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Constitution of 1816

The Indiana Supreme Court and the Indiana Historical Bureau are collaborating on a major project to gather in one place copies of original documents and research materials relating to Indiana's constitutional history. View the collection and the original Indiana Constitution of 1816

On June 10, 1816, the constitutional delegates assembled at Corydon. As a group they were men of high quality. Of the forty-three elected twenty-six had southern antecedents but they had come from the democratic backcountry rather than the plantation tidewater. Eleven were from northern states and six were foreign-born. Jonathan Jennings was chosen as president and William Hendricks as secretary of the convention. By a vote of 33 to 8 they asserted that it was expedient to form a constitution. In preparing Indiana's fundamental law they borrowed heavily from existing state constitutions especially those of Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. They produced a strongly democratic document for that period which served Indiana well for thirty-five years. Slavery was forbidden and an advanced concept of state responsibility for public education was incorporated. The amending process was to prove cumbersome. The new constitution went into effect without submission to the people. 33

33 Manuscript Constitution, Indiana State Library; Kettleborough (ed.), Constitution Making in Indiana, I, 83-125; Barnhart and Carmony, Indiana, I, 151-160; Dunn, Indiana, I, 295-313.