Much like the U.S. State of West Virginia, Ohio was originally inhabited by the Adena Culture, also known as the Mound Builders. These people lived in the Ohio Valley for many centuries and remnants of their fascinating culture remain to this day as an integral part of Ohio history. A variety of Native American tribes followed the Adenas into this fertile landscape; they lived happily on indigenous animals, beans and corn, but their idyllic lifestyle would soon change forever.
In 1669, the French explorer Robert de La Salle traveled through the Ohio River Valley; he claimed the entire area for France, and his King, Louis XIV. Soon the flood gates opened, and this land beyond the Allegheny Mountains proved irresistible, especially to the British.
In 1750, Christopher Gist, a surveyor for the British "Ohio Company" reported that "This Ohio Country is fine, rich, level land, well-timbered with large walnut, ash, sugar trees ... it is well watered and full of beautiful natural meadows, abounding with turkeys, deer, elk and most sorts of game, particularly buffaloes. In short, it wants nothing but cultivation to make it a most delightful country." A tempting testimonial indeed to would be settlers and entrepreneurs.
This land claimed by France and coveted by Britain, soon was ground-zero in the French and Indian War (1754-1763), as both European powers fought for total control of North America. In the end, the British dealt crushing blows to the French and their Indian allies.
Shortly after that conflict's end, the British placed this land above the Ohio River within the boundaries of Canada. That action, and new taxes imposed by England on the original thirteen colonies, were sparks that ignited the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783).
During the War for Independence, the remaining Native Americans fought on both sides of the conflict. When the British army finally surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781, the British (by terms of the 1783 Treaty of Paris) ceded all claims to the Ohio Territory.
In 1787, the United States formed a governmental region called the Northwest Territory. It encompassed all of its land to the west of Pennsylvania and northwest of the Ohio River, including present-day Ohio, as well as modern-day Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and the northeastern edges of Minnesota.
With vast quantities of choice land now available, thousands of settlers (many from Pennsylvania and New York) arrived on barges and flatboats along the very-navigable waters of the Ohio River.
By 1801, the Ohio Territory's population surged to nearly 50,000. By 1802, because of its rapid growth, the U.S. Congress authorized the residents to form the state of Ohio and join the Union. A state convention drafted a constitution, and in 1803, Ohio entered the Union as the 17th state with Chillicothe as its first capital; Columbus became the permanent capital in 1816.
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