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Constitution returns to Corydon

Constitution returns to Corydon
Constitution returns to Corydon
Jim Corridan holds a replica of the 1816 Indiana Constitution last Wednesday afternoon while making his way in a horse-drawn carriage to the First State Capitol Building. Photo by Ross Schulz

One of the featured days of the year-long bicentennial celebration was last Wednesday when the original 1816 Indiana Constitution made its way home to Corydon.
It was accompanied by the 1851 Constitution, which the state operates under today.
‘President North, I temporarily place in your hands the 1816 Constitution which last resided in this town in 1824,’ Jim Corridan said during a brief ceremony to Corydon Town Council president Eva Bates North, placing an emphasis on the word ‘temporarily.’
Joining Corridan, the state archivist and director of the Indiana Archives and Records Administration, and North were town council members John D. Kintner, Chris Mattingly and Roger (Buck) McGraw.
‘On behalf of Gov. Pence, the legislators of this state and the Supreme Court of Indiana, it is my privilege to ask you to join with us to celebrate Indiana’s bicentennial and honor the birth of this great state, which had its beginning in this very town,’ Corridan said.
Corridan spoke in front of the Old State Capitol Building shortly after arriving via a horse-drawn carriage as part of a procession through downtown Corydon from the Fred Cammack Corydon Farmers Market to the capitol building.
‘It was amazing,’ Corridan said of the folks lined up for the procession. ‘So many people with cameras.’
The original constitutions were in safe keeping while replicas were used for the ceremony.
The real constitutions are on display at the First State Office Building as part of the ‘Birth of a State, The Indiana Exhibit’ through June 29, which coincides with the Constitutional Convention which met in Corydon June 10 through 29, 1816.
The exhibit, which opened Friday, also includes portraits of William Henry Harrison, Jonathan Jennings and more, along with other artwork and historical artifacts and information.
The first exhibit room focuses on the territorial heritage of the state and pays homage to the first European settlers of the area and includes a document, written in French, from 1786.
The next room is the Statehood room; it includes the two constitutions, a piece of the Constitution Elm, the first state flag (called the state banner at the time) and more.
The 1816 Constitution is open to Section 11, which mentions Corydon, the only town or city inked in the entire written document, as the capital.
Corridan said the constitution was unique because it was the first in the nation to mandate free education for all of its citizens all the way up through college.
It also called for no slavery or indentured servitude. This particular section of the Constitution could never be changed or banished, which Corridan said was quite peculiar and unique for the time.
He also noted that French documents showed slavery existed on the land long before the United States was even a thought.
Visitors are welcome to tour the free exhibit Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. through June 29. Donations are welcome.