200 Years Ago Today
Do you ever picture what life was like 10 years ago today? Or maybe what people were doing 50 years ago today? OK, how about 200 years ago today? In late June of 1816, the constitutional convention delegates were wrapping up more than two weeks of deliberation and conversation to create Indiana’s first constitution. While our actors in You Are There 1816: Indiana Joins the Nation are stuck in the happenings of June 20, 1816, modern-day Hoosiers have the advantage of knowing what happens next.
From June 10 to June 29 the delegates met in Corydon, Indiana, to discuss different aspects of government and the laws of the new state. The delegates spent most of the two weeks meeting in committees, writing specific sections of the constitution, and then discussing what they had written with the rest of the group. The days were generally broken up into two sessions, with a break in the middle for lunch. Perhaps even a tavern stop or a quick nap under the constitutional elm. In late June, the men read through and voted on each article several times. They were nearing the end of the process.
By Saturday, June 29, the men finished hashing out the details of each article. The 8 a.m. meeting included discussions of who would receive copies of the constitution and who would oversee its printing. Two more meetings, one in the late morning and one mid-afternoon, rounded out the day. By the end of the day’s sessions, all 43 delegates had agreed upon the final version of the constitution and signed it. Now, we were on the road to statehood. Each county’s sheriff oversaw a general election in August, with Jonathan Jennings (president of the constitutional convention) being elected as governor. In Washington, William Hendricks (secretary of the constitutional convention) and two others were sworn into Congress in December. On Dec. 11, 1816, President James Madison signed a resolution admitting Indiana into the Union, on equal footing with the original states. Ever since, Hoosiers celebrate Statehood Day on Dec. 11. Although, the state admission process was not formally complete until March 1817. That’s bureaucracy for you.
Come visit You Are There 1816: Indiana Joins the Nation to experience the happenings of 200 years ago today.
|Angela Giacomelli is the exhibitions researcher for the Exhibitions Research and Development Department at IHS. She loves having a job that combines two of her greatest interests: history and helping people. Her research expeditions are fueled by her passion for the past ... and sugar.|