HOOSIER HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS: The Federal Court Comes to Indiana

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Hoosier History Highlights

February 28 - March 6

The Week in Indiana History


1817     Congress organized Indiana as one judicial district and a federal court was established.  Benjamin Parke, a territorial judge from Vincennes, was appointed by President James Monroe to serve as the first district judge.  The court met in the state capital of Corydon.  It moved to Indianapolis when the seat of state government was transferred there.  For more about Benjamin Parke, see "Did You Know?" in the right column.



1913     On the same day that thousands of Suffragists were marching in Washington, D. C., over 500 women confronted lawmakers at the Indiana Statehouse.  "Women to the right of them and women to the left of them," reported the Indianapolis Star, "women in the corridors and in the doorways, women everywhere, and on every woman a yellow streamer bearing in black letters, 'Votes for Women.'"  Governor Samuel Ralston cheerfully agreed to wear one of the streamers on his coat.  

Will Hays


1921     Will Hays, from Sullivan, Indiana, became United States Postmaster General.  Appointed by President Warren G. Harding, he was sworn in by another Hoosier, Supreme Court Justice Willis Van Devanter from Marion.  The following year, Hays became Chairman of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America.  In that position, he enforced what became known as the "Hays Code," which set moral standards for Hollywood movies.  


1932     Indiana Governor Harry G. Leslie offered all state resources to Colonel Charles Lindbergh and his wife Anne in the aftermath of the kidnapping of their 20-month-old son.  The Lindberghs had been guests at the Governor's Mansion and were widely admired by Hoosiers.  The baby's abduction from their New Jersey home dominated the news, commanding banner newspaper headlines and front-page stories for the next six weeks.   

Helen Keller

1941     Helen Keller was the honored guest at Memorial Stadium in Gary.  She had recently been named one of the 10 outstanding women in the world.  Though blind and deaf, she was an inspirational and successful author, political activist, and lecturer.  She was accompanied on her trip to Gary by her long-time secretary, Polly Thomson.  

Birch Bayh

1972    Indiana United States Senator Birch Bayh introduced amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965.  The new legislation, classified as Title IX, called for an end to gender discrimination and provided equal opportunities to women in public education.  Signed into law in June of 1972, Title IX has had a far-reaching effect, especially in women's sports.  

Abe Martin Sez:  Folks that think it's fashionable t' be late must feel simple when they git someplace an' find ever'thing gittin' along fine without 'em.  (Indianapolis News,  March 3, 1920)


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Indiana Statehouse Tour Office

Indiana Department of Administration

You are invited to take a "Virtual Tour" of the Statehouse.  Just click the link at the bottom of this column.

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Indiana Quick Quiz

From the names below, select the  FOUR who have served Indiana in the United States Senate.

Homer Capehart     

Maurice Thompson    

Benjamin Harrison     

Dan Coats     

Booth Tarkington

Vance Hartke

Answers Below 

Hoosier Quote of the Week


"The First Amendment should give us all equal voice.  A millionaire should not get a million-dollar voice."

- - - United States Senator Birch Bayh (1928-2019)

Did You Know?


Benjamin Parke

     Benjamin Parke was born in 1777 in New Jersey, but he certainly left his mark on Indiana.  He moved to Vincennes in 1799 and, in 1804, became attorney general of the Indiana Territory.  He was also a member of the Territorial House of Representatives.  He soon was elected to serve as the first Territorial Delegate to the United States Congress in Washington,    D. C.  In 1808, he returned home to join the staff of Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison.  He fought alongside Harrison at  the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.  Back in  Vincennes, he  founded the public library and was one of the first trustees at Vincennes University.  A Territorial Judge for nine years, he was appointed to the Federal Court in 1817.  He served in that position until his death in 1835.  Parke County is named for this important Indiana pioneer.  


Statehouse Virtual Tour

ANSWERS:  Homer Capehart, Benjamin Harrison, Dan Coats, Vance Hartke