Israel Donalson

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Israel Donalson was a representative to Ohio's first constitutional convention in 1802.

Donalson was born on February 2, 1767, in New Jersey. He spent his youth in New Jersey, leaving home in 1787. He first settled near modern-day Wheeling, West Virginia, where he taught school, farmed, and also participated in several Indian conflicts. In 1790, Donalson rafted down the Ohio River to Limestone, Kentucky, where he again found employment as a school teacher. Here, he also met several important men in Ohio history, including Simon Kenton and Nathaniel Massie. Donalson served as Kenton's secretary briefly, and in 1791, he accompanied Massie to what would become Ohio to establish the village of Manchester.

Donalson arrived at Manchester on April 1, 1791. On April 22, 1791, at the request of Nathaniel Massie, Donalson began to survey land north of the town. While Donalson was completing the work, a group of Shawnee Indians captured him. Donalson was able to slip away from his captors under the cover of darkness, eventually reaching Fort Washington, which was near Cincinnati, Ohio. Undaunted, Donalson soon returned to Manchester, where he became this community's schoolteacher.

In 1797, Donalson embarked upon a career in politics, becoming Adams County's first county treasurer. He held this position until 1800. In 1802, Arthur St. Clair, the governor of the Northwest Territory, appointed Donalson as a judge on the Court of Common Pleas and as a justice of the peace. From 1801 to 1813, Donalson also served as Manchester's postmaster.

In 1802, voters of Adams County elected Donalson to the Ohio Constitutional Convention. Here, Donalson played an important role in drafting the Ohio Constitution of 1803's Bill of Rights. He also strongly opposed extending equal rights to Ohio's African-American population.

Donalson remained a prominent resident of Adams County for the remainder of his life. He died on February 19, 1860. He was the last surviving member of the Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1802.

See Also