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Ohio State History

History | Symbols | Interesting Facts | Famous People


1670—René-Robert Cavelier explores and claims the Ohio region for France

1750—The Ohio Company of Virginia claims the Ohio region for England

1763—French surrender’s claim to Ohio to Britain

1787—Ohio becomes part of the Northwest Territory

1788—Marietta, the first permanent white settlement in Ohio, is founded

1795—Treaty of Greenville ends the Indian Wars in Ohio

1800—The Division Act creates the Indian Territory

1803—Ohio becomes the 17th state

1813—British defeat in the Battle of Lake Erie

1832—The Ohio and Erie Canal was completed

1835—Boundary disputes between Michigan and Ohio cause the Toledo War

1845—The Miami and Erie Canal was completed

1870—Benjamin Goodrich opens a rubber plant in Akron

1914—The Conservancy Act passes

1955—The Ohio Turnpike is completed

1959—Terms of some state officials are increased from two to four years

1970—Four students are killed by the National Guard while protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University

Ancient Native Americans, the Mound Builders, left more than 6,000 burial mounds and forts throughout the Ohio region.  Many years later when European explorers first arrived in the late 1600s, they found Delaware, Shawnee, Wyandot, and Miami Indian tribes living there. 

France and Great Britain both held claims to the Ohio region.  Frenchman René-Robert Cavelier explored the Ohio region in 1670 and is believed to be the first white man to visit the area.  In 1750, the Ohio Company of Virginia sent Christopher Gist to explore Ohio in preparation for the settlement of British colonists.  Disputes over land in North America started the French and Indian Wars, and ended in 1763 with British control of most land in North America. 

After the Revolutionary War, the Northwest Territory was established in 1787.  On April 7, 1788, Marietta was founded and became the first permanent white settlement in Ohio.  Indian raids became common until their defeat in the Battle of Fallen Timbers.  The Treaty of Greenville that followed gave the United States land that accounts for almost two-thirds of present-day Ohio.  Thousands of settlers came to the region and soon Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, and Youngstown were established. 

Ohio became the 17th state on March 1, 1803.  Chillicothe was the first state capital, followed by Zanesville in 1810, then Chillicothe again, and finally Columbus in 1816.  River trade developed after acquiring the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.  Products could be shipped from the Mississippi River through New Orleans.  The first steamboat, New Orleans, went down the river in 1811. 

An important naval victory, the Battle of Lake Erie, was fought off the Ohio shore in the War of 1812.  In 1825, the Erie Canal opened.  In 1832, the Ohio and Erie Canal connected Cleveland and Portsmouth.  The Miami and Erie Canal connected Toledo and Cincinnati in 1845.  Many mills and factories were built between 1830 and 1860 because canals and railroads had created a much faster trade route. 

During the Civil War (1861-1865), Ohio fought for the Union but the state showed mixed feelings toward slavery.  Many helped the Underground Railroad smuggle slaves to Canada while others organized the Peace Democrats Party in opposition to President Lincoln.  In 1863 a Confederate cavalry raided Ohio, but almost all were captured. 

After the war, industry expanded rapidly.  Benjamin Goodrich opened a rubber plant in Akron.  John Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company in Cleveland.  Ohio became a top manufacturing state of machinery and furniture.  Shipping of coal and iron ore increased on Lake Erie, and farming continued to be a leading industry. 

Floods were the worst in Ohio history in 1913, killing almost 350 people and damaging an estimated $100 million in property.  The Conservancy Act passed in 1914, allowing flood-control districts to be established based on entire river systems.  This created many flood-control dams and reservoirs throughout the state. 

When the Great Depression hit the nation in 1929, nearly half the workers in Ohio lost their jobs.  A federal agency, Works Progress Administration, created jobs by constructing dams.  Entering World War II in 1941 also helped to end the Depression.  Airplanes, warships, and weapons were all created in Ohio factories. 

Industry continued to expand following World War II.  In 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened, creating international trade for eight Ohio cities on Lake Erie.  Aluminum plants and chemical factories were built along the Ohio River.  Many significant changes also occurred to the state government during this time. 

Many serious problems have occurred since the 1970s.  Many schools were forced to close due to lack of funds.  Today, laws now require schools to borrow money from the government when shortages occur for necessary school supplies.  Many businesses were forced to close in 1977, when a natural gas shortage occurred in severe weather conditions.  Pollution killed many of the fish in Lake Erie and caused fire to the Cuyahoga River.  Today, federal and state laws have now cleaned up state rivers and Lake Erie for commercial and recreational use.   

Manufacturing industries are facing wide foreign competition with milder climates and cheaper labor.  Farmers are also struggling with lower incomes and greater debt.  However, many factories now successful making plastics and service businesses have become more important to the economy.



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