Indiana 9th District
The southeastern corner of Indiana swelled with new settlers in the early 19th century as Southerners, or “Butternuts,” came across the Ohio River from Kentucky or over the mountains from Virginia. They built the first large Indiana settlements. Today, you can see their work in the marvelous old buildings of Madison, now a quiet hamlet but once one of the busiest ports on the river. Its landmark Broadway Fountain first appeared at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. It arrived in Madison in 1886, thanks to the Independent Order of Oddfellows, which had purchased it after the exposition. Farther down the river is Corydon, which was the state capital from 1816 to 1825. Its early 19th-century buildings are well preserved. These small towns were bypassed first by the railroads, then by U.S. routes and interstate highways, and they are remote from today’s major airports. The river remains an artery of commerce, although utilitarian barges have replaced all of the old steamers, except for riverboat casinos.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Butternut Indiana retained its affection for things Southern into the Civil War and beyond. In 1851, the state denied blacks the right to vote or serve in the militia. In 1862, the U.S. Senate expelled local politician Jesse Bright for “supporting the rebellion.” The people who live in the hills along the Ohio River have typically voted Democratic, but the Clark County suburbs of Louisville have trended Republican. This part of Indiana is now filling up with migrants from Cincinnati, which was a Yankee and German abolitionist bastion in Bright’s time but is an overwhelmingly Republican stronghold in ours.
The 9th Congressional District of Indiana comprises most of the state’s Ohio River counties. It includes tiny Milan, home to the championship high school of Hoosiers movie fame, and Indiana University in Democratic-leaning Bloomington, the largest city in the district. To the east of Milan is Batesville, home of the Batesville Casket Co., which makes the coffins for U.S. military personnel who die in the line of duty. To the west of Batesville is French Lick, a former rural resort town, well known to basketball fans as the hometown of former Boston Celtics star Larry Bird. Most of the district is culturally conservative, but the area is highly competitive politically, both in local and national elections. George W. Bush won this district 59%-40% in 2004, but John McCain won it by the much narrower margin of 50%-48.5%. Barack Obama won Monroe County and Bloomington 66%-33%.