Archaeological and Historical
CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF THE ADOPTION
OF OHIO'S FIRST CONSTITUTION.
The Centennial of the adoption of the Constitution of Ohio,
was celebrated at Chillicothe Saturday, November 29, 1902 by
the unveiling of a tablet, marking the site of the first state house
of Ohio, which is the site of the present court house.
The weather was very inclement, snow and rain interfer-
ing with the ceremonies to the extent, at least, that the audience
was small and the attendance from outside the city was not as
large as the importance of the event deserved.
PRESENTATION OF TABLET.
At 11 o'clock the people gathered on the esplanade of the
court house, and after patriotic airs by the Young Men's orches-
tra, Robert W. Manly, a great grandson of the first Governor of
Ohio, presented the tablet in the following fitting address.
Honorable Mayor of Chillicothe and Fellow Citizens:
We are assembled this morning to participate in the un-
veiling of a tablet, marking the site of the building which was
used as Ohio's first statehouse.
The building was of great historic interest. Within its walls
was held the last session of the Legislature of the Northwest
territory; one hundred years ago to-day within its walls Ohio's
first constitution was adopted by the members of the constitu-
tional convention; for twelve years it served as Ohio's state-
house; in it the political and economic policies of our state
were formulated and put into execution, the beneficial effects
of which policies still influence the administration of our state
1 Vol. XII-1
2 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
be made for the purpose of raising funds for the erection of a
In 1800 the court appointed a commission to advertise for
bids for the erection of a court house and also appointed a com-
mission to superintend the erection of the building.
In 1801 the erection of the building was completed and the
Territorial Legislature of 1801-2 was held in the new structure.
In 1852 the building was torn down to take the place of our
present court house.
During the past year the ladies of our city, members of the
Century club, inaugurated a movement to mark with a tablet the
site of the old state house. The chapters of the Daughters of
the Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution
in this city, took up the movement, and these three organiza-
tions with the assistance of many of our citizens, together with
Mr. Henry H. Bennett, of this city, as designer, provided the
tablet we are to unveil this morning.
And now, sir, representing the members of the Century club,
the Daughters of the Revolution and the Daughters of the Ameri-
can Revolution, I present, on their behalf, to the public, through
you, this tablet which marks the site of that building which was
used as the first state house of Ohio.
Centennial Celebration. 3
THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE TABLET.
Following the presentation address, Miss Effie Scott, great-
granddaughter of Gov. McArthur, unveiled the tablet.
the world's history would have been forever lost. The great pyra-
mids of Egypt, the wonder of all ages since their erection, still
bear and for ages to come will bear mute testimony of the exist-
ence of a great nation whose prowess long since vanished from
the face of the earth, while the inscriptions upon the obelisks and
temples erected during the flourishing period of that people, per-
petuate much of the history.
In our time the Federal government and many of our State
governments have expended and are still expending large sums
of money in the erection of monuments on the great battle fields
of our several wars, and in converting them into national parks,
so that we are not without precedent in assembling here for the
purpose of formally dedicating this tablet in commemoration of
an event of importance in the history of our city, county, state
With the adoption of the constitution of the United States
but little more than a cenury ago, there came into being a Republic
whose form of government was an experiment on the part of
4 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
those who formed it, and which was looked upon with suspicion
and jealousy by the powers of Europe; but after weathering
the storm which beset it during the first few years of its exist-
ence, it entered upon a period of growth and development truly
wonderful, until to-day the experiment of 1787 has proven a
"world power" and an American citizen is respected in foreign
countries as was the Roman citizen in the palmy days of Rome.
Ohio was the fourth state to be added to the original thirteen
and the first to be carved out of the Northwest territory, and
as the inscription on the tablet just unveiled recites, "On this
site stood the first state house of Ohio, wherein was adopted
the original constitution of the commonwealth, November 29th,
From the time Ohio became a state her growth and progress
has been a factor in the growth and development of the nation.
In times of war her people have shown their patriotism by
their readiness to respond to the call to arms; and among the
military heroes she is proud to number among her sons such
national idols as Grant, Sherman, Sheridan and Custer.
In times of peace she has contributed her full quota to the
ranks of the nation's statesmen, and the nation has honored
Ohio by elevating five of her sons to the Presidency, Grant, Hayes,
Garfield, Harrison and McKinley.
Chillicothe claims many of Ohio's distinguished sons, among
whom may be mentioned Massie, Tiffin, Worthington, McArthur,
Allen and Thurman; she has furnished to the commonwealth
four governors, and to the nation four senators and nine repre-
sentatives in Congress, and the wife of one of its chief execu-
We are fortunate in having with us to-day in the person of
the eloquent gentleman who has presented this tablet on behalf
of its donors, a lineal descendent of our first governor, Edward
Tiffin; and in the person of the young lady who unveiled it a
great-granddaughter of Governor McArthur and a granddaugh-
ter of William Allen the last of Ross county's citizens to occupy
the governor's chair.
I have the honor to represent the people of this city and
county, and to accept for them, and in their name, this tablet,
Centennial Celebration. 5
donated and erected by the Century Club, the Daughters of the
Revolution, the Daughters of the American Revolution and nu-
merous citizens, in commemoration of the adoption of the first
constitution of the state of Ohio, and on the one hundredth an-
May it remain in its place to relate its historic story to all
who may pause to read so long as Ohio remains a state and re-
tains her proud position in the union of states.
After an invitation extended by Mr. H. H. Bennett to the
people to attend the afternoon ceremonials at Memorial hall, an
informal reception was held in the court house. The strangers
were introduced to Col. Wm. N. King, of Columbus, great grand-
son of Gov. Worthington, Mrs. Mary Manly, Miss Diathea Cook,
Mrs. Frank Gilmore and Miss Eleanor Cook, grandchildren of
Gov. Tiffin, Miss Eleanor Tower, of Detroit, and the Misses Cook,
great granddaughters of Gov. Tiffin; Col. Matthews and sister,
Mrs. Blackburn, of Cleveland, great grandchildren of Gov. Hunt-
ington; Dr. Walter S. Scott, W. Allen Scott, descendants of Gov.
McArthur and Gov. William Allen; Miss Dorothy W. McArthur
and Mrs. Allen W. McArthur, relatives of Gov. McArthur, and
Mr. C. E. Kirker, of Manchester, great grandson and Mrs C. E.
Bedwell, of Columbus, great granddaughter of Speaker Kirker of
the first Ohio House of Representatives, and also governor of
of the state. Gen. J. Warren Keifer, of Springfield, Speaker of
the United States House of Representatives and Chairman of
the State centennial commissioners and Historical Society Execu-
tive committee. Mr. S. S. Knabenshue, editor of the Toledo
Blade, and a noted archaeologist; Judge Rush R. Sloane, San-
dusky, President of the Fire Lands Historical society. Mr. E.
O. Randall, Secretary of the Ohio State Archaeological and His-
torical Society, Fred. J. Heer, State Printer and Publisher of the
Ohio State Historical Society publications.
MEMORIAL HALL EXERCISES.
The afternoon exercises at Memorial hall were of a most in-
teresting character and the attendance was large. Judge J. C.
6 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
Douglas presided and after a patriotic chorus by the Euterpean
club, Mr. William T. McClintick, of Chillicothe, was introduced
and spoke as follows:
I bid you a hearty welcome on this, the day which marks the
one hundredth year since the adoption of the First Constitution of
the State of Ohio.
connecting link between the past and present, and so I am, for
I have personally known all the Governors of the state from
Edward Tiffin and Thomas Worthington down to our present
Governor, George K. Nash, except Samuel Huntington, who
died in 1817, before I was born; Return Jonathan Meigs, who
died in 1825, when I was but six years old, and Ethan Allen
Brown, who removed from the state at an early day.
I had the honor of having a tooth pulled by Dr. Edward
Tiffin, in my childhood, and my recollection of Governor Worth-
ington riding down High Street on Sunday morning on a gray
horse, with his little son, William Drake, behind him, hitching
his horse to a post and then mounting the stile into my father's
front yard and making his way, with his little son, to a rear room
in my father's house to attend a Methodist class meeting, of which
my father was the leader, is as fresh as if it had happened yes-
terday. William Drake and myself were provided with small
Centennial Celebration. 7
stools on which we sat while the meeting progressed. I also fol-
lowed the procession which carried Governor Worthington to
his grave, at Adena, in 1827.
Nathaniel Massie, the early Northwestern surveyor and pio-
neer, and the founder of our town of Chillicothe in 1796, died
before I was born, but I knew his widow and all his children,
all his grandchildren and many of his great grandchildren. One
of his grandsons, Hon. D. M. Massie is a resident of our city,
and would gladly have participated with us in this celebration,
did not his duties as a Commissioner in Cuba forbid his presence
I might name many other distinguished men of that early
period with whom I have spoken and shaken hands, such as Jacob
Burnet, that great lawyer and Judge, who came to Ohio in 1796,
and remained here until his death in 1853; William Henry Har-
rison, the hero of Tippecanoe, whose history is identified with the
Northwest territory, and the state of Ohio, from 1795 or earlier,
until his death at the White House in Washington City in April,
1841, while President of the United States, Duncan McArthur,
whose services in peace and war are known to us all, and who
died at his Fruit Hill home, near this city, in 1840. Long will his
memory be honored and revered; William Creighton, Jr., who
passed through Chillicothe on his way to Kentucky in 1796, look-
ing for a location, and after returning to Virginia, again came,
in 1798, to Chillicothe, where he made his permanent home.
After the admission of Ohio into the Union, he was our first
Secretary of State; afterward U. S. Attorney for the District
of Ohio; then a member of the Ohio Legislaure, and a member
of the United States Congress in which office he served at inter-
vals, for many years. He was president of the Branch bank of
the United States in Chillicothe during its existence, and was ap-
pointed to the office of Unied States District Judge in 1828, which
he held until March 4th, 1829. After his retirement from Congress
in 1833 he was not again a candidate for any public office.
He was, along with Col. Wm. Key Bond, my preceptor in law
studies from 1837 to 1840, and afterward my partner in practice.
I never knew a more genial and kindly man, a more sincere lover
of the poor, or a stancher friend. He died October 2, 1851.
8 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
Did time permit, I might swell this list to a very large
number of the eminent men of that early period with whom I was
The change in the face of the country which has taken place
in that part of the great West which constitutes the state of
Ohio, since the adoption of the state Constitution in 1802, and
the present time, might well challenge comment, as most extra-
ordinary and wonderful--but we must hasten to consider the
story of the old house memorable in the history of the state, as
the first statehouse of Ohio.
My early recollection of the court house square, bounded
east by Paint street, north by the alley between Second and Main
streets, west by private property (now the Presbyterian church),
and south by Main street, goes back to a period when there
were but three houses on the lot. These were the court house
proper, of stone, about sixty feet square, curving outwardly on
the west side; another brick house of two stories of about the
same size as the court house, which stood about ten feet south
of it, fronting toward Main street, the upper story of which was
connected with the upper story of the court house by an en-
closed corridor, lighted by windows on either side. The third
house was the jail, in the rear of the court house, in which Wil-
liam Rutledge, the jailer, resided with his family.
I was told in my childhood that the brick house fronting
toward Main street had been a part of the state house prior
to the removal of the capital from Chillicothe to Columbus, the
lower story being occupied by the state offices, and the upper
story by the Ohio Senate; while the upper story of the court
house was occupied by the House of Representatives, the en-
closed corridor being the means of communication between the
two houses, through which a sergeant-at-arms could pass, or
one body join the other when required to meet in joint session.
The lower room of the court house proper was used for the
sittings of the United States District and Circuit courts, the Su--
preme Court of Ohio, and the Court of Common Pleas of the
I do not remember the tearing down and removal of the
building which had its frontage toward Main street. It was prob-
Centennial Celebration. 9
ably done after 1830, and contemporaneously with the erection
of the two story brick edifice at the Northwest corner of Main and
Paint streets, which latter had a frontage of probably forty feet
on Paint street, and fifty feet on Main street, the lower story be-
ing occupied on Paint street by the office of the Clerk of Courts
and the County Auditor, and the frontage on Main street by a
wide hall and stairway and the office of the County Recorder.
The upper story was occupied by lawyers' offices.
I was admitted to the bar of Ohio in March, 1840. I remem-
ber the court room as it was then, and doubtless had been from
the beginning. The Judge's bench was in the curve at the west
side, about six or eight feet above the floor, with space for the
Presiding Judge and his three associates in the Common Pleas;
the Clerk's desk in front, about four feet lower, with juror's seats
on either side, on the same level; the Sheriff's box and the witness
stand on the south side, and the lawyer's desks arranged in front,
the whole enclosed by a bar, so as to shut it off from the crowd
of spectators who thronged the room on the opening day of the
court or when causes of general interest were being heard. Four
tall, fluted pillars were interspersed at equal intervals for the
support of the upper floor.
The room was heated in winter by a wide open fire-place, in-
side the bar, on the north side of the house, and by an old-fash-
ioned tin plate stove in the center, outside the bar.
The stairway started near a door on the north side of the
house, and extended upward with the wall on that side, about
half way, when it turned to the right along the East side, to the
upper floor, which was occupied by a large room for the use of
the grand and petit juries as occasion required, with two smaller
rooms for witnesses and other purposes. In this large upper
room were also held the meetings of literary societies, with lec-
tures on literary subjects, and otherwise by the citizens, when not
occupied for public pursposes.
Later a two-story building of limited dimensions was erected
south of the court house, fronting directly on Main street, the
lower story of which when I returned from college in 1837, was
occupied by a volunteer fire company, the "Citizen's" of which I
was a member, and the upper story for the Mayor's office. This
10 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
building was not removed until 1853 or 1854, prior to the erection
of the present court house.
In 1840, the bench was occupied by the Hon. John H. Keith
as Presiding Judge, with his three associates, from the business
walks of life. Col. Wm. Key Bond had removed to Cincinnati
and Gen. John L. Green had taken his place as the partner of Mr.
Creighton. The firms Creighton & Green and Allen & Thurman
had the largest practice. The other lawyers were Thomas Scott
& Son, Henry Brush, Benjamin G. Leonard, Frederick Grimke,
Richard Douglas, Joseph Sill, William S. Murphy, Jonathan F.
Woodside, Henry Massie, John L. Taylor, Robert Bethel, Gusta-
vus Scott, James Caldwell, Amos Holton, and perhaps others, not
Mr. Theodore Sherer, who had read the law with Messrs.
Allen & Thurman, and I, with Creighton & Bond, were admitted
to the bar by the Supreme Court on the circuit in Scioto
county, Ohio, in March, 1840. From that time we continued
to fight our legal battles in the old court house until the
spring of 1852, when one day in March of that year, I was pass-
ing through the court house yard on the way to my office up-
stairs in the building I have heretofore described as on the corner
of Main and Paint streets, I heard Charles Martin, then Sheriff,
of the county, crying off, under the order of the County Commis-
sioners the court house for sale. "Who bids?" said he. In jest,
I said "Seventy-five dollars," and passed on to my office, forgetful
of my jest, and was soon absorbed in the study of some case.
What was my surprise, when some minutes later the Sheriff ap-
peared to inform me that I was the purchaser of the court house.
What was I to do with it? It ought to have been allowed to
stand as a monument of the early days in Ohio history, but the
Commissioners were inexorable, and the terms of sale required it
to be taken down and removed without delay. Unfortunately for
the city, but very fortunately for me, "the great fire" occurred on
April 1st, 1852, and a demand for stone, brick and lumber sprang
up for rebuilding, and so the old court house vanished into cellar
walls, stables, etc., and became a thing of the past save a few
relics which curiosity lovers preserved.
Centennial Celebration. 11
The court house square was soon covered with stone and lum-
ber for the present building, but the corner stone was not laid un-
til July 12th, 1855, when the Hon. Thomas Scott and myself had
the honor of delivering addresses on the occasion from a point
where the northeast pillar of the portico now stands.
Such was my personal connection with the building, on
whose frontage we have this day placed a tablet commemorating
'The site on which stood the first state house of Ohio wherein
was adopted the original constitution of the commonwealth."
THE FIRST CONSTITUTION.
WHAT INFLUENCED ITS ADOPTION AND ITS INFLUENCE ON OHIO.
Hon. Daniel J. Ryan was introduced by Judge J. C. Doug-
las, and spoke as follows:
Fellow citizens of Ohio:
In order to appreciate intelligently the event which we cele-
brate here to-day it is necessary that we have a clear conception
of the principal actors concerned
therein, and of the times and sur-
out their consultation or consent, are all events that form a back-
ground for a picture that has no parallel in American history.
And all these scenes were enacted in a theatre of intellect; the
12 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
only weapons were tongues and pens, but they were directed by
men who for brains and bravery are worthy of every tribute of
admiration and respect that the people of Ohio can to-day bestow
Six years prior to 1802, there came into the Scioto Valley a
young Virginian named Nathaniel Massie. He had served in the
Revolutionary War from his native State at the age of seventeen,
and at nineteen started to Kentucky to pursue his vocation of sur-
veying the public lands and placing warrants for soldiers of the
Revolution. He founded Manchester in Adams county, and
in 1796 penetrated the Scioto Valley, which was then a beau-
tiful but savagely wild territory. He located in the region about
us to-day and laid out Chillicothe. It is easy to understand how
he was attracted to this glorious land, which, then, as now, bore
all the evidence of the richnes of nature.
One of his companions in his tours of surveying and explor--
ation was John McDonald, afterward of Poplar Ridge in this
(Ross) county, and sixty-two years ago he wrote a description
of the land about Chillicothe as he saw it with Massie in 1796. His
little volume -"McDonald's Sketches"--is now exceedingly
rare and on that account I take the liberty to repeat in his plain
style what he wrote. His description of the surroundings of the
site selected by Massie for his town, and the condition of the same
territory to-day shows a wondrous transformation from a land of
savagery to the garden spot of a commonwealth of the highest
civilization. Here is his picture of the Scioto Valley in the spring
of 1796; "About four or five miles above the mouth of Paint
Creek, the river (Scioto) suddenly makes a bend, and runs a
short distance east, thence southeast to the mouth of Paint Creek.
That stream, the largest tributary of the Scioto, for four or five
miles above its mouth, runs almost parallel with the Scioto. Be-
tween these two streams there is a large and beautiful bottom,
four or five miles in length, and varying from one to two miles in
breadth, and contains within the space upwards of three thousand
acres. This bottom (as also the bottoms of the Scioto and Paint
Creek generally), is very fertile; the loam of alluvial formation
being from three to ten feet in depth. These bottoms, when first
settled, were generally covered by a heavy growth of timber, such
Centennial Celebration. 13
as black walnut, sugar tree, cherry, buckeye, hackberry and other
trees which denote a rich soil. A portion of them, however, were
found destitute of timber, and formed beautiful prairies, clothed
with blue grass and blue sedgegrass, which grew to the height of
from four to eight feet, and furnished a bountiful supply of pas-
ture in summer and hay in winter, for the live stock of the set-
tlers. The outer edges of these prairies were beautifully fringed
around with the plum tree, the red and black haw, the mulberry and
crab apple. In the month of May, when those nurseries of nature's
God were in full bloom, the sight was completely gratified, while
the fragrant and delicious perfume, which filled the surrounding
atmosphere, was sufficient to fill and lull the soul with ecstacies of
pleasure. The western boundary of this valley, between the two
streams, is a hill two or three hundred feet in height. Its base to
the south is closely washed by Paint Creek, and where this stream
first enters the valley, it terminates in an abrupt point, and then
extends up the valley of the Scioto, in a northwest and north
course, for many miles, and forms the western boundary of the
bottoms along that stream. From the point where the hill
abruptly terminates at Paint Creek, running north-northeast at
the distance of about one mile across the valley, you reach the
bank of the Scioto, at the sudden bend it makes to the east. The
valley between this bend of the Scioto and Paint Creek, immedi-
ately below the point of the hill, was selected as a site for the
town. This part of the valley was chosen, as it consisted of
high and dry land not subject to the floods of the river, which
frequently inundated the valley towards the mouth of Paint
It was amid these natural surroundings that Massie selected
the site that was to be the standing point, of a great, powerful,
wealthy and patriotic State.
The territory of the Scioto Valley had for centuries been the
selected living place of divers races of men. In the very dawn of
human knowledge it was populated by the mysterious race of
mound-builders and was the seat of their cities, camping places,
fortifications and altars. Attracted, doubtless, by the magnificent
soil, beautiful scenery and natural resources, both of the animal
and vegetable kingdom, they filled this valley in great numbers
14 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
until driven away or destroyed by a succeeding race. After them
came the Shawnees, famed for their bravery and numbers, and
occupied for perhaps centuries the land along the Scioto river
in their populous towns. They too, lived in this elysium of nat-
ural bliss, receiving from bounteous nature all that forest and
chase could give. The very beauty and richness of the land made
them guard it with such jealous spirit, that when Massie first
entered it, it was a great and expansive territory of danger and
death to the white man.
Chillicothe, in the very heart of the Virginian Military Dis-
trict, at once attracted immigration from Virginia. It was in
the midst of a great domain reserved by that State for the use
and settlement of her loyal sons that served in the war for inde-
pendence. The influx of settlers commenced as soon as the town
was laid out and even before the winter of 1796 it had stores and
taverns and shops for mechanics. The influence of civilized life
soon began to unfold and within a few years a substantial town
was in full operation, with a population of one thousand.
In the spring of 1798 there came to Chillicothe from Berkley
county, Virginia, one whose life and actions influenced the history
of Ohio in a greater degree than any man in its history. This
was Edward Tiffin. He played such an important part in subse-
quent events, including the first constitutional convention, that we
may well pause in our labors to-day to view a full length portrait
of his remarkable career. It will help us to understand his
power and the wonderful work he accomplished. He appeared
upon the scene of action in the Northwest Territory in its creative
period, when the work of moulding the destinies of a future
commonwealth was committed to the care of very few men. Head
and shoulders above them all stood Edward Tiffin. His subse-
quent official life displayed a greater general average of states-
manship than any of his contemporaries. He met successfully
all the opportunities and responsibilities of his life, which is the
best indication of ability. His work in creating, advancing and
developing Ohio has not been equalled by any man in its history.
His boyhood was spent in the city of Carlisle, England, where
he was born June 19, 1766. He emigrated to this country when
eighteen, and after an excellent medical education obtained in
Centennial Celebration. 15
the University of Pennsylvania, settled in Berkley county, Vir-
ginia. There amid the scenes and lives of the early Virginians
he spent several years as a quiet and successful physician. When
he came to Chillicothe he was still a physician, practicing with
marked success financially and professionally. In the sparsely
settled Scioto Valley his labors carried him over many miles of
travel, and he formed, the friendships that explains much of his
popularity in after years. He had decided views on politics; the
principles of Jefferson were adopted by him early in his Virginian
life, and his anti-Federal proclivities were well-known in his new
In 1799 the people of the Northwest Territory assumed the
legislative form of government and under the provisions of the
Ordinance of 1787, they elected a legislature, there being at that
time five thousand male voters in the territory. Dr. Tiffin was
sent as a representative from Chillicothe and upon the assembling
of the first Territorial Legislature at Cincinnati he was unani-
mously elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, which
position he held until Ohio became a State. He was a man of
strong religious and moral convictions. In his early life he was
an Episcopalian; in 1790 he associated himself with the Meth-
odist church and was consecrated by Francis Asbury, the mis-
sionary bishop, as a local preacher. Thus he brought into the
new territory beyond the Ohio, with his professional skill, the
still greater influence of the spiritual physician. In both capaci-
ties he firmly held the confidence of his fellow citizens throughout
his life. Upon his entry into the church he manumitted his
slaves, and his subsequent record shows how sincere were his
convictions on this subject. As President of the first Constitu-
tional Convention he won still greater honors and established his
reputation as a man of unquestioned ability; indeed so pro-
nounced and universal was this that he was elected Governor of
the new State in January, 1803, without opposition. He was re-
elected in 1805, without opposition, and in 1807 declined a third
term which public sentiment was ready to confer upon him. Dur-
ing his second term he summarily arrested the participants in the
Aaron Burr expedition, which resulted in the flight of Burr and
the breaking up of the conspiracy. His vigorous and prompt
16 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
measures on this occasion called forth a public letter of thanks
from President Jefferson. In 1807 he was elected United States
Senator from Ohio. While in the Senate he was the means of
securing much valuable legislation for the new State. Appro-
priations for the Ohio river, and for surveying the public lands
were obtained by him, and much of the same kind of practical
work which characterized him as Governor marked his Senatorial
term. He resigned in March 1809, owing to the death of his
wife. It so affected him that he determined to retire from public
life. Returning to his once happy home in Chillicothe, it was
his intention to spend his remaining days in peace, but notwith-
standing his desires his fellow-citizens elected him to the Legis-
lature, where he was unanimously elected Speaker of the House.
He was afterwards appointed Commissioner of the Land Office,
being the first to hold that office, he systematized the claims and
surveys of the public lands. He was in Washington in 1814
when it was burned by the British. President Madison, his
Cabinet and the heads of the departments fled like cowards in
the panic and all the public records of the American Republic
were destroyed except the records of the Land Commissioner's
office. Edward Tiffin stayed and saved the complete records of
his department. So complete, compact and systematic were they
maintained, and so cool and level-headed was their custodian that
they were removed to a place of concealment in Loudan county,
Virginia, ten miles out of Washington. All the other depart-
ments lost all their records; Edward Tiffin saved all of his. He
closed his life as Surveyor General of the West, which position
he held during the administration of Madison, Monroe, John
Quincy Adams and into Jackson's. He died here in Chillicothe
amidst the people who loved and honored him for more than a
third of a century, after a remarkable life of usefulness and dis-
This was the Edward Tiffin that confronted Arthur St. Clair
in the great contest for statehood which resulted in the convention,
the century of which we celebrate to-day. And Tiffin had a foe-
man worthy of his steel. Arthur St. Clair, the first and only
Governor of the Northwest Territory, was one of the most bril-
liant and distinguished military characters of the Revolutionary
Centennial Celebration. 17
War. A contemporary writer calls him "the great St. Clair,"
and while in the gubernatorial chair of the Northwest, Judge
Burnet marked him as "unquestionably a man of uprightness of
purpose, as well as suavity of manners." Courtly, scholarly and
honest, he was a fitting representative of the government in a
new land. St. Clair, as his name indicates, was of French origin
although his ancestors had for centuries lived in Scotland, where
he was born in 1734. He received his education at Edinburgh
University, and was indentured as a student of medicine. He
disliked this, and purchasing his time, he entered the English
army in 1757. He was in the French and Indian War, and served
under General Wolfe at Quebec, where his conduct was gallant
and effective. He resigned from the English army in 1762 and
settled down to civil life in Pennsylvania, where he filled many
positions of trust, honor and importance. When the colonies
rebelled against Great Britain, St. Clair threw his entire fortune
and enthusiasm on the side of his country. In 1775 he was
summoned to Philadelphia by a letter from John Hancock,
president of the Continental Congress, which was then in session.
His record from thence is a part of the history of the Republic.
He was then assistant and confidant of Washington; he was a
member of his military family and shared the hardships of Valley
Forge, together with the victories of many hard fought battles.
St. Clair, after the Revolution, retired to civil life. His fortune
was gone in the whirligig of war. He started into the Revolu-
tion a rich man; when peace was declared the riches had flown.
In 1786 he was in Congress from Pennsylvania, and as a hero of
two wars and a distinguished patriot he was elected its president
in 1787. This Congress formulated and passed the Ordinance
of 1787, under which St. Clair was nominated to the governor-
ship of the Northwest Territory, which occurred October 5th.
Governor St. Clair accepted his new honor with misgivings. He
says in his letters that it was forced upon him by his friends, who
expected that there was more pecuniary compensation attached
to it than events proved. It was supposed that the opportunities
for land speculation would be so great that St. Clair would make
money out of his advantages of position. But he was not so
inclined, nor did he expect such a result. He was satisfied with
2 Vol. XII
18 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
and frankly stated, that he had the "ambition of becoming the
father of a country and laying the foundation for the happiness
of millions then unborn." His unfortunate career as governor
showed that he thwarted in every way his expressed ambitions.
When Edward Tiffin entered upon the scene of action in the
Northwest Territory, Arthur St. Clair was an old man, worn
with the campaigns of war and the conflicts of politics. There
was little save its dignity to show that the classic face was that
of the handsome Ensign St. Clair, who used to wield the accom-
plishments of the drawing-room among the Bowdoins and Bayards
of Boston thirty years before.
The entrance of the followers of Thomas Jefferson into the
Northwest Territory was the commencement of a political war
against Governor St. Clair that for persistency and bitterness was
equal to the famous controversy of Alexander Hamilton and
Aaron Burr. Edward Tiffin had as his chief associates and lieu-
tenants, Nathaniel Massie, Thomas Worthington, Jeremiah Mor-
row and Return J. Meigs, Jr., all men of the highest character
and inspired by noble ambitions. They believed in the people;
they were not only opposed to the Federalistic principles of St.
Clair, but resented the arbitrary and offensive methods of his
administration. The Scotch governor knew of but two ways to
control or govern men; they were to pull them or drive them.
The Virginians would stand for neither method. So their oppo-
sition to St. Clair went not only to his principles, but to his
methods. His exercise of the veto power invited the strongest
opposition. He was an advocate of strong government. He did
not believe in conferring on the citizen the fullest powers and
responsibilities of American citizenship. He favored property
qualification for electors. He got into a controversy with the
Legislature over his own powers and prerogatives. He claimed
and exercised the power of locating county seats and erecting
new counties. This the Legislature denied, and attempted to
enact laws on this subject which he promptly vetoed. In his
contest with the Virginians he was supported by other able Fed-
eralists in the persons of General Putnam, Dr. Cutler and
Judge Jacob Burnett.
Centennial Celebration. 19
It is not essential to our purpose to go into the details of
the controversy that waged in the Territory from 1799 to 1802.
There were acts of Congress, of the Territorial Legislature, and
of the Governor, that furnished food for the bitterest contests.
The Virginians were playing for the greatest stake in American
politics-a state of the Union. The Federalists were making
their last stand, struggling for power both in the East and the
West. It was almost pathetic to see the noble compatriot of
Washington bending beneath the new storm that was arising.
The reign of the people was abroad in the Northwest. Whatever
virtue of Washington's, Hamilton's and St. Clair's Federal views
as to concentrated power had in the then populous East, they
were not respected by the yeoman of Ohio. The settler who
fought his way into the heart of the Great West believed that
he should have a full share in its government. And this was
why the position of Tiffin was popular with the voters of his
day. In the face of almost insuperable impediments, Tiffin won
his fight for statehood.
The enabling act of Congress providing for the erection of
the new state was approved April 30, 1802. It fixed the bound-
aries and provided for holding the constitutional convention on
the first Monday of the following November. Edward Tiffin
was very naturally elected to that body, and was as naturally
selected as its president. His belief in the people is prevalent
upon nearly every page of the organic law. The very first ques-
tion of criticism that always arises in a consideration of this
convention and of the constitution which it produced is that
relative to the fact that that instrument was never submitted to
the people for adoption or inspection. How did it develop that
these men who made such a magnificent struggle for popular
rights failed to submit their work to the people? A single refer-
ence to the enabling act will show the reason for the apparent
dereliction. The fifth section provides that the convention shall
first determine whether it is expedient to form a state constitu-
tion and government. This it did on the third day by a vote of
32 to 1. The only opposing vote being Ephraim Cutler of
20 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
Such a conclusion being arrived at, the act specifically author-
ized the convention "to form a constitution and state govern-
ment." It required no approval of the people. There was no
legal machinery provided to secure such expression. It was the
evident intent of the framers of the act in question to commit
the whole and exclusive duty of forming the first constitution
of Ohio to the convention. The theory on which the convention
was formed was that under the act of Congress it (the conven-
tion) was a strictly representative body, acting for and in the
name of the sovereign people, and that it possessed by actual
transfer all the inherent power of the sovereign, limited only by
the constitution of the United States. In other words, it was
a virtual assemblage of the people, of whom, by reason of their
great numbers and remoteness from each other, an actual con-
stitutional convention was impossible. They met clothed with
all the power the sovereign would have if gathered together.
The convention might say what Louis XIV said: "We are the
State." The soundness of this position is strengthened when
we search the records on the adoption of the constitutions of
other states. The result shows that the following submitted
their first constitution to the people for expression: California,
Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Min-
nesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, West
Virginia and Wisconsin, fifteen in number. The states which
did not submit their first constitution to the people are as follows:
Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey,
New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Illi-
nois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire,
Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vermont; in all twenty-
one states whose conventions, with that of Ohio, regarded them-
selves as the sovereign source of power. So far as this feature
of the first constitutional convention is concerned, it may be
regarded as settled that it was neither extraordinary, nor without
dignified and patriotic precedent.
The spirit of the contest which culminated in statehood
seemed to run through the constitution. The executive branch of
the state government was stripped of all authority. It left the
name of "governor" to apply to an office that had more honor
Centennial Celebration. 21
and dignity than power. The men who controlled the convention
did not believe in dividing legislative power, and therefore gave
to the general assembly sole power of making laws. They did
not propose that the governor should interfere by veto power
of the people. And it can be truthfully said as a tribute to these
views of Tiffin and the men of 1802, that after a hundred years
there has not developed a sufficiently different public sentiment
to change the active veto principle of their organic law. Next
year the people of Ohio vote on an amendment to their constitu-
tion expressly granting the governor the right of veto. I do
not believe there will be any change from the original idea intro-
duced in the first constitution. The total absence of property
qualifications for office is another indication of the antagonism
of the convention to the views of St. Clair. They seemed determ-
ined to outlaw every element of aristocracy. This provision has
also stood test of two subsequent constitutional conventions, and
stands firmer in our organic law than ever.
In apportioning the sovereign power of the people among
their official agents the convention gave by far the greater power
to the Legislature. The right to make all the laws without any
limitation but constitution itself has been carried up to modern
times. The money of the state was committed wholly to the
legislature and that is where it is today.
The general provisions of the bill of rights and the specific
powers of the state government have been practically those under
which the people of Ohio have lived for one hundred years. The
second constitution of Ohio adopted in 1851 by a vote of the
people followed throughout substantially the government lines
laid down by the first constitutional conventions. The changes
introduced were the result of the advanced progress of the state
rather than a difference of constitutional ideas.
When Thomas Jefferson expressed his opinion to Jeremiah
Morrow in 1803 on the constitution he approved it generally,
except the provision relating to the erection of the judiciary,
which he thought was too restricted for the future wants of the
state. He said, "They had legislated too much." Whatever was
done by the men of the first convention their descendants followed
22 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
them in 1851, for the same restrictions are apparent in the
The satisfaction which the original constitution gave the
people of the state is illustrated by their refusal to change it for
fifty years. When Thomas Worthington was governor in 1817,
he recommended the holding of a convention to form a new
constitution. Afterwards, in 1818, Governor Ethan Allen Brown
made a similar recommendation, and in 1819 the question of
a second constitutional convention was submitted to the people
of Ohio, and in a total vote of 36,302 was rejected by a majority
of 22,328 votes.
The principal objection to the original constitution was the
fact that the judiciary and state officers were appointed by a
joint ballot of both houses of the General Assembly. Jefferson
saw this would give trouble in the future. Its operations as after-
wards developed, caused scandal, contention and disgrace, and
hence the demand of Governors Worthington and Brown for an
opportunity to change.
This conflict between the judiciary and the legislature com-
menced in 1818 and lasted for several years to the great dis-
turbance of the proper administration of law. It appears that in
1805 the legislature gave justices of the peace jurisdiction without
a jury to the amount of fifty dollars. As the constitution of the
United States guaranteed trial by jury to the suits in which over
twenty dollars was involved the Supreme Court very properly
in a case before it, decided the law void and unconstitutional,
for the Constitution of Ohio provided that "the right of trial by
jury shall be inviolate." The judicial decision was constructed
as an insult by the Legislature. As a result resolutions of
impeachment ere preferred in the Sixth General Assembly
against Judges Huntington and Tod of the Supreme Court, and
Judge Pease, presiding judge of the Third Circuit. Nothing was
done at this session. While these articles of impeachment were
pending Judge Huntington was elected governor, and of course
resigned the judgeship. But the efforts at impeachment went
on. Charges, however, were not made against Governor Hun-
tington, but were preferred against Judges Tod and Pease.
Centennial Celebration. 23
Their answer to the charges of impeachment was the Con-
stitutions of the United States and the State of Ohio. The result
was an acquittal in both cases. Another incident growing out of
the legislative power conferred by the first constitution was the
sweeping resolution passed in 1819. This resolution passed in
January swept out of office every judge of the Supreme Court,
and the Court of Common Pleas, the secretary of state, the
auditor, the treasurer of state, and also all the justices of the
peace throughout the state. This resulted in interminable con-
flict and contusion, but it was the exercise of the power of the
If it were not for this single feature which caused these vio-
lent party strifes there is every probability that we would be living
under the constitution of 1802 today. Indeed, a reference to the
political literature of the time preceding the holding of the con-
vention of 1851, will show that the election of the judiciary and
other state offices was the most potent argument used in favoring
a new constitution.
This convention that laid the political foundations of the state
of Ohio so heavy and deep that substantially, they have never
been changed, was formed of strong men. Out of the thirty-five
all but two of them were from Southern and Southeastern Ohio.
The Western Reserve played little part in this great work. She
opposed both the territorial government and the state government.
It is to the men who came from Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania
and New York that the credit for the founding of Ohio must be
given. They were the characters that dominated the first con-
vention. It was their ideas of government that were injected
into the first Constitution, and for the first fifty and the last fifty
years of the state those ideas have prevailed. And the one man
who conducted all, who influenced all, who executed all, was the
minister, physician, parliamentarian, governor, senator and honest
man -Edward Tiffin, of Chillicothe.