Ohio History Journal

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30 Ohio Arch

30        Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.  [VOL. 4







About nine miles north of the capital of Ohio is a village

the foundation of which marks an important epoch in the history

of Ohio. The conflict between freedom and slavery began be-

fore the successful growth of the young republic was assured.

Thrifty New Englanders were waiting the encroachment of

slavery, and among them were men not afraid to lift up their

voices in loud and earnest warnings, and by their deeds as well

as by their sayings, showed that they were ready for the struggle.

"Make the land worth having," said the portly Dr. Cutler

to the Continental Congress when bargaining for land for the

New England associates. " Unless you do," he continued, "we

do not want it," and the warning meant in plain terms, "exclude

slavery forever from the territory northwest of the Ohio river,

and we will buy your land and help you pay your debts; allow

it to enter and not a penny will we invest." The confederacy,

borne down with its debts, could not allow such an opportunity

to pass, and the constitution of the territory "forever prohibited

slavery or involuntary servitude" from this great and almost un-

known domain. One victory for freedom was won.

Fifteen years afterwards the question arose again. A state

was now to be created in the territory. Should slavery be per-

mitted? It had often endeavored to gain even a temporary

lodgment.  The seeds of liberty had taken deep root, sprung

into active life, and the Constitution of Ohio, adopted in Novem-

ber, 1802, confirmed the old compact, and again guaranteed free-

dom to all who should obey its laws. The deliberations of this

convention were awaited with no little interest in many Eastern

homes. If it decided for freedom they would become citizens

and help to subdue its forests; cultivate its soil; build its cities

and extend its commerce. If not, then another state should

know them and their children.

Among the interested and anxious ones was James Kil-

bourn, a young man, enterprising and energetic, and then about