That’s right, today is Indiana Day. It was on this day in 1816 that the Indiana Territory was officially recognized as a state. The granting of statehood to Indiana made it the 19th state admitted to the Union. Each year since 1925, the Indiana General Assembly proclaims this date as an anniversary to celebrate all things of the Hoosier State. Of course, two years ago during the state’s bicentennial anniversary the festivities and acknowledgements were much more impressive and manifold than the usual offerings. Interesting note, the state flag was only adopted more than a century after statehood. By waiting until 1917, Indiana was at that point the only state without a flag. The state did adopt a seal in 1801 and affirmed it again in 1816 during the push for statehood.
The initial efforts to achieve statehood for Indiana were begun on April 19, 1816 when President James Madison signed an Enabling Act that provided for the election of delegates to a convention at Corydon to consider statehood for Indiana. Forty-three delegates convened June 10–29, 1816, to draft Indiana’s first state constitution. The location for the convention has been memorialized in Corydon as the Constitution Elm. The memorial is a preserved portion of an elm tree the delegates gathered under for shade during the scorching summer hours of the convention. Corydon would remain the state capital for nearly a decade and was moved to the more central location of Indianapolis in 1825.
Indiana was able to grow even after statehood thanks to the National Road through the center of the state and by its advertised abolitionist leanings. The framers of the first Indiana Constitution included provisions that slavery was illegal in the state and an early session of the Indiana Supreme Court declared that any person purchased for enslavement in the Indiana Territory even before statehood would be considered free. Indiana’s opposition to slavery led to an overwhelming volunteer effort for the Civil War that several prospective men hoping to enlist were turned away.
Indiana’s growth as a state after statehood was also felt in government efforts from the mid-19th Century to the early 20th Century reflected the Hoosier state’s importance in American politics which saw an Indiana resident included in every presidential election from 1880 to 1924, in all but one race. Indiana has seen only one President from their state—Benjamin Harrison, but has seen five Vice Presidents: Thomas Hendricks (Cleveland), Charles Fairbanks (T. Roosevelt), Thomas Marshall (Wilson) , Dan Quayle(George H.W. Bush), and current Vice President Mike Pence.
Indiana was only the second of the several states comprising the Northwest Territory to gain statehood. Ohio earned its statehood 13 years earlier. Illinois would receive statehood just two years after its neighboring state of Indiana had earned theirs. Michigan would take another two decades, and Wisconsin and Minnesota would be admitted in the decade just preceding the Civil War.
Happy Anniversary to the Crossroads of America and every Hoosier by birth or choice (Yes, this includes you Purdue alumni too)!
“Indiana” by Arthur Franklin Mapes
God crowned her hills with beauty,
Gave her lakes and winding streams,
Then He edged them all with woodlands
As the setting for our dreams.
Lovely are her moonlit rivers,
Shadowed by the sycamores,
Where the fragrant winds of Summer
Play along the willowed shores.
I must roam those wooded hillsides,
I must heed the native call,
For a pagan voice within me
Seems to answer to it all.
I must walk where squirrels scamper
Down a rustic old rail fence,
Where a choir of birds is singing
In the woodland . . . green and dense.
I must learn more of my homeland
For it’s paradise to me,
There’s no haven quite as peaceful,
There’s no place I’d rather be.
Indiana . . . is a garden
Where the seeds of peace have grown,
Where each tree, and vine, and flower
Has a beauty . . . all its own.
Lovely are the fields and meadows,
That reach out to hills that rise
Where the dreamy Wabash River
Wanders on . . . through paradise.
Be sure to eat some Sugar Cream Pie and sing “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away” to commemorate the event. It’s honest to goodness Indiana if you do.