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Markers & Museums
South East Edition
Market/SR 3 at Pleasant Street, Charlestown. (Clark County, Indiana)
Indiana Sesquicentennial Commission, 1966
Marker ID #:
Indiana Territorial Delegate to Congress, 1809-1816. President of Indiana Constitutional Convention, June, 1816. First Governor of Indiana, 1816-1822. Member of Congress, 1822-1830.
Brief History by the Author
Jonathan Jennings became the sixth child of Jacob and Mary Kennedy Jennings when he was born in New Jersey. he attended grammar school at Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, and studied law at Washington, Pennslyvannia. he emigrated to the Indiana Territory in 1806 and became a lawyer in Jeffersonville, later moving to Vincennes. There were not enough clients in the new territory to make a living, so he served in various government offices and participated in several land speculation deals. These deals brought him some wealth. He and Territorial Governor Benjamin Harrison had a series of political disputes after Jennings became a clerk at Vincennes University.
Election to Congress
As a territory, the Indiana Territory was entitled to non-voting represtation in Congress. Jennings was elected to the Eleventh Congress in 1809. In 1815 Jennings introduced a petition for Statehood to Congress. The 1815 census indicated that the population exceeded the 63000 requirment laid down by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Congress passed the Enabling Act on April 11, 1816, authorizing Indiana's authority to form a government. .
He became a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Corydon in June, 1816. He was a leading advocate to ban slavery in the state and with this he succeeded. The convention adjourned on June 29 and Jennings announced his candidacy for governor.
Jennings beat the other candidate, the former Territorial Governor Thomas Posey handily. He served as governor for two terms, and returned to Congress as Indiana's elected representative in 1822. Jennings retired to his Charlestown home in 1831 after leaving Congress. He died at his Charlestown farm of a heart attack.
© Paul Wonning