Indiana History

The history of human activity in Indiana, a US state in the Midwest, began with migratory tribes of Native Americans who inhabited Indiana as early as 8000 BC. Tribes succeeded one another in dominance for several thousand years and reached their peak of development during the period of Mississippian culture. The region entered recorded history in the 1670s when the first Europeans came to Indiana and claimed the territory for the Kingdom of France. After France ruled for 100 years (with little settlement in this area), it was defeated by Great Britain in the French and Indian War (Seven Years' War) and ceded its territory east of the Mississippi. Britain held the land for more than twenty years, until after its defeat in the American Revolutionary War. At that time, Britain ceded the entire trans-Allegheny region, including what is now Indiana, to the new United States.

The United States government divided the trans-Allegheny region into several new territories. The largest of these was the Northwest Territory, which was progressively divided into several smaller territories by the United States Congress. In 1800, the Indiana Territory was the first new territory established from a portion of the Northwest Territory. The territory grew in population and development until it was admitted to the Union in 1816 as the nineteenth state, Indiana. Following statehood, the newly established state government laid out on an ambitious plan to transform Indiana from a segment of the frontier into a developed, well populated, and thriving state. The state's founders initiated a program that led to the construction of roads, canals, railroads, and state-funded public schools. Despite the noble aims of the project, profligate spending ruined the state's credit. By 1841 the state was near bankruptcy and forced to liquidate most of its public works. By its new constitution of 1851, it restricted rights of free blacks and excluded them from the suffrage. During the 1850s, the state's population grew to exceed one million. The ambitious program of its founders was realized as Indiana became the fourth-largest state in terms of population, as measured by the 1860 census.

Indiana became politically influential and played an important role in the Union during the American Civil War. Indiana was the first western state to mobilize for the war, and its soldiers participated in almost every engagement during the war. Following the Civil War, Indiana remained politically important as it became a critical swing state in U.S. Presidential elections. It helped decide control of the presidency for three decades. During the Indiana Gas Boom of the late 19th century, industry began to develop rapidly in the state. The state's Golden Age of Literature began in the same time period, increasing its cultural influence. By the early 20th century, Indiana developed into a strong manufacturing state and attracted numerous immigrants and internal migrants to its industries. It experienced setbacks during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Construction of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, expansion of the auto industry, urban development, and two wars contributed to the state's industrial growth. During the second half of the 20th century, Indiana became a leader in the pharmaceutical industry due to the innovations of companies such as Eli Lilly.