The Iroquois confederation claimed much of the Ohio country as a hunting and beaver-trapping ground. After the devastation of epidemics and beaver wars in the mid 1600s, which largely emptied the Ohio country of indigenous people. The land gradualy rebuilt its population of mostly Algonquian speaking descendants of its ancient inhabitants, including the the Hopewell, Mississippian and Adena cultures.
First explored for France by Sieur de la Salle in 1669, the Ohio region became British property after the French and Indian Wars. Ohio was acquired by the United States via the Treaty of Paris after the Revolutionary War in 1783. In 1788, the first permanent settlement was established at Marietta, capital of the Northwest Territory.
The 1790s saw severe fighting with the Indians in Ohio; a major battle was won by Maj. Gen. Anthony Wayne at Fallen Timbers in 1794. In the War of 1812, Commodore Oliver H. Perry defeated the British in the Battle of Lake Erie on Sept. 10, 1813.
On February 19, 1803, President Jefferson signed an act of Congress that approved Ohio's boundaries and constitution. However, Congress never passed a resolution formally admitting Ohio as the 17th state. The current custom of Congress declaring an official date of statehood did not begin until 1812, with Louisiana's admission 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 Chillicothe, the Ohio state legislature approved a new petition for statehood that was delivered to Washington, D.C. 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.
Ohio shares the nickname "Mother of Presidents" with Virginia as eight US presidents have hailed from Ohio at the time of their elections. Seven presidents were born in Ohio, making it second only to Virginia's eight.
The central position and population of Ohio gave made it important place during the Civil War, as the Ohio River was a vital artery for troop and supply movements, as were Ohio's railroads. The three top Union generals in the Civil War were all from Ohio, Sherman, Grant and Sheridan.
[Return to top]