In recognition of the Buckeye trees that grow abundantly in the area, Ohio is known as “The Buckeye State.” History tells it is the 7th state to join the United States of America when President Thomas Jefferson signed an act of Congress on February 19, 1803.
Should you happen to visit Ohio these days, the first thing you might notice is the flat landscapes along with the smell of fertilizers spread across its vast agricultural lands. That’s because the state is home to over 75,000 farms. Because of this, Ohio has been called “nothing but cornfields and Walmarts.” Upon closer look however, any traveler would say that there is more to Ohio than meets the eye.
Archeological evidence indicates that the Ohio Valley was inhabited by nomadic people as early as 13,000 BC. After the disappearance of these early nomads sometime between 1,000 and 800 BC, the sedentary Adena culture emerged and established “semi-permanent” villages.
The Adena domesticated plants, included, sunflowers, squash and possibly corn, as archeologists claim. They were able to dig up spear points of both the Folsom and Clovis types, which tell the patterns of “hunting and gathering” of the earliest Ohioans.
Such cultivation supported more settled, complex villages. Of all the remnants of the Adena culture, the most notable is the Great Serpent Mound, located in Adams County, Ohio. Around 100 BC, the Hopewell people emerged which are said to have evolved from the Adena. These people were also excellent mound builders.
Evidence of their technologically sophisticated earthworks can also be found in modern-day Marietta, Newark, and Circleville. Centuries later, indigenous people from other nations were recorded to have inhabited Ohio. These included the Iroquoian, the Algonquian & the Siouan.
Rufus Putnam – Ohio’s Founding Father
No state or country would ever thrive without a founding father and the person to be credited as “Father of Ohio” is Rufus Putnam. A prominent military figure in both the American Revolutionary War and the French-Indian War, his bravery and wisdom established his name as one of the most highly respected men in the early period of the United States.
In 1776, Putnam created a special method of building portable fortifications – clever innovations that greatly helped in solidifying the strength of the United States army back then. His creations impressed George Washington so much that Putnam was appointed as his chief engineer.
Putnam was instrumental in establishing the Northwest Ordinance, which opened up the Northwest Territory of the US for settlement. He organized and spearheaded the Ohio Company of Associates, who settled at Marietta, Ohio, where they built a large fort called Campus Martius. Tangible evidences of Putnam’s achievements can still be visited and viewed by any willing tourist within Ohio’s vicinity.
In accordance with the Puritan tradition, Putnam was also an influential figure in establishing education in the Northwest Territory, in addition to the valiance he spent for it. Substantial amounts of land were set aside for schools which paved the way for the Ohio universities known today.
He is one of the most distinguished benefactors in the founding of Leicester Academy in Massachusetts. In 1798, he created the plan for the construction of the Marietta College in Ohio (formerly Muskingum Academy)
In 1780, the directors of the Ohio Company appointed Putnam as the superintendent of all its affairs particularly in the settlement of the northern Ohio River. In his later years, he was tasked by President Washington as Surveyor-General of The United States Lands.
During the commencing years of the 1700s and during the earliest years of the 1800s, he served as a judge in the Northwest Territory and made solid contributions in forming the constitution for the State of Ohio.
The Toledo War
Before it was officially declared as a state, Ohio was a part of what was known as the Northwest Territory, which was later divided into Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and some parts of Minnesota. Much like any country, disputes between states led to wars and conflicts, instead of the sporting rivalries we know today.
Among these rivalries was Ohio vs Michigan. The Toledo War as it is now historically known began in 1835 between Ohio, a state, and Michigan, a territory. The conflict revolves around the ownership of a strip of land that included Toledo, a major port city among the great lakes.
Prior to the rise of the railroad industry, rivers and canals were the major avenues of commerce in the American Midwest. Toledo fell within the great black swamp and this area was impossible to navigate by road, especially after springtime and during summer rains.
At that time, there were ongoing plans to connect the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes through a series of canals connecting through Toledo. That plan never panned out, due to the surveyors’ failure of figuring out who truly owned the strip.
The boundaries of the land were stated at the southern end of Lake Michigan which at that time, was several miles south of its actual location. This triggered a dispute between Ohio and the Michigan Territory over the few miles of land.
President Andrew Jackson sided with Ohio at the time mainly due to the political power the state delivered during the presidential elections. Jackson sent 2 representatives from Washington DC to the disputed land. The temporary remedy for the conflict was for Congress to settle the matter and have the residents within the disputed region decide for themselves which state/territory they would belong to.
On June 15, 1836, President Jackson signed the bill allowing Michigan to be declared as an official state but only after receding its forces from the Toledo strip. In exchange for this concession, Michigan would be granted ownership of the upper peninsula.
As the year rolled on, Michigan found itself in deep financial crisis and was nearly bankrupted because of the extremely high expense of its militia during the Toledo War. Michigan was urged into action due to the knowledge that a $400,000 surplus in the US treasury was about to be distributed among the 25 states, but would not include territorial governments.
Michigan would be ineligible to receive a share of these funds. They reluctantly accepted the original offer, giving up nearly a thousand miles of the Toledo area and its rich agricultural land. In exchange, it received over 9,000 miles of forest and ore-mining lands, which would prove to be extremely rich in resources as time went on.
The resolution officially ushered Michigan into statehood while making Ohio the renowned agricultural hub it is today. The Toledo War might have created some ugly scars, but it can’t be denied it’s one of the most crucial events that etched Ohio’s greatness into the annals of history – one that Ohioans, as well as the residents of the surrounding states, will look back at throughout generations.
The Centuries-Long Outcome
Nearly 50% of the state is classified by the US Department of Agriculture as prime farmland making Ohio number five in the supply of farm-based products across the US. This makes the state a well-known source of America’s corn and beans, in alternating seasons. Aside from being the Buckeye State, it’s commonly known as the “Flyover State.”
With more than 40,000 square miles of exciting cities, rolling hills, green farmlands, lush rivers, and lakes, it’s safe to call Ohio a land of wonderful opportunities. The state ranks among the world’s largest economies, rich with resources, technology, education, and people of a strong work ethic.
Since Ohio’s inception, it has always been the people propelling it towards the greatness it’s earned over the generations. Today, the state shares a tagline with Virginia as “The Mother of Presidents” having been home to Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford Birchard Hayes, James Abram Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, and Warren Gamaliel Harding, all presidents who resided in Ohio.
The state is also home to the inventors who gave us aviation. Additionally, astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong also hail from the state. Today, Ohio is also home to world-class institutions enabling collaboration, talent, and massive ideas to be transformed into a reality. In nearly any aspect of human endeavor you may cite, Ohioans have excelled with determination and enthusiasm.
Ohio is also home to a highly educated workforce, with more than 200 universities, colleges, and world-class institutions, the buckeye state can be truly described as the land of opportunities.
For the people and businesses that make Ohio their home, it offers the promise of growth and a bright future. Its diverse economy covers everything from agriculture to manufacturing, to finance and healthcare, Ohio is truly a magnificent state to behold.