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The history of Ohio is composed of many thousands of years of human activity. What is now Ohiomarker was probably first settled by Paleo-Indian peoples, who lived in the area as early as 13,000 BC. Later ancestors of Native Americans were known as the Archaic peoples. Sophisticated successive cultures of prehistoric indigenous peoples, such as the Adena, Hopewell and Mississippian, built monumental earthworks: mounds and walled enclosures, some of which have survived to the present.

While Europeans engaged Native Americans in present-day Ohio in the fur trade by the mid-18th century, European-American settlement in the Ohio territory did not expand until after the American Revolutionary War. The United States Congress prohibited slavery in the Ohio Territory. Ohio's population increased rapidly, chiefly by migrants from the Northern Tier of New Englandmarker and New Yorkmarker. Arriving mostly by the Ohio River, Southerners settled along the southern part of the territory. After Ohio became a state, citizens still prohibited slavery. Its citizens' support of public education and political action also reflected New England/Northern Tier values. The state supported the Union in the American Civil War, and sent more soldiers per capita than any other state.

Ohio became one of the major industrial states in the northern tier after the American Civil War. Its growing industries attracted thousands of new people for the expanding number of jobs, both from the South (the Great Migration) and immigrants from Europe. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the cultures of its major cities and later suburbs became much more diverse as a result of the new arrivals. Its industries were integral to US power during and after World War II. Economic restructuring in steel and other manufacturing cost the state many jobs as heavy industry declined in the later 20th century. New economic models have led to different kinds of development in the late 20th and 21st centuries.

Prehistoric indigenous peoples

Indigenous peoples inhabited Ohio for thousands of years before European contact. As later cultures began to cultivate crops, they could support more permanent settlements. They tended to settle most heavily along the river valleys, where they used the water for transportation and trade.The Late Archaic period featured the development of focal subsistence economies and regionalization of cultures. Regional cultures in Ohio include the Maple Creek Culture (Excavations) of southwestern Ohio, the Glacial Kame Culture culture of western Ohio (especially northwestern Ohio), and the Red Ochre and Old Copper cultures across much of northern Ohio. Flint Ridge, located in present-day Licking Countymarker, provided flint, an extremely important raw material and trade good. Objects made from Flint Ridge flint have been found as far east as the Atlanticmarker coast, as far west as Kansas Citymarker, and as far south as Louisianamarker, demonstrating the wide network of trading cultures.

About 800 BC, Late Archaic cultures were supplanted by the Adena culture. The Adenas were mound builder. Many of their thousands of burial mounds in Ohio have survived. Following the Adena culture was the Hopewell culture (c. 100 to c. 400 A.D.), which also built sophisticated mounds and earthworks, some of which survive at Hopewell and Newark Earthworks. They used their constructions as observatories and places of celebration. The Fort Ancient culture also built mounds, including some effigy mounds. Researchers first considered the Serpent Moundmarker in Adams County, Ohiomarker to be an Adena mound. It is the largest effigy mound in the United States and one of Ohio's best-known landmarks. It may have been a more recent work of Fort Ancient people.

When the first Europeans began to arrive in North America, Native Americans (also known as American Indians) participated in the fur trade. When the Iroquois confederation depleted the beaver and other game in the New York region, they launched a war known as the Beaver Wars, destroying or scattering the contemporary inhabitants of the Tennesseemarker region. The Eries along the shore of Lake Eriemarker were virtually destroyed by the Iroquois in the 1650s during the Beaver Wars. Thereafter, the Iroquois claimed the Ohio lands as hunting grounds. For several decades, the land was nearly uninhabited .

By the 1730s, population pressure from expanding European colonies on the Atlantic coast compelled several groups of Native Americans to relocate to the Ohio Country. From the east, the Delaware and Shawnee arrived, and Wyandot and Ottawa from the north. Miami lived in what is now western Ohio. The Mingo formed out of Iroquois who migrated west into the Ohio lands, as well as some refugee remnants of other tribes.

European colonization

During the 18th century, the French set up a system of trading posts to control the fur trade in the region, linked to their settlements in what they called the Illinois Country along the [Mississippi River]]. Christopher Gist was one of the first English-speaking explorers to travel through and write about the Ohio Country. When British traders such as George Croghan started to do business in the Ohio Country, the French and their northern Indian allies drove them out. They began in 1752 with a raid on the Miamimarker Indian town of Pickawillany (modern Piqua, Ohiomarker). The French began military occupation of the Ohio Valley in 1753.

European rivalries between France and Great Britainmarker led to the Seven Years War, also played out in the colonies and known as the French and Indian War. The Virginianmarker George Washington's attempt to drive the French out in 1754 contributed to the start of the war in North America. The Seven Years' War, as it was known in Europe, concluded with Great Britain's triumph. By the Treaty of Paris, the French ceded control of Ohio and the old Northwest.

American Revolution

British military occupation in the region contributed to the outbreak of Pontiac's Rebellion in 1763. Ohio Indians participated in that war until an armed expedition in Ohio led by Colonel Henry Bouquet brought about a truce. Another colonial military expedition into the Ohio Country in 1774 broughtLord Dunmore's Warmarker to a conclusion.

During the American Revolutionary War, Native Americans in the Ohio Country were divided over which side to support. For example, the Shawnee leader Blue Jacket and the Delaware leader Buckongahelas sided with the British. Cornstalk (Shawnee) and White Eyes (Delaware) sought to remain friendly with the rebellious colonists. American colonial frontiersmen often did not differentiate between friendly and hostile Indians, however. Cornstalk was killed by American militiamen, and White Eyes may have been. One of the most tragic incidents of the war — the Gnadenhutten massacremarker of 1782 — took place in Ohio.

With the American victory in the Revolutionary War, the British ceded claims to Ohio and its territory in the West as far as the Mississippi River to the United States. Between 1784 and 1789, land claims to Ohio territories were also ceded to the United States by the states of Virginia, Massachusettsmarker and Connecticut.

Northwest Ordinance and Territory

After Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, European-American settlement of Ohio began with the founding of Mariettamarker during 1778 by the Ohio Company of Associates and American pioneers to the Northwest Territory. These pioneers to the Ohio Country included American Revolutionary War veterans, who with their families composed much of the first generation of settlers. They established Marietta as the first permanent American settlement of the new United Statesmarker in the Northwest Territory, and opened the westward expansion of the new country.

The Miami Company (also referred to as the "Symmes Purchase") managed settlement of land in the southwestern section. The Connecticut Land Company administered settlement in the Connecticut Western Reserve in present-day Northeast Ohio. A heavy flood of migrants came from New York and especially New England, where there had been a growing hunger for land as population increased before the Revolutionary War. Most moved to Ohio by wagon and stagecoach, which followed former Indian paths such as the Northern Trace. Many also traveled part of the way by barges on the Mohawk River across New York state. Farmers who settled in western New York after the war sometimes moved on to one or more locations in Ohio in their lifetimes, as new lands kept opening to the west.

American settlement of the Northwest Territory was resisted by Native Americans in the Northwest Indian War. The natives were eventually conquered by General Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. They ceded much of present-day Ohio to the United States by the Treaty of Greenvillemarker the next year.

The United States created the Northwest Territory in 1787 under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. The territory was not allowed to legalize slavery. (Once it achieved statehood, the citizens could have legalized slavery, but chose not to do so.) The states of the upper Midwest would be known as free states, in contrast to those states south of the Ohio River. Migrants to the latter came chiefly from Virginia and other slaveholding states, and brought both slaves and that culture with them.

As Northeastern states abolished slavery in the coming two generations, the free states would be known as Northern States. The Northwest Territory originally included areas previously called Ohio Country and Illinois Country. As Ohio prepared for statehood, Indiana Territory was carved out, reducing the Northwest Territory to approximately the size of present-day Ohio plus the eastern half of Michiganmarker's lower peninsula.


As Ohio's population numbered 45,000 in December 1801, Congress determined that the population was growing rapidly and Ohio could begin the path to statehood. The assumption was the territory would have in excess of the required 60,000 residents by the time it became a state. Congress passed the Enabling Act of 1802 that outlined the process for Ohio to seek statehood. The residents convened a constitutional convention. They used numerous provisions from other states and rejected slavery.

On February 19, 1803, President Jefferson signed the act of Congress that approved Ohio's boundaries and constitution. Congress did not pass a specific resolution formally admitting Ohio as the 17th state. The current custom of Congress' declaring an official date of statehood did not begin until 1812, when Louisianamarker was admitted as the 18th state.

Although no formal resolution of admission was required , when the oversight was discovered in 1953, Ohio congressman George H. Bender introduced a bill in Congress to admit Ohio to the Union retroactive to March 1, 1803. At a special session at the old state capital in Chillicothemarker, the Ohio state legislature approved a new petition for statehood that was delivered to Washington, D.C. by a messenger on horseback. On August 7, 1953 (the year of Ohio's 150th anniversary), President Eisenhower signed an act that officially declared March 1, 1803 the date of Ohio's admittance into the Union.

War of 1812

Ohio was on the front lines of the War of 1812. Frontiersmen believed that British agents in Canada had provided weapons, especially rifles and gunpowder, to hostile Indian tribes. At the same time Tecumseh's War started, the conflict in the Old Northwest between the U.S. and an Indian confederacy led by the Shawnee chief Tecumseh. He became an official ally of the British in 1812. William Henry Harrison's victory at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, coupled with the defeat and death of Tecumseh in 1813, broke the power of the Indians. After 1815 the British no longer traded with the Indians of Ohio nor provided them military supplies.

The Battle of Lake Erie was fought on September 10, 1813. Nine vessels of the United States Navy commanded by Oliver Hazard Perry defeated a Squadron of six ships of the Royal Navy near Put-In-Bay, Ohio.

In 1835, Ohio contested with Michiganmarker over the Toledo Strip. Congress gave the land, which included the city of Toledomarker, to Ohio. In exchange, Michigan was given more of the Upper Peninsulamarker.

Civil War

Ohio's central position and its population gave it an important place during the Civil War. The Ohio River was a vital artery for troop and supply movements, as were Ohio's railroads. Ohio provided numerous senior commanders to the United States Army during the war. The war was important to more than a generation. Five Buckeye veterans later served as President of the United States.


Throughout much of the 19th century, industry was rapidly introduced. Workers in factories manufactured what people had formerly produced at home. Ohio had rivers and its frontage on Lake Erie to help with transportation, water power and movement of goods.



See also


Surveys and textbooks

  • Andrew R. L. Cayton. Ohio: The History of a People (2002)
  • Knepper, George W. Ohio and Its People. Kent State University Press, 3rd edition 2003, ISBN 0-87338-791-0 (paperback)

Secondary sources

  • Blue, Frederick J. Salmon P. Chase: A Life in Politics (1987)
  • Beverley W. Bond Jr.; The Foundations of Ohio. Volume: 1. 1941. detailed history to 1802.
  • Buley, R. Carlyle. The Old Northwest (1950), Pulitzer Prize winner
  • Booraem V. Hendrick. The Road to Respectability: James A. Garfield and His World, 1844-1852 Bucknell University Press, (1988)
  • Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-253-33210-9 (hardcover); ISBN 0-253-21212-X (1998 paperback).
  • Jensen, Richard. The Winning of the Midwest: Social and Political Conflict, 1888-1896 (1971)
  • Jordan, Philip D.Ohio Comes of Age: 1873-1900 Volume 5 (1968)
  • Stephen E. Maizlish. The Triumph of Sectionalism: The Transformation of Ohio Politics, 1844-1856 (1983)
  • O'Donnell, James H. Ohio's First Peoples. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8214-1525-5 (paperback), ISBN 0-8214-1524-7 (hardcover).
  • Ratcliffe, Donald J. The Politics of Long Division: The Birth of the Second Party System in Ohio, 1818-1828. Ohio State U. Press, 2000. 455 pp.
  • Eugene Roseboom. The Civil War Era, 1850-1873, vol. 4 (1944), detailed general history
  • Andrew Sinclair. The Available Man: The Life behind the Masks of Warren Gamaliel Harding 1965
  • Richard Sisson ed. The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia (2006)
  • David D. Van Tassel and John J. Grabowski, eds. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (1987), also online
  • David D. Van Tassel and John J. Grabowski, eds. Cleveland: A Tradition of Reform (1986)
  • Francis P. Weisenburger. The Passing of the Frontier, vol. 3 (1941), detailed history of 1830s and 1840s
  • Wheeler, Kenneth H. "Local Autonomy and Civil War Draft Resistance: Holmes County, Ohio" Civil War History, Vol. 45, 1999

Primary sources

  • Tom L. Johnson. My Story Kent State University Press, 1993
  • Phillip R. Shriver, Jr. and Clarence E. Wunderlin. eds. Documentary Heritage Of Ohio (2001)


External links

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