighbors as a chronic threat to their safety. British agents operated openly in the treaty lands, providing Indian warriors with guns, ammunition, whisky, and provocative counsel. The appearance of any warrior--Indian, redcoat, or bluecoat on the wrong side of the treaty line would produce panic. In the summer of 1799, for example, a band of Shawnee braves in war paint and brandishing British muskets rode up to Fort Loramie. Alarmed settlers mustered for war, but the mounted warriors withdrew to their side of the treaty line without violence.

Jefferson confided to Worthington his long-term Indian policy, which he hoped to implement in his second term: piecemeal extinguishment of Indian titles by negotiated purchase rather than war, in tandem with promotion of the organized westward emigration of frontier tribes. In Jefferson's second term, Ohio tribes would indeed sell land: in the Western Reserve, from the Cuyahoga River to the western border of present Erie and Huron counties, for $18,000 in 1805; and a another tract north of the Maumee River in 1807. Anxiety would rise again to fever pitch on the Ohio frontier in 1807, however, when news arrived that the H.M.S. Leopard had fired on the U.S.S. Chesapeake off the Virginia coast after she refused to be searched for deserters, making war between Britain and the United States all but inevitable. White settlers would worry about Prophetstown, the trans-tribal village founded in 1805 south of the treaty line near Greenville by charismatic Shawnee chief, Tecumseh, and his brother, "The Prophet" Tenskwatawa, as the nucleus of an envisioned democratic confederacy of warriors aroused by the continuing cession of tribal lands to resist further encroachment by white settlers. The latter would fear that Prophetstown could be used as an advance staging area for a British and Indian invasion led by Tecumseh. Acting Ohio governor Thomas Kirker would send Worthington to Greenville to powwow with Tecumseh, Tenskwatawa and Blue Jacket, the Shawnee chief who had defeated St. Clair sixteen years earlier.

Worthington would warn the Indian leaders not to take sides if a second war were to begin between the United States and Britain: "But if they [the 5,000 American soldiers mustering for the imminent war] find you have let the British put the tomahawk into your hands to be used against them, they will destroy you for your folly." Blue Jacket would obligingly denounce the British and aver that "we have laid down the tomahawk never to take it up again." Worthington would thereupon bring the chiefs to Chillicothe to meet the governor and be dazzled by his own hospitality at the just-finished mansion on his 5,000 estate just west of Chillicothe, which he had named Adena (from Hebrew for "delightful"). According to some historians, Tecumseh had been born nearby.

A century later, the curator of the Ohio Historical Society, William Corless Mills, would excavate a large mound on Worthington's former estate and determine that it had been built two thousand years before by a Native American culture to which he gave the name of Worthington's estate. The Adena Mound would thereby become the type locality for the prehistoric Adena Culture, whose material manifestations--most noticeably its massive burial mounds are centered in the valleys of Ohio and its tributaries but extend as far north as New York, as far east as New Jersey, and as far south as Alabama. After Mills' salvage excavation in 1901, the bimillennial Adena Mound would be razed to facilitate agriculture. Worthington's mansion, by contrast, would still stand at the turn of the next century in a superb state of preservation amid 300 acres saved from his Adena estate by the Ohio Historical Society, whose opening of a visitors' center there in 2003 would commemorate Worthington's contribution to the occasion of Ohio's bicentennial celebration. Ohioans gazing from the visitors center across the Scioto River to the Mount Logan range of hills would remember from seventh grade instruction that they were admiring the same view as depicted on the Great Seal of the State of Ohio, adopted back in 1868. Gazing over the flat fields where the Adena Mound once stood, twenty-first century visitors might be less likely to remember the success of Jefferson's long-range plan for the Indians of Ohio. By cessions of 1804-08 and 1817-18, the state of Ohio secured all of the lands of the Indians except their immediate homes, and these were finally exchanged for territory west of the Mississippi, with the last remnant emigrating in 1841. Today, there are in the state of Ohio no federally-recognized Indian reservations or state-recognized tribes.

Several days after his interview with Jefferson on December 20th Christmas Day, the very day that St. Clair was slinking out of Chillocothe Worthington wrote to Massie from Washington: "Our friends appear highly pleased with the proceedings in our quarter and so far appear heartily disposed to render every attention of our affairs...He [Jefferson] informs me the most prompt measures have been pursued to do away the difficulties." But not quite prompt enough for the boys back in Chillicothe, who held public elections for Ohio state offices in January, a full month before the United States Senate would enact or President Jefferson sign the bill enabling Ohio to apply for admission to the Union on February 19, 1803. For this month of constitutional limbo (if such does not indeed persist down to the present day), Ohio was in fact the maverick pseudo-state that St. Clair had warned so stridently against. At the convening of the first Ohio General Assembly on March 1, 1803, the Chillicothean coterie ruled the roost: brother-in-law Tiffin was the governor; Massie and Baldwin were the speakers of the Senate and House, respectively; and Worthington was United States Senator. On April 1, 1803, the General Assembly approved its single largest expenditure of the year: a reimbursement of $582 to Senator Worthington for expenses incurred on his historic ride to Washington.

Worthington lived long enough to ride a steamboat on the Ohio River, sire ten children, and break ground for the National Road and Ohio's canal and public school systems. After serving as Ohio's fourth governor, Worthington served as U.S. Senator again, state legislator, Ohio canal commissioner, and trustee of Ohio University and the National Bank in Chillicothe--making and losing fortunes along the way as a farmer, speculator, mill owner, distiller, meat packer, boat builder, stock investor, and military outfitter. He corresponded with eight of the first nine American presidents, as well as such illustrious men as John Jacob Astor, Albert Gallatin, Thomas Paine, and Henry Clay. At Adena, he entertained myriad notables, such as President James Monroe, New York Governor DeWitt Clinton, and Chief Tecumseh. Tecumseh's death in the Battle of the Thames, won by Major General William Henry Harrison over the British in 1813, might well be said to mark the end of the Ohio's frontier chapter. Worthington's death on a business trip in New York City in 1827 fairly marks the conclusion of the first chapter of Ohio's statehood.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Worthy of Statehood13
1 Written in the Rocks 21
2 Ohio in Bloom 43
3 Buckeye Industry 59
4 Ohioans on the Move 75
5 Painting the Town 99
6 Schooled in Ohio 113
7 Down on the Farm 139
8 Barns, Bridges, and the Ties That Bind        157
9 A Buckeye Winter 189
10 Wild in Ohio 207

What People are Saying About This

Bob Taft

Ian Adams has done an excellent job of capturing Ohio's beauty in his photography.
— Governor State of Ohio

Stephen George

This book is a masterpiece, capturing the heart and soul of Ohio with accuracy and finesse.
— Executive Director of the Ohio Bicentennial Commission

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews