Indiana At 200
Once runaway slaves made it to the home of Levi and Catharine Coffin in eastern Indiana, they were safe — truly safe. To the best of Levi Coffin’s knowledge, every slave who passed through his Underground Railroad station made his way to freedom.
Today his poems are written off as the sentimental musings of a time gone by. During his life, James Whitcomb Riley ranked with Longfellow and Twain as a best-selling author, and his works were required reading in virtually every school.
James Whitcomb Riley was the most acclaimed, but he wasn’t the first Hoosier poet to gain national fame. Sarah T. Bolton deserves that honor. Even today her poem “Paddle Your Own Canoe” is cited and recited, though few know anything about its origins.
Like other pioneers, they came to Indiana in search of land and liberty and, for the most part, found both. Beginning in the 1820s and continuing until the eve of the Civil War, free African-Americans migrated in family groups to Indiana and established farming societies that valued hard wor…
When the first classes were held in 1824, Indiana University had one professor, 10 male students, and no building to call its own. The only subjects offered were Latin and Greek. Today, more than 3,000 professors teach 47,000 students on a campus graced by limestone buildings and woodland pa…
A half-century after the Declaration of Independence was issued, the Frenchman who helped the United States win the American Revolution returned to this country on a victory tour. It was a landmark event for cities on his itinerary. Jeffersonville, Ind., was one of them.
In 1975, Jessamyn West wrote a novel based on a true yet astonishing Indiana story. The Massacre at Fall Creek recounts the 1824 murders of nine Indians in Madison County and the ensuing trial and death sentences of the white male perpetrators.
Anyone who’s ever served on a committee can relate to the old laugh line: A committee is a group of people who keep minutes and waste hours.
Although the state Constitution expressly prohibited it, slavery existed in early Indiana. Two court cases filed by enslaved black women put an end to the practice.
James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and colleagues spent almost four months debating, writing and editing the document that would become the U.S. Constitution. It took James Brownlee, Benjamin Parke and associates only 18 days to write Indiana’s.
Three states claim Abraham Lincoln as a favorite son, but only Indiana can take credit for his formative years.
For one shining moment in the early 19th century, a group called the Harmonists achieved utopia on the Wabash River. Two hundred years later, their experiment continues to inspire visitors to New Harmony, Ind.
On Sept. 3, 1812, a Native American war party killed more than 20 settlers living in a wooded outpost near present-day Scottsburg. Motivated by bounties offered by the British, the perpetrators scalped women and children, torched their log cabins and left the village in ashes.
In the drizzling pre-dawn rain of Nov. 7, 1811, on high ground near modern-day Lafayette, Gen. William Henry Harrison squashed Tecumseh’s dream of an Indian confederacy that could resist the white man’s westward advances.
In 1796, John James Dufour left his native Switzerland to seek a new life and opportunity in the United States. Less than a decade later, he opened the country’s first successful winemaking business – in southeastern Indiana.
In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson asked Meriwether Lewis to lead an exploration of the Louisiana Territory in search of a Northwest Passage. Lewis invited William Clark to join him. It would become one of the most famous partnerships in history, and it started in Indiana.
Indiana's political values, moral compass and physical boundaries were shaped by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.
If not for George Rogers Clark, we Hoosiers might snack on scones with jam and clotted cream and speak with cockney accents.
Roman Catholics claim bragging rights to Indiana’s oldest church. Jesuit missionaries visited the French fort at Vincennes within months of its establishment in 1732. A resident priest, Sebastian Meurin, arrived in 1748. People have been worshiping at St. Francis Xavier Church ever since.
Storied in literature and song, the Wabash is Indiana’s most important river.
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