|We're now six months away from the beginning of Indiana's bicentennial year. Although Indiana did not become a state until December 11, 1816, the celebrations and observances have already begun and will only accelerate when 2016 arrives.|
From June 10 to June 29, 1816, forty-three delegates met in Corydon, Indiana, to draw up a constitution for what would become the nation's nineteenth state. The Harrison County courthouse--the building that would become the new state's first capitol building--had not yet been completed. Tradition holds that the delegates held their sessions under a large, spreading elm tree instead. That tree succumbed to Dutch elm disease in 1925, but the trunk of the Constitution Elm remains protected by a sandstone monument in Corydon.
The Corydon capitol building has fared better and is now an Indiana State Museum Historic Site. In 1970, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources issued a booklet called The Corydon Capitol State Memorial. The cover artist was Malcolm "Mac" Heaton (1925-2002), staff artist for and art director of the DNR, earlier the Department of Conservation. His design appears in the image above.
There are many bicentennial dates to come. The bicentennial of the first Indiana constitutional convention is among the first of real significance. So Happy 199th Birthday to Indiana's first constitution!
Caption copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley