Indiana: State Facts & History
Indiana was a territory of the United States in 1800 and gained its formal statehood on December 11, 1816. Indiana ranks 38th largest by area and 17th-most by population out of the 50 states. It is located in the midwest of the United States and is bordered by Lake Michigan to the northwest, Michigan to the north and northeast, Ohio to the east, the Ohio River and Kentucky to the south and southeast, and the Wabash River and Illinois to the west. The capital of Indiana is Indianapolis, which is also Indiana’s larger city.
The banks of the Wabash River had many visitors and residents, including but not limited, to the Miami, Potawatomi, Mascouten, Wea, Kickapoo, and Pjankashaw Native American groups as well as the French and the British. The Wabash River played and still plays, an important role in the economics and trade of Indiana.
From the vast farmlands to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, from steel mills to higher education facilities, from the Indiana Dunes National Park to the Eiteljorg Museum, Indiana has a rich history and holds a truly impactful place in the United States.
Indiana People and Population
Through its seven metropolitan areas, Indiana offers diverse opportunities for economic growth and prosperity while maintaining a strong sense of heritage and culture.
Per the 2022 Census, in Indiana, the larger portions of the population are showing to be under 18 with 23.3% of the population or 65 and over at 16.4%. The average age in Indiana is 38.2.
The gender in Indiana is pretty evenly split with 50.4 reporting as identifying female and 49.6 reporting as identifying male.
Indiana is not as racially/ethnically diverse as some other states with a majority of Caucasian (84.4%), African American/Black (10.2%), and Latino/Hispanic (7.7%) inhabitants.
Religion in Indiana has a majority of Christian affiliations with 72% of the population identifying as a subgroup under Christianity. 2% reported as being non-Christian (Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc) and 26% reported not having an affiliation at all.
The average income in Indiana in 2020 was reported at $58,235. Which is a significant increase from the reported $56,303 reported in 2019. 12.2% of Hoosiers are living on the poverty line or in poverty.
Illinois currently ranks #7 in the United States for K-12 education with a 90.9% graduation rate for high school, an initiative from the Indiana Department of Education, focuses on sustainable organizational systems, improving access to data, and strengthening partnerships and collaboration.
Indiana’s higher education ranks Notre Dame, Purdue University- West Lafayette, and Indiana University- Bloomington as the top three in the state. There are 29 state universities in Indiana.
Illinois is currently ranking at #28 for higher education with only 28.9% of their population holding a bachelor’s degree.
Five percent of Indiana residents are immigrants, while another 5 percent of residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent. That means around 339,276 people living in Indiana are immigrants, how awesome!
Health & Insurance
In 2020, health care in Indiana saw a rate of 9.9% of Hoosiers without insurance. Insurance provided by a public health office (such as Medicaid/Medicare) was at 32.2%.
Indiana’s initial constitution was founded in 1816, though as times change, so do the expectations of the government. Though the current constitution has some debate about it’s efficacy surrounding it, the Hoosier State adopted the current constitution on November 1, 1851.
The state of Indiana’s government is closely modeled after the federal government with an emphasis on checks and balances. The government holds three offices: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. Under the Executive office is the governor and lieutenant governor.
Local governments in Indiana have a US Representative per district, chambers of commerce, and mayoral elections.
Per the Pew Research Center, Indiana is trending more Conservative with 41% of the population voting in favor of the Republican presidential candidates. 53% of Catholics and Evangelical Protestants make up the Conservative population while the Liberal and Moderate populations make up 28% of that religious political demographic.
Indiana’s economy mainly runs on the manufacturing, agricultural, and transportation industries though other industries like pharmaceuticals and medical equipment are growing quickly.
Coal is a major resource that Indiana produces 36 million tons of each year. Surface mines and underground mines provide the black gold that makes most Hoosier electricity. Another natural resource that you will find in abundance in Indiana is the Salem Limestone which has been used in the production of iconic buildings such as the Empire State Building, the Pentagon, and The Washington National Cathedral.
Arts & Entertainment
With such a diverse population, Indiana has various art and entertainment sites. From night clubs like Saddle Up Saloon & Dance Club in Indianapolis, to dance centers like The School of Evansville Ballet, from world-class music halls like the Honeywell Center to the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, Indiana is the place for anyone and everyone.
Space, Science, and Technology
Space, Science, and technology is a rapidly growing industry. Indiana is home to several life-science businesses such as Anthem, Inc., Cook Medical, and Eli Lilly which have all shown growth in employment.
Indiana is also the birthplace of items we all know and use almost every day, like the review mirror that comes standard in vehicles or commercially sold sliced bread. Indiana is also the founding place for Chuck Taylor’s sneakers.
There are so many things to do in Indiana. In Northwest Indiana, the Indiana Dunes National Park sits near one of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan. The Department of Natural Resources, to make environmental tourism more lucrative, has come up with a river clean-up initiative called “The Healthy Rivers Initiative.”
There are historic sites, museums, monasteries, and so much more to see and do in Indiana.
According to the USDA(.gov), Indiana regularly ranks as a top producer of corn, soybeans, blueberries, peppermint, spearmint, tomatoes, melons, and other vegetables.
Wealth and Poverty
As of 2022, the poverty rate in Indiana is 11.7% and the rate of extreme poverty is 7%. 12.4% of people are experiencing food insecurity and almost 30% of the population are working under the poverty line due to the moderate percentage of low-wage jobs. 8.7% of the Hoosiers are uninsured.
Though 31% of Indiana rent their home, the property tax rate is relatively low in comparison to other states. The median annual property tax rate is $1,371, compared to the U.S. national average of $2,795.
As a result of these numbers, Governor Holcomb has announced in his 2023 Next Level Agenda that he will be focusing on public health, K-12 education and continuing to improve economic development through 2023 and into 2025.
Indiana Interesting Facts
Indiana is a state full of amazing facts and fascinating trivia. Let’s explore just the tip of the interesting Indiana iceberg!
Native American Influence
Several native groups lived in Indiana including the Shawnee, the Miami, and the Illinois. Most of these groups were settled and lived in round, dome-shaped dwellings of woven reeds called “wiikiaami.” Men of the native groups worked outside the home doing manual labor such as hunting and trading with European colonizers while women tended to a more traditional gender role inside the home managing domestic life. Over the 1600s with more and more influence and presence of European colonizers, peace became more and more difficult to maintain. After a conflict known as the Beaver Wars, most native groups left the area that is now Indiana, however, you can visit the Indiana Dunes State Park to see remnants of the battles fought there.
Indiana hosts several events during National Native American Heritage Month (November) to honor the Native American groups that were once prominent in the area.
Did You Know?
The original state capitol was in Corydon until 1825 when it was moved to Indianapolis.
The Indianapolis state capitol building was completed in 1888.
In 1988, the Statehouse was returned to its original Victorian splendor in one of the more noteworthy preservation efforts in America.
The Statehouse dome rises to a height of 105 feet up to the inside stained glass dome and another 130 feet to the top of the dome on the outside of the building.
In the rotunda, large statues represent the interests of the Indiana state government: the male statues of Law and Oratory and the female statues of Justice, Agriculture, Art, Commerce, Liberty, and History.
Some interesting busts of Hoosier natives can be found near the rotunda:
Stephen Neal, author of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which was a major amendment for civil rights right after the Civil War
Thomas Hendricks, former Indiana Governor, and U.S. Vice-President
Daniel Vorhees, a key figure in establishing the Library of Congress
The state seal has been used since 1801 and was officially adopted in 1963. The meaning behind the seal is "how the early people of Indiana overcame the wilderness."
As with other states, Indiana has a wide and diverse historical background.
Indiana as we know it is very different from how it started. Located past the Appalachian mountains, on the coasts of the Great Lakes, the region that we now know as the Hoosier state was once a great spot for native tribes to settle. The tributaries all throughout this region made for fertile soil and easy access to fresh water. Several native groups called this region home until 1795, when the Treaty of Greensville was adopted. This treaty allowed early settlers to occupy land north of the Ohio River.
The reasons that native groups settled in this midwest region were the exact same reasons European colonizers sought to expand their territories. Settlers from all over Europe explored and eventually settled in varying locations of Indiana. The French came first, through the Great Lakes connection in Canada. The Proclamation of 1763 prevented British colonizers from crossing the Appalachian mountain range until the formal end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783. During the 1780s, several Americans found their way to Indiana and remained there. In the mid-1800s, many settlers were from Germany and Ireland.
Pre-Civil War History
The 1816 constitution of Indiana strictly prohibited involuntary servitude or slavery. Being a free state, Indiana had very special towns that participated in emancipatory movements such as the Underground Railroad. One of the leading towns was New Albany, a city located just off the Ohio River where slaves would cross over and continue their northward trek from New Albany.
Though Indiana was a free state, it was not easy to be a Black person during this time. Henry Lane Stone, a prominent politician of Indiana, was a Republican at the time and held the belief that slavery should not be spread, but would not be considered an abolitionist. Shortly after the beginning of the Civil War, Stone ended up fighting for the Confederacy. It is speculated that he was a staunch believer in states’ rights and that is why he left the Union to fight for the Confederacy.
Henry Lane Stone’s story is not an uncommon one to see during this time, as official reports say that over 190,000 Hoosiers fought for the Confederacy. While that number is large, a vast majority of Hoosiers fought for the Union, and, though women were not allowed to enlist, one Indiana woman faked her gender and joined up. Mary E. Wise’s parents were dead and her only living relative, her brother, joined the cause. She lived and fought as a Civil War soldier for two years, even sustaining an injury but was never found out to be a woman. In another battle, she sustained an. injury to the chest where her secret was then found out and she was not eligible to for re-enlistment and was declined her payments. Wise eventually worked her way up to the President of the United States who then contacted the paymaster that had denied her payments and told him that she had served as a soldier and deserved to be paid for her service.
Overall, historians would be remiss to not hold Indiana’s efforts in the Civil War in a place of high honor. Hoosiers participated in a total of 308 battles in sixteen states and one territory during the conflict, including the most well-known battles such as the Battle of Gettysburg.
It is important to note that while Indiana was a free state and most Hoosiers fought on the side of emancipation, this was still not a state friendly to African-American people living there. The passage of the 13th Amendment (liberating slaves) and the 14th Amendment (granting citizenship to freed slaves) were relatively easy going through Indiana’s General Assembly. However, the 15th Amendment which gave the right to vote, was heavily debated in the General Assembly. In fact, the ratification of this amendment did not see swift changes in Indiana. The state did not allow Black people to vote or freed Black people into the state until around 1881 when Indiana finally allowed voting equity.
Elected officials during Reconstruction Conrad Baker was elected governor, he focused heavily on Indiana’s debts and reduced them significantly by the time he left office. He also focused on reform in prisons. Baker left office and was succeeded by Thomas A. Hendricks who was in power during the Panic of 1873. The Panic of 1873 did not severely impact Indiana’s growth however, there was rioting and serious arguments between employees and employers. Some of these disagreements were so out of hand that local law enforcement could not handle it, so troops had to be dispatched to settle the crowds.
After the Civil War and during the reconstruction eras, Indiana’s economic development skyrocketed. Railroads got their start in the Hoosier state in the late 1840s/early 1850s, but post-Civil War, the industry bloomed and Indianapolis became a hub for freight cars. The stations in Indianapolis were connected to stations in New York, Chicago, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Industrially, business was booming and growing exponentially. More rural populations began moving to cities seeking gainful employment, so cities started adjusting the way they housed people. Instead of log cabins, wood-framed homes with brick were seen more commonly.
Agriculturally, business was also booming. Steel plows, mechanical mowers, and reapers made farmers’ jobs much easier. However, these advancements did not guarantee a profit or that the crops would cooperate. This expansion really benefitted the northern part of the state where the terrain is more flat which also gives way to better agricultural terrain. Due to the hilly terrain that made laying train tracks harder and more expensive and the inconsistencies in the ground itself, the southern part of the state’s economic development was very different than that of the northern parts.
Women and children were huge parts of Indiana’s workforce with the rise of factories and mills. Though businesses were producing high amounts of products, factory workers were experiencing terrible working conditions and as a result, labor unions were born. Eugene V. Debs created the American Railway Union in 1893 and his group saw vast successes, most notably the Pullman Strike in 1894 where all train movement west of Chicago was halted when train workers walked out. Eventually, labor laws were passed, but unions are still a functioning and important part of Indiana work environments.
During World War I and World War II, Indiana developed very speedy vehicles including aircraft and automobiles. Allison Engineering Company developed a transmission that allowed longer use and quicker reaction times which helped the Allied Forces defeat the Axis Powers during World War II. Indiana’s engineering here led to its involvement in speed racing and horse racing.
Today, the Hoosier state is known for southern hospitality, basketball, and hosting the greatest spectacle in motor racing.
People Also Ask...
If you are interested in more information about the state of Indiana, then keep reading — we have compiled answers to the most common FAQs below. Plus, test your newfound state knowledge by taking our quiz on U.S. States!
What is Indiana known for?
Indiana is often known as the "Crossroads of America." It is famous for its Indianapolis 500 car race, and it's also known for its rich farmland and the beautiful dunes along Lake Michigan. The state is also known for being the home of the renowned University of Notre Dame and Purdue University.
When was Indiana founded?
Indiana was admitted to the United States as the 19th state on December 11, 1816.
Why is Indiana called the Hoosier State?
The origin of the term "Hoosier" is somewhat of a mystery, but it's been the nickname for people from Indiana since the early 1830s. Some theories suggest it might have derived from a Native American word or an old slang term.
Famous Indiana Natives and Residents
Theodore Dreiser writer;
Bernard F. Gimbel merchant;
Virgil Grissom astronaut;
Phil Harris actor and band leader;
John Milton Hay statesman;
James R. Hoffa labor leader;
Michael Jackson singer;
Buck Jones actor;
Alfred C. Kinsey zoologist and sexologist;
David Letterman TV host and comedian;
Carole Lombard actress;
Shelley Long actress;
Marjorie Main actress;
James McCracken tenor;
Steve McQueen actor;
Joaquin Miller poet;
Paul Osborn playwright;
Cole Porter songwriter;
Ernest Taylor Pyle journalist;
J. Danforth Quayle former vice president;
James Whitcomb Riley poet;
Knute Rockne football coach;
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