History | Symbols | Interesting Facts | Famous People
American Indians migrated west into Indiana as European settlers took
their lands during the late 1600s.
The Shawnee, Miami, Delaware, Mahican, and Potawatomi tribes were
just a few of these different groups.
1679, French-Canadian Robert Cavelier became the first white man to see
He was searching for a water route to the Pacific Ocean.
French fur traders soon followed, establishing trading posts
throughout the area.
Forts were built during the 1720s in Miami (near Fort Wayne) and
Quiatenon (near Lafayette).
Vincennes became the first permanent settlement in Indiana about
French Indian War (1754-1763) ended with British victory and control of
all land east of the Mississippi River, including Indiana.
However British troops did not enter the Indiana region until
1777, during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783).
George Rogers Clark of Virginia led American soldiers into
Indiana to fight Britain and claim Indiana as American land.
Their victory in 1779 of Fort Sackville in Vincennes, led to
American control of the northwest.
After the war, Indiana became part of the Northwest Territory in
1800 the Indiana Territory was created.
Several Indian tribes joined together under chief Tecumseh to
fight the new settlers and save their lands.
The Native Americans were defeated in two important battles, the
Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 and the Battle of the Thames in 1813.
In 1815, many of the Native Americans left, leaving settlers free
to develop the land.
Dec. 11, 1816, Indiana became the 19th state to join the union.
Indiana struggled financially at first.
Many of the farmers that bought land from the federal government
did not have to pay taxes the first five years.
During the 1820s, the state received grants from the government
to build roads and canals.
economy improved in the 1850s, as railroad expansion linked Indiana to
East coast markets.
New industries were developed and several new businesses opened.
In 1852, the Studebaker brothers opened a wagon shop in South
Bend that became the largest wagon manufacturer in the nation.
sent food to help soldiers during the Civil War (1861-1865), but not
much fighting occurred near Indiana.
There were several inventions that led to new industries during
Richard Gatling of Indianapolis invented the machine gun in 1862.
In 1885, the first gasoline pump was developed in Fort Wayne.
Elwood Haynes of Kokomo developed the first successful
gasoline-powered car in 1894.
also became a big industry.
Natural gas was discovered near Portland and oil near Keystone.
In 1889, Standard Oil built one of the largest oil refineries in
the world in Whiting.
Nearby, United States Steel built its largest steel mill and
founded the city of Gary.
The automobile and other metal-product industries also greatly
In 1911, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway held the first
Indianapolis 500 car race.
the Great Depression (1929-1939) many lost their jobs.
By 1932, one-fourth of the workforce was unemployed.
World War II (1939-1945) required war supplies to be made and
helped the economy begin to recover.
the 1950s, Indiana’s economy continued to change from agricultural to
New farm equipment replaced many of the workers, who were left to find
jobs in the city.
Clifty Creek, one the nation’s largest power plants, was built
in Madison in 1956.