Ohio is a Midwestern state of the United States. Part of the Great Lakes region, Ohio has long been a cultural and geographical crossroads.
At the time of European contact and in the years that followed, Native Americans in today’s Ohio included the Iroquois, Miamis, and Wyandots.
Beginning in the 1700s, the area was settled by people from New England, the Middle States, Appalachia, and the upper south.
Prior to 1984, the United States Census Bureau considered Ohio part of the North Central Region.
That region was renamed “Midwest” and split into two divisions. Ohio is now in the East North Central States division.
Ohio also has the highest population density of any state not on the Eastern Seaboard.
Ohio was the first state admitted to the Union under the Northwest Ordinance.
Its U.S. postal abbreviation is OH; its old-style abbreviation was O. Natives of Ohio are known as Ohioans.
The name “Ohio” is derived from the Seneca word ohi:yo’, meaning “beautiful river” or “large creek”, which was originally the name of both the Ohio River and Allegheny River.
Ohio’s capital is Columbus, located close to the center of the state.
The executive branch is made up of six officers: Governor and lieutenant governor, Secretary of state, Attorney general, Auditor, and Treasurer. Governor Ted Strickland took office as governor in January 2007.
The legislative branch of Ohio government, the Ohio General Assembly, is made up of two houses–the senate, which has 33 members, and the house of representatives, which has 99 members.
The judicial branch is headed by the supreme court, which has one chief justice and six associate justices.
In the United States federal government, Ohio has 18 seats in the United States House of Representatives.
Ohio’s geographic location has proved to be an asset for economic growth and expansion.
Because Ohio links the Northeast to the Midwest, much cargo and business traffic passes through its borders on its well-developed highways.
Ohio has the nation’s 10th largest highway network, and is within a one-day drive of 50% of North America’s population and 70% of North America’s manufacturing capacity.
To the North, Lake Erie gives Ohio 312 miles (502 km) of coastline, which allows for numerous seaports. Ohio’s southern border is defined by the Ohio River (with the border being at the 1793 low-water mark on the north side of the river), and much of the northern border is defined by Lake Erie. Ohio’s neighbors are Pennsylvania to the east, Michigan to the northwest, Ontario Canada,to the north, Indiana to the west, Kentucky on the south, and West Virginia on the southeast.
Ohio’s borders were defined by metes and bounds in the Enabling Act of 1802 as follows:
“ Bounded on the east by the Pennsylvania line, on the south by the Ohio River, to the mouth of the Great Miami River, on the west by the line drawn due north from the mouth of the Great Miami aforesaid, and on the north by an east and west line drawn through the southerly extreme of Lake Michigan, running east after intersecting the due north line aforesaid, from the mouth of the Great Miami until it shall intersect Lake Erie or the territorial line, and thence with the same through Lake Erie to the Pennsylvania line aforesaid. ”
Note that Ohio is bounded by the Ohio River, but nearly all of the river itself belongs to Kentucky and West Virginia.
In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court held that, based on the wording of the cessation of territory by Virginia (which, at that time included what is now Kentucky and West Virginia), the boundary between Ohio and Kentucky (and by implication, West Virginia) is the northern low-water mark of the river as it existed in 1792.
Ohio has only that portion of the river between the river’s 1792 low-water mark and the present high-water mark.
The border with Michigan has also changed, as a result of the Toledo War, to angle slightly northeast to the north shore of the mouth of the Maumee River.
Much of Ohio features glaciated plains, with an exceptionally flat area in the northwest being known as the Great Black Swamp.
This glaciated region in the northwest and central state is bordered to the east and southeast first by a belt known as the glaciated Allegheny Plateau, and then by another belt known as the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau. Most of Ohio is of low relief, but the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau features rugged hills and forests.
The rugged southeastern quadrant of Ohio, stretching in an outward bow-like arc along the Ohio River from the West Virginia Panhandle to the outskirts of Cincinnati, forms a distinct socio-economic unit.
Known somewhat erroneously as Ohio’s “Appalachian Counties” (they are actually in the Allegheny Plateau), this area’s coal mining legacy, dependence on small pockets of old manufacturing establishments, and even distinctive regional dialect set this section off from the rest of the state and, unfortunately, create a limited opportunity to participate in the generally high economic standards of Ohio.
In 1965 the United States Congress passed the Appalachian Regional Development Act, at attempt to “address the persistent poverty and growing economic despair of the Appalachian Region.”
This act defines 29 Ohio counties as part of Appalachia.
While 1/3 of Ohio’s land mass is part of the federally defined Appalachian region, only 12.8% of Ohioans live there (1.476 million people.)
Significant rivers within the state include the Cuyahoga River, Great Miami River, Maumee River, Muskingum River, and Scioto River.
The rivers in the northern part of the state drain into the northern Atlantic Ocean via Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence River, and the rivers in the southern part of the state drain into the Gulf of Mexico via the Ohio and then the Mississippi.
The worst weather disaster in Ohio history occurred along the Great Miami River in 1913.
Known as the Great Dayton Flood, the entire Miami River watershed flooded, including the downtown business district of Dayton. As a result, the Miami Conservancy District was created as the first major flood plain engineering project in Ohio and the United States.
Grand Lake St. Marys in the west central part of the state was constructed as a supply of water for canals in the canal-building era of 1820–1850.
For many years this body of water, over 20 square miles (52 km²), was the largest artificial lake in the world.
It should be noted that Ohio’s canal-building projects were not the economic fiasco that similar efforts were in other states.
Some cities, such as Dayton, owe their industrial emergence to location on canals, and as late as 1910 interior canals carried much of the bulk freight of the state.
The climate of Ohio is a humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa) throughout most of the state except in the extreme southern counties of Ohio’s Bluegrass region section which are located on the northern periphery of the humid subtropical climate and Upland South region of the United States.
Summers are typically hot and humid throughout the State, while winters generally range from cool to cold.
Precipitation in Ohio is moderate year-round. Severe weather is not uncommon in the state, although there are typically fewer tornadoes in Ohio than in states located in the so-called Tornado Alley.
Severe lake effect snowstorms are also not uncommon on the southeast shore of Lake Erie, which is located in an area designated as the Snowbelt.
Although predominantly not in a subtropical climate, some warmer-climate flora and fauna does reach well into Ohio.
For instance, a number of trees with more southern ranges, such as the blackjack oak, Quercus marilandica, are found at their northernmost in Ohio just north of the Ohio River.
Also evidencing this climatic transition from a subtropical to continental climate, several plants such as the Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), Albizia julibrissin (mimosa), Crape Myrtle, and even the occasional Needle Palm are hardy landscape materials regularly used as street, yard, and garden plantings in the Bluegrass region of Ohio; but these same plants will simply not thrive in much of the rest of the State.
This interesting change may be observed while traveling through Ohio on Interstate 75 from Cincinnati to Toledo; the observant traveler of this diverse state may even catch a glimpse of Cincinnati’s common wall lizard, one of the few examples of permanent “subtropical” fauna in Ohio.
After the so-called Beaver Wars, the powerful Iroquois confederation of the New York-area claimed much of the Ohio country as a hunting and, probably most importantly, a beaver-trapping ground.
After the devastation of epidemics and war in the mid-1600s, which had largely emptied the Ohio country of indigenous people by the mid-to-late seventeenth century, the land gradually became repopulated by the mostly Algonquian-speaking descendants of its ancient inhabitants, that is, descendants of the Adena, Hopewell, and Mississippian cultures.
Many of these Ohio-country nations were multi-ethnic and sometimes multi-linguistic societies born out of the earlier devastation brought about by disease, subsequent social instability, Iroquois.
They subsisted on agriculture (corn, sunflowers, beans, etc.) supplemented by seasonal hunts.
By the 1650s they were very much part of a larger global economy brought about by fur trade.
The indigenous nations to inhabit Ohio in the historical period (most clearly after 1700), included the Miamis (a large confederation), Wyandots (made up of refugees, especially from the fractured Huron confederacy), Delawares (pushed west from their historic homeland in New Jersey), Shawnees (also pushed west, although they may be descended from the Fort Ancient people of Ohio), Ottawas (more commonly associated with the upper Great Lakes region), Mingos (like the Wyandot, a recently-formed composite of refugees from Iroquois and other societies), and Eries (gradually absorbed into the new, multi-ethnic “republics,” namely the Wyandot).
Ohio country was also the site of Indian massacres, such as the Yellow Creek Massacre (Chief Logan) and Gnadenhutten.
Colonial and Revolutionary Eras
During the 18th century, the French set up a system of trading posts to control the fur trade in the region.
In 1754, France and Great Britain fought a war known in the United States as the French and Indian War.
As a result of the Treaty of Paris, the French ceded control of Ohio and the rest of the Old Northwest to Great Britain.
Pontiac’s Rebellion in the 1760s challenged British military control, which ended with the American victory in the American Revolution. In the Treaty of Paris in 1783 Britain ceded all claims to Ohio to the United States.
Northwest Territory: 1787-1803
The United States created the Northwest Territory under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.
Slavery was not permitted. Settlement began with the founding of Marietta by the Ohio Company of Associates, which had been formed by a group of American Revolutionary War veterans.
Following the Ohio Company, the Miami Company (also referred to as the “Symmes Purchase”) claimed the southwestern section and the Connecticut Land Company surveyed and settled the Connecticut Western Reserve in present-day Northeast Ohio. The old Northwest Territory originally included areas that had previously been known as Ohio Country and Illinois Country.
As Ohio prepared for statehood, Indiana Territory was created, reducing the Northwest Territory to approximately the size of present-day Ohio plus the eastern half of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and the eastern tip of the Upper Peninsula.
Under the Northwest Ordinance, any of the states to be formed out of the Northwest Territory would be admitted as a state once the population exceeded 60,000.
Although Ohio’s population numbered only 45,000 in December 1801, Congress determined that the population was growing rapidly and Ohio could begin the path to statehood with the assumption that it would exceed 60,000 residents by the time it would become a state.
Statehood: 1803 – present
Eight U.S. presidents hailed from Ohio at the time of their elections, giving rise to the nickname “Mother of Presidents”, a sobriquet it shares with Virginia.
Seven presidents were born in Ohio, making it second to Virginia’s eight, but Virginia-born William Henry Harrison and his grandson, Benjamin Harrison, (who also lived part of his adult life in Indiana) settled in, led their political careers from and/or were buried in North Bend, Ohio, on the family compound, founded by William’s father-in-law John Cleves Symmes.
In 1835, Ohio fought a mostly bloodless boundary war with Michigan over the Toledo Strip known as the Toledo War.
Congress intervened and, as a condition for admittance as a state of the Union, Michigan was forced to accept the western two-thirds of the Upper Peninsula, in addition to the eastern third that was already part of the state, in exchange for giving up its claim to the Toledo Strip.
(A war between two states may be unusual, but the Toledo War is not unique; Pennsylvania and Maryland fought Cresap’s War over a border dispute a century earlier.)
Ohio’s central position and its population gave it an important place during the Civil War, and the Ohio River was a vital artery for troop and supply movements, as were Ohio’s railroads. At the end of the Civil War, three top Union generals were all from Ohio: Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan. Ohio also contributed more soldiers per-capita than any other state in the Union.
In 1912 a Constitutional Convention was held with Charles B. Galbreath as Secretary.
The result reflected the concerns of the Progressive Era. It introduced the initiative and the referendum, allowed the General Assembly to put questions on the ballot for the people to ratify laws and constitutional amendments originating in the Legislature as well.
Under the Jeffersonian principle that laws should be reviewed once a generation, the constitution provided for a recurring question to appear on Ohio’s general election ballots every 20 years.
The question asks whether a new convention is required. Although the question has appeared in 1932, 1952, 1972, and 1992, it has never been approved.
Instead constitutional amendments have been proposed by petition to the legislature hundreds of times and adopted in a majority of cases.
On February 19, 1803, President Jefferson signed an act of Congress that approved Ohio’s boundaries and constitution. However, Congress had never passed a resolution formally admitting Ohio as the 17th state.
The current custom of Congress declaring an official date of statehood did not begin until 1812, with Louisiana’s admission as the 18th state. Although no formal resolution of admission was required, when the oversight was discovered in 1953, Ohio congressman George H. Bender 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 into the Union.
Ohio is a major producer of machines, tires and rubber products, steel, processed foods, tools, and other manufactured goods.
This is not immediately obvious because Ohio specializes in capital goods (goods used to make other goods, such as machine tools, automobile parts, industrial chemicals, and plastic moldings). Nevertheless, there are well known Ohio consumer items including some Procter & Gamble products, Smuckers jams and jellies, and Day-Glo paints.
There are also numerous automobile plants in Ohio that manufacture cars, most notably the Jeep plant in Toledo, where the vehicles have been made since their initial release in World War II. Honda, Ford, and General Motors also have or had automobile plants in Ohio; in the case of the latter, one of their plants in Ohio (Lordstown Assembly, near Youngstown) is located right off the Ohio Turnpike with its own exit.
Ohio is the site of the invention of the airplane, resulting from the experiments of the Wright brothers in Dayton. (Wright State University located in Dayton is named in their honor.)
Production of aircraft in the USA is now centered elsewhere, but a large experimental and design facility, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has been located near Dayton and serves in the co-ordination of production of US military aircraft.
On the base are located Wright Hill and Huffman Prairie, where many of the earliest aerodynamic experiments of the Wright brothers were performed. Ohio today also has many aerospace, defense, and NASA parts and systems suppliers scattered throughout the state.
As part of the Corn Belt, agriculture also plays an important role in the state’s economy. There is also a small commercial fishing sector on Lake Erie, and the principal catch is yellow perch.
In addition, Ohio’s historical attractions, varying landscapes, and recreational opportunities are the basis for a thriving tourist industry. Over 2,500 lakes and 43,000 miles (70,000 km) of river landscapes are a paradise for boaters, fishermen, and swimmers. Of special historical interest are the Native American archaeological sites—including grave mounds and other sites.
According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture Ohio in 2001 ranked as 1st in Swiss cheese, 2nd in eggs,3rd in tomatoes, 5th in milk, 6th in corn, 6th in soybean, 8th in grapes, 9th in hogs, 9th in floriculture, and 11th in apples.
Two major amusement parks, Cedar Point, and Kings Island, are also important to the tourism industry. Ohio’s Amish country is also a major pull for the State’s tourism industry.
Though still forming itself, tourism is becoming a major industry in Cleveland, especially medical tourism.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Ohio’s gross state product in 2004 was $419 billion. In 2006 the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Ohio’s gross state product was $461.3 billion ranking it 7th in the nation. If Ohio was its own nation in would be ranked 17th in GDP ranked behind the Netherlands and above Belgium.
Per capita personal income in 2003 was $30,129, 25th in the nation. Ohio’s agricultural outputs are soybeans, dairy products, corn, tomatoes, hogs, cattle, poultry, and eggs.
Its industrial outputs are transportation equipment, fabricated metal products, machinery, food processing, and electricity equipment. According to the 2007 Fortune list Ohio had 28 Fortune 500 companies (ranked 5th nationally) and 60 Fortune 1000 companies (also ranked 5th nationally). 3 Ohio cities (Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland) have 5 or more Fortune 500 Companies (ranked 2nd behind Texas among the states.
Ohio is recognized for its health care, due to several flagship hospitals that operate in the northeast region of the state.
The Cleveland Clinic, ranked among the three leading hospitals in the U.S., has its world headquarters and main campus in Cleveland. Its partner, the University Hospitals of Cleveland health system, includes the Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, ranked among the top ten children’s hospitals in the country.
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is the leading center for research into childhood diseases in the state.