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Corydon played significant role in history

Celebrating Statehood
Corydon played significant role in history Corydon played significant role in history
Karen Schwartz, Special to The Corydon Democrat

The historic town of Corydon has a rich legacy of significant events in early territorial and statehood days.
The following provides a listing of nine of these historic ‘firsts’ that occurred during Corydon’s early days.
1. William Henry Harrison early owner. William Henry Harrison, who later went on to become the ninth president of the United States, named the town of Corydon after a young boy who dies in the period song ‘Pastoral Elegy.’ Harrison also owned the land where the town of Corydon now stands.
2. Second territorial capital. Corydon served as the second territorial capital of the Indiana Territory from 1813 to 1816. The territorial capital moved to Corydon from Vincennes after the Illinois Territory was carved off the western border of the Indiana Territory, leaving Vincennes vulnerable to attacks. Indiana’s territorial legislature met in Corydon from 1813 to 1816.
3. First constitution of the State of Indiana. Indiana’s first constitution was drafted June 10 through 29, 1816, in Corydon with parts being composed under the shade of the famed Constitution Elm tree.
4. First state capital of Indiana. Numerous Southern Indiana communities vied to serve as the first state capital of Indiana. Corydon was selected and filled the role as the first state capital of the newly formed 19th state of Indiana from 1816 to 1825, when the capital was moved to Indianapolis.
5. First sessions of the Indiana State Legislature. Indiana’s first General Assembly convened in the First State Capitol Building in Corydon on Nov. 4, 1816, with 10 senators (upstairs) and 29 representatives (downstairs.)
6. First sessions of the Indiana State Supreme Court. Indiana’s first Supreme Court was held in Corydon on May 5, 1817, with Judges Jesse L. Holman, John Johnson and James Scott presiding.
7. First officers of the State of Indiana resided in Corydon during the Capital period. During the years when Indiana’s state government convened in Corydon, many of Indiana’s first state officers lived in Corydon out of necessity. These included Gov. Jonathan Jennings (1816-1822), Gov. William Hendricks (1822-1825), Secretary of State Robert A. New (1816-1825), State Auditor William H. Lilly (1816-1825), State Treasurer Daniel C. Lane (1816-1822) and State Treasurer Samuel Merrill (1823-1825).
8. First Indiana State Medical Society. The First State Medical Society was organized in Corydon in 1820 by Dr. David Gibson Mitchell. He was a brother-in-law of Gov. Jennings and became president of the Society.
9. First court case in which white men were tried for crimes against Native Americans. In the spring of 1824, a group of white men were accused and convicted of killing a party of Native American men, women and children camped along Fall Creek at Pendleton. This was a precedent-setting case since crimes by white men against Native Americans were not prosecuted. One of the men, Hudson, appealed his case to the Indiana Supreme Court meeting upstairs in the First State Capitol Building in Corydon. On Nov. 13, 1824, an opinion written by Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Isaac Blackford upheld the lower court’s ruling and rejected every point of Hudson’s appeal. Hudson was hanged on Jan. 12, 1825, in Pendleton; the other three were hanged on June 3, 1825, also in Pendleton.
Karen Schwartz, president of the Historical Society of Harrison County, serves on the legacy group of the Harrison County Committee for the Indiana Bicentennial. In preparation of Indiana’s bicentennial in 2016, she is providing a monthly column ‘ focusing on a person, place or event from Harrison County’s history ‘ that gives insight to our history. She said the columns should serve as an introduction and/or summary of a topic but are not intended to include all known facts and information. To suggest a topic, contact Schwartz at 812-736-2373 or 812-738-2828, by e-mail at [email protected] or by regular mail at 5850 Devil’s Elbow Road NW, Corydon, IN 47112.

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