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Why statehood

The Ordinance of 1787 established a training regimen or blueprint for the formation of new states from the Northwest Territory. Ohio, in 1803, was the first state formed from the territory. Indiana, in 1816, was the second state formed from the Northwest Territory. The formation and progress of Indiana Territory was a necessity for the ultimate goal of statehood.

Throughout the territorial period, there were debates and petitions about the consequences of moving toward statehood. Important issues were the increased costs, an expected increase in taxes, and the lack of services and communication for people distant from the capital.

Later in the Indiana territorial period there were two major factions. The western, Vincennes-focused pro-William Henry Harrison/Thomas Posey faction was connected with keeping the territory status, keeping slavery alive, and keeping more power with the appointed governor. The eastern, Corydon-focused pro-Jonathan Jennings faction wanted the democratic benefits of statehood--especially an elected governor with limited power--and the final eradication of slavery in the state.

On December 11, 1815, the Indiana Territorial Assembly was ready to pursue statehood, and the Memorial for statehood was sent to Congress. Congress passed the Enabling Act. Delegates elected by the people met in convention, affirmed the Enabling Act of Congress, and wrote and adopted the Constitution. Acting under the Constitution, the people elected a General Assembly, state officers, and representatives to Congress. On December 11, 1816, Indiana was admitted to the union.

The vast majority of people in Indiana knew what was happening during this process, and they approved the move to a democratic government which forbad slavery. The preamble to the Constitution of 1816 reached far beyond the federal Bill of Rights. Some provisions of the Constitution--education, for example--were visionary. Statehood held the promise of a better future for Indiana and its citizens. The 1816 Constitution expressed the delegates' hope and optimism for that future.

Sources: Barnhart and Riker, 412-63; Madison, 46-54; "Indiana Territory," The Indiana Historian, March 1999; see also, James H. Madison, Indiana's Pioneer Heritage and the End of the Twentieth Century (Indianapolis, 1996).