Sure, you know Michigan is the Great Lakes state. You know that we’re famous for our automobiles, cherries and music. You know that Michigan residents get a kick out of showing you where they live just by holding up the palm of their hand. But, I bet you didn’t know how Michigan got an Upper and Lower Peninsula…or that there was such a thing as the “Toledo War.” What? War with Toledo? It’s true.
In the spirit of learning more about our state, I checked on the Michigan.gov website and found this amazing bit of history.
How Michigan Became a State
After the United States became a country, Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which governed the designated land until the states (MI, OH, WI, IL and IN) were formed.
The Ordinance divided the land into sections, with one of the lines going east from the southern tip of Lake Michigan to Lake Erie. In 1803 Ohio became a state, and because the most prosperous cities seemed to be near water, its governor, Robert Lucas, drew the northern boundary of Ohio to include Toledo, the Maumee River and its mouth on Lake Erie.
Years passed, and in 1833 Michigan met the required population of 60,000 people and applied for statehood. A constitutional convention took place in 1835 to create the constitution for the state. Michigan drew its southern border based on the Northwest Ordinance, which was further south than the border drawn by Ohio. This posed a problem.
Michigan’s governor tried to strike a deal with Ohio, but to no avail. In fact, Michigan’s statehood request was denied because it included land that belonged to Ohio.
In December 1834, Michigan sent people to Ohio to settle the problem. In response, Ohio’s governor established Lucas County on the same land that held Michigan’s Port Lawrence County. Michigan passed a resolution that said anyone accepting office in the Toledo Strip would be fined or face prison time unless they were from Michigan or were a federal official. President Andrew Jackson then got involved and told Michigan’s governor, Stevens T. Mason, that he would remove him from office (a power only allowed at the time because Michigan was not yet a state). Mason wouldn’t back down.
He led his militia to arrest Ohio officials and surveyors who were in the process of remarking the land boundary. That triggered what was known as the Toledo War. While no one died, it was clear that both sides were angry and not backing down. Two years and a few small fights later, the matter was settled by a vote in Michigan. President Jackson removed Governor Mason, and the militia was disbanded.
Congress passed a bill that would admit Michigan as a state if it accepted a compromise: the Toledo Strip would go to Ohio, and the western three-quarters of the Upper Peninsula would go to Michigan. It took some time for residents to accept this compromise, but on January 26, 1837, Michigan was admitted as the 26th state in the Union.
Pretty interesting, don’t you think? Check out these historical photos of Michigan through the years. Maybe you’ll be inspired to think of what we can do to continue to make Michigan great for future generations. An easy way to support our state is by buying Michigan-made products when possible. Buy Michigan Now is a good place to start for tips and locations of businesses and restaurants you can support right here in the Mitten.
Happy Birthday, Michigan!
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