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Indiana is a state of the north-central United States. It was admitted as the 19th state in 1816. The area was controlled by France until 1763 and by Great Britain until 1783. The Indiana Territory was formed in 1800. Indianapolis is the capital and the largest city. Population: 6,270,000.

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Native American Indians migrated west into Indiana as European settlers took their lands during the late 1600s. The Shawnee, Miami, Delaware, Mahican, and Potawatomi tribes were just a few of these tribes.

In 1679, French-Canadian Robert Cavelier became the first white man to see Indiana. He was searching for a water route to the Pacific Ocean. French fur traders soon followed, establishing trading posts throughout the area. Forts were built during the 1720s in Miami (near Fort Wayne) and Quiatenon (near Lafayette). Vincennes became the first permanent settlement in Indiana about 1732.

The region figured importantly in the Franco-British struggle for North America that culminated with British victory in 1763 and control of all land east of the Mississippi River, including Indiana. However British troops did not enter the Indiana region until 1777, during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). George Rogers Clark of Virginia led American soldiers into Indiana to fight Britain and claim Indiana as American land. Their victory in 1779 of Fort Sackville in Vincennes, led to American control of the northwest. After the war, Indiana became part of the Northwest Territory in 1787.

Settlers from the British colonies on the American east coast began migrating west in the mid 1700s, seeking farmland. The American Revolution and the formation of the United States of America brought more demand for the lands of the west.

In 1800 the Indiana Territory was created. Several Indian tribes joined together under chief Tecumseh to fight the new settlers and save their lands. The Native Americans were defeated in two important battles, the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 and the Battle of the Thames in 1813. In 1815, many of the Native Americans left, leaving settlers free to develop the land.

On Dec. 11, 1816, Indiana became the 19th state to join the union. The land which has become the state of Indiana, was once occupied by paleoindians 10-12 thousand years ago. Historic American Indian tribes also lived on this land, inspiring the state's name - Indiana, the land of Indians.

Indiana's state government is modeled closely to that of the federal government. There are three branches: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. The Governor is elected to serve a four year term. The legislature, known as the General Assembly, has two houses. Members of the House of Representatives are elected to terms of two years, and members of the Senate are elected to serve for four years. The judicial branch is comprised of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and local circuit courts. Nationally, Indiana is represented by two U.S. Senators and ten U.S. Representatives.

Indiana struggled financially after joining the union. Many of the farmers that bought land from the federal government did not have to pay taxes the first five years. Historically, Indiana has often been considered an agricultural state. In the years following statehood in 1816, manufacturing goods came mainly from household processes, from trades or crafts, and from mills. Milling became Indiana's first major industry, and meat packing, coal mining, limestone quarrying, boat construction, and the manufacture of farm equipment were early economic advances presaging later developments.

During the 1820s, the state received grants from the government to build roads and canals.

The economy improved in the 1850s, as railroad expansion linked Indiana to East coast markets. New industries were developed and several new businesses opened. In 1852, the Studebaker brothers opened a wagon shop in South Bend that became the largest wagon manufacturer in the nation.

Indiana sent food to help soldiers during the Civil War (1861-1865), but not much fighting occurred near Indiana. There were several inventions that led to new industries during this time. Richard Gatling of Indianapolis invented the machine gun in 1862. In 1885, the first gasoline pump was developed in Fort Wayne. Elwood Haynes of Kokomo developed the first successful gasoline-powered car in 1894.

Mining also became a big industry. Natural gas was discovered near Portland and oil near Keystone. In 1889, Standard Oil built one of the largest oil refineries in the world in Whiting. Nearby, United States Steel built its largest steel mill and founded the city of Gary. The automobile and other metal-product industries also greatly expanded. In 1911, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway held the first Indianapolis 500 car race.

During the Great Depression (1929-1939) many lost their jobs. By 1932, one-fourth of the workforce was unemployed. World War II (1939-1945) required war supplies to be made and helped the economy begin to recover.

During the 1950s, Indiana's economy continued to change from agricultural to industrial. New farm equipment replaced many of the workers, who were left to find jobs in the city. Clifty Creek, one the nation's largest power plants, was built in Madison in 1956.

Indiana's state government increased taxes in 1973 and during the mid-1980s to help meet rising social needs. Unemployment increased due to foreign competition in the automobile industry. Farmers also experienced a depression in their industry. Indiana is now striving to expand and renovate existing service industries while attracting new industries into the state

Early Indiana settlers had a great concern to preserve religious freedom, and many denominations have been cultivated here and contribute much to the makeup of Indiana life. Today, over 7000 churches can be identified serving about half of the current population.

Residents from even all walks of life have preserved their history and traditions through museums, libraries, archives, and publications. There are currently over 370 museums in Indiana which focus on a variety of subjects. There are more than 2,900 libraries throughout the schools, public, academic, institutional, and specialized. In the early twentieth century, Indiana received more Carnegie Libraries than any other state, totaling 164.

Indiana has also had it's share of successful writers. Studies have determined that the best-selling fiction by Indiana authors is ranked second only to New York authors in the period of 1895 to 1965.

Indiana's natural heritage has benefited from private and public attention over the years. In 1916, Indiana began its state park system under Richard Lieber, who became a leader in the national conservation movement. Indiana has 12 state forests, 9 reservoirs, 151 nature preserves, and 18 fish and wildlife areas to preserve its natural heritage. Private organizations help to preserve many natural areas in Indiana.


  • Abraham Lincoln moved to Indiana when he was 7 years old. He lived most of his boyhood life in Spencer County with his parents Thomas and Nancy.
  • Explorers Lewis and Clark set out from Fort Vincennes on their exploration of the Northwest Territory.
  • The movie "Hard Rain" was filmed in Huntingburg.
  • During WWII the P-47 fighter-plane was manufactured in Evansville at Republic Aviation.
  • Marcella Gruelle of Indianapolis created the Raggedy Ann doll in 1914.
  • The first professional baseball game was played in Fort Wayne on May 4, 1871.
  • James Dean, a popular movie star of the 1950s in such movies as "East of Eden" and "Rebel without a Cause", was born February 8, 1941, in Marion. He died in an auto crash at age 24.
  • David Letterman, host of television's "Late Show with David Letterman," was born April 12, 1947, in Indianapolis.
  • Santa Claus, Indiana receives over one half million letters and requests at Christmas time.
  • Crawfordsville is the home of the only known working rotary jail in the United States. The jail with its rotating cellblock was built in 1882 and served as the Montgomery County jail until 1972. It is now a museum.
  • Historic Parke County has 32 covered bridges and is the Covered Bridge Capital of the world.
  • True to its motto, "Cross Roads of America" Indiana has more miles of Interstate Highway per square mile than any other state. The Indiana state Motto, can be traced back to the early 1800s. In the early years river traffic, especially along the Ohio, was a major means of transportation. The National Road, a major westward route, and the north-south Michigan Road crossed in Indianapolis. Today more major highways intersect in Indiana than in any other state.
  • Most of the state's rivers flow south and west, eventually emptying into the Mississippi. However, the Maumee flows north and east into Lake Erie. Lake Wawasee is the states largest natural lake.
  • Indiana's shoreline with Lake Michigan is only 40 miles long, but Indiana is still considered a Great Lakes State.
  • More than 100 species of trees are native to Indiana. Before the pioneer's arrive more than 80% of Indiana was covered with forest. Now only 17% of the state is considered forested.
  • Deep below the earth in Southern Indiana is a sea of limestone that is one of the richest deposits of top-quality limestone found anywhere on earth. New York City's Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center as well as the Pentagon, the U.S. Treasury, a dozen other government buildings in Washington D.C. as well as 14 state capitols around the nation are built from this sturdy, beautiful Indiana limestone.
  • Although Indiana means, "Land of the Indians" there are fewer than 8,000 Native Americans living in the state today.
  • The first European known to have visited Indiana was French Explorer Rene'-Robert Cavalier sierur de La Salle, in 1679. After LaSalle and others explored the Great Lakes region, the land was claimed for New France, a nation based in Canada.
  • In the 1700s the first 3 Non-native American settlements in Indiana were the 3 French forts of Ouiatenon, Ft. Miami, and Ft. Vincennes. Although they had few settlers in the region, French presence in Indiana lasted almost 100 years. After the British won the French and Indian War, and upon the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the French surrendered their claims to the lower Great Lakes region.
  • Indiana was part of the huge Northwest Territory, which included present day Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, which were ceded to the United States by the British at the end of the Revolutionary war.
  • Ft. Wayne, Indiana's 2nd Largest city, had its beginnings in 1794, after the Battle of Fallen Timbers, when General "Mad Anthony" Wayne built Ft. Wayne on the site of a Miami Indian village.
  • Many Mennonite and Amish live on the farmland of Northeastern Indiana. One of the United States largest Mennonite congregations is in Bern. According to Amish ordnung (rules) they are forbidden to drive cars, use electricity, or go to public places of entertainment.
  • At one time Studebaker Company of South Bend was the nation's largest producer of horse-drawn wagons. It later developed into a multimillion-dollar automobile
  • manufacturer.
  • In Fort Wayne, Syvanus F. Bower designed the world's first practical gasoline pump.
  • Indianapolis grocer Gilbert Van Camp discovered his customers enjoyed an old family recipe for pork and beans in tomato sauce. He opened up a canning company and Van Camp's Pork and Beans became an American staple.
  • Muncie's Ball State University was built mostly from funds contributed by the founders of the Ball Corporation, a company than made glass canning jars.
  • Thomas Hendricks, a Democrat from Shelbyville, served Indiana as a United States Senator, a United States representative, governor, and as Vice President under Grover Cleveland. Indiana has been the home of 5 vice presidents and one president.
  • Peru Indiana was once known as the "Circus Capital of America".
  • Indiana University's greatest swimmer was Mark Spitz, who won 7 gold medals in the 1972 Olympic games. No other athlete has won so many gold medals in a single year.
  • In 1934 Chicago Gangster John Dillinger escaped the Lake Country Jail in Crown Point by using a "pistol" he had carved from a wooden block.
  • Before Indianapolis, Corydon served as the state's capitol from 1816-1825. Vincennes was the capital when Indiana was a territory.
  • East Race Waterway, in south Bend, is the only man-made white-water raceway in North America.
  • In 1862, Richard Gatling, of Indianapolis, invented the rapid-fire machine gun.
  • The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was organized in Terre Haute in 1881.
  • Sarah Walker, who called herself Madame J.C. Walker, became one of the nation's first woman millionaires. In 1905 Sarah Breedlove McWilliams Walker developed a conditioning treatment for straightening hair. Starting with door-to-door sales of her cosmetics, Madame C.J. Walker amassed a fortune.
  • From 1900 to 1920 more than 200 different makes of cars were produced in the Hoosier State. Duesenbergs, Auburns, Stutzes, and Maxwells - are prize antiques today.
  • The Indiana Gazette Indiana's first newspaper was published in Vincennes in 1804.
  • The state constitution of 1816 directed the legislature to establish public schools, but it was not until the 1850s that state government was able to establish a public school system.
  • Before public schools families pitched in to build log schoolhouse and each student's family paid a few dollars toward the teachers salaries.
  • At one time 12 different stagecoach lines ran through Indiana on the National Road. (Now U.S. Interstate 40)
  • In the 1830s canals were dug linking the Great Lakes to Indiana's river systems. The canals proved to be a financial disaster. Railroads made the canal system obsolete even before its completions.
  • Indiana's first major railroad line linked Madison and Indianapolis and was completed in 1847.
  • The farming community of Fountain City in Wayne County was known as the "Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad." In the years before the civil war, Levi and Katie Coffin were famous agents on the Underground Railroad. They estimated that they provided overnight lodging for more than 2,000 runaway slaves who were making their way north to Canada and freedom.
  • During the great Depression of the 1930's 1 in every 4 Hoosier factory hands was out of work, farmers sank deeper in debt, and in southern Indiana unemployment was as high as 50%.
  • In the summer of 1987 4,453 athletes from 38 nations gathered in Indianapolis for the Pan American Games.
  • The Saturday Evening Post is published in Indianapolis.
  • Comedian Red Skelton, who created such characters as Clem Kadiddlehopper, and Freddie the Freeloader, was born in Vincennes.
  • The Poet Laureate of Indiana, James Whitcomb Riley was born in a two-room log cabin in Greenfield. He glorified his rural Indiana childhood in such poems as "The Old Swimmin' Hole" "Little Orphant Annie", and " When the frost is on the Pumpkin".
  • Albert Beveridge won the Pulitzer Prize in biography in 1920, for The Life of John Marshall. In 1934 Harold Urey won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his discovery of deuterium. Ernie Pyle won the Pulitzer Prize in foreign Correspondence in 1944. Paul Samuelson won the Nobel Prize in economics, 1970.

External links

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Indiana United States IN US