Old letter

See the First Drafts of Ohio’s Constitution

By: Christine Engels, Archives Manager

Leaders of cities throughout what would become the State of Ohio met in Chillicothe in 1802 to write a constitution. Thomas Scott was the Secretary of this convention and the Cincinnati History Library and Archives holds his working papers. These include the original manuscript draft, a set of heavily corrected printed proofs from that first draft, the second manuscript draft, and the proofs from the second draft. All of the scans you see below are from the first draft and proofs and are just a sampling of the collection.

These papers offer a fascinating look at the creation of the state, its laws and the rights they decided to grant and to not grant to its citizens. The corrections on the documents are a very interesting piece to inspect. Some changes were cosmetic while others more substantive. There are lines struck through for mere word changes and others that were struck to reject an idea altogether. Things were added on to a section only to be altered again and information was reorganized and re-categorized.

Though this is an intriguing collection it is also quite fragile and therefore handled as little as possible. You can see evidence of damage from a fire and the general wear and tear that occurs from paper being folded over long periods of time.

On March 1, 1803 the Ohio General Assembly convened for the first time after the approval of its constitution by the U.S. House and Senate on February 19, 1803.

Posted in Archives and manuscripts, History objects and fine art, Printed works.