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Published: Sunday, 2/26/2012

Ohio set to display original document

BY ALAN JOHNSON
COLUMBUS DISPATCH

COLUMBUS — Imagine a state government where lawmakers have all the power, the governor can't veto legislation or appoint anyone, and only white males 21 and older can vote.

And Thomas Jefferson personally approved.

That's how the original Ohio Constitution carved a state out of the wild in 1802.

Things have changed a little over two centuries. But as Ohio prepares to celebrate its 209th birthday as a state (as recognized by Congress in 1803), state officials are preparing another upgrade to the constitution. The Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, with 12 legislators and 20 members of the public, is overhauling the state's founding document. The state constitution was revamped in 1851. Ohio voters rejected another proposed makeover in 1873. In 1912, Ohio voters passed 33 of 41 amendments.

In observance of Statehood Day on March 1, the original 1802 Ohio Constitution — written on hand-made paper, hand-carried to Washington by future Gov. Thomas Worthington, and personally reviewed by President Jefferson — will be displayed all day at the Ohio History Center in Columbus. The fragile document is usually kept in a locked vault that is temperature and humidity-controlled. It has been on display only twice in 20 years.

Former U.S. Sen. John Glenn, who recently marked the 50th anniversary of his 1962 spaceflight, is to speak at the center at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The event is free.

The first constitution was written over a 25-day period in November, 1802. The current commission is expected to take several years to finish.



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