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Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1850-1851

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By 1850, many Ohioans believed that the time had come to replace the Constitution of 1803. New issues had arisen that the drafters of the first constitution had not foreseen. The Constitution of 1803 had given great power to the Ohio General Assembly. With the exception of the governor, the legislature had the power to appoint judges and all other government officials. This gave the legislature nearly complete control over the government. The Constitution of 1803 also required the Supreme Court to meet once each year in every county in the state. When the Constitution of 1803 originally went into effect, few counties existed. Over the next fifty years, the number of counties increased until it was virtually impossible for the Supreme Court to fulfill its obligations under the original constitution.
The convention adjourned its proceedings on March 10, 1851. Seventy-nine delegates voted in favor of the constitution, while fourteen opposed it. The people in opposition primarily belonged to the Whig Party and the Free Soil Party. To go into effect officially, Ohio voters had to approve the constitution. They did so overwhelmingly on June 17, 1851. Although numerous amendments have been made over the years, the Constitution of 1851, this constitution remains the fundamental law of Ohio.
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