Column: Harrison shaped state from Vincennes


William Henry Harrison built this Georgian/Federal house in 1804 while serving as governor of the Indiana Territory. He named it Grouseland for the many game birds on the 300-acre property. SUBMITTED PHOTO

The second session of the Third General Assembly of the Indiana Territory met in this building in 1811. Of the four Vincennes meeting places of the territorial legislature, this is the only one that survived. SUBMITTED PHOTO

History remembers William Henry Harrison as the first president to die in office. Hoosiers should remember him as the man who shaped the Indiana Territory.

Indiana spent 16 years as a territory before it became a full-fledged state. Following a multistep process set out in the Northwest Ordinance, citizens first had to get practice at governing, grow in population, petition for statehood, be accepted into the union and write a constitution.

Like a conductor directing an orchestra, Harrison oversaw much of the process from his residence in Vincennes, the territorial capital chosen because it had a sizable population and was conveniently located on the Wabash River.

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