This Day in History – April 30th, 1802

On April 30, 1802, Thomas Jefferson signed the Enabling Act that laid that groundwork for Ohio to become a state.

Arthur St. Clair, one of the co-founders of Dayton, was a staunch Federalist and opposed Ohio becoming a state. As Governor of the Northwest Territory, he believed that Federalists could keep control by keeping the states small. The population requirement to become a state was 60,000. For reference, Kettering’s population in 2017 was 55,175.

At that time, Ohio did not have a large enough population. According to the census in 1800, the Northwest Territory had 45,365 (for another reference, Beavercreek’s population in 2017 was 46,948). The Enabling Act was created on the basis that Ohio would have the required population at time of statehood.

To counteract the ‘threat’ of statehood, St. Clair persuaded the Territorial Legislature to pass the Division Act, which proposed the western boundary of the state as the Scioto River, which would cut Ohio almost completely in half and exclude the populations of Dayton and Cincinnati. This cut would prevent Ohio from becoming a state, as it would not have the required 60,000 people without the two cities, especially Cincinnati.

St. Clair’s plan didn’t work, Congress rejected the plan, and the House of Representatives formed a committee to start Ohio’s application for statehood. When the Enabling Act was passed, St. Clair publicly denounced it. As a result, Jefferson removed him as Governor of the Northwest Territory. Ohio became a state less than a year later, on March 1, 1803.

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