Sunday, February 28, 2010

Buckeyes and Blackeyes

Magnet # 180: Ohio Facts

Material: Rubber

Purchased By: Dad

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the day the state of Ohio joined the United States in 1803. It's journey to statehood was not terribly eventful, which I suppose is good. The French were the first Europeans to reach the area, setting up fur trading posts there. But the British weren't far behind, and a large part of the Midwest was caught up in their French and Indian War. The British gained control as a result, even though the Indians still waged war with them. But after the American Revolution was over, the United States finally took control over the area. They then formed the Northwest Territory, which consisted of land that would become Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as parts of Minnesota. Many veterans of the American Revolutionary War came there to settle the land they were given as payment for their service. Although they were supposed to wait until they had 60,000 residents , Congress allowed them to start when they were 15,000 short, realizing that it should have the prerequisite population by the time of their statehood. When it did become a state, it was the first one from the Northwest Territory. There was one unusual bit of trivia about the state's admission - Congress never passed a resolution that officially admitted it, although President Thomas Jefferson did sign an act of Congress that approved its boundaries and constitution. It wasn't until the next state, Louisiana, was admitted that the tradition officially began. This went unnoticed until 1953, when the state was officially admitted retroactively as of March 1, 1803. As far I as I can tell, this is the only time that's ever happened.

What I've come to realize in my studies about this state is that it's possibly one of the more pugilistic in our nation. Sure, many states have rivalries with one another, often over sports, but Ohio has had some unusual sources of debate with other states. For starters, as far back as 1835, it became one of the very few states that declared war on another, namely Michigan. The Toledo War erupted over a dispute regarding a strip of land that both claimed belong to it. Luckily, it was solved without any actual fighting and the area was given to Ohio by way of President Andrew Jackson's direction. Since then, it's developed two unusual rivalries with other states, but at least neither as come close to ending in violence. First off, Ohio has a rivalry going with Virginia as to which can claim the most Presidents. It's generally accepted that Virginia has the most, with eight Presidents having been there. But Ohio, which most give seven Presidents, often tries to claim eight. They hold that William Henry Harrison, who was born in Virginia, went on to become a citizen of Ohio. Of course, by that same token, they'd also loose Ulysses S. Grant and Benjamin Harrison, who left their birth state of Ohio to reside in other states. But it is kind of funny that two states are so eager to add Harrison, a man who barely lasted a month in office before succumbing to an illness most likely brought on by his own foolishness. He wore neither a hat nor an overcoat when he took his oath of office outside on a cold and rainy day and then proceeded to deliver the longest inaugural address in our country's history before riding through the streets. Sure, he might have been a military hero, but who would really want to claim him after that embarrassment? Second, Ohio and North Carolina have a dispute as to which state can really claim the phrase "first in flight." Sure the Wright Brothers were from Ohio, but they traveled to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for their early test flights, and it was the first place they achieved flight. Yes, they did eventually move all of their work back to their homestate, but it's hard to contest North Carolina's claim to the title. Regardless, I don't think the sentiments behind either of these two points of contention are going away anytime soon.

I've only been to this state once, on the return from a trip my family took took to Toronto in Canada. We visited some friends with daughters my age that live in the Columbus area, but we didn't really take in any tourist sights. It's too bad - there are a number of great attractions in the state, from the world's largest collection of rides and roller coasters at Cedar Point Amusement Park to the natural beauty of Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the mystery of Serpent Mound. Also, of course, Cleveland is home to the pretty popular Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There are plenty of great sites to be had in this state, so I do hope I'll have another chance to visit it someday. And I'm not really all that nervous about the natives - from what I hear, they're pretty nice, despite a rivalry or two.

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