Indiana Territory 1800s: The Creation of a New World - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1647 Words
Date:  2023-05-04


The Indiana territory of the 1800s extended from the southern boundary of Canada through Ohio River to Westward of Mississippi (Madison, 54). At that time, the total population of the white people in the territory was slightly above 5,000, with the majority of them living in the Vincennes area and Clark Grant (Madison, 54). William Henry Harrison, the governor of Indiana Territory in the first decade of the nineteenth century, played a leading role in the creation of the territory. In this regard, Harrison organized Indiana warriors to deal with Native Americas during the Indian resistance. Several historians, according to the author, have credited Americans who settled in Indiana as the source of a belief in hard work, democracy, equality, and individualism (Madison, 81). Therefore, the frontier life in Indian has cultural and historical importance to the US because it is the source of all that is distinctive and good for America.

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Characteristics of Frontier Life in Indiana

One of the essential aspects that define frontier life in this territory is the belief in hard work, individualism, equality, and democracy. Although there were failures in the territory, these elements transformed the region into a frontier of abundance. Madison said, "there was no starving time in Indiana" (81). The author's statement suggests the degree to which Indiana pioneers valued success. The existence of bountiful rivers besides extensive tracts of land motivated the locals to work hard to achieve the dream that the pioneers had promised. With many people making money by utilizing their land, which was then selling at $1.25 per acre, the locals developed a conviction that progress was natural (Madison, 81).

Pioneer families of Indiana frontier valued collaboration in social life. Even after settling in the region, many of them hardly pioneered alone. In most instances, groups of men could work together in selecting sites to construct their shelters. They would also plat crops together after clearing fertile pieces of land. However, their women were reluctant to break family ties, especially during the early stage of settlement (Madison 91). Because of this situation, the nuclear family became the basic unit of society in the frontier. Such families consisted of a wife, husband, and minor children. Again, in most dwellings, there were as more as five or more children, suggesting that people in Indiana frontier valued the role of children (Madison, 92).

Moreover, families in this territory were small and larger than those of the people who remained in the East. Women and men in the Indiana frontier could also marry at a younger age than their counterparts in the East (Madison, 91). As a result, the frontier women had more children than other people in the East could have. The author said it was not unusual to see women in the frontier bearing children as early as 18 years and have more babies in other years until their mid-40s (Madison, 91). This situation explains the author's statement that Indian was among jurisdictions with the highest birth rate across the world in the 1810s (Madison, 91).

People in the frontier lived in temporary shelters. The first home of the pioneers was lean-to and open-faced houses that were easy construct (Madison, 91). Inside their shelters, there was fire facing the south from the open end. This structure provided a slight comfort to the locals, making it an essential aspect of life. With this slight comfort, famous American families like that of Nancy and Tom Lincoln spent their first winter in the territory in such rude structures (Madison, 92). Within a short time, however, the pioneer families started building long cabins, which later emerged as their vital symbolic expression in the United States (Madison, 92).

Regarding social roles, women could fashion wooden furniture, tools, and utensils. Furniture ranged from corner cupboards to folks and shovels. Other responsibilities for women include nursing babies, cooking, and sewing. Men, on the other hand, spent most of their indoor time in wood and leather. They could also work leather into boots, shoes, and harnesses. Early settlers in the Indiana frontier survived on wild game, made their clothing, and relied on home remedies for medication. To the local communities, pioneer mothers were the first line of response to illnesses and accidents. Such women offered medication to various health conditions by referring to popular home medical books. Also, they relied on the knowledge passed from mother to daughter in offering home remedies to diseases.

Changes in the Century Following Statehood

Indiana improved in terms of human rights after the approval of its statehood proposal. The reason is that statehood provided an opportunity for the local communities to write a constitution based on the beliefs of their early pioneers _ equality, and dignity of human life. In this perspective, the constitution of Indiana emphasized that all people were independent and born equal (Madison, 69). The noble statement, including the bill of rights, guaranteed citizens of their freedom of worship of speech, of the press, and also, right to assemble peacefully.

The state of Indiana recorded a significant improvement in access to education a century following statehood. The reason is that their new constitution had creative and progressive provisions that guaranteed free primary education (Madison, 70). Under the new systems of education, children would graduate from township schools to a state university free of charge.

In addition to reforms in education, the justice system of Indiana changed from vindictive to a reformative one. The government of Indiana initiated these reforms or changes as a way to fulfill a provision of the new constitution that lawmakers would "act as would not be a slave state" (Madison, 70). In terms of governance, the legislature overhauled the systems of administration, specifically to reflect the struggles of the residents to expand a representative government (Madison, 70). The delegates in charge of constitutional changes, as well, made state legislature of Indiana the dominant arm of government (Madison, 70).

Other changes that the constitutional review delegates introduced following statehood include prohibiting the governor from holding office for more than six years and setting the term limit of the office to three years (Madison, 70). Also, people's desire for popular control of the government led to the implementation of a law that required the election of the members of the House of Representatives to be done yearly (Madison, 70). In the judiciary, the delegates vested the powers of this arm of government to circuit courts and the Supreme Court.

Another aspect that reflects an essential change in Indiana is the end of slavery, following the adoption of a new constitution that abolished involuntary servitude. The reason for the introduction of this change was to avoid the recurrence of conflicts over slavery. As a way to achieve total change concerning this issue, delegates included a provision that prohibited any alteration to the supreme law to reintroduce involuntary servitude or slavery (Madison, 71).

Although the constitution had a limitation on democracy, it remains the most vital document in the history of Indiana, as it introduced reforms that left a great legacy to Hoosiers. To be specific, the state constitution of 1816 paved the way for the introduction of reforms that improved people's welfare, changed the structure of governance, and abolished slavery, which to, Indiana pioneers, was immoral (Madison, 71). These constitutional changes and reforms had far-reaching effects on the state of Indiana in the century following statehood.

Author's Experiences and the Life in Indiana

The experiences of Abraham Lincoln reflect critical challenges that faced the people of Indiana towards the mid-nineteenth century. In his poem, "My Childhood Home, I see Again," Lincoln brings to light the extent of poverty and suffering in the Indiana frontier. When Lincoln returned to Indiana twenty years later, he found that most of his friends had died, and those who were still alive were poor (Lincoln, 2). The poet said the things he saw in his childhood home were distressing, and it aroused poignant memories about Indiana. Here, the statement suggests that the local communities were suffering. In the second canto of the poem, Lincoln described the life of a young man called Matthew, who went mad at age nineteen. The poet said Matthew's mother strove to kill, and his father fought. The statement indicates that there was civil unrest in Indiana, which caused injury and adversely impacted people's well-being. The case of Hoosier community spelling school, where the headteacher engaged in constant warfare with big boys, brings to light the severity of the issue (Eggleston, 13).

The experiences of Eugene V Debs reflect the values and beliefs of the people of Indiana at his time besides the effects of industrialization on the local population. With the emergence of industries and significant businesses, the residents experienced conflicts between employers and employees. The author said both workers and employers ought to solve their problems amicably since the goal of making money united them (Debs, 5). In this regard, the situation suggests that the people of Indiana valued collaboration and non-aggressive ways of solving problems. The pioneers of the state, as mentioned earlier, believed in collaboration and partnership in society for prosperity. The experiences of Eugene V Debs, as well, shows that Indiana embraced socialist ideologies in controlling and utilizing economic resources before industrialization.

The letters of Augustus M. Van Dyke provide first-hand information on people's experiences in Indiana during the civil war. This person believed that the military training that he acquired as a soldier would prepare him to overcome the effects of war (Dyke, 5). Dyke's letters indicate that the people of Indiana experienced severe effects of war that disrupted the development of social and economic fabrics of the state. The consequences of war also threatened their physical and cultural survival, suggesting that life in Indiana was challenging.


Debs, E. V. (1884, October). Employer and employed. Locomotive Firemen's Magazine, 8(10), 616-618.

Eggleston, E. (1913). The Hoosier schoolmaster: A story of Backwoods life in Indiana. Grosset & Dunlap.

Lincoln, A. (1844). Poetry by Abraham Lincoln: My Childhood Home I See Again.

Madison, J. H. (2014). Hoosiers: From territory to a state, 1800-1816. Indiana University Press.

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