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Mike Polk Jr. celebrates National Ohio Day

If you’re in the mood to get a little nerdy about it, there is some discrepancy, and dare I say it, controversy about WHEN exactly Ohio became a state.

CLEVELAND — Happy National Ohio Day everyone!

As with most holidays, I was "Johnny Last Minute" and I’m still putting up my National Ohio Day decorations.

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In fairness, I’ll be honest, I had no idea that this was even a thing until my producer Monique recently said “Hey, can you do a segment about November 2nd being National Ohio Day?”

So then I looked it up and as it turns out, it is apparently a thing. National Ohio Day commemorates us becoming the 17th state in the union. Which is great, why not? Good excuse for a party, right? 

But as for why it’s November 2nd, that gets a little hazier. Because if you’re in the mood to get a little nerdy about it, and I’m always in the mood to get a little nerdy about it, in regards to precisely WHEN Ohio officially became a state, there is some discrepancy and, perhaps even, dare I say it, some controversy.

It’s true that it was in the MONTH of November of 1802 that a group of people from the The Northwest Territory, which was what all this was back then, met in Chillicothe, our state’s first capitol, to form a Constitution and a state government. BUT they didn’t actually send their petition for admittance to the Union until November 29, which is not November 2nd.

Congress then approved Ohio’s petition for statehood on February 19, 1803, also not November 2nd.

And although that act of Congress made us the 17th state on February 19, Ohio decided that we would celebrate our statehood on March 1 instead, because that was when the Ohio legislature actually met for the first time.

Are we all clear so far? I hope so because this is where it starts getting a little convoluted.

Fast Forward to 1952 when some teachers visiting The Library Of Congress were going through some documents and realized that Congress had neglected to officially APPROVE the Ohio Constitution back in 1803, which they were required to do for Ohio to become a state.

It was an oversight. A technicality. But it was at least considered a big enough deal at the time that congress felt the need to pass real legislation on August 7th 1953, signed by President Eisenhower, OFFICIALLY granting statehood to Ohio once and for all.

In reality it doesn’t mean a whole lot. Other than that it turns out we’re the 48th state in the union and only have seniority over Alaska and Hawaii, those two drifters. Some guys back in 1803 forgot to cross their t’s and dot their I’s and I can’t begrudge them that. They were still using chamberpots and living off raccoon meat. They had a life expectancy of like, 28. I won’t condemn them for sloppy paperwork.

But it does make for some interesting theorizing, doesn’t it. For instance, if Ohio wasn’t really a state until 1953 that would technically mean that the eight presidents – Grant, Hayes, Garfield, McKinley, Taft, Harding, and not one but count them two Harrisons – were constitutionally prohibited from being president. Would that nullify all the laws that they signed?

In an attempt to avoid such quandaries, Congressman George Bender the Representative who introduced the legislation to correct the mistake, made the law retroactive to 1803, which would make everything that had happened pre-1953, street legal.

And YET, one can’t help but point out the issue that Congressman Bender was himself from Ohio, a place, that at the time of his election did not technically exist, which, one could argue, renders the legislation illegitimate.

And by that logic, Ohio has still yet to achieve statehood, which would mean we still live in The Northwest Territory, subject only to the laws of the Northwest Ordinance and, amongst other considerations, we therefor not be taxed.

Nobody try it! I’m sure somebody already has. It won’t work. It was just a playful thought experiment. Please don’t.

Long story short, whichever of Ohio’s many birthday’s you celebrate, be it today or November 29th, or February 19th, or March 1st, or or August 7th, I hope you have a great time doing it. And I hope you’re not forgetting to include a nice tall glass of Tomato Juice, the actual intentional, official beverage of Ohio. Cheers folks.

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