Francis Dunlavy

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The United States Congress approved an enabling act on April 30, 1802, empowering the Ohio territory to begin the process of becoming a state. Thirty-five delegates were elected on November 1 to form a constitutional convention. Among them were Edward Tiffin, James Sargent, Francis Dunlavy, Bazaleel Wells, Nathaniel Massie, Thomas Worthington, Samuel Huntington, Ephraim Cutler, and Rufus Putnam. The delegates assembled in Chillicothe to write a constitution composed of sections from other state constitutions. This document was approved by Congress on February 10, 1803 and Ohio was admitted as the seventeenth state. The constitution is 19 pages and measures 9" x 14" (22.86 cm x 35.56 cm).

Francis Dunlavy was an early Ohio jurist and political leader.

Dunlavy was born in Virginia in 1761. He moved with his family to western Pennsylvania ten years later. He played an active part in the American Revolution and participated in several attacks against Native Americans living in the Ohio Country. In 1777, he helped construct Fort McIntosh. Five years later, he accompanied Colonel William Crawford in his campaign against the Indians.

In 1787, Dunlavy moved to Kentucky and then to Ohio in 1797. He settled near Cincinnati. Dunlavy was self-taught and was a surveyor, schoolteacher, and lawyer in Ohio before embarking upon a political career. Dunlavy participated in the Ohio constitutional convention of 1802 where he was a leading proponent for rights for African Americans. He also served in the Ohio legislature in 1803. That same year, he accepted an appointment as a judge in the Court of Common Pleas. He served as a jurist for the next fourteen years and then returned to his law practice. He died in 1839 in Lebanon, Ohio.

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