Michael Baldwin

From Ohio History Central

Michael Baldwin was an important political figure in the early history of Ohio. He served as the leader of the "Bloodhounds," a group of men who opposed the governor of the Northwest Territory, Arthur St. Clair.

Born in Connecticut, Michael Baldwin attended Yale University, studied law and then came to the Northwest Territory in 1799 as a young man. In 1801, Ohio prepared to become a state in the United States of America. Members of the Federalist Party, led by St. Clair, hoped to have Ohio's western boundary located at the Scioto River, while members of the Democratic-Republican Party, led by Thomas Worthington and Baldwin, preferred a boundary set further to the west near Cincinnati. The Federalists believed that they could stay in control of government in the Northwest Territory and Ohio if new states remained relatively small. To become a state, a territory had to have sixty thousand people living within its borders. Under the Federalist plan, none of the areas proposed for statehood would have the required population to enter the Union. This would allow the Federalists to stay in control of government positions in the Northwest Territory and remain in power.

On December 24, 1801, Baldwin led his Bloodhounds to St. Clair's residence. The men intended to burn St. Clair in effigy. Thomas Worthington intervened and convinced the mob to disperse. The Bloodhounds returned Christmas night intending to harm William R. Putnam who was a political friend of St. Clair. A group of Federalists and more conservative Democratic-Republicans met the Bloodhounds and protected Putnam.

In 1802, the United States Congress approved the Enabling Act. The language of the act stated that what is now Ohio would not be divided into smaller sections. On November 1, 1802, thirty-five delegates met at Chillicothe for a constitutional convention. Twenty-six of the delegates were Democratic-Republicans, seven were Federalists, and two were independents. Michael Baldwin was one of the Democratic-Republican delegates. Having the majority, the Democratic-Republicans created Ohio's first constitution. By late November, the convention had approved the Ohio Constitution of 1802. On February 19, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson formally accepted the constitution, and Ohio became a state.

The Democratic-Republicans dominated the political scene in Ohio's early years and held the three most important positions in the early government. Ohio's first governor was Democratic-Republican Edward Tiffin. The leader of the Ohio Senate was Nathaniel Massie, and the first Speaker of the Ohio House was Michael Baldwin.

Michael Baldwin died in 1810.

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