Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

The second session of the first Territorial Legislature met at Chillicothe on the 3d of November. William H. Harrison having resigned his position of delegate to Congress, William McMillan, of Cincinnati, was elected to fill the vacancy, and Paul Fearing, of Marietta, to serve the succeeding term. But little other business was transacted, and Governor St. Clair, owing to the near end of his official term, dissolved the body on the 9th of December, after a session of five weeks.

The early dawn of the nineteenth century found the population of what is now Ohio numbering about 42,000. Transportation and trade were increasing on the Ohio River. Bullet-proof keel boats were regular packets for mail and traffic, taking four weeks to row and float a trip between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The first vessel of any size or importance was the brig “St. Clair" built at Marietta, 110 tons burden. It was loaded with provisions and sailing down the Ohio and Mississippi, crossed the Gulf of Mexico, and finally landed safely at Philadelphia. The transportation by land was by the heavy and cumbersome trading wagons drawn by four and six horses. Cincinnati was a great distributing point for the southern and central part of the territory. The judges and lawyers rode horseback from county seat to county seat, camping out at night, and fording or swimming the intervening streams on their journeys. The increased influx of immigration and the demoralizing Indian wars tended to deteriorate the morals of the people. Drinking, gambling and idleness prevailed in some communities. The first Legislature appointed a committee to issue an address“ discountenancing idleness and dissipation." Party spirit was developing in true American style. So bitter indeed had it become at Cincinnati, that on one occasion, the Fourth of July was celebrated by each party separately. The Federalists lauded Washington and St. Clair, and the Republicans or Deniocrats as strenuously sung the praises of Jefferson, Burr and Madison. The Federalist party of the territory at this period was led principally by Governor St. Clair, Judge Jacob Burnet and Benjamin Stites, while Edward Tiffin, Nathaniel Massie and Colonel Worthington were the prominent Republicans. Marietta was the stronghold of Federalism, while Chillicothe was the seat of Republicanism. Cincinnati was divided almost equally in politics.

The manhood of Ohio's pioneers came from various elements. The Western Reserve and the Muskingum Valley were peopled largely by New England stock. The Scioto Valley was composed almost exclusively of Virginians and Kentuckians. The Pennsylvanians of Irish and German origin settled at Cincinnati and between the Miamis, while the French scattered along the Ohio. From all these elements came the men who cleared away the forests and planted in virgin soil the seeds of a State that has grown to be a tremendous monument to human genius, skill and pluck. Outside of the towns the settlers had none of what we would call the pleasures of life. Occasionally the men met for a turkey shoot or an election; but the mothers of Ohio had naught but work. True, at Marietta, Cincinnati and Chillicothe we read of balls and soirees and amateur theatricals, but only there.

The necessaries of life consisted wholly of the products of the fields and the results of the hunt. The table of the pioneer Ohioan of 1800 was usually laden with bear or venison, and turkey; if near a stream, fish often took the place of game; tea and corncake, with wild honey, completed the meal. Beef and pork were easily obtained. On the whole, there can be registered no lack of physical needs for this period.

Iron, which may always be classed as a necessity, came from Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and when from the latter, cost $200 a ton to carry it into the interior of Ohio. As for salt, the southern and central parts of Ohio got their supply from the "Scioto salt works,” in what is the Jackson county of to-day, to which place hundreds of settlers regularly repaired to secure a supply of that needful article. It sold at the works for two and three dollars a bushel, and after the journey homeward of a hundred miles, the purchaser sold it to his neighbors for seven dollars a bushel. There were no vehicles, except for burden, within the territory. A conveyance for pleasure was unknown. Such was the general condition of the people within what is now Ohio, in 1800.

On the 24th of November, 1801, the third session of the Territorial Legislature commenced. At this session Cincinnati and Chillicothe were incorporated, and the seat of government changed from the latter town to the former. This last movement created the greatest excitement in Chillicothe; in fact, prior to its consummation, mob violence had been attempted on members favorable to removal. But it only served to inspire the aspirants for statehood and self-government to greater efforts. The agitation against St. Clair was at its highest point, and so great became the feeling that Thomas Worthington, agent of the State party and Republican leader, presented charges to President Jefferson against Governor St. Clair, attacking his official and administrative integrity.

In the meantime the Legislature had adjourned until the fourth Monday in November, 1803. But that session was never held. The reason will appear. On the 30th of April, 1802, Congress passed an act enabling the people of Ohio to form a Constitution and State government. This legislation was accomplished through the persistent efforts of Colonel Massie and Colonel Worthington and the personal influence of Edward Tiffin, who went to Washington expressly for that purpose. In pursuance of that act of Congress the Constitutional Convention met at Chillicothe on November 1, 1802. The pending session of the Constitutional Convention seemed to render a further assembling of the Territorial Legislature unnecessary, and by common consent it was abandoned. The Convention assembled to frame a Constitution for the proposed State, performed their duty in twenty-five days. On the third day of the session Governor St. Clair, by invitation, addressed the Convention. He expressed himself as opposed to the formation of a State, and criticised the administration at Washington. The Convention and the administration was intensely Republican, and his words being reported to President Jefferson, he was removed from his position. Charles W. Byrd, Secretary of the Territory, served as Governor until the State was formed.

The Constitution formed by the Chillicothe Con

vention was a sound and practical instrument of organic law. For over fifty years the people of Ohio lived under its provisions. It was, perhaps, defective, inasmuch as it provided no check whatever upon the legislative power. The intense feeling against St. Clair in the exercise of his vetoes accounts for the entire absence of restraining power in the position of the Chief Executive. It fixed the capital at Chil- | licothe until 1808, and named the boundaries of the State. It was never submitted to the people, but was framed, discussed and adopted by the same body. The proceedings of the Convention, with a copy of the Constitution, was forwarded to Washington, and by an act of Congress, approved February 19, 1803, Ohio became a recognized State of the Union — the seventeenth in the order of admission, and the eighteenth in relation to population.

CHAPTER V.

1803–1810. EDWARD TIFFIN ELECTED GOVERNOR — THE FIRST

LEGISLATURE — EFFECT OF LOUISIANA PUR-
CHASE -ACTION ON PROPOSED AMENDMENTS-
THE CONSPIRACY OF AARON BURR— CONFLICT
BETWEEN THE LEGISLATURE AND JUDICIARY-
THE SWEEPING RESOLUTION-STATE CAPITAL
REMOVED TO ZANESVILLE-PROGRESS OF OHIO

- EDUCATION — POLITICS. The young State at once assumed the duty of organization. Pursuant to the new constitution, on the second Tuesday of January, 1803, an election was

« ZurückWeiter »