History of Ohio
The territory of today’s Ohio was populated by nomadic peoples since at least 13,000 BC. It is believed that they disappeared from the area around 1,000 BC, leaving material evidence of their presence. The next culture to emerge in the area is Adena, who were later joined by the Hopewell people. Both cultures had a distinguished mound-building culture and the remnants of their activity are still present in Ohio (Great Serpent Mount, for example). It is not clear who replaced the Hopewell when they disappeared.
The American Indians who originally inhabited Ohio Valley were greatly affected by various diseases they got from the Europeans and to which they had no immunity. This, in addition to the wars, practically decimated the indigenous population, especially in the 17th century. Ohio was then repopulated by the descendents of various indigenous nations. Their main industry was agriculture, but by the 18th century they became active in the fur trade activity, organized primarily by the Europeans.
American Indians were involved in conflicts and wars throughout the 18th century. A particularly important event in this period was Pontiac’s Rebellion, which involved the tribes not only in Ohio but also in Illinois and in the Great Lakes region and was aimed against the British military control. Ohio was in British hands until 1783, when it passed to the United States according to the decisions of the Treaty of Paris.
Ohio was a part of the Northwest Territory in the period from 1787 to 1803. The territory grew and new settlements emerged as Ohio began preparing for the statehood. According to the Northwest Ordinance, a territory could not be admitted as a US state unless it had at least 60,000 inhabitants. Before it became a state, Ohio only had 45,000 inhabitants, but the Congress saw that the population was rapidly growing and decided to allow the admission of the state. Ohio became a state on February 19, 1803, when the president Jefferson signed the appropriate act. The problem is that at the time the admission did not require a special resolution, which basically means Ohio was never formally admitted to the Union. This was discovered only in 1953 and repaired quickly, by introducing a bill with which Ohio was retroactively admitted. The same year president Eisenhower officially signed an act stating that March 1, 1803 was the date Ohio gained its statehood.
Ohio had an important role during the Civil War, mostly because of its central position and its large population. Some of the Union’s most famous generals (Sherman, Grant, Sheridan) were from Ohio and the state was vital in terms of supplies, troops and infrastructure (especially its railroads). The state, however, suffered great casualties and, according to most historians, approximately 35,000 of Ohio soldiers died in that war.
The state always relied greatly on agriculture, however, in the 19th century, the industrialization further expanded the economy and by the end of the century Ohio became a global economy center. The industrial boom was owed mostly to the fact that Ohio was rich in natural resources, namely iron, salt, coal, limestone, timber, natural gas and oil. With fast industrialization came fest urbanization. In only 40 years, from 1960 to 1900, the state doubled its population to 4.2 million. The growth of the commercial industries naturally led to the opening of financial and insurance institutions, banks and corporations, most of which still exist. Transportation also boomed, and in addition to a wide network of railroads Ohio got dozens of water ports which were vital for the economy. As the air travel got commercialized, Ohio became a key point in the east-to-west air transportation.
Ohio was always a strong anti-slavery and abolitionist state. This goes back to the times of the Northwest Territory, in which slavery was forbidden. The state was one of the key stops of the Underground Railroad (a network of safe houses and secret routes for black slaves to escape to free states or Canada) and one of the most influential anti-slavery books, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, was written by Ohio resident Harriet Beecher Stowe. The Progressive Era brought significant political activity in the field of labor, with the passage of child labor laws and the formation of the American Federation of Labor. The woman suffrage movement was also strong in the state.
Ohio was hit hard by the Great Depression, more so compared to some other US states. By 1933, as much as 67% of the construction labor in the state was unemployed.
After the World War II, in which Ohio played an important role in providing troops, supplies and munitions to the Allies, the state became heavy with the anti-communist sentiment, which culminated during the Cold War era. In this period, Ohio was the sad scene of The Kent State Massacre, in which the members of the Ohio National Guard shot dead four students of the Kent University who were protesting against the war in Vietnam.
The state kept growing and developing throughout the 20th century, quickly growing in population and gaining more and more significance on the national level. Recently, Ohio was hit by the Great Recession, especially in the manufacturing sector. It is estimated that 376,500 employees lost their jobs, along with record number of foreclosures in 2009 and a significant drop of the median household income. However, Ohio showed first signs of rebound in 2010 and remained America’s 6th fastest-growing economy.
Ohio has always served as a link between the Midwest and the Northeast. To the north, it is bordered by the Lake Erie and its long coastline proved to be important for the state’s economy. The southern border of the state consists primarily of the Ohio River, with which the state shares the name, even though most of the river actually belongs to Kentucky and West Virginia, the neighboring states. Other neighboring states are Pennsylvania to the east, Michigan to the northwest, Indiana to the west and Ontario, Canada, to the north.
Most of Ohio consists of plains and the state is generally low and flat, although there is some rugged terrain and hills in the Allegheny Plateau in the southeast. This particular portion of the state represents a distinct socio-economic unit, with old manufacturing establishments, coal mines and a distinctive regional dialect.
Some of the state’s most important rivers are Cuyahoga, Great Miami, Maumee, Muskingum, Scioto, and, of course, the Ohio River. The Great Miami River caused a lot of damage in 1913 when it flooded the entire region along its banks, including downtown Dayton business district. This, known as the Great Dayton Flood, was the worst weather disaster in the state’s history.
Climate in Ohio is mostly humid continental, although in some of the parts of the state, for example in southern Bluegrass region, the climate can be classified as humid subtropical. Summers are hot and humid throughout the state, while the winters range from cool to cold. Precipitation is moderate. Ohio is prone to severe weather, such as lake effect snowstorms and occasional tornadoes.
Population of Ohio
As of 2011 U.S. Census, Ohio has 11,544,951 residents. In 2006, the racial makeup in the state was 82.2% non-Hispanic White, 11.8% African American or Black, 2.3% Hispanic or Latino, 1.5% Asian and Pacific Islander, 0.2% Native American, 1.3% two or more races and 0.1% other races.
The largest ancestry groups in Ohio are German, Irish, English, Polish and Italian.
The largest religious denominations are Evangelical Protestant, Mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic. Religious minorities in the state include Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists.
The largest city in Ohio, and also the state capital, is Columbus. Other major cities include Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Dayton, Parma, Canton, Youngstown and Lorain.
Economy in Ohio
Ohio’s gross state product is $477 billion and the income per capita is $36,395. The state has a labor force of 5,931,700 and the unemployment rate is 7.7%. If Ohio were an independent country, its economy would rank 20th in the world, behind Switzerland and ahead of Belgium.
Sectors that employ the highest number of Ohio residents are trade, transportation and utilities. Health care, education, government, manufacturing and various professional services are also major economy sectors in the state.
Ohio has a very large bioscience sector, in fact it is the largest in the Midwest. The state is also one of the national leaders in the green economy. On the national level, Ohio is among top producers of rubber, plastics, metals, appliances and electrical equipment.
Ohio is home to some of the nation’s largest companies, such as Procter & Gamble, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, AK Steel, Timken, Abercrombie & Fitch, Macy’s, Kroger, Progressive Insurance, Nationwide Insurance, Eaton Corporation, American Electric Power and Wendy’s.
The state has a number of aerospace and defense companies, such as GE Aviation, Goodrich Corporation, GE Honda Aero Engines and Timken. In addition, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton is one of the largest employers in Ohio.
As for the agriculture, Ohio is the largest producer of Swiss cheese in the United States, second-largest producer of eggs, third-largest producer of tomatoes and sixth-largest producer of soybeans and corn for grain.
Ohio Government and legislation
Like in other U.S. states, the government in Ohio consist of three branches: executive, judicial and legislative. The Governor of Ohio leads the executive branch. The current governor is Republican John Kasich.
Judicial branch has three levels. The lowest level are courts of common pleas, the intermediate level are the district courts and the highest level is the Ohio Supreme Court.
The Ohio General Assembly represents the legislative branch. It consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate has 33 members, each representing one district. The House of Representatives has 99 members. Ohio has 18 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and two members of the U.S. Senate.
Ohio is often called “Mother of Presidents”, in reference to the fact that seven of the U.S. presidents were Ohio natives.
Primary and secondary education in Ohio are governed by the Ohio Department of Education, which, again, is overseen by the Ohio State Board of Education. The state has approximately 700 school districts.
The Ohio Board of Regents manages the network of institutions of higher learning in the state, organized into the University System of Ohio. The state has 13 state universities, 24 branch and regional campuses, 46 private universities and colleges, six state-assisted medical schools, 15 community colleges, 8 technical colleges and 24 independent, non-profit colleges.
State universities in Ohio are The University of Akron, Bowling Green State University, Central State University, University of Cincinnati, Cleveland State University, Ohio University, Miami University, Kent State University, The Ohio State University, Shawnee State University, University of Toledo, Wright State University and Youngstown State University.
Medical schools in Ohio are Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, University of Toledo College of Medicine, Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine and Boonshoft School of Medicine.
Some of the top institutions of higher education in Ohio are Ohio State University, Oberlin College, Denison University, College of Wooster, Case Western Reserve University, Kenyon College, Miami University of Ohio and Ohio Northern University.
Ohio has some of the best public libraries, most notably Columbus Metropolitan Library, Cuyahoga County Public Library and Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
Transportation in Ohio
Ohio has a wide network of highways and east-west corridors. It is home to 228 miles of the Historic National Road (now U.S. Route 40) and of the historic Lincoln Highway (now U.S. Highway 30). Major roads include the Ohio Turnpike (I-80/I-90), I-76, I-70, I-75, I-71, I-77 and the Appalachian Highway.
The state has five international airports, four commercial airports and two military airports. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is the busiest one in the state, followed by Columbus International Airport and Dayton International Airport. The Wright Patterson Air Force Base is one of the largest Air Force bases in the United States. Rickenbacker International Airport is also used by the Army.
Passenger railway carriers in Ohio include Amtrak, RTA Rapid Transit, Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad, Toledo, Lake Erie and Western Railway, Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and Byesville Scenic Railway.