Corydon – The First State Capital

On May 1, 1813, the Capital of Indiana Territory was moved from Vincennes to Corydon which was more centrally located.  Harrison County had just completed a new stone courthouse; this building was offered and accepted for the use of the territorial offices.  Shortly after the moving of the capital, Thomas Posey was appointed Governor of the territory.  Because of Governor Posey’s delicate health, he did not reside in Corydon but spent most of his time in Jeffersonville where he could be near a doctor.

On June 10, 1816, forty-three delegates from thirteen counties met in Corydon to draw up the first constitution for the new state of Indiana.  Because of the extreme hot weather, some of the sessions were held under a large elm tree about one block northwest of the capitol building.  Near this tree was a fine spring that furnished drinking water and proved an excellent place to cool the jugs of brandy.  The delegates chosen for the convention at Corydon were some of the wealthiest and most prominent men of the territory.  Most of them had been educated in good schools of the east and had migrated westward to make their homes.  Not one of the delegates was a native of Indiana.  By June 29, 1816, the constitution was completed and the convention adjourned.

On August 5, 1816, an election was conducted in the territory for state officers; in this election, Jonathan Jennings was elected first governor.  And on November 4, 1816 the General Assembly, consisting of ten senators and twenty-nine representatives met at Corydon.  The legislature chose Robert A. New, Secretary of State; William H. Lilly, Auditor; and Daniel C. Lane, Treasurer.

When Indiana became a state on December 11, 1816, Corydon officially became the capital.  At the time Indiana was admitted as a state, Corydon was a small frontier village with mostly log houses and a few stone and brick buildings.

In June 1819, President James Monroe, accompanied by General Andrew Jackson, visited Governor Jennings in Corydon.  The year before, President Monroe had appointed Governor Jennings to be Indian Commissioner, and this visit was made to discuss the Indian situation, which was then a perplexing question in Indiana.  On the morning when the President and the General left Corydon, Governor Jennings, General John Tipton and others accompanied them to the Ohio River ferry-boat that carried them across to Louisville.

In 1822, William Hendricks was elected Governor of Indiana.  The stone statehouse did not furnish enough room for all the officers.  Rooms were rented elsewhere.  The state auditor and the state treasurer occupied a brick building which is standing today.  The state’s money was kept in strong boxes in the cellar of this building.

Corydon had been selected as a temporary capital.  Also the treaties with the Indians in 1818 made the northern part of the state a safe place in which to live.  A committee was appointed to locate a new capital near the center of the state – this group chose the present site of Indianapolis.  State Treasurer, Samuel Merrill, was engaged by the legislature to move the State’s belongings to Indianapolis.  He sold off the furniture that could not be moved advantageously and packed the books and records in boxes.  The journey was made in wagons.  In January 1825, Indianapolis officially became the second state capital of Indiana.