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Title: Indiana's Admission to Statehood
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The War of 1812 was concluded by the Treaty of Peace signed at Ghent, on the 24th day of December, 1814, and ratified by the President of the United States with the consent of the Senate on the 17th day of December, 1814. And on the first Monday of December in 1815 the General Assembly of Indiana Territory met at Corydon. The sickness of Gov. Posey, who resided at Jeffersonville, prevented his attendance at the seat of Govrrnment on the opening of the session and he sent his message to the two houses by his private secretary, Col. Allen D. Thon. In this message, which was very brief, the Governor congratulated the members of the legislature on the termination of the war by an honorable peace. He alluded to the tide of immegration, which was then flowing into th territory, and advised the levying of taxes as light as might be compatible with the public interests. He invited the legislature to turn its attention to the promotion of education and the state roads and highways, and he recommended a revision of the territorial laws and an amendment of the militia system. The legislature, during the course of its session, which lasted about a month, passed thirty-one laws and seven joint resolutions. These acts were not, howerver, designed to make any material change in the existing laws of the territory. The attention of the members of the General Assembly was, indeed, engaged chiefly in the making of public and private efforts to change their territorial institutions for those of a state of government.

A memorial, which was adopted by the legislature of Indiana territory on the 14th of December, 1815, and laid before Congress by Jonathan Jennings, the territorial delegate in Congress, on the 28th day of the same month, contains the following passages: "Where-sas, the ordinance of Congress for the government of this territory (Indiana) has provided that whenever there shall be sixty thousand free inhabitants there this territory shall be admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original states. And whereas the census, taken by the authority of the legislature of this territory, it appears from the returns that the number of free white inhabitants exceed sixty thousand, we therefore, pary the honorable Senate and House of Representatives, in Congress assembled, to order an election to be conducted agreeable to the existing laws of this territory to be held in the several counties of this territory on the first Monday of May, 1816, for representatives to meet in convention at the seat of governmentof this territory the ......day of......1816, who when assembled shall determine by majority of the votes of the members elected whether it will be expedient, or inexpedient, to into a state government, and,if it be deemed inexpedient to provide for the election of representatives to meet in convention at the future period to form a constitution. ****And whereas, the inhabitants of this territory are principally composed of emigrants from every part of the Union and as various in their customs and sentiments as in their persons, we think it prudent, at this time, to express to the general government out attachment to the fundamental principles of legislation prescribed by Congress in their ordinance for the government of this territory, particularly as respects personal freedom and involuntary servitude, hope they may be continued as the basis of the constitution.

The memorial was referred by Congress to a committee of which Mr. Jennings was chairman, and on the 5th of January, 1816, these gentlemen reported to the House of Representatives of the United States a bill to enable the people of Indiana territory to form a constitution and state government and fro the admission of such state into the Union on an equal footing with the original states. This bill, after having been amended in some of its particulars, was passed by Congress and became a law by the approval of the President of the United States on the 19th day of April, 1816. In conformity with the provisions of this law an election for members of a convention, to form a constitution, was held in the several counties of the territory on Monday, the 13th day of May, 1816. The members of the convention were elected according to an appointment which had been made by the territorial legislature and confirmed by an Act of Congress.

At this time there were thirteen counties in the State of Indiana, and their population was as follows: Knox 8,068, Franklin 7,370, Washington 7,317, Clark 7,150, Harrison 6,795, Wayne 6,407, Gibson 5,330, Dearborn 4,424, Jefferson 4,270, Switzerland 1,382, Perry 1,720, Posey 1,619, Warrick, 1,415. Total 63,897.

The Act of Congress of the 19th of April, 1816, to enable the people of Indiana Territory to form a constitution and state government contained certain conditions and propositions with respect to boundaries, jurisdiction, school lands, salt springs, and lands for seat of government. All of these conditions and propositions were ratified and accepted by an ordinance which passed by the territorial convention at Corydon on the 28th day of June, 1816.

The convention that formed the first constitution of the state of Indiana was composed mainly of clear-minded, unpretending men of common sense, whose patriotism was unquestioned and whose morals were fair. Their familiarity with the theories of the Declaration of American Independence, their territorial experiences under the provision of Ordinances of 1787, and their knowledge of the principles of the Constitution of the United States was sufficient when combined to lighten materially their labors int he great work of forming a constitution for a new state. With such landmarks in view the labors of similar conventions in other states and territories have been rendered comparatively light, in the clearness and conscientiousness of its style, in the comprehensive and just provisions which it made for the maintainance of civil and religious liberty, in its mandates, which were designed to protect the rights of the people, collectively and individually, and provide for the public welfare, the constitution that was formed for Indiana in 1816 was not inferior to any of the state constitutions which were in existence at that time.

The officers of the territorial government of Indiana, including the governor, secretary, judges, and all other officers, civil and military, were required by the provision of the state constitution to continue in the exercise of the duties of the respective offices until they should be superseded by officers elected under the authority of the state government. The president of the convention that formed the constitution was required to issue writs of election, directed to the several sheriffs of the several counties, requiring them to cause an election to be held for governor, lieutenant governor, representative for the Congress of the United States, members of the General Assembly, sheriffs and coroners, at the respective election districts in each county on the first Monday in August, 1816. At the general election which was held at this time inthe several counties of the territory Jonathan Jennings were elected governor of Indiana. He received 5,211 votes, and his competitor, Thomas Posey, who was then governor of the territory, received 3,934 votes. Christopher Harrison, of Washington county, was elected lieutenant governor, and William Hendrix was elected to represent Indiana in the Congress of the United States.

The first General Assembly, elected under the authority of the state constitution, commenced its session at Corydon, on Monday, the 4th of November, 1816. John Paul was called to chair of the senate pro tempore, and Isaac Blackford was elected speaker of the House of Representatives. On Thursday, November 7th, the oath of office was administered to Governor Jennings and to Lieutenant Governor Harrison in the presence of both houses. Immediately after which Governor Jennings delivered his first message to the General assembly.

The territorial government of Indiana was thus superceded by a state government on the 7th day of November,1816, and that State of Indiana was formally admitted to the Union by a joint of both houses, elected James Noble and Waller Taylor to represent Indiana in the Senate of the United States. Subsequent joint balloting resulted in the election of Robert A. New, Secretary of State; William H. Lilley, Auditor of Public Accounts, and Daniel C. Lane, Treasurer of State. The session of the first General Assembly of the State of Indiana was closed by final adjournment on the 3rd of January, 1817.

Date: 6/10/1916
Origin: Historical Sketches of the Wabash Valley
Author: J. Wesley Whicker
Record ID: 00001150
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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