In the mid-17th century when the Iroquois confederation depleted the beaver and other game in the New York region, they launched a war known as the Beaver Wars. The Iroquois sought to expand their territory and monopolize the fur trade between European markets and the tribes of the western Great Lakes region. They destroyed their competitors for this market along Lake Erie and into Ohio and claimed Ohio as Iroquois hunting grounds, making it nearly uninhabited for several decades. Mingos were those Iroquois who migrated west into the Ohio lands.
European colonial expansion from the Atlantic coast westward caused several Native American tribal groups to move westward into Ohio including Delawares, from the east, Shawnees, Wyandots and Ottawas from the north. Miamis moved into what is now western Ohio.
To European settlers, Ohio was considered Wild West frontier territory through most of the first half of the 1800s when only fur trappers and traders, rough frontiersmen, inhabited Ohio.
British military influence from Canadian forts and down into Ohio, contributed to the outbreak of Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763. Native American tribes in Ohio fought with the British against American colonists for a time.
During the American Revolutionary War, Native Americans in the Ohio Country were divided over which side to support. The Shawnee, under their leader Blue Jacket and the Delaware under Buckongahelas fought with the British. While the Shawnee under another leader by the name of Cornstalk and again the Delaware under leadership of White Eyes were friendly with the colonists. However, the bitter feelings of American colonists combined with their fear of raids from the hostile Indians, caused many American colonists to shoot first and ask questions later. In other words, there were tragedies in which friendly Indians were killed by fearful Americans. One of the most tragic incidents of the war, the Gnadenhutten massacre of 1782, took place in Ohio.
The British ceded claims to Ohio and its territory in the West as far as the Mississippi River to the United States, as a result of the American victory in the Revolutionary War. After Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, settlement of Ohio began with the founding of Marietta by the Ohio Company of Associates. It was formed by a group of American Revolutionary War veterans, who with their families composed most of the first generation of settlers.
In 1803, Ohio convened a constitutional convention and using numerous provisions from other states, they rejected slavery as part of their constitution and presented it to the United States Congress for ratification. On February 19, 1803, President Jefferson signed an act of Congress that approved Ohio’s boundaries and state constitution. However, the U.S. Congress did not pass a specific resolution formally admitting Ohio as the 17th state. The current custom of Congress’ declaring an official date of statehood did not begin until 1812.
This oversight was discovered in 1953 by Ohio congressman George H. Bender who introduced a bill in Congress to admit Ohio to the Union retroactive to March 1, 1803. At a special session at the old state capital in Chillicothe, the Ohio state legislature approved a new petition for statehood that was delivered to Washington, D.C. on horseback!
On August 7, 1953 (the year of Ohio’s 150th anniversary), President Eisenhower signed an act that officially declared March 1, 1803 the date of Ohio’s admittance as the 17th state of the Union of the United States of America.