On This Day: February 14, 1812

In 1812, the capital of Ohio was Chillicothe, a former Shawnee settlement. On this day in 1812 the future site of Columbus was decided to be the new capital.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

The Ohio General Assembly voted on Feb. 14, 1812, to move the state capital to a nameless tract on the high ground east of Franklinton and the Scioto River that was owned by four Franklinton land merchants, laying the foundation for the city of Columbus.

“Columbus has the unique distinction of having been born a capital. Its origin dates from the hour when the General Assembly of the State passed an act making it the seat of government. Until then it was an Indian hunting ground, covered with the primeval forest,” historian Alfred E. Lee wrote in his 1892 The History of the City of Columbus.

Chillicothe was Ohio’s first capital, but it lost the position as the seat of state government in 1810 to Zanesville, where the citizens built a Statehouse and invited the legislature to move in. In 1812, the government decamped back to Chillicothe while looking for a spot closer to the state’s center.

The Columbus proposal by the four landowners — Lynn Starling, John Kerr, Alexander McLaughlin and James Johnston — called for them to give the state 10 acres in the center of the community and another 10 acres on an out lot, and to build a stone or brick statehouse, penitentiary and other buildings with a total value of $50,000 — by Dec. 1, 1817.

Legislators from other parts of the state started sniping within days about the decision to move the government to Columbus.

On Feb. 21, 1812, a protest was filed in the Ohio House that called the capital legislation “ injurious to the public interest” because of, among other things, the “unhealthfullness of the place chosen.”

Later that month, state Rep. Joseph Foos of Franklin County proposed that the as-yet-unnamed capital be called Columbus after the famous explorer. A competing suggestion, Ohio City, died in the House.

Columbus beat out other central Ohio sites for a capital city, including Circleville, Delaware, Dublin, Lancaster, Newark and Worthington.

Fanciful tales abound about how the legislators’ votes were won. One says that Columbus backers got a legislator drunk to persuade him to vote against Worthington. Another says the deciding vote was won in a poker game.

This entry was posted by drocha on Friday, February 14th, 2014 at 12:01 am and is filed under On This Day . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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