Ohio: the 48th State

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The petition for statehood from the aspiring state of Ohio was carried by horse over hill and dale to Washington, D.C., where it was promptly delivered… in 1953. You may have learned in school that Ohio became a state on March 1, 1803. Although this is the recognized and official date, it hasn’t been without controversy. The 8th Congress neglected to give Congressional ratification to the state constitution - a key part to the process of becoming a state. This oversight was corrected on August 7, 1953, and Ohio was retroactively granted statehood. Until that moment, the state was technically still a part of the Northwest Territory.  

Gerald Tebben of the Columbus Dispatch points out that “tax protesters have periodically seized upon the 1953 resolution” to try to avoid paying federal income taxes, which became the law of the land in 1913. The courts have not been amused.

Other efforts to refute our 1803 statehood include a 1984 lawsuit to discount Ohio votes in the presidential election, which was covered by the Columbus Dispatch. The lawsuit failed to convince the courts that the 1953 retroactive declaration of statehood was an ex post facto law, and thus unconstitutional. Judge Barrington D. Parker said that the complaint was “completely devoid of merit.”  

To find the articles discussed in this post, enter your library card number to access the Columbus Dispatch Archives, or come to the library and use the microfilm to read articles from before 1985.

  • Tebben, Gerald, “Break out 50 Candles for Ohio?” Columbus Dispatch, August 7, 2003.
  • Judge Rules that Ohio is a State, Ends Lawsuit” Columbus Dispatch, July 22, 1984.

To learn more about Ohio, come to the Ohio Room in the Reference Department and read these and many other titles: