Faux Pas

Anyone Can Forget to Admit a State to the Union


On February 19, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson signed an act of Congress that approved Ohio’s boundaries and constitution. This action might have been a bit hasty, however. Congress had never passed a resolution formally admitting Ohio as the 17th state.

The current custom of Congress declaring an official date of statehood did not begin until 1812, with Louisiana’s admission as the 18th state. Although no formal resolution of admission was required, when the oversight was discovered in 1953, Ohio congressman George H. Bender introduced a bill in Congress to admit Ohio to the Union retroactive to March 1, 1803.

At a special session at the old state capital in Chillicothe, the Ohio state legislature approved a new petition for statehood that was delivered to Washington, D.C. on horseback. On August 7, 1953 (the year of Ohio’s 150th anniversary), President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an act that officially declared March 1, 1803, the date of Ohio’s admittance into the Union.

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