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Ohio Becomes a State

No colony in America was ever settled under such favorable auspices as that which has just commenced at the Muskingum. If I was a young man, just preparing to begin the world, or if advanced in life and had a family to make provision for, I know of no country where I should rather fix my habitation.

George Washington spoke these words in 1788 about the southeastern corner of what was then known as the Northwest Territory. This territory was made up of land that would one day become Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota.

The settling of Ohio began in 1788 with the arrival of 48 members of an expedition sponsored by the Ohio Company, who purchased more than one and a half million acres of the Northwest Territory from Congress. They chose what would become the city of Marietta, on the Ohio River, as their first settlement.

The Ohio Company’s mission was helped along when General Anthony Wayne negotiated the Treaty of Greenville with the Native Americans in 1795, allowing for settlement in the eastern and southern parts of the territory.

Within three years, the male population of the area reached 5,000, and the settlers were given the right to elect a house of representatives. The first meeting of the Legislature was in Cincinnati in 1799 and the body elected Edward Tiffin as speaker of the House and William Henry Harrison as the territory’s representative to Congress.

The area, soon to be known as the state of Ohio, continued to grow in population. In 1803, Ohio was admitted to the Union as the 17th state.

Chillicothe (chil’i-koth’e) comes from the Shawnee word “Chalahgawtha” for “principal town.” It was both the first and third capital of the newly formed state of Ohio. A replica of the first statehouse stands on the original site and serves as the main office of the Chillicothe Gazette.

The capital was moved to Zanesville as part of a political negotiation in 1810. The capital returned to Chillicothe from 1812-1816 before finally being located at its permanent site of Columbus, which was considered a more central location.