|A Day in Indiana History - August|
The original 1816 Constitution had contained a provision, Article VIII that required a vote taken every twelve years to determine if voters wanted to call a constitutional convention to write a new Constitution. The wording of the provision opened the topic to debate and it was finally determined that the General Assembly could call for a convention at any time. This occurred four times before the 1849 vote. Three times the voters voted against writing a new constitution. The Panic of 1837, during which the State of Indiana's overextended debt almost bankrupted the state, and other factors changed people's minds. In 1846, a close vote by the people had been in favor of calling a convention. Since the measure only passed by less than 4000 votes and there were voting irregularities, the assembly did not call for a convention. Indiana Governor James Whitcomb made continued demands to the legislature to call for a convention. The assembly passed legislation calling for a referendum. This referendum on August 6, 1849, passed by an 81,500 - 57,418 margin.