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The State Of Ohio In The War Of 1812
by [?]

We may now begin to speak of the State of Ohio, for with the opening of the present century her borders were defined. The rest of the Northwest Territory was called Indiana Territory, and by 1804, Ohio found herself a state of the Union. There has never since been any doubt of her being there, and if it had not been for the great Ohio generals there might now be no Union for any of the states to be in. But it is nevertheless true that Ohio was never admitted to the Union by act of Congress, and her life as a state dates only from the adoption of her final constitution, or from the meeting of her first legislature at Chillicothe, on the 1st of March, 1803.

The most memorable fact concerning the adoption of this constitution was the great danger there was that it might allow some form of slavery in the new state. Slavery had been forbidden from the beginning in the Northwest Territory, but many of the settlers of the Ohio country were from the slave states of New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky, and there was a strong feeling in favor of allowing women to be held as slaves till they were thirty-five and men till they were twenty-eight years old. But in the end, thanks to one of the Massachusetts men of Marietta, Judge Ephraim Cutler, the friends of slavery were beaten, and it was forbidden in Ohio in the same words which had forbidden it in the Northwest Territory.

It had been a long fight and a narrow chance, and the clause that gave the future to freedom was carried by one vote only. Edward Tiffin was chosen governor, and the new state entered upon a career of peace and comfort if not of great prosperity or rapid progress. The Indians if not crushed were quelled, and the settlers at last lived without fear of them, until Tecumseh began his intrigues. In the mean time there was plenty to eat, and enough to wear for all; there was the shelter of the log cabin, and the fire of its generous hearth. The towns grew, if they did not grow very rapidly; new towns were founded, and the country gradually filled up with settlers, or at least the land was claimed. Immense crops were raised on the fertile soil, and these were mainly fed to hogs and cattle, which more rapidly found a way to market than the grain: they could be driven over the bad roads, and the grain had to be carried. The very richness of the soil when turned to mud forbade good roads in the new country; and the most thriving settlements were on the rivers, which, as in the days of the Mound Builders, formed the natural highways. Many streams were navigable then, which the clearing of the woods from their banks has since turned to shallow pools in the time of drouth and to raging torrents in the time of rain; and one of the most hopeful industries was ship building. The trees turned to masts where they grew, and many a stately vessel slid into the waters that had washed its living fibers and glided down the Ohio into the Mississippi to the sea.

The Ohio people toiled and waited for the inventions of the future to open ways out into the world for them with the great riches to which they were shut up in their own borders; but it must have been with a growing uneasiness. Great Britain, as we know, had long held the forts in the West which she had agreed to give up to the United States, and after she surrendered them, her agents and subjects in Canada abetted the Indians in their rising against the Americans under Tecumseh and the Prophet. The trouble with the Indians would probably have ended at Tippecanoe, if it had not been for the outbreak of war between the two countries; yet this outbreak must have been a kind of relief to the Ohio people. The English insisted upon the right of searching our vessels on the high seas, and pressing into their navy any sailors whom they decided to be British subjects, and though the Ohio people could not feel the injury of this, as it was felt in the seaboard states whose citizens were forced into the English service by thousands, they could feel the insult. They were used to fighting, and they welcomed the war which at least unmasked their enemies. Their ardor was chilled, however, by one of its first events, which was the surrender of Detroit by General Hull. This threw the state open to invasion by the British and Indians, and the danger was felt in every part of it. The militia were called out, troops poured in from Kentucky, and General Harrison marched into the northwest to recapture Detroit. A detachment of his army was beaten in the first action, which took place beyond the Ohio limits, and after yielding to the British was butchered in cold blood by their Indian allies. The next spring Harrison built Fort Meigs on the Maumee; from this point he hoped to strike a severe blow at the enemy in Canada, but he was himself attacked here by General Proctor, who marched down from Maiden with a large force of British regulars, Canadian militia, and Indians led by Tecumseh.