History db 7

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reading assignment for this discussion is chapter 17-19 

The question is attached and a copy of the book is attached as well 

This discussion forum provides an opportunity for you to engage
course material and your classmates to critically reflect on issues
raised by the material.

To participate in this forum, choose ONE of the question sets below
and answer ALL of the questions for the topic option in a 250-300
word post. Your post title should have the topic clearly listed (for
example, “Colonial Legacies – British dominance on the Great Lakes” 

In order to get full credit on your original post, you need to clearly
connect your responses to historical evidence from the book,
powerpoint slides, or further research. Indicate the page number
where you found the information to help me and your classmates
follow up to gain insight.

Answers to the question in each option can be found in all 3 chapters
assigned this week. For option 2, I encourage you to listen to the NPR
podcast on “The Long Hot Summer” which discusses the work of the
presidentially appointed Kerner Commission, which studied the
causes of riots that frequently gripped American cities in the mid
1960s, culminating in the riots in Detroit which many see as a turning
point in our region’s history.

Topic Option 1: Boom and Bust Economy. Using examples from all
three chapters this week, how did Michigan’s status as the automative
capital of the world  1. Make Michigan one of the strongest economies
in the United States? 2. Make Michigan one of the most vulnerable
economies in the United States?  3. Based on your reading, why does
Michigan’s economy remain tied to the automotive industry? Is this
good or bad?

Topic Option 2: Urban decline. 1. What were the causes of
demographic shifts in Michigan during the 1950s that brought
Michiganders out of urban and rural areas and into the suburbs? 2.
Based on this week’s readings and readings and discussions from
Weeks 5 and 6, what were some of the unique social and economic

challenges facing the City of Detroit in the 1950s and 1960s. 3. Based
on your reading (and the optional podcast), were the July 1967 riots in
Detroit primarily about racial tensions or some mixture of other

Fifth Edition

Bruce A. Rubenstein and Lawrence E. Ziewacz

A History of the
Great Lakes State








f th



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s Sta









The fifth edition of Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State
enhances its reputation as the leading survey of Michigan history from
the pre-Columbian period to the present. This new edition features
expanded coverage of a wide variety of issues that continue to shape
Michigan history, including the socioeconomic impact of tribal casino
gaming on Michigan’s Native American population; environmental,
agricultural, and educational issues; the latest developments in the
Jimmy Hoffa mystery; Michigan’s return to prominence in collegiate
and professional sports; Detroit’s revitalization and subsequent tailspin;
the state’s deepening economic decline since 2008; and more. A
new chapter, titled “Reinventing Michigan,” explores the obstacles
faced by Michiganders living in Detroit and throughout the state from
the Great Recession to the present, and looks at ways Michigan is
renewing itself for a brighter future.

BRucE A. RuBEnstEin is Professor of History at the University of
Michigan-Flint. A native of Port Huron, Michigan, he has co-authored
two books with Lawrence Ziewacz: Three Bullets Sealed His Lips
(1987) and Payoffs in the Cloakroom: The Greening of the Michigan
Legislature, 1938-1945 (1995), both dealing with Michigan’s political
history. He also authored Chicago in the World Series, 1903-2005: Cubs
and White Sox in Championship Play (2006), in addition to numerous
articles on baseball and Indian-White relations in Michigan.

LAwREncE E. ZiEwAcZ, late Professor of American Thought and
Language at Michigan State University, was a native of Sault Ste.
Marie in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He co-authored two books with
Bruce Rubenstein: Three Bullets Sealed His Lips (1987) and Payoffs
in the Cloakroom: The Greening of the Michigan Legislature, 1938-
1945 (1995). He also co-authored The Games They Played: Sports in
American History (1983) and was co-advisory editor of The Guide to
United States Popular Culture (2001).

Also available
as an e-book 9 781118 649725

ISBN 978-1-118-64972-5



A History of the Great Lakes State

FiFth Edition

Bruce A. Rubenstein
University of Michigan—Flint

Lawrence E. Ziewacz

this edition first published 2014
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, inc.

Edition history: harlan davidson, inc. (1e 1981, 2e 1995, 3e 2002, 4e 2008)

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1 2014


introduction vii

1 the original Michiganians 1

2 the new Acadia 16

3 Under the Union Jack 42

4 Wilderness Politics and Economics 57

5 Challenges of Statehood 70

6 decade of turmoil 85

7 defense of the nation 102

8 Radicals and Reformers 115

9 Early Ethnic Contributions 130

10 Grain, Grangers, and Conservation 142

11 development of intellectual Maturity 157

12 Wood and Rails 176

13 the World of Wheels 195

14 From Bull Moose to Bull Market 210

15 depression Life in an industrial State 231

16 inequality in the Arsenal of democracy 249


17 Fears and Frustration in the Cold War Era 261

18 the turbulent 1960s 274

19 Challenges of the 1970s 287

20 toward the twenty-First Century 299

21 Entering the new Millennium 317

22 Reinventing Michigan 334

Appendix A: Governors of the territory and State of Michigan 344

Appendix B: Counties, dates of organization, and
origins of County names 346

Appendix C: Michigan’s State Song 351

Appendix d: Michigan’s State Symbols 352

index 353


Writing a state history is generally thought to be a thankless task. Geographic
areas complain of being slighted; every city views itself as living in the shadow
of the major metropolis; and ethnic groups are perceived as either receiving
too little or too much emphasis. Yet, it is these very complaints which make the
recitation of a state’s history worthwhile. in a very real sense, these voices of
discontent are the state’s history. throughout Michigan’s existence as a state,
the western portion of the lower peninsula and the entire upper peninsula have
felt dominated by the power and influence of the eastern lower peninsula,
especially detroit. it is this continuing sense of being neglected which has
given rise to movements in the upper peninsula to break away and become
a separate state. Moreover, for better or worse, much of Michigan’s history
is the history of detroit, and it is understandable that smaller cities
should  feel frustration as they pale by comparison to the Motor City.
Likewise, even though ethnic groups, both white and nonwhite, have
contributed mightily to the state’s growth, their contributions have been
minimized because of a “melting pot” syndrome which demands that native
cultures be abandoned so that everyone can become “American.”

While mindful of these past truisms, this book endeavors to present
Michigan’s history in a different fashion. to be sure, there are the traditional
accounts of the impact of the French and British, the rise of the automobile
industry, and the tales of lumbering and mining—no story of Michigan would
be complete without them. however, this volume intends to go beyond the
well-known aspects of the state’s development; it intends to tell the story of the
people of Michigan. Special emphasis is given to American indians and their
fight to survive in a “white man’s world,” the struggle for black rights and
women’s suffrage, and the contributions of white ethnics. this book is not


intended only to glorify the state, its people, and its accomplishments, for
that would be a distortion of reality. thus, stories are told of Ku Klux Klan and
Black Legion violence, the anti-Semitism of prominent Michiganians such
as  henry Ford and Father Charles Coughlin, the disregard for civil liberties
during the “Red Scares” of 1919–20 and the McCarthy period, and the riots,
both racial and otherwise, which have plagued the state since 1837.

this most recent edition includes new material covering such diverse
topics as the Bath School Massacre in 1927, corruption in the Michigan
legislature during World War ii and the assassination of State Senator
Warren hooper, Michigan politics in the twenty-first century, the fall of
detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and the economic and societal travails of
detroit, and the prospects for a restoration of the state to its past national

Like all states, Michigan has grown because of the boldness, wisdom,
strength, and creativity of its citizens. Missionaries, explorers, warriors, s tates-
men, politicians, inventors, business entrepreneurs, civil libertarians, educators,
artists, and laborers in factories and fields have joined to shape Michigan’s
heritage. this book is their story—the history of the Great Lakes State.

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

the original Michiganians

For generations, most schoolchildren have been told by well-meaning teachers
that their national heritage began in 1492 with Christopher Columbus’ discov-
ery of America. Scandinavian scholars have objected to this interpretation,
claiming that Leif Ericson arrived in north America before Columbus. in an
effort to retain their national pride, italian historians countered by promoting
another of their countrymen, Amerigo Vespucci, as the true discoverer of
America. European arguments over who discovered the north American con-
tinent are interesting, but they ignore a basic fact: non-Europeans lived on the
continent for at least 14,000 years before any European arrival. thus, it is
impossible for any European nation to claim “discovery.” Some scholars refute
this argument by saying that Europeans can still boast discovery because they
had never before seen north America. the foolishness of this contention was
shown in 1975 when an iroquois college professor from new York boarded a
plane, flew to Rome, and upon arrival, announced that because his people had
never been to italy before he was claiming that land for the iroquois nation by
right of discovery!

ironically, indians, so named by Columbus because he was certain that he
had landed in india, lived in western Europe long before any Europeans estab-
lished permanent colonies in north America. English fishermen, working the
newfoundland coast in the early 1500s, captured several natives and took them
to England as examples of the “savage inhabitants” of the new World. After a
few years, the amusement of viewing indians diminished and another fishing



expedition returned the captives to their homeland. immediately these indians
spread tales of their adventures and told fascinated friends and relatives of the
“world across the sea.” English culture and language clearly had intrigued the
captives and they taught “white man’s words” to their people. therefore, when
the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620 they were astounded when a
descendant of one of those early visitors to England greeted them in English
and assured them that others in his village spoke the language fluently. While it
would be an exaggeration to say that indians knew English “fluently,” it is fair to
say that Europeans do not even have a valid claim to being the first English-
speaking residents of north America.

throughout the years whites have been puzzled as to how indians arrived on
the continent and from whom they were descended. Several far-fetched ideas
have been put forth to answer these questions. An early popular theory was that
indians came by ferry from Europe. disbelievers said that such a hypothesis
was ridiculous and that the only logical answer was that indians were descend-
ants of people from the lost continents of Mu and Atlantis. in the 1600s,
Puritans asserted that indians were descendants of the “Lost tribe of israel,”
who had wandered so long and far that they had been stripped of all godly
qualities and had become savage “Children of the devil.” this theory was
accepted for over two centuries, although it, like the others mentioned, has
absolutely no basis in fact.

By the late twentieth century, there were two accepted theories on how
indians arrived on the north American continent. Most anthropologists believe
that small bands of indians crossed the Bering Straits from Siberia approxi-
mately 14,000 years ago. Such a crossing was made possible because during the
ice Age sea levels declined and land bridges were formed linking Asia and
north America. Since the continents are separated by a mere fifty-six miles, it
is assumed by many anthropologists that ancestors of the modern Eskimo were
the first settlers of north America. Many indians, however, accept a second
theory. they believe that the Creator placed them on the continent, and that
they have always been its inhabitants. Whichever theory is valid perhaps can-
not be conclusively resolved. however, one point is indisputable: indians were
the original native north Americans.

The Three Fires

When Europeans first arrived on the north American continent, approximately
100,000 indians, or 10 percent of the total indian population north of Mexico,
lived in the Great Lakes region. of the several tribes residing in what is now

The Original Michiganians 3

Michigan, the most numerous and influential were the ottawa, Chippewa, and
Potawatomi. these tribes, which originally were united, split sometime before
the sixteenth century, with the ottawa remaining near Mackinac and in the
lower peninsula, the Chippewa going west and north into Wisconsin and
the upper peninsula, and the Potawatomi moving down the eastern shore of
Lake Michigan. All continued to live harmoniously, without defined territorial
boundaries, and never failed to recognize their common Algonquian language,
dialect, and culture. they thought of themselves as a family, with the Chippewa
the elder brother, the ottawa the next older brother, and the Potawatomi the
younger brother, and referred to their loose confederation as the “three Fires.”

the Chippewa, or ojibwa, who inhabited the northern upper Great Lakes
area, were the largest Algonquian tribe, estimated at between 25,000 and 35,000
at the time of European arrival in the new World. in order to survive in their
harsh environment, the Chippewa lived in small bands, usually consisting of
five to twenty-five families, who could sustain themselves on the available food
sources. during the summer, bands moved to good fishing sites and used
hooks, spears, and nets to catch whitefish, perch, sturgeon, and other food fish.

Figure 1.1 indian tribes in the Great Lakes region from the time of European explora-
tion to 1673.


Men also hunted small game, while the elders, women, and children gathered
nuts, berries, and honey. A portion of the gatherings and fish catch was dried
and set aside for use in the winter. in the autumn, wild rice and corn were har-
vested, and hunts for large game, such as deer, moose, and caribou, were organ-
ized. As the “hunger Moon” of winter set in, food grew scarce and families
shared what little resources they possessed with their relatives. Sharing those
items most valuable and scarce was an economic and physical necessity among
band-level people in order to survive. in the spring, maple sap was collected,
boiled, and made into syrup and sugar for their own use and trade. While
Chippewa in the lower peninsula engaged in limited farming, most of the tribe
acquired agricultural staples through trade with the ottawa and Wyandot.

Like all band-level people, the Chippewa did not possess highly organized
political structures. Leadership in their classless society was based on an indi-
vidual’s hunting or fishing skill, physical prowess, warring abilities, or elo-
quence in speech. Leaders had no delegated power but maintained influence
through acts of kindness, wisdom, generosity, and humility. Positions of leader-
ship always were earned and could not be passed from generation to generation
as a hereditary right.

Chippewa social structure centered around approximately twenty “super-
families” called clans. Each child belonged to his or her father’s clan, and thus
clans traced the line of an individual’s descent. Furthermore, because marriage
had to occur between different clans, a strong intratribal unity was fostered.

the second of the three Fires, the ottawa, was estimated to number nearly
four thousand at the time of white arrival. Living in bark-covered lodges in the
northwestern two-thirds of the lower peninsula, the ottawa followed a subsist-
ence pattern similar to that of the Chippewa, except that during the summer
months they engaged in extensive farming. the ottawa became known as great
traders and their name, Adawe, means “to trade.”

ottawa social and political structures were similar to those of the Chippewa,
as was the ottawa religion. the religion of the ottawa and Chippewa was
extremely sophisticated. Because indians had always lived in nature, they
thought of themselves as merely one of many elements constituting the envi-
ronment. the white concept of man being a special creation apart from nature
was foreign to every indian belief of man’s role in the universe. they believed
that a Great Spirit, Kitchi Manitou, created the heavens and earth, and then
summoned lesser spirits to control the winds and waters. the sun was the
father of mankind, the earth its mother. thunder, lightning, the four winds,
and certain wildlife were endowed with godlike powers. in the indians’ animis-
tic belief structure any object, especially crooked trees and odd shaped rocks,
could possess religious significance.

The Original Michiganians 5

to indians, religion was primarily an individual matter. At puberty each
child journeyed to an isolated sacred place where a vision was sought through
fasting. in most instances, a spirit would appear and grant the supplicant a per-
sonal spirit song and instructions for assembling a strong protective medicine
bag. this spirit became the person’s lifelong guardian, and it was a source of
great comfort for the individual to know that a spirit was taking personal inter-
est in his life.

not all spirits were benevolent. Mischievous spirits, or “tricksters,” were ever
present. these demigods were believed responsible for the annoyances of daily
life, and all frightening sounds and accidents were caused by these playful, yet
malevolent, sprites. Snakes and owls were thought to be earthly forms assumed
by evil gods. Man-eating monsters were believed to dwell in certain sectors of
the Great Lakes, and no journey was begun without first making offerings to
appease them.

the most common offering was tobacco. Manitous, or gods, were said to be
fond of this dried leaf, and it became the link between mortals and spiritual
powers. Before each harvest it was placed on the ground as a gesture of thanks,
accompanied with a request for Mother Earth to accept their offer. tobacco was
put on streams to assure plentiful harvests of wild rice and bountiful catches of
fish, on graves to placate the dead, and at all holy sites. the ottawa and
Chippewa considered tobacco so sacred that they insisted on smoking it with
whites at treaty councils to signify that the accord was sanctioned “in the eyes
of the Great Spirit.” Later missionaries, however, refused to honor what they
considered “savage superstitions” and collected the tobacco offerings for distri-
bution among their half-blood interpreters.

Chippewa and ottawa religion was a refined system of cultural beliefs, based
more on feelings than a formalized creed, which was perpetuated by oral tradi-
tion and adapted to fulfill the spiritual needs of its followers. it was no more
primitive than the ancient Greek and Roman religion which also used polythe-
ism, legendary cultural heroes, and symbolic rituals to explain the “unexplain-
able.” indians personified the elements because they were in awe of them and
wished to demonstrate to the gods their desire to live in harmony, not competi-
tion, with nature. Unfortunately for later indian‒white relations, only the
Catholic Jesuit missionaries made any attempt to understand the indians’ feel-
ings toward their environment.

Missionary work among the indians of Michigan was doomed to ultimate
failure because it demanded that indians undergo a total social and cultural
revolution. Missionaries did not separate the concepts of Christianity and civi-
lization. they thereby committed themselves to destroying the indians’ culture
in order to save their souls and prepare them for life in white society. When the


mass of indians refused to comply with the wishes of the preachers, churchmen
angrily said that their task was hopeless because “when a tribe or nation has
reached a certain point in degradation, it is impossible to restore it.” in truth,
their failure was because of an inability to comprehend the intricate sensibilities
of the indian religion. Consequently, among all aspects of indian culture, reli-
gion best withstood the onslaught of assimilation.

Like other Great Lakes indians, the ottawa believed that the most important
social custom was reciprocity. this was basically the idea of doing something
for someone, or giving them something, with the expectation that they would
do something in return. there were three types of reciprocity practiced among
the indians. First was general reciprocity. this was usually done between close
relatives and assumed a balanced exchange. the distinguishing feature of this
type of reciprocity is that part of the transaction could be based on future con-
siderations; that is, one person would do something immediately and trust the
other party to do something of equal worth for him in the future. the second
type was balanced reciprocity. this was the most common form and consisted
of a straight trade of goods and services assumed to be of equal value. Such a
trade was made between distant relatives, or nonrelatives, who were not as well
known to each party. the final type was negative reciprocity. this was extremely
rare and occurred when one party knowingly attempted to cheat the other.
When word spread of such behavior, the guilty party was ostracized from future
trading functions.

Europeans never fully understood reciprocity because in its broadest sense it
implied sharing as a way of life. the root difference between the races in this
respect is that Europeans, who believed in private property, hoarded in expec-
tation of gaining increased profits. indians, by contrast, did not believe in pri-
vate property, but rather had only communal and personal property. Communal
property belonged to the band as a whole. Personal property belonged to an
individual and was understood to belong to that person, but could be borrowed
by anyone. in other words, everyone in a community had access to everyone
else’s materials. Likewise, it was unthinkable in indian society, before white
contact, for one person to have two of an item while another person had none.
it was understood that everyone would share. Reciprocity and sharing was the
heart of indian economic and social organization.

the third major tribe was the Potawatomi, who received their name from the
Chippewa term “Potawatamink,” which means “people of the place of the fire.”
Because they were primarily an agricultural people, this name probably derived
from their practice of burning grass and brush to clear fields for cultivation.

Potawatomi life, like that of their kinsmen, followed the rhythm of the sea-
sons. during the summer, they formed large villages, usually near fertile lands

The Original Michiganians 7

along rivers and streams. Women planted corn, squash, beans, melons, and
tobacco, while the men took to the forests and waterways to hunt and fish. in
the fall, final harvesting was made, and the villages were moved into the heart
of the forests where winter hunting would be best and protection from winter
winds was afforded by the trees. in the spring, maple sap was collected for use
as sugar.

the most noteworthy aspect of Potawatomi social structure was the practice
of polygamy. if a man married women from different clans, the union joined
not only the individuals but also their entire clans. Marriage thus brought
together large numbers of people as a family unit. Since it was considered
essential to have as many relatives as possible to survive and care for each other
in times of need, this practice was extremely beneficial.

Potawatomi culture, like that of the ottawa and Chippewa, had well-defined
roles for every member of society. Men were expected to hunt, fish, trap, trade,
and defend the tribe. Women farmed, cooked, sewed, made camp, and raised
children. Youngsters were taught to respect their elders and gain wisdom from
them. having been raised amid an atmosphere of love and respect, indians
perpetuated a society based on strong family ties.

Effects of White Contact

European arrival in the Great Lakes area during the seventeenth century led to
gradually increasing disruptions in the comparatively stable indian culture.
initial changes were not great, but as contact became more prolonged and
intense, its effect on indians was pronounced. Material culture was the first
aspect of indian life to undergo alteration. European trade goods quickly
brought the substitution of iron knives and axes for those of stone. iron farm
implements replaced ones made of wood. iron and brass arrowheads took the
place of those from chipped stone. Brass kettles displaced native pottery vessels,
and ultimately guns replaced bows, arrows, and lances.

By the mid-1700s, Michigan’s indians were almost completely dependent
upon European trade goods. Many indians no longer made their own tools,
utensils, or weapons, and, as a result, native skills in handicraft gradually
diminished. Economic dependency altered the indians’ relationship to the
environment by disrupting the traditional subsistence hunting-and-gathering
pattern. Because indians could not obtain European merchandise without sup-
plying furs, which had become the established medium of exchange, they
placed an ever-increasing emphasis on hunting and trapping. Even agricultural
bands turned to the forests to provide them with currency to purchase white


trade goods. no longer was the food quest the dominant reason to hunt, and no
longer was the balance of nature an important consideration. the overriding
goal then had to be successful commercial hunting—the increasing slaughter of
animals for their pelts. As the fur supply dwindled in their home area, many
indians ventured beyond their own territory into that of their enemies. often
these dangerous treks took them so far from their camps that they could bring

Figure 1.2 indians ceded their lands to the United States government by a series of
treaties. this map shows how the federal government obtained title to Michigan from
the state’s original owners. Base map data source from RS&GiS, Michigan State
University (www.rsgis.msu.edu).

The Original Michiganians 9

back only the furs, while leaving the once invaluable meat behind to rot. indians
took many risks in order to assure continued favor of the white traders.

Eventually, white contact caused changes in the indian political structure. the
traditional classless society with leaders who led by example was transformed
into one with powerful chiefs holding well-defined positions of authority.
Whites expected indians to have leaders with power to speak for an entire band.
to satisfy this expectation, and to expedite trade and treaty making, chiefs were
voluntarily granted by their followers previously unknown amounts of respon-
sibility. White contact even resulted in the creation of the position of “trading
chief,” whose sole function was to negotiate trade agreements for his band.

introduction of whiskey among the indians by European traders also had a
marked impact upon their culture. henry Rowe Schoolcraft, a lifelong observer
of Michigan’s indians, wrote that “whiskey is the great means of drawing from
him [the indian] his furs and skins.” the sad result was that indians often
would even sell their personal and family possessions to buy alcohol. Schoolcraft
further believed that the introduction and use of alcohol, along with white-
induced diseases, idleness, and a lack of food, accounted for the indians’ grad-
ual population decline. his observation was accurate, as these forces reduced
the number of indians in Michigan to an estimated 8,000 by 1900. Clearly,
indian involvement in the fur trade started a dramatic, and disastrous, change
in native culture.

Effects of Assimilation

in the decade following the Civil War, Michigan’s indians experienced a rebirth
of cultural pride. during the first seventy years of the nineteenth century
Michigan’s indians had ceded their land to the federal government by treaties,
accepted missionaries, and welcomed settlers. they had dealt with whites in
good faith and sought to live harmoniously with them. By 1870, however,
indians began to reassess their relationship with whites. they noted that in
return for their friendship, government officials had refused to protect them
from timber thieves and speculators. indian agents often used their position to
defraud, rather than protect, their wards. Missionaries, who had promised
to educate indians and prepare them for life in white society, often had proved
to be false friends, involved in graft and land frauds. Settlers, forgetting the aid
given them by indians in the past, began to depict indians as obstacles to civi-
lization and progress. Bitter memories of this type of white injustice and ingrat-
itude made indians resentful of all attempts to assimilate them into a society
they had grown to consider corrupt and treacherous. indian hatred of whites


grew in proportion to the increased numbers of frauds and swindles perpe-
trated upon them. Although they were too poor and ignorant of their rights to
protest actively against white treachery, Michigan’s indians were determined to
do more than suffer in stoic silence. Most resolved that they would never totally
abandon their native heritage and become “red white men.” White culture
would be adopted only as it became necessary for survival.

oblivious to rising indian hatred, indian department officials noted only
the superficial change occurring in the indians’ way of life. they claimed that
indian willingness to accept private property, wear white-style dress, attend
Christian churches, learn English and arithmetic, and work at “white man’s
labor” was proof that indians were eager to abandon their old ways and become
civilized. Michigan’s indians were touted by department officials in the 1870s
as being contented, prosperous “models of assimilation.”

department officials were incorrect, however, as the state’s indians were not
“models.” they attended Christian churches not because they believed that
Christianity was a superior religion, but rather to placate their Methodist
indian agents, receive food, shelter, and clothing, and partake in social gather-
ings and festivals. they went to “white schools” to learn basic skills in order to
survive in communities filled with people eager to cheat them. White-style
dress was accepted partly because it was received as gifts and partly because it
was not perceived as a threat to native culture. Some worked at “white indus-
tries” because they needed money to feed and clothe their families, but most
chose labor that involved their native skills of hunting, fishing, forestry, and
manufacture of artifacts. What federal officials thought was a willingness to
assimilate was, in reality, an attempt to preserve indian culture while living in
white society. indians accepted elements of white culture to supplement, not
supplant, their native beliefs.

Michigan’s indian residents desired only equality from their white neigh-
bors. they wanted fair treatment under the law, wages comparable to those
paid whites, and, most of all, they wanted to share in the freedoms promised all
Americans in the Bill of Rights. indians neither possessed religious freedom
nor received due process of law. despite theoretical “full equality” granted by
the 1850 state constitution, Michigan’s indians, by virtue of their race, religion,
and economic condition, were second-class citizens. At the turn of the twenti-
eth century, the state’s ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi would have been
satisfied with “separate but equal” status, as they believed that their lives would
be improved if isolated from the evils of liquor, moral debauchery, disease, and
corruption associated with white society.

Sincere friends of the indians tried to assist them but were thwarted by state
politicians and judges controlled by lumber and railroad interests. to most

The Original Michiganians 11

whites, indians were not human beings, but obstacles to economic growth for
the state. Accordingly, avarice took precedence over humanitarianism, and the
state’s indians continued to be denied both moral and legal justice.

Indians in Modern Michigan

during the twentieth century, Michigan’s indians fared little better. Following
World War i, American industry boomed and income soared, but Michigan’s
indians did not share in the prosperity. Because they were not white, they were
not hired to work in the automobile plants and other related industries—
industries that needed workers so urgently that they recruited them from other
states! in desperation, many indians decided to become “white,” to give up their
cultural heritage and try to conceal their indian blood simply to obtain a job
and survive. Even this failed, however, for a study made for Governor William
G. Milliken in 1970 related that poverty was still the rule among indian house-
holds, especially in rural areas.

in 1970, nearly 40 percent of indian households had incomes less than the
national poverty level of $3,000 and 29 percent of rural families brought home
less than $1,000. in rural regions much of the low income level was because of
a high number of retired persons living on Social Security, but omitting these
people from the survey left almost 40 percent of the rural households earning
less than $3,000. this economic plight grew worse, as the 1980 census revealed
49 percent of Michigan indian households were near or below the national
poverty line, compared to the state average of 11 percent.

Much of the poverty was a direct result of extremely high levels of unemploy-
ment among indians. Approximately 25 percent of heads of indian households
in 1970 were out of work, and among those heads of households under thirty-
five years of age the figure increased to 39 percent. Most of this was because of
a lack of training and education. indian children in Michigan in 1970 had a
60 percent dropout rate from high school. Some left school because they felt
alienated, others left because they did not think that a “white education” would
benefit them, and still others left because they had to help support their fami-
lies. despite the various reasons, they did not receive a diploma, and without at
least a high-school degree, the only jobs available were low paying, unskilled,
manual labor.

Poverty directly creates another problem—poor health. Among unemployed
heads of households nearly 30 percent reported a physical disability that
restricted the types of labor they could do. Poor health affects the entire house-
hold of poverty-stricken people, and the very young are especially hard hit.


infant mortality, which was 20 per 1,000 among the general population in 1970,
reached 90 per 1,000 among indians, and 16 percent of all urban indian fami-
lies interviewed for the governor’s survey claimed to have lost a child within
one year of its birth.

Another problem indians face is how to get to a potential job. Among
employed indians in 1970, nearly 40 percent had to travel more than five miles
daily to get to their place of work and 75 percent of these people owned an
automobile that was in good operating condition. however, 60 percent of the
unemployed indians did not have access to an automobile and could not get to
a job even if one were offered.

Yet another reason for high unemployment among indians is the lack of
available child care. nearly 20 percent of indian heads of households in 1970
were women. however, a mother could not accept a job if she had to pay
a babysitter because there was no one available to care for her children.
Consequently, many women remained on Aid to dependent Children or

in the final twenty-five years of the twentieth century, however, Michigan’s
indians began to make significant strides to better their economic condition,

Figure 1.3 the poverty of rural indians in modern Michigan is evident in this photo
of a typical home in the upper peninsula. Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative

The Original Michiganians 13

but their success elicited a new wave of anti-indian sentiment throughout the
state. in May 1979 Federal Judge noel Fox issued a decision reaffirming the
rights of the state’s indians, as set forth by an 1836 treaty, to fish on the Great
Lakes. the department of natural Resources and the state’s sport fishermen
protested the decision on the incorrect assumption that it granted indians
unregulated and unlimited fishing, a practice that could quickly deplete the
lakes. Many upper peninsula residents, especially near Sault Ste. Marie, threat-
ened physical violence to stop indian fishermen.

Virtually all of the fears of sport fishermen were unwarranted. Judge Fox’s
decision did not permit unregulated fishing, but rather instructed indians
to work with the department of the interior to establish mechanisms for
self-regulation, management, and enforcement. Moreover, indians were com-
mercial fishermen, and it would have been contrary to their best interests to
overfish the lakes. nevertheless, conservation groups kept up their relentless

in an attempt to quell the unrest, in 1985 a fifteen-year plan for joint use and
management of the Great Lakes was agreed upon by the federal government,
the state of Michigan, and the indians. the treaty waters of Lakes Superior,
Michigan, and huron were divided into three management zones with defined
uses, fishing techniques, and allowable catch limitations. indians were granted
exclusive rights to commercial fishing on the lakes, and in return they con-
sented to relinquish claims to certain sectors of the lakes and not to do com-
mercial fishing in designated sport fishing areas. As well, indians pledged both
to use trap, rather than gill, nets in selected areas so that sport species of fish
could be released safely and to avoid totally fishing in trout rehabitation areas.

to fulfill the terms of the 1985 pact, in August 2000, representatives of the
federal government, the State of Michigan, and the indians signed an agree-
ment aimed at rebuilding the fish population in the upper Great Lakes and
improving strained relations between whites and indians living in the northern
lower peninsula and upper peninsula. this pact called for indians to sharply
reduce their use of large-mesh gill nets and replace them with trap nets. the
State of Michigan agreed to pay $17 million to buy boats equipped with trap
nets and give them to indian fishermen. For its part, the federal government
consented to pay $8.3 million to the tribal governments of the five bands of
ottawa and Chippewa affected by the new agreement.

Another positive economic advance for the state’s indians was casino gam-
bling. Beginning with a single indian-owned casino at Sault Ste. Marie on
July 4, 1984, reservation casinos expanded rapidly during the following twenty
years. in 2011 Michigan’s twenty-two indian casinos represented a $1.4 billion-
a-year industry that offered not only employment for 19,800 people, but also


respect from the business community and the promise of a better life for their
children. in 2004, the Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa, the largest federally recog-
nized indian tribe east of the Mississippi River, for example, spent $2 million in
casino profits on tribal social programs such as road construction, improved
police and fire protection, ambulance service, and community and school rec-
reation programs, and set aside another $5 million in a tribal trust fund. By
2007, the tribe had opened ten health-care centers in the upper peninsula,
making it the largest health-care provider for indians throughout the Great
Lakes region. in the lower peninsula, the Little traverse Bay Band of ottawa,
whose casino in Petoskey had made the tribe the second largest employer in
Emmet County, has contributed more than $7.7 million to the Petoskey com-
munity as its share of gaming revenues, including nearly $1.2 million in 2006.
A further economic boom for the state’s indians began in 1993, when Governor
John Engler signed a compact with the state’s seven tribes, clearing the way for
discussion of indian-operated off-reservation casinos in detroit, Flint, and
Port huron. taking advantage of this compact, as of 2007 the Sault Ste. Marie
tribe had established five off-tribal land casinos, including the Greektown
Casino in detroit. Also by 2012, the number of federally funded tribes in
Michigan had grown to twelve and the number of indian-operated casinos on
tribal land had reached twenty-two, with legislative approval pending for
another twenty-two. in accordance with the agreement between Governor
Engler and the indians to permit casino gambling with an exclusive right to slot
machines, 8 percent of that revenue was required to be returned to the state to
be used for economic development. Among the projects assisted by the indian
contributions was the construction of Comerica Park, which received
$55 million from the fund to purchase land and pay for the demolition of build-
ings on the site of the detroit tigers’ new home. in 2010 the tribal casinos paid
$61 million dollars to state and local governments. thus, for the first time since
the arrival of Europeans, indians have hope for economic independence; yet,
more must be done.

in the face of such obstacles as racial discrimination and stereotyping, the
plight of Michigan’s indians, who, according to the 2000 census number
58,479 or .06 percent of the state’s population, will not be easy to alleviate, but
it can be accomplished. throughout the state, indian community action
groups are dedicating themselves to support for improved educational oppor-
tunities. in the United States, in order to succeed, an education is an absolute
necessity. Educated people receive better jobs, have better health, and enjoy
the fruits of society. Education is the key that will unlock the chains of centu-
ries of repression for Michigan’s indians. there is no other acceptable

The Original Michiganians 15

For Further Reading

Several excellent works have been published describing indian customs, religion, and
way of life. Among the most readable and informative are W. Vernon Kinietz, The Indians
of the Western Great Lakes, 1675–1760 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1940)
and Chippewa Village: The Story of Katikitegon (Bloomfield hills: Cranbrook institute of
Science, 1947); George i. Quimby, Indian Life in the Upper Great Lakes (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1960); Robert E. and Pat Ritzenthaler, The Woodland Indians
of the Western Great Lakes (Garden City: natural history Press, 1970); Charles E. Cleland,
A Brief History of Michigan Indians (Lansing: John M. Munson Publication, Michigan
history division, Michigan dept. of State, 1975); R. david Edmunds, The Potawatomis:
Keepers of the Fire (norman: University of oklahoma Press, 1978); and Edmund J.
danziger, Jr., The Chippewas of Lake Superior (norman: University of oklahoma Press,
1978). Archaeological background of Michigan’s earliest inhabitants may be found in
John R. halsey (ed.) Retrieving Michigan’s Buried Past: The Archaeology of the Great Lakes
State (Bloomfield hills: Cranbrook institute of Science, 1999).

Specialized topics concerning indian life are covered in Gertrude Kurath, Michigan
Indian Festivals (Ann Arbor: Ann Arbor Publishers, 1966); Frances densmore,
Chippewa Customs (Washington: U.S. Government Printing office, 1929); Bruce A.
Rubenstein, “to destroy a Culture: indian Education in Michigan, 1855–1900,”
Michigan History, LX (Summer 1976); Bernard C. Peters, “hypocrisy on the Great Lakes
Frontier: the Use of Whiskey by the department of indian Affairs,” The Michigan
Historical Review (Fall 1992); Susan E. Gray, “Limits and Possibilities: indian-White
Relations in Western Michigan in the Era of Removal,” The Michigan Historical Review
(Fall 1994); James E. Clifton, “Michigan indians: tribe, nation, Estate, Racial, Ethnic, or
Special interest Group,” The Michigan Historical Review (Fall 1994); donald L. Fixico,
“the Alliance of the three Fires in trade and War, 1630–1812,” The Michigan Historical
Review (Fall 1994); and Melissa F. Pflug, “Politics of Great Lakes indian Religion,” The
Michigan Historical Review (Fall 1992).

Early efforts to depict indian life are always interesting, but must be read with care, as
their scholarship is often faulty. the three best and most accurate accounts written in
the nineteenth century are henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Personal Memoirs of a Residence of
Thirty Years with the Indians on the American Frontier .  .  . 1812–1842 (Philadelphia:
Lippincot, Grambo & Co., 1845); William W. Warren, A History of the Ojibway Nation
(Minneapolis: Ross and haines, 1957 reprint); and Andrew J. Blackbird, History of the
Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan (Ypsilanti: Ypsilanti Job Press, 1887).

Among the most recent accounts are Charles E. Cleland, Rites of Conquest (Ann
Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992), which offers a detailed general history of
the state’s indians, and Edmund J. danziger, Jr., Survival and Regeneration (detroit:
Wayne State University Press, 1991), which sets forth the struggle of detroit’s indian
residents during the twentieth century. A more archeological perspective is henriette
Mertz, The Mystic Symbol: Mark of Michigan Mound Builders (Colfax, Wisconsin:
hayriver Press, 2009).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

the new Acadia

France, Europe’s wealthiest and most populous nation, did not enter the race
for new lands until 1522. Prior to that time, France’s economic and political
interests remained centered in the Mediterranean area. Spurred by accounts of
Magellan’s success in circling the globe, the French sought to become the first
European nation to discover the shortcut to the spice-rich orient. in 1523
Giovanni de Verrazano, an italian navigator, sailed under the French flag and
explored the north American coast from Virginia to newfoundland, but
reported that he could not find a passage to the East.

French motivation for discovery and exploration in north America was
predicated primarily on finding both a short route to the orient and great
amounts of precious metals. these motives, which remained constant during
much of the French presence in north America, help to explain most of the
differences between the French and English colonization efforts. no English
colony was founded to secure a passageway to the East, while the French con-
stantly kept probing the interior regions in an effort to find such a route. French
efforts were also aided by geography. While the English remained clustered
along the Atlantic coast, barred from westward expansion by the seemingly
impenetrable Appalachian Mountain Range, the French faced no such obstacle.
Following the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes, French voyagers and
explorers used highways of rivers to advance rapidly into the interior of north


The New Acadia 17

Eleven years after Verrazano’s voyage, Jacques Cartier made the first of his
three ventures to the new World in search of the “northwest Passage” to China.
While sailing into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, he encountered iroquois indians
whom he assumed had had previous meetings with whites because upon his
arrival they displayed furs to trade and hid all their young women.

Returning to France, Cartier received financial backing for another voyage.
on this second trip, in 1535, Cartier revisited the iroquois village of Stadacona
(Quebec) bringing with him two sons of Chief donnacona, whom he had taken
with him to Europe on his previous voyage. From Stadacona Cartier was eager to
make his way down the St. Lawrence to the indian village of hochelaga
(Montreal). Fearing that his people would lose a portion of the French trade if
such a trip was made, Chief donnacona warned Cartier that he would freeze to
death amid the ice and snow of hochelaga. Undeterred, Cartier sailed north to
hochelaga, which proved to be a village of approximately fifty lodges, surrounded
by vast cornfields. these indians told Cartier of a great river to the West where
people lived who wore European clothes and used tools of gold and silver.

Pleased with this knowledge, Cartier returned to Stadacona, but, having
grown suspicious of donnacona, the French leader decided to construct a fort
at the present site of Quebec City. having done so, Cartier and his men prepared
to meet their first Canadian winter. Fierce, howling winds, subarctic tempera-
tures, and blinding blizzards caught them unprepared, however. Starvation,
exposure, and scurvy resulted in the loss of twenty-five men, and the toll might
have been even higher had not indians shown the whites how to prepare a tea,
from the bark and pine needles of white cedars, that was rich in Vitamin C. in
the spring, Cartier sailed for France, taking with him donnacona and several
other indians, none of whom would ever return to their homeland.

Although many Frenchmen were interested in Cartier’s discoveries, internal
political problems and religious strife prevented him from obtaining immedi-
ate support for a third voyage. Finally, in 1540, King Francis i decided to estab-
lish a permanent French colony in Canada. Because Pope Alexander iV in 1493
had divided the non-Christian world into spheres belonging to either Spain or
Portugal, Francis needed an acceptable rationale to receive the church’s blessing
for his enterprise. Citing the need to Christianize savages in the new World, the
king selected Jean François de la Rocque, Sieur de Roberval, a noted soldier and
court favorite, to head the next expedition to the new World. Cartier was to
accompany him as master pilot and guide. the church sanctioned the voyage,
but since Roberval was Protestant, Francis’ sincerity in wishing to propagate
the Catholic faith is dubious.

the king opened the treasury and lavish funds were provided to amass ten
ships, several hundred soldiers and sailors, trained craftsmen, livestock, and

Figure 2.1

The New Acadia 19

supplies. Recruitment of volunteers proved difficult, however, and expedition
leaders had to resort to combing prisons to fill their manpower needs. in May
1541, Cartier, with five ships, set sail for north America, but because of a short-
age of supplies and weapons, Roberval did not depart for another year. Upon
arriving in Canada, Cartier erected another fort near Stadacona. on this occa-
sion his men discovered what Cartier believed were diamonds and gold. Quickly
he dispatched two ships to France to inform the king of his great discovery.

Cartier and his men endured another difficult winter, suffering both from
nature and constant harassment from hostile indians seeking revenge for their
missing chief. Fearful of being overrun by the indians if they remained,
Cartier and his men sailed for France in the spring. Reaching St. John’s in
newfoundland, he encountered Roberval, who ordered him to return to
Stadacona. inexplicably, Cartier disobeyed this order and continued to France,
leaving Roberval to conduct all further explorations.

Roberval then founded a colony near Cape Rouge, which he said was “a con-
venient place to fortify ourselves in, fitted to command the main river, and of
strong situation against all our enemies.” Severe weather, scurvy, and constant
indian hostility, however, forced Roberval to return to France just as Cartier
had done earlier.

this entire expedition was a failure. no passage to the East was discovered
and Cartier’s gold proved to be nothing more than iron pyrite and his diamonds
mica. All Cartier had given France was a new saying, “as false as Canadian dia-
monds!” the only thing which made the trip worthwhile was that Cartier did
discover the ottawa River, which would later become the French highway into
the north American interior.

internal religious struggles again dominated French politics and the govern-
ment turned its attention from settling the new World. Attempts by French
merchants in 1580 to organize expeditions to north America proved disastrous
because of competitive rivalries, and eventually the French government, fol-
lowing the precedent of the English, resorted to chartering private companies
to promote settlement and trade, with emphasis on the latter. Beginning in
1588 France once again was involved in commercial and colonization efforts in

Samuel de Champlain

Samuel de Champlain was truly the “Father of new France.” Born in 1567,
Champlain fought courageously under the banner of henry of navarre during
the French religious wars. After the treaty of Vervins brought peace with Spain


in 1598, Champlain sailed for the Spanish and spent three years in new Spain,
gathering valuable knowledge of the new World. Later he returned to France
and wrote a narrative of his adventures, which established his reputation as an
explorer and cartographer.

in 1603, Pierre du Guast, Sieur de Monts received from the French govern-
ment a ten-year monopoly on trade and settlement in Canada, provided that he
settle sixty persons there. in 1604, de Monts set sail with Champlain as his
cartographer, and the following year they established France’s first perma-
nent  settlement at Port Royal, which would become the capital of Acadia.
Unfortunately, Port Royal was too near new England and was virtually inde-
fensible. As well, French merchants had convinced the king to reinstitute free
trade and in 1607 de Monts lost his monopoly.

Undaunted, de Monts commissioned Champlain to explore the St. Lawrence
region for settlement possibilities. in 1608, Champlain founded a colony at the
site of Cartier’s outpost near Stadacona. From this base Champlain launched a
systematic program of explorations of the continent’s interior and established
the framework for indian relationships that determined French and indian
alliances until the end of the French presence in north America. What made
Champlain truly extraordinary, however, was his vision of Canada’s future.

Figure 2.2 the Battle of ticonderoga, 1609. this 17th-century sketch depicts
Champlain defeating the iroquois in 1609. the European concept of superiority is evi-
dent as Champlain is almost singlehandedly defeating the foe. Library of Congress,
Washington, d.C., LC-USZ62-108526.

The New Acadia 21

he sought to create not merely a fur post, but rather a strong permanent colony
populated by enterprising settlers. his plan put him in direct opposition with
private companies who sought only profits from the fur trade and feared that
large numbers of settlers would ruin their industry.

in 1609, Champlain and two companions aided a party of huron warriors in
a battle against a band of Mohawk, who belonged to the powerful iroquois
Confederation. three Mohawk were slain and a dozen captured and tortured to
death. Because the French had been friendly with enemies of the iroquois in
earlier years, this action solidified iroquois hostility toward the French.

Champlain undertook further explorations along the St. Lawrence in hope
of both finding the elusive “northwest Passage” and encouraging other
Frenchmen to plunge even deeper into the interior. that he succeeded in his
latter goal is demonstrated by the 1622 expedition of Étienne Brûlé. Brûlé, who
had spent several years living among the huron, and a companion canoed to
the present site of Sault Ste. Marie, where they viewed the rapids through which
Lake Superior empties into Lake huron. twelve years later, again under the
auspices of Champlain, Jean nicolet became the first white man to traverse the
Straits of Mackinac, follow the shore of Lake Michigan, and arrive at Green Bay.
his voyage was a personal disappointment, however, as he had been told by
indians that his course would lead him to “stinking water.” nicolet interpreted
this to mean the briny Pacific ocean, which, if true, would mean that he had
found the inland route to the orient. Unfortunately, he discovered only the less
than fresh waters of Green Bay. he did, however, deeply impress the indians
who came to meet him, as he was attired in a colorful silk robe which he had
donned in anticipation of landing in Cathay.

Missionaries and their Activities

Missionaries played an instrumental role in French exploratory efforts.
Recollect priests under Father Joseph LeCaron performed missionary work
among the huron at Quebec as early as 1615. ten years later the Recollects
invited the Jesuit order to assist them in their work. All missionary activity
ceased in 1629 with the English capture of Quebec, but it began anew in 1633
when Champlain arrived bringing 200 settlers and four Jesuit priests to reestab-
lish the colony that he had founded twenty-five years earlier. Jesuits gradually
expanded their work among the huron and made their headquarters at Sault
Ste. Marie.

the course of French missionary activity was dramatically altered by the
iroquois wars which began in 1646. For nearly two decades French settlements


along the St. Lawrence had been harassed by the iroquois, but the greatest con-
flict was between the iroquois and their indian neighbors. in a series of devas-
tating raids, the huron, who had assisted the French in the fur trade, were
crushed by the iroquois in 1649 and driven from the Great Lakes region, while
the Erie and Petun were virtually exterminated. Many eastern tribes fled west
to escape the iroquois fury. in so doing, they forced indigenous western tribes
such as the Sauk, Fox, Mascouton, and Potawatomi to relocate farther west.

not only indians perished by the iroquois tomahawks, as numerous French
missionaries suffered torture and death. Among such martyrs were Fathers
Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel L’Alemant. Brébeuf especially suffered horrible tor-
ture. the iroquois slung red-hot tomahawks over his neck and fastened a bark
belt around his waist and ignited it. When the priest continued to pray, his lips
and tongue were cut off. he was then scalped while still living, and after his
death his heart was cut out and devoured in honor of his bravery. in 1653,
iroquois brutality against the French and their indian allies was finally stopped
when a coalition of ottawa and Chippewa defeated a large body of iroquois
near Sault Ste. Marie at a site still known as iroquois Point.

The Crown Takes Control

in 1661 the Crown’s colonial policy underwent a drastic revision. King
Louis XiV, imbued with a desire to make France the dominant European power,
personally assumed control of governmental affairs. he then decreed new
France a royal colony and canceled all existing trading charters. his chief min-
ister, Jean Baptiste Colbert, shared the king’s vision of expanded French power
through the acquisition and exploitation of colonial possessions. not only did
Colbert seek to import furs, but also he sought to institute a full mercantile
policy. his goal was for new France to provide naval stores and timber for the
mother country, while foodstuffs and barrel staves from Quebec would be sent
to the French West indies in return for rum, molasses, and sugar. in short,
France was to create a colonial economic policy similar to England’s successful
“triangular trade.”

to assure the achievement of these goals the government established new
political structures for the colony. the central body was to be the Sovereign
Council. this group was composed of the royal governor, who was in charge of
the army and indian affairs, the intendant, who controlled internal and finan-
cial matters, and a bishop, who was in charge of ecclesiastical affairs. other
council members included a record’s clerk, attorney general, and five (later
increased to twelve) councilors, who represented the interests of the merchants.

The New Acadia 23

initially the governor appointed the councilors, but beginning in 1675 their
commissions came directly from the king, thereby assuring their complete
independence from the governor. in practice the real power rested with the
intendant and in time he tended to exert more authority, while the council as a
whole limited itself to judicial matters.

Jean Talon—“The Great Intendant”

the first, and perhaps greatest, of new France’s intendants was Jean talon, who
arrived in Canada in 1665 charged with the responsibility of expanding the
colony’s population and making it economically self-sufficient. one of his first
projects was the revision of the seigneurial system. Previously the Crown had
granted land to nobles or seigneurs who had sworn an oath of loyalty to the
state. in return for the land, usually a narrow strip leading back from a river,
the seigneur promised to erect a manor house, encourage tenants to settle upon
the land, provide a flour mill, and dispense justice. the Crown ultimately con-
cluded that this policy was a failure because the seigneurs received more terri-
tory than they could possibly convert into farmland. thus, the Crown removed
the seigneurs from their role as emigration agents and relegated them to the
position of “making land grants and adopting concrete measures to develop
their estates.” talon also claimed for the Crown some of the previous grants
made to defunct charter companies and divided these lands into numerous
seigneuries three to six miles wide and six to nine miles in length, usually with
frontage on either the St. Lawrence River or one of its tributaries. these new
landowners possessed social prestige, but lacked political power since each of
the new divisions was under the domination of the military.

no systematic settlement plan could be initiated until the iroquois threat was
removed. Consequently, one of the first moves instituted by the Crown was to
dispatch hundreds of regular troops, including the crack Carignan Salières
regiment, to quell the indian uprising. Although initial military campaigns
proved either disastrous or inconclusive, continued military pressure, com-
bined with losses sustained from a smallpox epidemic, forced the iroquois to
sign a peace treaty in the summer of 1667.

once the indian menace had been removed, at least temporarily, talon
sought to stimulate immigration from France both by offering free land and
transportation to Frenchmen willing to settle in Canada and by giving special
land grants to soldiers willing to remain in north America after the expiration
of their tour of duty. As well, nearly 1,000 “King’s daughters,” orphan girls and
daughters of poor families, were imported and, according to one source,


“the fattest went off best, upon the apprehension that these being less active,
would keep truer to their engagements, and hold out better against the nipping
cold of the winter.” Even over 1,000 criminals were added to the immigration
list. to further stimulate marriage and procreation, talon placed penalties on
bachelors and provided tax relief and “baby bonuses” to those who married and
had large families.

After 1675, few immigrants arrived from France, since the Crown began to
fear the effects of populating new France at the expense of old France.
nevertheless, talon’s policies brought about an enormous population increase.
in 1666 there were 3,200 people in new France; by 1673 the population had
more than doubled to 6,700. the population continued to grow steadily, even
without official Crown support, and by 1750 it had reached 76,000.

Before talon returned to France in 1672, he introduced such new crops as
flax and hemp and imported quality livestock so that new France’s agricultural
volume and quality was significantly improved. Shipbuilding was encouraged
and trade with the West indies was fostered. Yet Colbert’s plan for a diversified
colonial economy failed because Crown grants to colonial industries ceased in
1672, and without this source of financial support, they could not survive.
thus, much to Colbert’s disappointment, fur trading remained the economic

Figure 2.3 “L’arrivée des Filles du Roi” (“the Arrival of the Brides”), by Eleanor
Fortescue Brickdale. talon and Laval receive King’s daughters as they arrive from
Quebec in 1667. Library and Archives Canada, Acc. no. 1996-371-1.

The New Acadia 25

staple of new France. in fact, with the quelling of the iroquois, new lands open-
ing, and the setting of beaver pelt prices by ministerial decree, the fur trade
became even more lucrative and appealing, and it grew at an astounding pace.

Talon and the West

Colbert desperately attempted to restrict the fur trade because he feared that it
would eventually draw away all the healthy young men of the colony from
their farming endeavors. Seeking to restrain expansionist tendencies, Colbert
informed talon “that it would be better to restrict oneself to an amount of land
that the colony would be able to sustain on its own, rather than to embrace too
vast an area whereby one would perhaps one day be obliged to abandon a part
with some reduction of the prestige of his Majesty and of the State.” Canadien
voyageurs and talon largely ignored Colbert’s admonitions and edicts aimed
at keeping Canadiens within settled areas. the lure of profits and an exciting
life proved irresistible to young Frenchmen. Clad in colorful shirts, gaudy
sashes, and festooned caps, these voyageurs sailed the lakes and rivers in
birchbark canoes, living both with and like indians. talon overtly violated
Colbert’s instructions by encouraging exploration and sending groups to the
West and north to search for minerals and a passage to the western sea. in
1669 a party under the command of Adrian Jolliet was sent to explore the cop-
per regions of Lake Superior. the men returned via a lower lake route, passing
through the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and Lake Erie, which opened an
alternative to the established ottawa River–Lake huron passage. on their
homeward voyage, they encountered a party of Frenchmen which included
René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, and Fathers François dollier de Casson
and René de Brehant de Galineé. Using information furnished by Jolliet,
the priests proceeded to Sault Ste. Marie, while La Salle chose to explore the
detroit region to the south.

to consolidate French claims to western lands, an expedition under the
command of Simon François, daumont de Saint-Lusson, arrived at the Sault.
on June 14, 1671, with representatives of fourteen indian tribes in attendance,
St. Lusson planted a cross and post bearing the Royal Seal. in the name of the
king of France he claimed possession not only of Sault Ste. Marie but also
Lakes huron and Superior and “all countries, rivers, lakes, and streams con-
tinuous and adjacent there unto; both those which have been discovered and
those which may be discovered hereafter, in all their length and breadth,
bounded on one side by the seas of the north and West, and on the other by
the South Sea.”


The Revival of Missionary Activity

the iroquois onslaughts of 1648–49 that had virtually annihilated the huron
forced French missionaries temporarily to abandon their work. in 1660, Pierre
Esprit Radisson brought information to Montreal that huron survivors had
moved to the western shore of Lake Superior. his information was sound, as
following the iroquois defeat in 1653, he, accompanied by Medart Chouart,

Figure 2.4 Simon-François, daumont de Saint-Lusson as pictured by C. W. Jefferys.
in 1671, Lusson arrived at Sault St. Marie and claimed the region for the king of France.
Canada’s Past in Pictures, toronto, ottawa, Canada: the Ryerson Press, vers1934, p. 52.
Université d’ottawa, CRCCF, Collection générale du Centre de recherche en civilisation

The New Acadia 27

Sieur de Groseilliers, made several trips to the Michigan‒Wisconsin area.
Radisson and Groseilliers sought unsuccessfully to convince French authorities
to establish permanent trading posts and missions in the Canadian north.
Strangely, French authorities ignored their reports concerning the feasibility of
trading posts; ironically, however, the English were much impressed by them
and as a result created the hudson’s Bay Company. their accounts did inspire
Father René Menard, a former missionary to the huron, to accompany a fur-
trading expedition to the West in order to reestablish contact with his former
charges. Because of ill-health, Menard did not expect to return alive, but his
mission was deemed so important that in the autumn of 1660 he left Montreal
to journey to the upper peninsula. in the winter he arrived at L’Anse, having
endured a trek plagued by storms, hunger, and iroquois attacks.

in March 1661, Menard, along with several fur traders, made his way to
Chequamegon, near the present site of Ashland, Wisconsin. the indians living
there were not huron, but while Menard was there, a huron arrived and told
him that his people lived farther inland and were dying of famine. hearing this,
Menard and a young assistant set out several months later to find the huron
camp. during their quest Menard and the youth became separated, and Father
Menard was never seen again.

it was not until 1665, after the French had quelled another iroquois uprising,
that Father Claude Allouez was able to retrace the steps of Father Menard.
Allouez accompanied an ottawa trading party that arrived at Chequamegon
october 1, 1665. Learning nothing about the fate of Menard, Allouez founded
a mission at La Pointe du Saint Esprit, where he labored several years. While
there he heard many stories of a great river, located a six-day journey to the
west, that was said to empty into the sea. Allouez sent this information to his
Jesuit superiors, which prompted them to expand their missionary endeavors.
Another priest was sent to aid Allouez and in 1668 Father Claude dablon
arrived at the Sault to head the ottawa mission. Later that same year Father
Jacques Marquette was ordered to Chequamegon and Allouez was dispatched
to the Green Bay region. From Green Bay, Allouez moved to the illinois coun-
try and then ended his days ministering to the Miami and Potawatomi of the
St. Joseph Valley in southwestern Michigan. he died in 1688, at the age of
fifty-eight, and was buried near the present site of niles.

Père Marquette

Father Marquette was born in 1637 and hoped to be a missionary in the orient.
his Jesuit superiors deemed otherwise, and in 1666 he found himself in Canada.
in 1668, after two years at the Sault, he succeeded Allouez at Chequamegon.


While there, Marquette immersed himself in illinois indian lore, learning the
language, and studying the geography of the area. Like Allouez, he had heard
tales of a great river flowing north to south and he desired to investigate its
existence. in 1671, hostilities between the Sioux and huron forced Marquette
to flee with his followers to the safer confines of Mackinac island. Soon after-
ward he moved across the Straits and built a mission on the upper peninsula
side. the dream of finding the “Great River” still haunted him and was his
foremost desire.

Unknown to the Jesuit his prayers were to be answered. intendant talon
commissioned Louis Jolliet, Adrian’s younger brother, to seek “the great river
called Mississippi and which, it is believed, discharges itself into the sea of
California.” A former Jesuit who had drifted away from religion and into the fur
trade, Jolliet consulted with Father dablon who suggested that Marquette be
included in the exploration party. Jolliet acceded to the request, and when
Jolliet arrived at St. ignace in december 1672, Marquette was overjoyed to learn
that dablon had ordered him to accompany the expedition.

in May 1673, Jolliet, Marquette, and several voyagers sailed off in two bark
canoes. they crossed Lake Michigan, reached Green Bay, paddled up the Fox
River until they had to portage to the Wisconsin River, followed it to the
Mississippi, and then took that river to the point where it converged with
the Arkansas River. At that point they determined that their route was not the
longed-for passage. on their return Marquette stopped at Green Bay while
Jolliet proceeded to Montreal to relate his adventures. in 1674 Marquette made
a second voyage to visit indians in illinois. during his return he became ill and
died in the spring of 1675. he was buried near the present site of Ludington, but
two years later Christian indians removed his remains and reburied them at his
mission at St. ignace.

La Salle and Frontenac

René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, was born in 1643. the son of a wealthy
merchant family, he received a Jesuit education, left France for Canada in 1666,
and arrived in Montreal where his older brother was a priest. At that time
Montreal was on the edge of the frontier and the Sulpitian order, to which
La Salle’s brother belonged, held seigneurial rights to a huge amount of land.
the order was eagerly dispensing grants so that outlying settlements would
develop to serve as a shield for Montreal against indian attacks. La Salle became
owner of a large tract of this land, located just above the Lachine Rapids eight
miles from Montreal. he soon became bored with farming and his imagination

The New Acadia 29

was fired by indian legends about a “Vermillion Sea,” which he assumed had to
be the northwest Passage. he sold his property and, in 1669, embarked upon a
journey to the Great Lakes region.

La Salle’s wanderings into the interior of north America convinced him that
the Mississippi River flowed neither into the Gulf of California nor the Pacific
ocean, but rather into the Gulf of Mexico. he believed that a fort at the mouth
of the Mississippi would protect it from both the Spanish and English. Furs
could then be shipped in safety down the river and thence by sea to France.

Eventually La Salle found a sympathetic benefactor in Louis de Buade, Comte
de Frontenac et de Palluau, a former soldier, courtier, and man of vision who
dreamed of building an empire in the new World. having squandered his fortune
in France, Frontenac, as a reward for the past service to the Crown, was sent to
Canada in 1672 to serve as its governor. he quickly perceived that furs provided a
light, valuable export for new France and, contrary to instructions from the
Crown, established a policy encouraging both fur trade and western exploration.

to help protect the budding French fur trade in the Great Lakes area,
Frontenac erected a fort at the eastern end of Lake ontario. the purpose of this
outpost, named Fort Frontenac, was to block iroquois invasions and to gain a
share of the trade that would ordinarily have enriched dutch and English mer-
chants of new York. As his men prepared to build the fort, Frontenac addressed
several hundred iroquois warriors whom he had summoned to a council:

Children, Mohawks, oneida, onondagas, and Senecas. i am glad to see you here
where i have had a fire lighted for you here, to smoke by, and for me to talk to you.
You have done well, my children, to obey the command of your Father. take
courage; you will hear his word, which is full of peace and tenderness. For do not
think that i have come for war. My mind is full of peace, and she walks by my side.
Courage, then, children, and take rest.

the indians provided no opposition and Frontenac was convinced that his elo-
quence had won them over. the real reason for their acquiescence, however,
was that they were engaged in warfare with the Andastes and Mohegans. the
Anglo-French war against the dutch had prevented supplies from reaching
their dutch allies in Albany, and therefore the iroquois were forced to trade
with the French to acquire arms and ammunition.

Colbert opposed construction of Fort Frontenac because he wanted Canada’s
population to be concentrated in villages and towns and its economy to be
based on industry and agriculture rather than furs. Frontenac, however, viewed
agricultural colonists in the St. Lawrence Valley as a foundation from which to
conduct the fur trade. As a result, when he returned to France to obtain a grant


of nobility and request ownership of his fort, Frontenac gave full support to
La Salle, whom he saw as a man sharing his own vision for new France.

La Salle received a seigneury at Fort Frontenac, and, in return, he promised
to repay the king for the cost of the post, support a garrison equal to that of
Montreal, build a colony, provide at least twenty laborers, and erect a church
when the number of inhabitants reached 100. As might have been expected,
La Salle, with his primary interest in trading, did little to fulfill his pledge.

Frontenac’s, and then La Salle’s, ownership of Fort Frontenac stirred a storm
of controversy as Montreal merchants denounced the trading monopoly held
by the post, and Jesuits opposed further endeavors to penetrate into the west-
ern interior. this sense of hostility heightened in 1676 when another outpost
was constructed, without Crown permission, at niagara.

not satisfied with his initial success, La Salle returned to France in 1677.
With the support of Frontenac and his court friends, La Salle received Crown
permission to explore the Mississippi River Valley to determine whether it pro-
vided a passage to the Pacific ocean. in return for financing the journey,
La Salle was allowed to erect a series of forts at the base of Lake Michigan and

Figure 2.5 A broadside view of La Salle’s Griffon, watercolor by M. Karl Kuttruff.
Courtesy of the detroit historical Society 1976.056.001.

The New Acadia 31

along the illinois and Mississippi rivers. he was specifically forbidden by the
Crown, however, to trade with the ottawa, who furnished the majority of furs
to Montreal merchants. to the ire and consternation of Montreal businessmen,
La Salle, again with Frontenac’s blessing, violated the provisions of the agree-
ment. the true purpose of Frontenac and La Salle had always been to establish
fur-trading posts in the West from which pelts could be shipped down the
Mississippi River to new orleans and then either to France or the Caribbean,
thereby eliminating lengthy canoe trips and portages to Montreal and Quebec.
Frontenac further aided La Salle by forbidding everyone, even those with trade
permits, from doing business in La Salle’s territory. With this support from his
friend, La Salle had secured a trade monopoly.

in early 1679, La Salle authorized henri de tonty, a former Sicilian soldier of
fortune known as “iron hand” because of an artificial limb made of that metal,
to lead a party of men in a trading expedition among the illinois indians.
Meanwhile, La Salle established a shipyard above niagara Falls, where he began
construction of the Griffon, so-named because at its prow was carved a figure
representing that mythological half-lion, half-eagle. the ship set sail across
Lake Erie and reached the detroit River on August 7, 1679. According to Father
Louis hennepin, a Recollect priest who accompanied La Salle, sights along the
voyage were spectacular.

the country between those two lakes from Lake Erie to Lake huron is very well
situated and the soil very fertile. the banks of the strait are vast meadows and the
prospect is terminated with some hills covered with vineyards, trees bearing food
fruit, groves and forests, so well disposed that one would think nature alone
could not have made, without the help of art, so charming a prospect. the coun-
try is stocked with stags, wild goats, and bears, which are good for food and not
fierce as in other countries. . . .

the forests are chiefly made up of walnut trees, chestnut trees, plum trees, and
pear trees, loaded with their own fruit and vines. there is also abundance of tim-
ber fit for building; so that those who shall be so happy to inhabit that noble
country cannot but remember with gratitude those who have discovered the way

on Lake huron the ship nearly capsized, but it withstood the stormy sea and
reached St. ignace. After the party rested a few days, the Griffon set sail for
Green Bay, where it was loaded with furs and dispatched by La Salle to return
to niagara. on this voyage, however, the Griffon was lost in a storm and pre-
sumed sunk. (it is thought that the discovery of a vessel’s remnants in 1957
about two miles northwest of tobermory at the tip of the peninsula separating
Lake huron and Georgian Bay may be that of the Griffon.)


While waiting for the Griffon’s return, La Salle continued his journey into the
illinois country, where he built a fort at Lake Peoria in the winter of 1680. news
of the loss of the Griffon, which was to have brought supplies for him and his
men, forced La Salle to abandon plans for further exploration. he and his party
trekked across Michigan back to Fort Frontenac. this incredible journey of
1,000 miles began in March 1680 and ended with their arrival on May 6, 1680.

despite the advice of friends, La Salle returned to Fort Miami, near the pre-
sent site of St. Joseph, in november 1681. From there he set out with a party of
fifty-one French and indians to explore, at his own expense, the Mississippi.
his quest was successful, and on April 9, 1682, he claimed the mouth of the
Mississippi and all lands in the Mississippi Valley for France.

Upon returning to Quebec to report his activity, La Salle discovered that his
benefactor, Frontenac, had been recalled and that the new governor agreed
with Montreal merchants who opposed further trade expansion in the West.
La Salle then returned to France, where he received permission from the king
to found a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi River and to locate forts at
strategic points along the waterway. Unfortunately for La Salle, following his
return to the new World, he was assassinated by several of his men on March
19, 1687, and his quest for fabulous wealth was left unfulfilled.

the importance of La Salle and other early French explorers cannot be
minimized. their expeditions brought the Great Lakes region into the realm of
the white man’s world. Michigan’s coastline was explored, its peninsulas were
traversed by foot, and important forts were constructed at St. Joseph, St. ignace,
and Sault Ste. Marie. the Great Lakes and Mississippi Valley were placed under
French domination, and this created a territorial rivalry with England that
continued until the French were forcibly driven from the north American
continent in the French and indian War.

Frontenac had been removed from power in 1682 because of his constant
disputes with the Sovereign Council, clergy, and intendant over such matters as
using brandy in fur trade and for acting “completely contrary to the royal edicts,
decrees, and proclamations.” A year before his ouster Frontenac had been
issued a warning from the king:

i admonish you to banish from your mind all the difficulties that you have cre-
ated so far in the execution of my orders; to behave with good-natured modera-
tion towards all the inhabitants; to strip yourself of all personal animosities which
up till now have been almost the sole incentive of all your actions; nothing being
more inconsistent with the duty you have to discharge for me in the position you
hold. . . . i see clearly everything gives way to your private enmities; and that
which concerns my service and the execution of my orders is rarely the sole
motive of your action.

The New Acadia 33

Frontenac protested his innocence, but the crux of the problem was that he
repeatedly had refused to accept the concept that Colbert and the king had
designated the intendant to control the Sovereign Council, not the governor
general. When Frontenac caned and imprisoned the son of the intendant, he
created an untenable situation, and both Frontenac and the intendant were
removed from office.

Frontenac’s successors as governor, Le Febvre de Le Barre and the Marquis
de denonville, turned their attention to trying to control the iroquois who were
being urged by their English allies to make war upon the French. denonville, in
particular, pursued an aggressive policy to quell the indian uprising by allowing
the Jesuits to build a mission near niles, directing daniel Greysolon, Sieur du
Lhut, to erect Fort St. Joseph at the present site of Port huron in order to halt
English fur traders from reaching Fort Michilimackinac by water, and ordering
an expedition against the iroquois in the summer of 1687. none of these meas-
ures proved successful and in 1689 at La Chine, outside of Montreal, the
iroquois boldly massacred 200 French. in addition, formal warfare between the
English and French was declared both on the European continent and in north
America. this conflict, known as King William’s War, was the first of four out-
breaks of hostilities between the two European powers over north America.

Faced with a desperate situation in 1689, King Louis XiV was compelled to
reappoint Frontenac as governor of new France. Frontenac had repeatedly told
the king that he alone possessed the knowledge and decisiveness necessary to
deal effectively with the iroquois, since they knew and feared him. however,
Frontenac’s initial attempts to treat with the iroquois ended in failure and
resulted only in earning him the contempt of the friendly ottawa who felt that
he was betraying them. iroquois war parties continued to attack settlements
around Montreal, striking quickly and then disappearing into the surrounding
forests. in reaction to these assaults, in January 1690, Frontenac dispatched par-
ties of voyagers and indians to attack new York, in hope that the English arms
and ammunition traffic to the iroquois could be stopped. Although Albany was
the original target, Schenectady became the focus of the attack. in the initial
onslaught sixty residents perished. in later years, an English resident recalled
that “the cruelties committed at said place no person can write nor tongue
express; ye women big with child ripped up and ye children alive thrown into
ye flames, and their heads dashed in pieces against doors and windows.”

the success of this attack encouraged Frontenac to launch similar ones
against new England. the attacks renewed the confidence of the French inhab-
itants and their indian allies but did not seriously damage the English war-
making ability; in fact, they may have merely served to goad the English
into stronger counterefforts. Subsequently, an English fleet sailed up the


St. Lawrence River and prepared to put Quebec under siege. the approach of
winter and of reinforcements from Montreal enabled the French to repel the
attack and the fleet withdrew to Boston. Small skirmishes were conducted by
both sides but neither the English nor the French possessed the superior num-
bers needed to hold their gains.

in 1697 the treaty of Ryswick was signed, which ended the war. Without
their English allies, the iroquois conducted continued sporadic warfare against
the French until 1701 when a peace treaty was negotiated. this agreement
removed the iroquois barrier that had prevented French penetration into
Michigan and the West, and opened the way for increased French exploration.

Cadillac and Frontenac

despite the war with England and the French government’s continued opposi-
tion to French traders going west, Frontenac never wavered in his support of
increased trade and expansion. in 1694 he appointed Antoine Laumet de la
Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac as commander of Fort du Buade, located at the junc-
ture of the straits between the upper and lower peninsulas. A professional sol-
dier, charming, unscrupulous, and eager to exploit the fur treasure of the West,
Cadillac eagerly accepted the position. during his three years at that post, he
managed both to amass a small personal fortune and earn the enmity of Jesuits
who opposed his liberal distribution of brandy to indians. Cadillac defended
himself on this charge by stating that brandy was “the only drink capable of
aiding them to digest the fish and bad food on which they are compelled to live”
and that a “drink of brandy after the repast seemed necessary to cook the bil-
ious meats and crudities which they leave in the stomach.” he further main-
tained that, without the medicinal benefits of brandy, sickness among indians
would have been more prevalent. When a Jesuit, unconvinced by Cadillac’s
arguments, demanded that Cadillac obey both the orders of the government
and God, the commandant reported that he made the following reply:

i told him that his talk smelt of sedition a hundred yards off and begged that he
would amend it. he told me that i gave myself airs that did not belong to me,
holding his fist before my nose at the same time. i confess i almost forgot that he
was a priest, and felt for a moment like knocking his jaw out of joint; but thank
God, i contented myself with taking him by the arm, pushing him out and order-
ing him not to come back.

Concerned that the western fur posts served no useful military purpose and
contributed to the surplus beaver supply which was driving prices drastically

The New Acadia 35

downward, in 1696 the French Ministry issued an edict stating that all western
posts were to be abandoned and no further western travel permits were to be
issued. Frontenac bitterly protested this policy, arguing that abandoning the
posts would result in France’s indian allies joining the English and iroquois to
receive trade goods. Because of the protests by Frontenac and fur traders, the
government reconsidered its position and allowed the posts to be regarrisoned,
but it still maintained that neither fur trading nor travel permits would be
allowed. As usual, Frontenac largely ignored this order and trade goods were
sent westward. Montreal merchants, seeing that the governor ignored the edict,
did likewise. thus, once again, a governmental order to limit trade proved

Frontenac continued to serve until his death in 1698. A man of charm and
flamboyance, Frontenac adroitly turned his office into a source of great power
and private gain. he was a maverick, who was never able to accommodate
himself to superior authority and administrative bureaucracy which sought to
restrict his policymaking authority. despite his independent attitude and

Figure 2.6 the arrival of Cadillac’s wife in detroit. Library of Congress, Prints and
Photographs division, detroit Publishing Company Collection, LC-d416-871.


defiance, the French government sorely missed his leadership ability in the
years following his death.

After the temporary closing of Fort du Buade, Cadillac returned to France to
try to convince the king of the need to construct a fort on the river between
Lakes Erie and St. Clair that could serve as a fortress against English incursions.
in 1698 Cadillac managed to persuade Count Pontchartrain, the minister in
charge of colonies, of the need for such a post and argued that it would cost the
government nothing since he would support it from the proceeds of the fur
trade. Receiving the required authority, Cadillac returned to Canada, set out
from Montreal with 100 soldiers and workmen, and arrived at the mouth of the
detroit River July 24, 1701. immediately a post was constructed and named
Fort Pontchartrain in honor of their benefactor. that autumn, the wives of
Cadillac and Alphonse tonty arrived. Cadillac believed that the presence of
women would help allay any fears of the pro-French indians that the post
would not be permanent. Cadillac’s venture was so successful that by 1705 so
many indians had abandoned the Michilimackinac region and moved to
Pontchartrain that the Jesuits had to close their mission at St. ignace.

Cadillac hoped to make the permanent settlement complete through con-
struction of churches, schools, and hospitals. he also sought to enlarge the
population through intermarriage with indians, which he was convinced would
assure indian loyalty and friendship as well.

not only was Cadillac a military commander, but he was also a seigneur,
which meant that he could perpetuate in the new World the concept of feudal-
ism which was becoming extinct in the old. Cadillac granted land in a truly
feudal manner. Grants were “ribbon farms” which fronted the river and usually
were 400–600 feet wide and 1½–3 miles in length. habitants who received
property were required to give Cadillac the “customary prerequisites and emol-
uments.” Cadillac controlled the gristmill, all commerce and trade, and a
monopoly on the sale of gunpowder and alcohol. he also issued all licenses for
fur trading.

Unfortunately for Cadillac, Fort Pontchartrain did not grow rapidly. By 1708
there were only sixty-three permanent residents. only 200 acres of the garrison
were cultivated and the colony’s domestic livestock consisted of a dozen
assorted cattle and a “single, forlorn horse.” the difficulty was that young
Frenchmen preferred the quick profits of the fur trade to the hard toil of hum-
ble farmers.

Various accusations hurled by his enemies made Cadillac’s command a
stormy and turbulent period. he supposedly “maintained a haughty and defi-
ant attitude” toward his administrators and charged exorbitantly high prices for
liquor—allegedly seven times the price in Montreal. of course, the clergy dis-
liked him because of his use of liquor in the fur trade. An official sent from

The New Acadia 37

France to investigate the charges against Cadillac concluded that they were sub-
stantive and commented: “i was able to observe that de la Mothe . . . was gener-
ally hated by all the French and indians. . . . i can assure you my Lord that this
aversion was not without cause, he is not hated for nothing. the tyranny that he
maintains over them both is sufficient to warrant it.” Finally, in 1710, Cadillac
was removed from command and sent to Mobile, but he was ordered to leave
his property and wealth at Pontchartrain.

Shortly after Cadillac’s departure, Pontchartrain was nearly destroyed by
indians. Cadillac had invited the Fox indians of Wisconsin to live at the post,
but the new commander informed them that they were no longer welcome.
Undaunted, the Fox remained, but the traditional French allies, the ottawa and
Chippewa, demanded that the newcomers be expelled. Forced into a precarious
situation, the French attacked the Fox, who fought back valiantly and nearly
burned the fort before being forced to retreat. Many Fox were captured and
tortured by the ottawa and Chippewa, and those who escaped returned to
Wisconsin as implacable enemies of the French.

in 1714 the market for furs began to grow again. to capitalize on the new
demand the French expanded their operations in Michigan. A new fort was
constructed at the present site of Mackinaw City to replace the earlier one at
St. ignace. trade flourished because the post was conveniently located at the
juncture of three lakes, which made it an easy rendezvous point for indians.
the erection of an outpost at the Straits coincided well with the established
French policy of maintaining western forts, indian friendship, and trade at a
minimum cost to the Crown.

By 1755 new France comprised a vast expanse of territory spanning from
the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico. At either end lay strong defenses,
but the middle was weak. in an attempt to correct this weakness, a string of
forts was erected from Lake Erie to the ohio River. in Michigan, a new garrison
was constructed at the Sault to control all fur trade passing through the upper
and lower Great Lakes. thus, the three major French posts in Michigan pos-
sessed a common characteristic: they were strategically located where large
bodies of water were connected by rivers or straits, so that anyone traversing
the Great Lakes area by water, either for trade or military purposes, had to
come under French scrutiny.

End of the French Empire

While England and France had been at war three times during the years 1689–
1748, the Michigan region had never been seriously affected, but this changed
with the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War, or French and indian War, as it was


known in north America, in 1756. War between these longtime rivals seemed
inevitable since both were seeking to exploit the valuable fur trade in the Lakes
area. Yet, their economic designs were greatly different. Since France was pri-
marily interested in trade, it sent to north America mostly trappers who had
little interest in locating suitable sites for permanent settlements. By contrast,
England sought to tame the American wilderness, put the land to the plow, and
create colonies which would be secure homes for women and children.
Consequently, by 1750, while the French claimed for themselves all Canada and
the territory between the Allegheny Mountains and the Mississippi River, their
total population in that area was barely 50,000. At the same time, the British
colonies, despite a small territorial holding, possessed a population of over
1.5 million men, women, and children. to the British, western expansion was
an absolute necessity both for increased trade and living space.

Realizing the potential weakness in their hold on north America, the French
government appointed Comte de la Galissonière governor of Canada with spe-
cific orders to strengthen French power. to do this, the new governor dispatched
Céloron de Blainville and 200 soldiers to the ohio Valley in 1749. the purpose
of the expedition was to drive out British traders and persuade the indians to
remain loyal to the French. Most tribes received the French with formal courtesy,
but some assumed a hostile attitude and proudly displayed British flags and pro-
claimed their friendship to King George. After burying lead plates and nailing
metal plaques to trees as tangible proof that the region belonged to the king of
France, de Blainville returned to Canada and was forced to admit to the governor
that overall his mission had failed to accomplish either of its intended goals.

in 1752 Galissonière was replaced by the Marquis duquesne. Upon taking
office, duquesne’s first priority was the destruction of the Miami village of
Chief La demoiselle, or “old Britain” as he was popularly known, who had
demonstrated a warlike attitude toward de Blainville. the governor commis-
sioned a half-blood trader, Charles Mouet, to gather a force of indians from
Sault Ste. Marie, Michilimackinac, and detroit for the purpose of assaulting the
enemy camp. the attack was made with such thorough brutality that not only
was the village destroyed, but also Chief La demoiselle was killed and eaten by
the victorious indians. duquesne then ordered forts to be erected at strategic
points along a line from the end of Lake Erie to the forks of the ohio. in 1753
Forts Presque isle, Le Boeuf, and Venango were constructed, and the following
year Fort duquesne was built at the junction of the Allegheny, ohio, and
Monongahela rivers.

the British colony of Virginia, which by charter claimed ownership of the
Kentucky region, was alarmed by the construction of these French posts.
Governor Robert dinwiddie, daniel Boone, Patrick henry, and other

The New Acadia 39

prominent Virginians who had heavily invested in land speculation in the
Kentucky area were determined to drive out the French. dinwiddie sent
Lieutenant George Washington with a small detachment of men to Fort Le
Boeuf to request French withdrawal. Failing in this, he was to remove the
French by force. Washington’s overtures were rebuffed and after a brief, bloody
skirmish, he was forced to retreat to a hastily constructed stockade, aptly named
Fort necessity. he was soon overwhelmed by an army from Fort duquesne and
forced to surrender. humiliated by this defeat, which proved colonial inability
to remove the French from the West, dinwiddie requested Parliament to send
British regulars to accomplish the task.

in March 1755, General Edward Braddock, with 1,500 soldiers, arrived in
Virginia to begin a campaign against the French. Braddock’s mission was
doomed to failure from the outset. Braddock refused to heed advice from colo-
nial military men, whom he considered untutored in the art of war. Upon
learning that his objective, Fort duquesne, was located 100 miles to the west
and that there was no easy route through the dense forest separating it from
Virginia, the general determined to construct a road to facilitate his march.
this decision resulted in his soldiers becoming fatigued from construction
work which made them unsuited for battle. they also lost the element of sur-
prise as the noise of the road-building reached French ears long before the
army arrived. the consequence was a disastrous encounter on July 9, 1755, in
which 330 French and indians, many from Michigan, attacked the British army
at dawn and killed Braddock and 977 of his command.

By the close of 1755, the French seemed to have a firm hold on north
America, as they controlled the trade, forts, and indians, while the British were
disorganized and leaderless. however, the French were still greatly outnum-
bered and could not risk attacking the British colonies to secure a final victory.
the French hope was to forestall British entry into the West for so long that
Parliament would decide that occupation of the area would be too costly in
money and lives and abandon all claims to it.

in 1756 the tide of the war changed with the selection of William Pitt as
England’s prime minister. Pitt’s policy was to place bold, young men in com-
mand of British forces and to open fronts against the French in Europe, india,
and the Caribbean. he thought that by turning the struggle into a world war,
the French would be forced to concentrate less on north America, which in
turn would enable the colonists to gain a victory for themselves. Slowly, British
armies under the command of Lord Jeffrey Amherst drove the French back
toward their supply base at Quebec. When General James Wolfe defeated a
French force under General Louis Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham outside
Quebec in September 1759, French rule in north America was over.


When the news of the French surrender reached Michilimackinac, that post’s
commandant immediately abandoned the fort and fled to new orleans to
avoid being taken prisoner by British troops. on november 29, 1760, Captain
François de Bellestre formally surrendered Fort Pontchartrain to British forces
led by Major Robert Rogers, thus ending French rule in Michigan. ironically,
although the French had had a lengthy tenure in Michigan, they founded only
a scattering of settlements and left the interior of the territory virtually
untouched. other than a few place-names, the French left a pauper’s legacy to
the territory.

For Further Reading

Louise P. Kellogg’s Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634–1699 (new York: Barnes and
noble, 1945) provides a complete background of European exploration in Michigan
during the seventeenth century. the following works in the Canadian Centenary Series
provide extensive and exhaustive background of French colonial efforts in north
America: Marcel trudel, The Beginnings of New France, 1524–1663 (toronto: McClelland
and Stewart, 1973); W. J. Eccles, Canada Under Louis XIV, 1663–1701 (toronto:
McClelland and Stewart, 1964); and G. F. G. Stanley, New France, 1744–1760 (toronto:
McClelland and Stewart, 1968). Louise Phelps Kellogg, The French Regime in Wisconsin
and the Northwest (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1925) has significant cover-
age of French activities in Michigan. W. J. Eccles, The Canadian Frontier, 1534–1764
(new York: holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1969) is an excellent and readable survey that
deals heavily with French efforts in early Michigan. George S. May and herbert J. Brinks,
A Michigan Reader, 11,000 B.C. to A.D. 1865 (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub.
Co., 1974) contains a number of excerpts from both primary and secondary sources
concerning the French and British periods of Michigan. W. J. Eccles, Frontenac, the
Courtier Governor (toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1965) is a detailed and rich
account of this important administrative officer of new France and contains useful
background articles. Certainly Francis Parkman’s works are rich narratives that students
would still find interesting. these would include: La Salle and the Discovery of the Great
West (rev. ed., Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1906); A Half Century of Conflict (rev. ed.,
Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1922); and The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth
Century (rev. ed., Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1922). George t. hunt, The Wars of the
Iroquois (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1940) presents a concise portrait of
the economic motivation of the iroquois wars. howard Peckham, The Colonial War,
1689–1792 (Chicago: the University of Chicago Press, 1964) is a clear survey of the
warfare although there are some errors. Yves F. Zoltvany, “new France and the West,
1701–1713,” Canadian Historical Review, XLVi (december 1965), pp. 301–22, is a
detailed explanation of French western policy and the underlying factors that shaped
that policy. S. C. Mitchell, “La Mothe Cadillac, A Stormy Figure of new France,” Bulletin

The New Acadia 41

of the Detroit Historical Society, iX (1955) gives the background of the controversial
founder of detroit. harry B. Ebersole, “Early French Exploration in the Lake Superior
Region,” Michigan History, XViii (1934), pp. 121–34, concentrates on the Michigan
activities of the French explorers. Eugene t. Peterson, France at Mackinac, 1715–1760
(Mackinac island: Mackinac island State Park Commission, 1977) is a useful paperback
that emphasizes French life and culture during the French occupation. the most recent
coverage of the founding of detroit is in “detroit at 300,” Michigan History (november–
december 2000).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Under the Union Jack

After winning control of north America from the French and adding all
Canada and the territory east of the Mississippi River, except Spanish Florida,
to its empire, the British government had to face the responsibility of governing
and protecting the region, as well as dealing with its indian inhabitants. While
the former would be costly in terms of men and money, the Crown had every
reason to believe that the latter would be accomplished with relative simplicity.
Most indians appeared willing to abandon old ties with the French and become
allied with their former British enemies. this apparent fickleness was actually a
reflection of the indian view of survival in a world increasingly filled with white
interlopers—always try to be allied with the group that was the most powerful
and delivered the most trade goods. in this instance, however, the transfer of
loyalty seemed more sincere because during the French and indian War, British
agents had promised both to expand trade with the tribes and to continue the
established French policy of distributing food, guns, ammunition, and liquor.
indeed, indians had good cause to expect that they would prosper from an alli-
ance with the victorious British.

indian expectations were dashed when the Crown appointed Lord Jeffrey
Amherst governor general of British north America. the new governor was
unimaginative, fussy, ill-tempered, and totally lacking in respect for both
indians and American colonists, whom he considered crude, uncivilized, and
savage. Since the British, at the time of assuming control of north America, had
no official indian policy, the task of creating one fell to Amherst. to assist him,


Under the Union Jack 43

the governor summoned Sir William Johnson, head of the northern indian
Superintendency since 1756. Johnson, who had a deserved reputation of being
a respected, trusted friend of indians, proposed that the government abide by
all promises made during the war and that licensed traders be allowed to visit
indian encampments and sell merchandise at a maximum profit of 67 percent.

Amherst angrily rejected Johnson’s suggestions and informed the superin-
tendent that his administration sought economy and discipline. he said that he
did not care about either French precedent or earlier British pledges. Under the
new regime indians would receive only a small amount of clothing, a very lim-
ited supply of guns and ammunition, and no food or alcohol. this policy was
based on the governor’s belief that alcohol made indians uncontrollable and
gifts of food made them lazy and unwilling to hunt and fish. Gift giving was
also abolished, as Amherst considered it nothing more than expensive bribery
to maintain friendship. Johnson tried to explain to Amherst that indians con-
sidered gift giving and sharing as tokens of goodwill and would interpret the

Figure 3.1 British: the Great Lakes Region.


ending of such a policy as an act of hostility, but the commander was unmoved.
to assure that his policies would be enforced, he decreed that all trade with
indians be done within British forts, under the watchful eye of Crown authori-
ties. Amherst then ordered Johnson to meet with the indians and inform them
of this new policy.

disappointed, and convinced that the new program would cause warfare,
Johnson called a council with the tribes of the Great Lakes region to meet at the
mouth of the detroit River September 9, 1761. on that date he told the assem-
bled chiefs and headmen that they had a “chain of friendship” with the British,
and, to prove their British Father’s sincerity, he pledged that no more indian
land would be taken except that necessary for expansion of commerce. he
closed the council without mentioning the new policy because he feared instant
death if he did. the following day the huron, ottawa, Chippewa, Potawatomi,
and Wyandot reassembled and promised their loyalty to the Crown. Johnson
ended the meeting by distributing all the remaining gifts he possessed. he
believed that this would be the last peaceful offering, and, despite lacking per-
mission from Amherst, he sought to close it in the traditional symbolic act of

Pontiac’s Uprising

throughout 1762 indians living around detroit began to understand the
impact of Amherst’s policy even though it had never been formally explained
to them by the British. French traders and trappers told indians that the British
were withholding food, clothing, guns, and ammunition in an effort to weaken
the tribes preparatory to a war of extermination. to strengthen the credibility
of their claim, the French asked the indians whether or not they were welcome
at British posts, if gifts were still being given and rewards offered for the return
of prisoners, whether trade prices were reasonable, and if the British showed
any sign of needing indians militarily in the future as they had in the past. in
each instance indians admitted that their reply had to be negative. the French
told them to resist the British until an army sent by their French Father arrived
to restore conditions to those of earlier times. the “chain of friendship” with
the Crown was broken.

Early in the spring of 1763 a delaware indian known as the Prophet began
to preach to his followers that whites had brought evils to indian society.
Prostitution, alcoholism, and reliance on European manufactured goods all
resulted from contact with whites. he urged indians to free themselves from
the influence of Europeans and return to their native culture. deeply moved by

Under the Union Jack 45

these speeches, several bands of huron, Potawatomi, Seneca, delaware, and
ottawa living near detroit began passing war belts. the Prophet, however, was
a spiritual, not military, leader. the honor of guiding the fight for freedom went
to Pontiac, an ottawa chief who lived on the Canadian side of the detroit River
opposite Belle isle.

Upon assuming leadership, Pontiac told his followers that the delaware
Prophet had made a fundamental error. there would not be a war against all
white men, but rather only against the hated British; the French were their
friends and would help them.

on May 5, 1763, Pontiac convened a council on the banks of the Ecorse River
and told the assembled chiefs of his plot to seize detroit. According to the
plan, on May 7 Pontiac would take sixty men and seek an audience with the
commander of Fort detroit, Major henry Gladwin, to discuss indian griev-
ances. Under their blankets would be tomahawks, knives, and sawed-off mus-
kets. other ottawa adults, both men and women, also carrying concealed
weapons, would follow, and all would await a signal from Pontiac for the attack

Figure 3.2 French traders at work as illustrated in Histoire de l’Amérique septentrion-
ale, 1722. Library and Archives Canada, Acc. no. 1997-476-68.


to begin. huron and Potawatomi warriors would be stationed along paths lead-
ing to the post to prevent any outside assistance for the fort.

Pontiac’s plan did not work because Major Gladwin received warning of it on
May 6. Romantic legend has it that he was told by an indian woman named
Catherine who had once made him some moccasins. in a not-so-romantic
vein, Gladwin could have been informed by blacksmiths who had helped saw
off indian rifles, a soldier who had lived with the indians, or an indian spy.
however, general credence is given to the story that Angelique Cullier dit
Beaubien, whose father was a friend and confidant of Pontiac, revealed the plot
to Gladwin in order to save the life of her fiancé, James Sterling, a detroit mer-
chant. Whatever the source, Gladwin quickly had to devise a plan to save his
120-man garrison from annihilation. he ruled out confronting Pontiac and
refusing to admit him to the post because the indians would simply leave and
try again at a later date. Likewise, he could not surprise Pontiac and his men
and capture them because he had neither adequate detention facilities to house

Figure 3.3 Conspiracy of Pontiac. Unable to attack Fort detroit by surprise, Pontiac
presented a list of indian grievances to the post commander, Major henry Gladwin.
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs division, detroit Publishing Company
Collection, LC-d416-872.

Under the Union Jack 47

the prisoners nor enough provisions to feed them. his only option seemed to
be to try to bluff Pontiac into thinking that an attack would be futile.

on May 7 Pontiac and his men arrived at detroit and were admitted into the
post. the chief expressed surprise at seeing the fort completely prepared for an
attack. Gladwin assured Pontiac that the post was always on the alert for assaults
from hostile indians, but friendly ones like Pontiac had nothing to fear. Sensing
that he had lost his advantage, Pontiac made a lengthy speech on the shortcom-
ings of British policy and left without signaling for the attack.

Furious over his failure, Pontiac called another council and announced that
he would put the post under siege until the promised French army arrived. Siege
trenches were dug with aid from French traders and Pontiac instituted a cam-
paign to try to frighten Gladwin into surrendering by threats of starvation, cap-
ture, and torture. Gladwin was not moved by these threats because he knew that
the indians would not risk incurring heavy casualties by a frontal assault and
that starvation would be impossible since the rear of the post was on the detroit
River which enabled the sloops Michigan and Huron to furnish him both men
and supplies from Fort niagara. the major’s only concern was that Pontiac
might use fire-arrows and burn the fort. however, this was never considered by
Pontiac because he wanted to capture the military supplies within the post
before destroying it. only once did Pontiac use fire, but it was directed in a futile
attempt to remove the supply ships in the detroit River and not at the fort itself.

Shortly after the siege began Gladwin received aid from an unexpected
source. Several bands of Potawatomi and huron defected and made a secret
agreement with Gladwin whereby he would give them a full pardon and
supplies if they would return to the indian ranks and try to further undermine
Pontiac’s support. Gladwin’s confidence grew even more upon learning that the
French had finally surrendered and the Seven Years’ War was officially ended.
no French army would arrive to help Pontiac.

While the siege at detroit continued, indians, using strategy patterned after
Pontiac’s unsuccessful plan, ravaged British posts throughout the Great Lakes
region. on May 16, Fort Sandusky fell with no indian casualties. Fort St. Joseph
(niles) fell May 25, and two days later Fort Miami (Fort Wayne, indiana) was
seized. on June 1, Fort ouiatenon (Lafayette, indiana) was lost by the British.
the most significant indian triumph came on June 2 at Fort Michilimackinac.
the post commander, Captain George Etherington, had been told that an
indian attack was forthcoming, but he disregarded the warning. on June 2, a
group of indians requested permission to play a game of lacrosse outside the
fort in honor of the king’s birthday. in the midst of the game the ball fell near
the open gate of the fort. the indians, ostensibly in pursuit of the ball, raced
toward the entrance of the fort where they were furnished weapons that had
been concealed under blankets worn by indian women who were spectators at


the game. twenty-seven whites were killed and seventeen captured, including
Alexander henry, a young British merchant, who later wrote a journal recount-
ing the attack and his experiences as a captive.

these indian victories infuriated Amherst, and he gave serious consideration
to plans to distribute smallpox-infested blankets among indians and to set loose
hordes of starving dogs on indian villages. neither of these plans was put into
operation as in mid-october the siege of detroit was lifted. Pontiac’s followers
said that they could no longer endanger the welfare of their families by not hunt-
ing for food and making provisions for the winter. Even Pontiac admitted that
his cause was lost when he finally learned from the French commandant of Fort
Chartres in illinois that the struggle between the French and British was over.
on october 31, Pontiac went to detroit to officially announce the lifting of the
siege. he was not a beaten man, however, and in a show of bravado he told
Gladwin that he hoped the commander would forget the “bad thing” of the past
five months because he was willing to forgive Gladwin for his transgressions.

defeat was a bitter blow for Pontiac. he could not understand how his old
friends, the French, could ally themselves to the British merely for trade, and he
was convinced that his indian allies had deserted him simply because he had
not gained a quick victory. never did Pontiac realize that by keeping the siege,
even though victory was impossible, he was inflicting suffering and starvation
among his people.

in october 1764, Colonel John Bradstreet held a council with the ottawa,
Chippewa, Miami, huron, and Potawatomi in which the indians agreed to
acknowledge the British king as their Father, and, in return, the British pledged
to pardon Pontiac and remove illegal settlers from indian territory. to encour-
age the indians to abide by this agreement, a force of British soldiers under the
command of Colonel henry Bouquet was sent to detroit from Fort Pitt.

in 1766 Sir William Johnson hosted a meeting of ottawa, huron, and
Chippewa at oswego, at which their chiefs and headmen, including Pontiac,
agreed to conform to the stipulations of the 1764 agreement. Resigned to life
amid the British, Pontiac returned to the illinois region where he was assassi-
nated in 1769 at Cahokia by an illinois indian to avenge Pontiac’s murder of an
illinois chief.

Proclamation of 1763

on June 8, 1763, in an attempt to avoid further indian unrest in the new west-
ern holdings, the Earl of Shelburne, head of the British Board of trade, offered
a proposal for governing the area. in october the Crown implemented his

Under the Union Jack 49

report, which became known as the Proclamation of 1763. According to its
provisions, all settlement beyond the Appalachian Mountains was prohibited
and any indian land east of those mountains could only be sold to settlers by
authorized British officials. As a result, a large region, including Michigan, was
left as permanent indian territory and remained under military rule until the
passage of the Quebec Act in 1774.

in England this policy angered a great many people and pleased very few.
Fur-trading companies wanted the area to remain undeveloped so that their
business could continue undisturbed, but they demanded guaranteed right of
entry into the area. Land speculators and developers demanded that the terri-
tory be opened for immediate settlement, regardless of indian claims or poten-
tial danger. Philanthropists argued that the region should belong exclusively to
its indian owners, while clergymen and imperialists argued the necessity of
spreading English civilization to every inhabitant of the new empire.

Colonial response was equally negative. traders often refused to obey either
British law or officials, and resisters at detroit proudly dubbed themselves
“Liberty Boys.” other traders complained that since the Proclamation retained
Amherst’s prohibition on the use of liquor in trade and insistence on all trading
being done within British posts, French traders of Spanish Louisiana, who paid
higher prices for furs and dealt directly with indians in their villages, would
have a great advantage. only after petitioning Governor Guy Carleton, who
had taken office in 1767, did British traders gain permission to roam at will in
pursuit of fur-trading business. in 1768 individual colonies regained control of
indian affairs, which they had lost in 1756 to Crown-appointed superinten-
dents, and supervision of trapping and trading grew lax. this condition
remained until the Quebec Act gave the provincial government power to con-
trol indian‒white commerce.

Michilimackinac and Major Robert Rogers

in 1766 Major Robert Rogers assumed command of Fort Michilimackinac
from Captain William howard, who had been commandant since 1764. the
new commander was no stranger to Michigan and the northwest, as he had
previously served with the Royal Rangers during the French and indian War,
accepted the French surrender at detroit, and helped to relieve the indian siege
of that city.

Rogers was always on the verge of achieving great glory and fame, but he
never reached his goal. While in the Royal Rangers, he came under the influ-
ence of the governor of north Carolina, Arthur dobbs, who convinced him of


the existence of a water route across the north American continent. in trying to
prove this theory, Rogers suffered heavy financial losses and, upon leaving the
army in 1765, was sent to a debtor’s prison in new York. After serving two years,
he returned to England where he published two well-received books, The
Journals of Major Robert Rogers and A Concise Account of North America, which
enabled him to become financially solvent. in an attempt to capitalize on his
literary success, Rogers petitioned King George iii for monetary support to
conduct another search for the fabled northwest Passage and the River ouragon.
the king refused the request but did authorize Rogers’ appointment as com-
mander of Fort Michilimackinac. Ever optimistic, Rogers assumed that his
appointment was made as a prelude for the granting of his exploration request.

Upon accepting his command, Rogers wasted little time in implementing his
plans. he had earlier convinced James tute, a former comrade in the Rangers,
and Jonathan Carver, a mapmaker and surveyor who desired to chart the west-
ern territories, to participate in his scheme. in mid-1766 Rogers ordered Carver
and tute to begin separate explorations and then meet at St. Anthony’s Falls,
from whence they would continue in a joint expedition. tute was inexplicably
delayed, and it was not until April 1767 that he reached the rendezvous point.
the two men then explored as far as the Chippewa River on the western end of
Lake Superior. Exhausted, they returned to Grand Portage where Rogers had
promised there would be supplies awaiting them. At that site they found no
supplies, only a letter from Rogers directing them to continue their mission.
Fatigued, disappointed, and angry, they disregarded this order and returned to
Fort Michilimackinac. Carver later published a book on his experiences which
became so popular that it was printed in six languages and had thirty editions.

Rogers, unfortunately, was not enjoying similar success. to supplement his
income, he traded with indians on his own authority and used rum to enhance
his bargaining power. Both these practices, however, had been forbidden
by General thomas Gage, commander of British forces in north America.
Rogers further irritated Gage by petitioning the British government to make
Michilimackinac a separate province with himself as governor. Gage commis-
sioned Lieutenant Benjamin Roberts to investigate Rogers’ behavior, an act that
ultimately resulted in violent disagreements between the two officers. in 1767
Rogers was accused by his former secretary, nathaniel Potter, of plotting trea-
sonous activities with the French. he was arrested and sent to Montreal in
chains. After being acquitted of all charges, he returned to England only to be
thrown once again into debtor’s prison. during the American Revolution he
came back to north America and offered his services to both sides but neither
was interested. Rogers then returned to England, where he lived in poverty and
obscurity until his death in 1795.

Under the Union Jack 51

The Quebec Act and the American Revolution

in 1774 Parliament passed the Quebec Act. American colonists considered it
one of many “intolerable Acts” aimed at limiting their freedoms, but in reality
it was merely another experiment to find a suitable administrative structure for
the north American empire. Provisions of the act included: (1) all territory
between the illinois and ohio rivers was added to the Province of Quebec;
(2) land claims of other colonies to areas south of the ohio River and east of the
Allegheny Mountains were severely restricted; (3) civil governments were to be
provided to western regions, with French law the basis for all but criminal
codes; (4) Roman Catholicism was given legal protection; (5) lieutenant gover-
nors were to be assigned by the governor of Quebec for Michilimackinac,
detroit, Vincennes, and the illinois settlements; and (6) each of these four
jurisdictions would have a court comprised of two American and one Canadian
judge, with defendants having the right of direct appeal to the British Privy

At the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, of the four proposed
jurisdictions only detroit had an established government. henry hamilton,
who had fought with General Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham, was appointed

Figure 3.4 the Land Gate and palisade where the Chippewa, Sauk, and Fox gained
access to Fort Michilimackinac during the battle of 1763. Photographed at Colonial Fort
Michilimackinac by Keith Stokes.


lieutenant governor of detroit, but before he left Quebec war began and an
American army advanced on Montreal. to avoid capture, hamilton disguised
himself as a French habitant and traveled safely through the American lines,
arriving at detroit november 9, 1775. his good fortune was in marked contrast
to that of his fellow governor, Patrick Sinclair, who was to command
Michilimackinac. A retired officer who had served with Amherst during the
French and indian War, Sinclair received his appointment April 7, 1775, and
hastened to America only to be seized by new York authorities and returned to
England. it was not until 1779 that he finally reached Michilimackinac and
assumed his post.

Although Michigan’s efforts in the Revolution are not commonly known, for
as one scholar has said “there were no Minutemen at Belle isle and no militia
men from the irish hills,” the area did play a significant role because detroit
was the heart of British power in the West. indian attacks on American settle-
ments to the east, south, and west were launched from detroit, and indians
from as far as Kentucky trekked to that post to receive guns, ammunition, and

hamilton won indian loyalty through lavish gift giving, prolific distribution
of rum (in 1779 he ordered 17,502 gallons to be shipped to detroit), and pay-
ment of bounties for American scalps. this latter practice earned him the nick-
name “hair-buyer.” it is, however, unfair to single out hamilton for this dubious
title since purchasing scalps was common British practice during the
Revolution; in fact, the foremost practitioner of this tactic was not hamilton,
but rather “Gentleman John” Burgoyne. General horatio Gates was so appalled
by the widespread use of bounties that he wrote George Washington that in his
estimation “all is now fair with General Burgoyne, even if the bloody hatchet he
has so barbarously used should find its way into his own head.” Both Burgoyne
and hamilton ceased buying scalps when they discovered that their indian
allies were scalping British loyalists, as well as rebels, to collect bounties.

Members of the Continental Congress immediately realized that the frontier
would never be secure as long as detroit remained in British control, but they
never could raise sufficient men and money to initiate a western war front.
Finally, Governor Patrick henry, of Virginia, whose state charter claimed own-
ership of northwestern ohio, indiana, illinois, and Kentucky, authorized
twenty-six-year-old Colonel George Rogers Clark to raise an army and drive
the British from the Great Lakes region.

Clark’s plan was to march his 127-man force and attack the villages of
Kaskaskia and Vincennes in indiana and then move against detroit. on July 4,
1778, Clark and his men captured Kaskaskia, encountering little resistance, and
soon afterward a small part of his command, led by Captain Leonard helm,

Under the Union Jack 53

seized Fort Sackville outside Vincennes. Local French residents readily took an
oath to support the American cause, as did several local indian bands who were
impressed by Clark’s bluster, confidence, and distribution of presents. When
hamilton learned of Clark’s victories, he mounted a counteroffensive. Leaving
detroit on october 7, 1778, with an army of 243 British regulars, loyalists, and
indians, he recaptured Vincennes in mid-december and forced the residents to
sign an oath of allegiance to the Crown. in response, Clark made a surprise
attack on Vincennes February 25, 1779, retaking the city and making hamilton
a prisoner. Because of his infamous reputation, hamilton was sent to Virginia
for punishment. the new governor, thomas Jefferson, wrote Washington ask-
ing what should be done with the prisoner. the general replied that execution
was warranted, but since that was forbidden by the rules of war, imprisonment
for the duration of the conflict should be his fate, and Jefferson agreed.

Upon hearing of hamilton’s capture, Colonel Arent de Peyster, a poet, squir-
rel breeder, and former commandant at Michilimackinac, assumed leadership

Figure 3.5 George Rogers Clark accepts the sword of surrender from the British
Lt. Gov. henry hamilton outside the gates of Fort Sackville. George Rogers Clark
national historical Park, national Park Service.


at detroit. Both he and his successor at Michilimackinac, Major Sinclair, hastily
prepared for an assault by Clark’s army. de Peyster ordered another fort built
on the high ground behind the city, and Sinclair moved his garrison from the
mainland to Mackinac island, believing that only an enormous force, with
naval support, could seize that location. Such precautions proved unnecessary
as the Virginia legislature failed to provide Clark with the reinforcements and
supplies needed to march upon detroit. nonetheless, hamilton’s capture
and the seizure of Vincennes greatly weakened indian loyalties to the Crown,
and the ottawa, Chippewa, Potawatomi, and Wyandot adopted a policy of
neutrality. Without indian assistance, British possession of, and power in, the
Lakes region was tenuous at best.

diminished British strength in the west was evidenced during the final four
years of the war. in early 1780, British forces were repulsed at St. Louis and
Cahokia. in February 1781, a small force of Spanish, French, and indians seized
Fort St. Joseph (niles), looted it, and then abandoned it within twenty-four
hours. during the occupation a Spanish flag was raised, giving niles the dis-
tinction of being the only Michigan city ever to have the banners of four
nations—England, France, Spain, and the United States—fly over it. in 1782,
Captain William Caldwell set out with a company of loyalists and indians to
attack Kentucky settlements, but after several initial triumphs he was forced to
withdraw before an onslaught of several hundred Kentucky riflemen.

When the war ended in 1783, the Americans occupied Kentucky and the
illinois country, while the British maintained physical possession of Michigan.
had the treaty of Paris allowed each side to maintain territory held at the close
of hostilities, Michigan would have remained legally British. however, the
treaty stipulated that the British-American boundary should follow the middle
of the Great Lakes, which gave Michigan to the United States. the British stead-
fastly refused to abandon their posts at detroit and Michilimackinac, arguing
that to do so would open the region to massive indian depredations, but, in
reality, they were simply trying to maintain their lucrative fur-trading enter-
prise. Moreover, the British knew that they had no cause to worry because the
fledgling American government was too weak to risk another war to drive
them out of the northwest.

Michigan was kept under martial law until 1787 when it was declared to be
part of hesse, one of the four English-speaking districts of Canada. At that time
Michigan residents were given the right to have their own sheriffs and courts.

Four years later Parliament divided Canada into upper and lower provinces.
John Graves Simcoe was appointed lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, which
included Michigan and most of English-speaking Canada. he then divided his
province into counties from which delegates would be elected to a provincial

Under the Union Jack 55

assembly. in 1792 William Macomb, François Baby, and david W. Smith were
elected to the assembly representing Essex and Kent counties (detroit) and
Alexander Grant was appointed to Simcoe’s council. Under Simcoe’s rule,
English civil and criminal law was supreme, and in 1794 an act was passed abol-
ishing the Court of Civil Jurisdiction in the district of hesse and replacing it
with the Court of King’s Bench for the Province of Upper Canada.

Michigan did not long remain part of Upper Canada. international problems
with Spain and France, declining numbers of fur-bearing animals, and a gen-
eral realization that ever-increasing numbers of American settlers were making
it virtually impossible for a continued hold on the northwest, made the British
government amicable to a plan to end its occupation of American soil.
According to the terms of the Jay treaty of 1794, England agreed to abandon its
forts in the northwest by June 1, 1796. on July 11, 1796, thirteen years after
the treaty of Paris was signed, Captain Moses Porter raised the Stars and
Stripes over detroit for the first time. British rule in Michigan had at last come
to an end.

For Further Reading

Louise Phelps Kellogg, The British Regime in Wisconsin and the Northwest (Madison:
University of Wisconsin Press, 1935) provides much information about British activities
in Michigan. nelson V. Russell, The British Regime in Michigan (northfield, Mn:
Carleton College Press, 1939) is a comprehensive examination of the British in Michigan.
Mackinac History, A Series of Informal Vignettes is a set of leaflets produced by the
Mackinac island State Park Commission to provide useful information in regard to life
at Mackinac island during the period. Brian Leight dunnigan, King’s Men at Mackinac:
The British Garrisons, 1780–1796 (Mackinac island: Mackinac island State Park
Commission, 1973) is a well-illustrated and brief description of the British military.
david A. Armour (ed.), Attack at Michilimackinac (Mackinac island: Mackinac island
State Park Commission, 1971) is a condensation of Alexander henry’s journal. david A.
Armour, Treason at Michilimackinac: The Proceedings of a General Court Martial Held at
Montreal in October 1786 for the Trial of Major Robert Rogers (Mackinac island:
Mackinac island State Park Commission, 1967) is a useful primary source for the study
of one of the more colorful commanders at Michilimackinac. George S. May (ed.), The
Doctor’s Secret Journal (Mackinac island: Mackinac island State Park Commission,
1960) is an edited version of a journal kept by dr. daniel Morison, a surgeon’s mate at
Fort Michilimackinac from 1769–1772, which contains interesting and humorous
insights into social life and activities at the post. Francis Parkman, The Conspiracy of
Pontiac (rev. ed., Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1922) is still readable, but howard
Peckham, Pontiac and the Indian Uprising (new York: Russell and Russell, 1970) and
W. R. Jacobs, Indian Diplomacy and Indian Gifts: Anglo-French Rivalry Along the Ohio


and Northwest Frontier, 1748–1763 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1950) are
more factual sources on this topic. Walter t. havighurst, Three Flags at the Straits
(Englewood Cliffs, nJ: Prentice-hall, 1966) provides a very readable account of the forts
at Mackinac. William R. Riddle, Michigan Under British Rule, Law and Courts, 1760–
1796 (Lansing: Michigan historical Commission, 1926) is a comprehensive and legalis-
tic monograph which is particularly informative on the legal difficulties during the
uncertain 1783–1796 period. n. Franklin hunt, “Growth of Legal Action during the
British Military Rule at detroit, 1760–1774,” Michigan History, XL (december 1956) is a
good synthesis of the topic. Wayne E. Stevens, “the Michigan Fur trade,” Michigan
History, XXiX (december 1945) is a useful and readable survey of Michigan’s most
important commodity during this period. Myles M. Platt, “detroit Under Siege,”
Michigan History, XL (december 1956), pp. 465–97, is an account of Pontiac’s attack on

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Wilderness Politics and Economics

Soon after signing the peace treaty with England in 1783, which, in effect,
ended the American Revolution, Congress passed a series of laws establishing
governance for the newly acquired lands in the Great Lakes area. in 1784 an
ordinance, written in part by thomas Jefferson, provided, in vague terms, for
creation of as many as ten new states in the northwest, each of which would be
admitted to the Union as a complete equal with existing states as soon as its
population reached that of the least populated state already in the Union. this
law proved to be unworkable however, because it failed to provide proce-
dures by which territorial governments could be organized. the following year
another ordinance was passed resolving the questions of survey and sales. Prior
to entry by settlers all public land had to be surveyed and divided into town-
ships, each six miles square. Every township was then subdivided into thirty-
six sections, each containing 640 acres, with sales from section sixteen reserved
for support of schools. half the townships were to be sold whole at public auc-
tion in new York City and the remainder were to be disposed of by section,
with the minimum bid set at $1 per acre. the third law passed by Congress was
the ordinance of 1787, which replaced the ordinance of 1784, and made pre-
cise provisions for creating governments in the Lakes region. this document
consisted of three sections. the first established a “territory north West of the
ohio” that could eventually be carved into not less than three nor more than
five territories. Section two defined a three-stage evolution from territorial sta-
tus to statehood. in the first stage all power rested with a governor, secretary,



and three judges appointed by Congress. When the adult population reached
5,000, the territory entered its second stage. At this time a legislature could be
elected, but it had to share its authority with a Council of Five selected by the
governor and Congress. Also, the legislature was empowered to elect a nonvot-
ing member to serve in the national house of Representatives. the final stage
was attained when the territory’s total population reached 60,000. Congress
then allowed the convening of a convention for the purpose of drawing a con-
stitution preparatory to a formal request for admission to the Union as a state.
the third section of the ordinance contained a Bill of Rights guaranteeing the
residents of the northwest territory freedom of worship, jury trial, habeas
corpus, sanctity of contracts, proportional representation, privileges of the
common law, and the banning of slavery forever.

in 1800 the indiana territory was formed, which consisted of all land in the
northwest territory west of ohio and the western half of Michigan. in 1805,
two years after ohio achieved statehood, Congress created the Michigan
territory. When indiana and illinois became states in 1816 and 1818, respec-
tively, all remaining land in the northwest territory became part of the
Michigan territory.

William hull, a fifty-two-year-old former Revolutionary War general from
Massachusetts, was appointed the first governor of the Michigan territory and
Stanley Griswold, a former Connecticut minister, was made secretary. Selected
as judges were Frederick Bates, who had lived in detroit since 1797, Samuel
huntington, chief justice of the ohio Supreme Court, and Augustus E. B.
Woodward, a friend of Jefferson and an idealist who shared his fellow
Virginian’s dream of man’s ultimate perfectibility in an imperfect world.
Unfortunately, huntington declined to serve, which left Michigan with only
four officials for nearly one year. As soon as another judge, John Griffin, of
Virginia, was selected, Bates resigned, and once again the government was
split between two new Englanders and two southerners. it was not until 1808
that a third judge, John Witherell, of Vermont, was chosen and the deadlock
broken. Amid such confusion it is small wonder that the government accom-
plished little.

in defense of the territorial officers, it must be noted that during the years
1805–12 Michigan was still overrun with disloyal British fur traders and over
80 percent of its 5,000 residents were French-speaking inhabitants of the
detroit region who cared little about the success of the new government.
Moreover, since Michigan was isolated from the normal paths of westward
expansion, lacked sizable amounts of surveyed land for settlement, and was
beset by rumors that it was little more than a remote, mosquito-infested swamp
whose climate was unsuited for civilized people, the territory’s prospects for
growth seemed dim.

Wilderness Politics and Economics 59

The War of 1812

With the declaration of war against England in 1812 Michigan’s future was dra-
matically altered. Because of its strategic location at the mouth of the detroit
River, whoever controlled detroit controlled not only the Great Lakes but also
the entire northwest. Unfortunately, Governor hull proved to be totally unfit
for the crucial role which the war thrust upon him.

As governor, hull had accomplished little except to negotiate a treaty in
1807 with the Potawatomi, Chippewa, ottawa, and Wyandot in which the
indians ceded the southeast quarter of the lower peninsula to the United States
in return for $10,000 in merchandise and annual payments of $2,400 for an
unspecified number of years. Most of the governor’s time had been spent
engaging in various banking and business schemes calculated to make him
wealthy. never did he prepare his command for a possible outbreak of hostili-
ties. Even after the army of William henry harrison, governor of the indiana

Figure 4.1 War of 1812.


territory, defeated the followers of the Shawnee Chief tecumseh at tippecanoe
in 1811 and discovered British manufactured arms in the indian village, hull
did not strengthen his post. When war was officially declared on June 18, 1812,
hull was made commander of the armies protecting the northwest frontier,
and his authority extended to Fort Michilimackinac in the north, Fort dearborn
(Chicago) in the west, and Fort Wayne, indiana, in the south. the fate of the
entire northwest rested with the governor of Michigan.

on July 9, hull received orders to lead his 2,200-man army across the detroit
River and attack the British outpost at Fort Malden. three days later, without
waiting for carriages to transport the artillery necessary for a successful assault,
hull invaded Canada, established a command post at Sandwich, ontario,
and ordered carpenters to build the required carriages. While the wagons
were being constructed, hull issued a proclamation offering protection to all
Canadians who took an oath of neutrality and promising death and devastation
to those who refused. Many took the oath, and a surprising number of Canadian
volunteers deserted the British army to join with the Americans. on July 18,
Colonel henry Proctor, British commander at Malden, reported that desertion
was so great that his garrison was defended by only 400 soldiers and 270 indians
led by tecumseh. Meanwhile, hull’s carpenters had completed their work but
hull, much to the dismay of his junior officers, did not advance. on July 28, the
governor learned that Fort Michilimackinac had fallen to the British, and he
feared that within days indians would be “swarming down in every direction.”
in an effort to save the inhabitants of Fort dearborn from what he believed to
be certain slaughter, hull ordered the post evacuated and its residents taken to
Fort Wayne. tragically, as the small troop of sixty-six men, nine women, and
eighteen children marched toward their destination, they were set upon by over
400 Potawatomi and all were either slain or taken prisoner. news of this disas-
ter reached hull at Sandwich, but still he refused to strike at Malden. Finally, on
August 5, hull announced to his officers that an assault on Malden would be
suicidal because during the delay the post had been reinforced and soon thou-
sands of indians would arrive to strengthen the garrison further. three days
later the American army withdrew to detroit.

on August 15, General isaac Brock, who had arrived less than a week earlier
with additional soldiers for Malden, sent hull a demand that he either surren-
der detroit or risk total annihilation. the governor refused to submit and
British shore batteries at Sandwich opened fire. the next day hull learned that
more than 700 British soldiers, with artillery, had crossed the detroit River and
that 600 indians under tecumseh were within two miles of detroit. Again
Brock asked hull to surrender. Fearing that he was significantly outnumbered
and that tecumseh’s warriors would massacre the entire post, hull agreed to

Wilderness Politics and Economics 61

capitulate, telling his officers that he was “impatient to put the place [detroit]
under the protection of the British” who could stave off the “thousands of sav-
ages around us.” Later that day, August 16, 1812, to the disgust of his command,
William hull, without ordering a shot in resistance, turned the post over to the
British, and once again the Union Jack fluttered proudly above the fort’s walls.

Later that year hull was exchanged for thirty British prisoners of war, and in
1814 he demanded a military inquiry into allegations that his conduct had been
improper. A court-martial was held, and, after hearing testimony from Colonel
Lewis Cass and other junior officers at detroit, the panel found hull guilty of
cowardice, neglect of duty, and unofficerlike conduct. he was sentenced to
death, but President James Madison remitted his sentence because of his past
record of heroism during the Revolution. Whether or not hull was a coward is
debatable, but without question, his indecisiveness had given the British a
stranglehold on the northwest.

Concerned that the loss of detroit meant not only the loss of the northwest
but also the entire war, Madison desperately ordered Governor harrison to
recapture detroit and invade Canada. harrison and his army marched against
British positions in indiana and ohio, and their determination to crush their
foe was made even greater when they learned of the American defeat at the
River Raisin, near the present site of Monroe. More than 500 Americans had
been captured during the struggle, eighty of whom were too seriously wounded
to be moved. in an act of deliberate savagery, British officers left the wounded,
all of whom were Kentucky militiamen, to be guarded by indians drunk with
British rum and angry over the loss of so many of their brothers during the bat-
tle. When the officers left the camp, the indians killed every wounded soldier.
“Remember the River Raisin” soon became the American battle cry.

harrison’s advance was stalled in ohio at Fort Meigs (toledo) until Lieutenant
Commander oliver hazard Perry defeated the British fleet on Lake Erie,
September 10, 1813, and cut off the British supply route. When harrison
received Perry’s message that “We have met the enemy and they are ours . . . ,”
he knew that the British could no longer hold detroit. Colonel Proctor, com-
mander of detroit, fully realized his predicament and in late September 1813
ordered all public buildings in detroit burned and the city evacuated.

Fleeing with his army into Canada, Proctor ordered the destruction of all
public buildings at Sandwich and Malden. Relentlessly harrison pursued the
retreating British army, finally catching it near Chatham, on the banks of
the thames River. in the ensuing battle, harrison gained his greatest triumph.
the American army lost seven killed and twenty-two wounded, while the
British had twelve killed, thirty-six wounded, and over 600 taken prisoner.
Moreover, the brilliant war chief tecumseh was slain, thereby removing the only


effective indian leader; following his death, indian enthusiasm for battle waned.
Most important, however, was that detroit was again in American possession.

in 1814 the British government, faced with the fact that total military victory
was nearly impossible to attain, agreed to a negotiated peace. With the signing
of the treaty of Ghent, december 24, 1814, hostilities ceased. For Michigan, the
war brought about several significant results. First, it proved to be the last time
indians fought against whites in Michigan. Second, it marked the end of British
hopes of ever regaining possession of Michigan. third, Michigan was now
open to settlement by families who had previously avoided the region because
of indian and British unrest. Finally, the War of 1812 was the last time the
United States fought against England and thus efforts could be made to shore
up American relations with Canada.

The Continuing British Threat

Even though the British were out of Michigan after 1814, their influence over
the territory’s indians remained. By encouraging indians to continue their
annual treks across Michigan to British outposts at Malden, drummond’s
island, and Manitoulin island to receive gifts of food, liquor, guns, ammuni-
tion, and trinkets, the British maintained their control over the bands while
forcing the American government to concentrate on the possibility of a British-
supported indian uprising.

Because of their willingness to spend between £4,000 and £11,000 annually
on gifts to indians, British influence over the Michigan tribes was not easy to
eradicate. in 1816 Congress passed an act forbidding foreigners from engaging
in fur-trading activities in the northwest and ordered that only trappers
licensed by the American government could enter the area. this law was
impossible to enforce, and British traders continued to hunt the deer, beaver,
bear, otter, raccoon, muskrat, fox, and marten that thrived in Michigan’s abun-
dant forests and streams.

of all the territory’s residents, none expressed more concern over the British
and indian threat than Lewis Cass. Appointed governor in 1813, Cass was
embarking on a political career that would include distinguished service as a
United States senator, secretary of war, secretary of state, ambassador to France,
and democratic candidate for President. Cass believed that the only permanent
solution to the problem was removal of all the territory’s indians west of the
Mississippi River. Until that lengthy process could be completed, he convinced
Congress to authorize construction of a cordon of forts strategically located
along routes used by indians in their treks to British posts. A show of American
force, the governor thought, might weaken indian loyalty to the British.

Wilderness Politics and Economics 63

Another of Cass’ ideas for undermining British influence was “scientific
exploration.” Under the governor’s direction in 1820 the north Western Scientific
Expedition was organized ostensibly to explore little-known regions along
Lake Superior and to trace water links between Lake Superior and the Mississippi
River. the true purpose of the journey was to meet indians, purchase land from
them, and determine the strength of British trading interests in the upper
peninsula. in June 1820, a forty-man expedition reached Sault Ste.  Marie and
negotiated a land-cession treaty whereby the American government was permit-
ted to construct a post, Fort Brady, at that site. despite encountering intense
indian hostility, henry Rowe Schoolcraft, indian agent at the Sault and an ardent
ethnologist, considered that the journey had been a success:

the transit of the mission through those remote regions, and the intercourse had
with the numerous and powerful tribes inhabiting the country, has been calcu-
lated to produce a feeling of amity or good will towards the United States, which
cannot fail to be productive of the most beneficial consequences; and our visit—
our presents—and our speeches—in which we have declared to them the friendly
and philanthropic views of the Government, will long be remembered. Upon the
whole, the intercourse we have held with them will have a powerful tendency to
break down the shackles of British influence, and to lift from their eyes the decep-
tive veil which has heretofore rendered them blind to their own best interests.

no matter what the cost, Cass was intent on opening Michigan to safe entry by
American settlers.

The American Fur Company

While the American government was encountering difficulty winning indian
trust and gaining a proportionate share of the Great Lakes fur trade, private
enterprises, such as the American Fur Company, were enjoying notable suc-
cess. the American Fur Company, founded in 1808 by the German immigrant
John Jacob Astor, immediately challenged the British north West Company for
supremacy in the Michigan fur trade. organizational ability, political influence
with powerful American and British leaders, and a keen sense of how to trade
with indians made Astor the unquestioned champion of fur trading. his com-
pany’s trade goods, which included firearms, knives, hatchets, ammunition,
tobacco, liquor, wampum, silk, irish linen, foodstuffs, blankets, gold and
silver jewelry, and chocolate, were of superior quality, often manufactured in
England, and were greatly desired by indians. Moreover, most of his nearly
3,000 employees were British and French Canadiens who had worked the
region for years, knew the indians, and had often intermarried with them.


Astor was so successful that by 1828 his company controlled 95 percent of the
territory’s fur trade and had established posts at Mackinac, detroit, Sault
Ste. Marie, St. Joseph, and in the Kalamazoo, Grand, Saginaw, and Muskegon
river valleys. Astor, much more than the American government, pursued a
policy that was aimed at winning over indian loyalty to the United States.

By the late 1820s the “golden days” of the Michigan fur trade were past. Keen
observers realized that by 1790 the fur traders’ frontier had left lower Michigan
and that by 1820 it was leaving the upper peninsula and moving west into the
Red River region of Canada for beaver and the Great Plains for buffalo. Because
of Michigan’s strategic geographic position, however, its importance in the
northern fur trade did not measurably decline when trapping diminished.
detroit and Mackinac remained major clearing houses and shipping depots for
the American Fur Company even after Astor sold his interests in the business
in 1834. the Panic of 1837 severely damaged the fur industry, and finally in
1854, the American Fur Company closed its only remaining post, at Mackinac,
and the era of international fighting for furs from the Great Lakes was officially

Figure 4.2 in the foreground an American fur trapper and indian wife are towing a
loaded indian-style bull boat. At center is a Mackinaw skiff, with keelboats to the right.
“old Fort Benton,” 1855, painting by John Ford Clymer. Courtesy of Mrs. John Clymer
and the Clymer Museum of Art.

Wilderness Politics and Economics 65

Toledo and Statehood

Following the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, removal of the British threat,
and establishment of peaceful relations with the indians, Michigan’s population
soared from 8,500 in 1820 to 31,000 in 1830. By 1833, the territory had more
than the 60,000 residents required for Congress to authorize a constitutional
convention, but Congress refused to permit this step. Michigan’s admission to
the Union was being delayed not by insufficient population but rather by an
unsettled boundary dispute with ohio.

the area in question was a 468-square-mile wedge, five miles wide at the
indiana border and eight miles wide at Lake Erie. Ever since ohio petitioned for
statehood in 1802, the two antagonists had claimed the so-called toledo Strip
and each presented maps and survey reports to substantiate its position. the
problem of ownership arose because when ohio wrote its constitution it agreed
to set its northern boundary along a line established by the ordinance of 1787.
however, a proviso was added that if that line, which was imprecise as to its exact
location, failed to include the mouth of the Maumee River for ohio, a new
boundary had to be set giving that area to the Buckeye state. When the Michigan
territory was created in 1805, Congress ignored the proviso in the ohio constitu-
tion, abided by the ordinance Line of 1787, and awarded the region to Michigan.
ohioans were enraged, and the seeds of future warfare had been planted.

in 1832 Congress ordered another survey to determine the exact ohio‒
Michigan border. two years later the results of the survey were submitted to
Congress—the disputed area clearly belonged to Michigan. Because ohio was
already a state, with voting power and the ability to trade support on key legisla-
tion with other states in Congress, while Michigan, as a territory, could offer
nothing in return for support of its claim, congressmen joined their ohio col-
leagues in denouncing the survey as inaccurate. in december 1834, the Michigan
legislature, in a spirit of conciliation, urged Congress to appoint a three-man
commission to negotiate a settlement of the dispute, but the governor of ohio,
Robert Lucas, refused to participate, saying that there was nothing to negotiate.

Stevens t. Mason, Michigan’s twenty-three-year-old “Boy Governor,” real-
ized that Congress would not authorize a call for a constitutional convention
and therefore, following a precedent set by tennessee in 1795, he ordered the
legislature to call a convention without permission from Washington. in
response to Mason’s action, the ohio legislature passed a law reaffirming their
state’s jurisdiction over the toledo Strip. Mason then urged the Michigan legis-
lature to pass the “Pains and Penalties Act,” which imposed a maximum fine of
$1,000 and/or a maximum of five years at hard labor upon any ohio “trespass-
ers” found in the disputed area. War had begun!


throughout the next several months the actions on the part of both sides
were ludicrous. in early April, Governor Lucas visited the region and announced
that elections for the legislature would be held there to demonstrate ohio’s pos-
session of the territory. Mason then ordered strict enforcement of the “Pains and
Penalties Act.” A Monroe County deputy sheriff went to toledo to arrest any
ohioans there, which proved to be only one in number, while an “army” of thirty
Michigan volunteers raided Perrysburg and captured nine members of an ohio
survey party. in mid-July the “Wolverines,” as Michiganians had been dubbed by
ohioans who likened them to that “vicious, smelly, ugly northwoods animal,”
had scored another bloodless victory when 200 soldiers invaded the deserted
city of toledo. thrilled by these triumphs, Michigan residents proudly sang a
ballad, entitled “the new Cock Robin,” extolling the justice of their cause:

“And who would cut up Michigan?”
“i,” says Governor Lucas
“What i undertook is
to cut up little Michigan.”

“And who has bid him do it?”
A million freemen
(Counting women and children)
“’tis ohio bids him do it.”

“And who rings the bells of war?”
“i,” says Gen’l Bell”
“’tis i that rings the bell.
ding, dong goes my bell of war.”

“And what is all this bother for?”
For Port Lawrence? no.
For Vistula? not so.
Both died of ague last year.
But out of their graves there did spring
A little mushroom
of sickliest bloom
Which botanists call toledo.
the flower is ohio’s no doubt,
’tis Buckeye in breed,
She scattered the seed:
then let Gov. Lucas transplant it.

But the swamp where it grew is not here.
then let him beware
how he runs up a fence there,
he will find other stings than mosquito’s.

Wilderness Politics and Economics 67

Meanwhile, in May ninety-one delegates had assembled at detroit to write
Michigan’s first state constitution. Based on several existing state constitutions,
this document was a study in brevity and simplicity. included were a bill of
rights, creation of an office of Superintendent of Public instruction, establish-
ment of a two-house legislature with senators serving two-year, and representa-
tives one-year, terms, and stipulation for two-year terms for governor and
lieutenant governor. in an attempt to shorten ballots, all offices, including the
judiciary, but not those of state legislators, governor, and lieutenant governor,
were to be filled by gubernatorial appointment. Michigan was ready and wait-
ing for statehood.

in Washington, President Andrew Jackson was furious with Michigan and
his fellow democrat, Governor Mason, and on August 28, 1835, he removed
Mason as acting governor. his replacement, John S. “Little Jack” horner, of
Virginia, was not well liked, and in november, Michigan voters first exercised
their constitutional right to vote for governor and elected Mason. At this elec-
tion voters also chose isaac Crary to be representative to Congress, and the
legislature named John novell and Lucius Lyon to be United States senators.
Congress, however, refused to seat them.

in March 1836, the house Judiciary Committee, which had been studying
the Michigan admission bill, reported that in order to gain statehood Michigan
had to cede the toledo Strip and agree to accept the eastern two-thirds of the
upper peninsula in return, thereby giving Michigan the entire upper peninsula.
on June 15, 1836, Congress voted to admit Michigan to the Union as soon as
the territory agreed to congressional terms. Accordingly, the Michigan legisla-
ture called for delegates to meet in Ann Arbor in September to vote on the
congressional dictum. At that gathering the proposal was defeated 28–21 on
the grounds that Michigan would be humiliated if it accepted the dictate of an
ohio-influenced Congress.

Governor Mason, knowing that only as a state could Michigan effectively
continue to challenge ohio’s claim to the disputed region, asked for a reconsid-
eration of the vote. in december, another convention was held in which it was
argued that it was better to lose face in order to secure the advantages of state-
hood than to continue “an idle, an unprofitable, a hopeless contest for a
boundary, . . . a boundary which is assuredly and forever lost to us.” the con-
vention, moved by logic and a promise of massive amounts of federal funds for
internal improvements if Michigan entered the Union immediately, reversed
itself and agreed to the proposal of Congress. on January 6, 1837, by a vote of
25–10, the United States Senate admitted Michigan to the Union, and on
January 25 the house of Representatives concurred by a vote of 132–43. on
January 26, 1837, Michigan was officially proclaimed the twenty-sixth state.


ironically, even though by acquiring the upper peninsula Michigan gained
over 9,000 square miles of unequaled mineral and timber land, it still sought
revenge. in 1889 the Michigan legislature unsuccessfully requested congres-
sional ordering of a new survey. in 1915, 1922, 1932, and 1945 surveys were
commissioned by both state legislatures for determining ownership of property
for taxation purposes, but the question of the toledo Strip remained. in 1966
Michigan filed suit in federal court to reclaim toledo. the suit was dismissed,
but to many Michiganians the struggle over the toledo Strip will never end
until Michigan receives what rightly belongs to it.

For Further Reading

Several works deal with early American land policy: among the best are Roy Robbins,
Our Landed Heritage (Princeton: University of Princeton Press, 1942) and the excellent,
though dated, volume by Payson treat, The National Land System (new York:
E.  B.  treat  & Co., 1910). Early attempts at settling Michigan are recounted in C. M.
Burton, “detroit in the Year 1832,” Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, XXViii
(1897–1989); George Fuller, “An introduction to the Settlement of Southern Michigan
from 1815–1835,” Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, XXXViii (1912);
“Settlement of Michigan territory,” Journal of American History, ii (1915); and Andrew
Perejda, “Sources and dispersal of Michigan’s Population,” Michigan History, XXXii

Government during the territorial years is discussed in timothy Sherer, “the
Resistance to Representative Government in Early Michigan territory,” The Old
Northwest, V (1979) and Frank Woodford, Mr. Jefferson’s Disciple: A Life of Justice
Woodward (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1953).

Michigan’s role in the struggle with England is described in Fred hamil, Michigan in
the War of 1812 (Lansing: Michigan historical Commission, 1960); Alec Gilpin, The
War of 1812 in the Old Northwest (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1958);
John G. Van deusen, “the detroit Campaign of General William hull,” Michigan
History, Xii (1928); Roger L. Rosentreter, “Remember the River Raisin,” Michigan
History (november–december 1998); Brian L. dunnigan, The British Army at Mackinac,
1812–1815 (Mackinac island: Mackinac island State Park Commission, 1980); david L.
Poremba, “British detroit,” Michigan History (november–december 2000); Robert S.
Allen, “his Majesty’s indian Allies: native People, the British Crown, and the War of
1812,” The Michigan Historical Review (Fall 1988); and Gerry t. Altoff, “oliver hazard
Perry and the Battle of Lake Erie,” The Michigan Historical Review (Fall 1988). the life
of Cass is told in glowing terms by Frank Woodford in Lewis Cass: The Last Jeffersonian
(new Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1950). An attempt to resurrect the reputa-
tion of General hull is Steven J. Rauch, “A Stain Upon the nation? A Review of the
detroit Campaign of 1812 in United States Military history,” Michigan Historical Review

Wilderness Politics and Economics 69

(Spring 2012). An interesting perspective on the war is denver Brunsman, Joel Stone,
and douglas Fisher (eds), Border Crossing: The Detroit River Region in the War of 1812
(detroit: detroit historical Society, 2012).

ida Johnson, The Michigan Fur Trade (Grand Rapids: Black Letter Press, 1971—a
reprint of a 1919 publication) still stands as the standard work on its topic. K. W. Porter,
John Jacob Astor: Businessman (Cambridge: harvard University Press, 1931) is the most
complete work on the American Fur Company.

the struggle for toledo is humorously recounted in Sister Mary Karl George, The Rise
and Fall of Toledo, Michigan (Lansing: Michigan historical Commission, 1971). Kent
Sagendorph relates the story of Michigan’s “Boy Governor” in Stevens Thompson Mason,
Misunderstood Patriot (new York: E. P. dutton, 1947). the most recent books on the
toledo War and Governor Mason are don Faber’s The Toledo War (Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan Press, 2008) and The Boy Governor: Stevens T. Mason and the
Birth of Michigan Politics (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2012).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Challenges of Statehood

As a territory, Michigan had remained relatively unexplored and unexploited.
Protected on its flanks by the sometimes stormy and uncertain waters of the
Great Lakes, the territory seemed remote and inaccessible, far from the main-
stream of western expansion. Michigan’s reputation as a land of swamps and
sickness whose very name was synonymous with “ague, fever, and chills” served
as a further deterrent to growth.

despite these handicaps, Michigan’s early years of statehood saw an enor-
mous population increase. during the 1830s a flood of immigration sent the
population soaring to over 212,000—the greatest growth for any state or terri-
tory during the decade. By 1850 Michigan had nearly 398,000 residents, of
whom 14 percent were foreign born.

two developments in transportation had a profound impact on the state’s
population explosion. First, in 1811 Robert Fulton sailed his new invention, the
steamboat, and within seven years the Walk-in-the-Water was plying the Great
Lakes between Buffalo and detroit. Although this first lake-steamer was
wrecked in a storm three years after its launching, others soon followed, bring-
ing new settlers to Michigan. Second, in 1825 new York’s Erie Canal was com-
pleted, stretching 350 miles from Albany, on the hudson River, to Buffalo, on
Lake Erie. its opening meant that potential settlers living in new England and
new York could make much of their journey inland by water and that Michigan
products would have an easier access to Eastern markets.


Challenges of Statehood 71

Most settlers poured into the rich fertile lands of the two southern tiers of
counties, which were readily reached both by water and the territorial and
Chicago Military Roads. in terms of population, the three largest counties
in 1837 were Wayne (23,400), Washtenaw (21,817), and oakland (20,176).
Jackson, Calhoun, and Kalamazoo counties also had substantial populations
because of the presence of treeless farmland, called by settlers “prairies,” which

Figure 5.1 An announcement marking the opening of the Erie Canal. towns all along
the length of the new Canal held special festivities to mark the occasion. this broadside
calls for citizens of Geneva, new York, to celebrate by means of illuminating their homes
and partaking in a public dinner and ball on october 26, 1825. Courtesy of the new
York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections, BRo705.


could be immediately plowed and planted. Settlement beyond the fourth tier
of counties was sparse because of poorer soil, dense forests, a harsher climate,
and inadequate inland travel arteries.

Prior to the Civil War most of Michigan’s residents were new Englanders
who had hoped to transplant their culture and customs to their new western
home. Vermontville, whose name indicates the origin of its founders, is an
excellent example of the immigrant desire to retain a grasp on the past, even if
that hold were as slender as a reminiscent name. Many immigrants came to
Michigan from western new York. Upon arriving in Michigan, settlers from
Genesee County quickly named their new home after their old. Even these new
Yorkers can be considered, in a broad sense, to be new Englanders since they
were mostly descendants of new England soldiers who had received land in
new York as payment for their service in the American Revolution. All brought
with them the Yankee traits of industry, thrift, religious zeal, reformism, and
interest in education. other newcomers came from ohio and indiana and
established homes primarily in the southwestern part of the state. Since many
of these settlers were of southern origin, they provided a distinct contrast to
new Englanders, and, as a result, two differing political and social cultures
were created within the state.

While new settlers were primarily agriculturalists, their interest was in grow-
ing cash crops of wheat and corn, not merely in subsistence farming. Wheat
soon became the principal commercial crop. if measured by quantity grown,
however, corn was the leader because it was used not only for food but also for
liquor. Likewise, rye and barley were raised in sizable amounts for both flour
and distillery purposes. oats and hay were grown for feed, but their bulk made
them too expensive to haul to market for sale.

Internal Improvements

to exploit potential agricultural markets in the East, South, and West, improved
transportation links with other states, as well as development of dependable
transportation and communication networks within Michigan, were a vital
necessity. Consequently, the immediate priority of the governor and legislature
became development of internal improvements.

For precedent, Michigan looked to the achievements of other states. new
York had become the nation’s foremost commercial state primarily because of
its program of internal improvements, especially the Erie Canal. Pennsylvania
and Maryland had authorized expenditure of millions of dollars for roads
and canals. By 1837, ohio, illinois, and indiana had improvement programs,

Challenges of Statehood 73

with the latter’s being referred to as the “Mammoth Bill” because it totaled
$13 million.

in 1837 only the state government possessed current and potential fiscal
resources to finance mass public improvement programs. Local resources could
provide neither adequate funding nor the integrated network of facilities
necessary to assure maximum efficiency. Federal funds seemed unavailable
because President Jackson’s veto of the Maysville Road Bill in 1830 precluded
expenditure for such projects. it was so obvious that state funding was the only
solution that Michigan’s first constitution stated that “internal improvements
shall be encouraged by the government of this state; and it shall be the duty of
the legislature as soon as may be to make provisions by law for ascertaining the
proper objects of improvement in relation to roads, canals, and navigable
waters.” thus, it was not surprising that in his initial address to the legislature
Governor Mason called for an internal improvements program and declared
that “the period has arrived when Michigan can no longer, without detriment
to her standing and importance as a state, delay the action necessary for the
development of her vast resources and wealth.”

the legislature agreed with the governor and the apparent will of the people,
and, in 1837, passed a Public improvement Act which authorized the governor
to sell $5 million in bonds, at 5¼ percent interest, to fund building two
transpeninsular canals and three transpeninsular railroads. Canals were to con-
nect the Clinton River, near Mt. Clemens, with the mouth of the Kalamazoo
River and to link the Saginaw and Grand rivers. Railroad lines were determined
by geography: a southern route was to run from near Monroe to new Buffalo
in Berrien County; a central route would connect detroit with St. Joseph; and a
northern line would join a site near Port huron in St. Clair County to a locale
near Grand Rapids in Kent County. these projects were to be overseen by a
seven-member Board of Commissioners of internal improvements, and all
profits derived were to be used to repay the $5 million loan.

Undoubtedly the state would have been better served by a less elaborate and
expensive proposal. With a population of less than 250,000, the idea of con-
structing railways and canals into largely unsettled lands held by speculators was
financially unwise. it was, however, politically expedient since all sections of the
state sought transportation facilities and no politician wanted to risk alienating
a constituent by neglecting any locale. the boldness of Michigan’s plans seemed
even more rash when viewed within the context of the emphasis on railroads.
Rail traffic was a very new concept in 1837. Rail lines had been built in England
in the 1820s, but it was not until 1830 that the Baltimore and ohio began
operating a thirteen-mile stretch of track in the United States. Furthermore,
American civil engineers were few in number and there were not enough


Scottish and English engineers with railroad expertise available to satisfy the
blossoming demand. Consequently, it was common for untrained and incom-
petent men to masquerade as engineers. in fact, in 1838 an engineer for the
Michigan Southern Railroad was taking a correspondence course in surveying!

Unfortunately, 1837 was not an opportune time for Michigan to seek purchas-
ers for bonds. the Bank of the United States, whose rechartering had been vetoed
in 1832 by President Jackson, had been abolished in 1836. Removal of the bank’s
program for fiscal stability resulted in the creation of “wildcat banks” which
issued their own currency—a practice which, in turn, led to spiraling inflation
and financial panic. Jackson’s “Specie Circular,” which demanded that all land
purchased from the government be paid for in gold or silver, further restricted
sales by limiting credit opportunities. Failing to sell its bonds locally, the Michigan
legislature in 1838 commissioned the Morris Canal and Banking Company of
new Jersey to act as selling agent. in november 1838, the Morris Company pur-
chased 25 percent of the bonds, with the Bank of the United States of Pennsylvania
buying the remainder. Payment was arranged at $250,000 per quarter. in 1840
the Morris Company went bankrupt and the following year the Pennsylvania
bank collapsed. For Michigan this was a double disaster: first, the state had
received only $2.6 million from the sales, and second, it could not recover the
bonds for which repayment had not yet been made because the two now defunct
purchasers had used them as collateral for other investments. Michigan’s hope
for a financial windfall had turned into a tragedy; however, another source of
potential profit soon came to the fore—mining for precious metals.

The Copper Kingdom

Earliest mining in Michigan was for copper. Ancient indian legends told of
fabulous copper riches, and, during their explorations, Louis Armand de La
honton and Pierre François de Charlevoix related to the French government
their discovery of an enormous pure copper boulder in the upper peninsula.
French officials considered the finding inconsequential and took no action.
nearly 100 years later, after the British had gained sway over French north
America in the Seven Years’ War, Charles townsend, England’s chancellor of
the exchequer, dispatched Robert Rogers and a small party of men to explore
the upper peninsula in hopes of unearthing deposits of gold, silver, and copper.
initial digging brought forth a nugget which was assayed at 75 percent pure
silver. Elated, Rogers ordered a thirty-foot shaft dug to uncover more of the
precious stones, but none was found. Because mining activities demanded
clearing of the forests and construction of roads, fur trappers and traders

Challenges of Statehood 75

lodged protests with the British government. Weighing the possibility of wealth
obtained from the potential discovery of precious minerals against the certain
profit derived from existing fur trade, Crown officials ordered all mining in the
Great Lakes region ceased.

American interest in mining was stirred when Cass’ north West Scientific
Expedition of 1820 visited the site of the fabled copper boulder and confirmed
its existence in a report to Secretary of War John C. Calhoun. immediate explo-
ration and excavation of the region was impossible because the western upper
peninsula belonged to the Chippewa, and the United States government had
neither title to, nor jurisdiction over, it. Furthermore, the remoteness of the
region, along with its severe climate, dissuaded most potential prospectors
from embarking upon exploratory searches.

in 1841, douglass houghton made a report that changed the course of
Michigan’s economic, political, and social development. houghton, who had
come to Michigan from new York in 1830 at the age of twenty-one to give sci-
entific lectures at the University of Michigan, had visited the Keweenaw
Peninsula in 1831 and 1832 with henry Rowe Schoolcraft and had been
appointed state geologist in 1837. during his first two years in office he sur-
veyed the lower peninsula and the Lake Superior and Lake huron shorelines of
the upper peninsula. in 1840 houghton returned to the upper peninsula for
extensive surveying and geological study. the following year his reports con-
firming the existence of a pure copper boulder along the ontonagon River
and copper deposits throughout the Keweenaw Peninsula were published.
tragically, houghton’s brilliant life was cut short when he drowned in a Lake
Superior storm october 14, 1845, but his work had already made him a legend-
ary figure in Michigan history.

despite houghton’s verification of copper deposits and a rising clamor from
fortune seekers eager to mine their way to prosperity, the national government
forbade entry into the Keweenaw region until a land settlement with the indians
had been reached. this obstacle was removed october 4, 1842, with the signing
of the treaty of LaPointe. in this pact, chiefs and headmen of the Lake Superior
and Mississippi bands of Chippewa sold their holdings between Marquette,
Michigan, and duluth, Minnesota, to the United States in return for more than
$800,000 to be paid in twenty-five annual installments, and the right to remain
temporarily on the ceded territory. Chief government negotiator Robert Stuart,
a former aide to John Jacob Astor, later boasted that he had “done in” the
indians by “excluding the usual allowances” of goods and services, educational
benefits, and assistance toward ultimate assimilation into white society.

having acquired clear title to the land, the federal government opened the
western upper peninsula to entry in 1843 with the stipulation that every


prospector had to obtain a mining permit from the War department office at
Copper harbor. these permits allowed an individual to explore a specified
nine-square-mile area, stake a claim, and receive a lease to the property for
three years, with two three-year renewals available upon request. in return,
miners had to give the government 6 percent of the value of all minerals mined
during the initial three years and 10 percent during the renewal periods. in
1846, after nearly 1,000 permits had been distributed, a court decision declared
the leasing arrangement illegal. the following year Congress passed a law for
the sale of mineral lands in the Lake Superior region, with the minimum bid set
at $5 per acre. three years later the minimum bid was reduced to $1.25 per acre,
the same as had been established for agricultural lands.

thousands of newcomers, armed with picks, shovels, and explosives, flocked
to the western upper peninsula. to assure the safety of the miners, on February
6, 1850, President Zachary taylor ordered all indians still on land ceded by the
1842 treaty to prepare for removal west. the Chippewa refused, saying that the
treaty’s intent was to permit whites to mine the south shore of Lake Superior,
not to force indians from their homeland. A peaceful resolution to the problem
was reached in 1854. A new treaty was negotiated which set aside reservations
for exclusive occupation by the Chippewa of Lake Superior. included in the
agreement was a ninety-square-mile tract at the head of Keweenaw Bay for the
L’Anse and Vieux de Sert bands of Michigan.

it was soon discovered that individuals with hand tools could extract very
little copper, and within three years large, well-financed Eastern mining com-
panies had entered the region. of these, the most successful was the Pittsburgh
and Boston Company which owned the rich Cliff Mine along Eagle River. By
1870, when it closed, the Cliff Mine had paid company stockholders more than
$2.5 million in dividends.

the three largest copper-producing regions were those at the tip of the
Keweenaw Peninsula, along the ontonagon River, and near Portage Lake. the
latter was the richest site, containing the Quincy Mine, which was affection-
ately dubbed “old Reliable” because of its continuous production of copper.
the Quincy Mine typified the long-term nature of copper mine investment. it
opened in 1848 and, despite capital outlays exceeding $900,000 by its owners,
by 1860 it still had not returned a profit. in time, patient investors were
rewarded, and by 1945, the Quincy had put forth enough ore to permit the
company to have paid over $27 million in dividends. Risks and knowledge of a
lengthy delay in obtaining profits did not deter investors, and by the outbreak
of the Civil War thirty-three firms, financed by more than $4 million from
Eastern industrialists and bankers and employing nearly 4,000 men, were oper-
ating mines in the upper peninsula.

Challenges of Statehood 77

Following the Civil War, copper production in Michigan soared from
25 million pounds in 1872 to a peak of 267 million pounds, valued at $76 million,
in 1916. during the period 1847–87, Michigan led the nation in copper output,
but discovery of new copper fields in Arizona and new Mexico in 1888 relegated
Michigan to third place after that year. Michigan’s massive copper production is
all the more astounding since the Keweenaw area was mined out by 1867, and
within another twenty-three years so was the ontonagon River range. only the
Portage Lake mines continued to operate into the twentieth century.

Mining companies, investors, and local merchants profited greatly from
Michigan’s “copper rush.” during the years 1885–1918 shareholders in the
state’s copper mines received dividends of more than $236 million. A share of
Calumet Mine stock which sold for $1 in 1866 was worth $1,000 in 1907. Upper
peninsula mining firms employed as many as 40,000 men annually. Workers
earning high wages were exploited by merchants, doctors, lawyers, and assorted
entrepreneurs. As miners began to send for their families, a need arose for
schools, churches, teachers, and ministers. With the arrival of these “forerun-
ners of civilization,” camps such as houghton and hancock were transformed
into permanent settlements.

Mining also brought technical and physical advancements to the upper
peninsula. Establishment of the Michigan School of Mines, now Michigan
technological University, at houghton in 1885 was a direct result of copper
mining and the desire of engineers to keep abreast of the latest concepts in
metallurgy and mining techniques. Railroads were built to meet the needs of
the mines, and by 1884, the western upper peninsula was linked to Chicago by
rail. new canals, such as the Portage Lake and Lake Superior Ship Canal and
the one under construction at Sault Ste. Marie, assured upper peninsula
residents as early as the 1850s that their region would have water routes
connecting it with the rest of the state. to the upper peninsula, copper mining
meant much more than revenue—it signaled the region’s acceptance as a pro-
ductive part of the state. Unfortunately, industrial progress took its toll on the
upper peninsula’s previously unspoiled environment, and by 1895 torch Lake
had become known as “the Red Sea of Michigan” because of copper oxide
residue dumped there by nearby stamping mills.

The Ontonagon Boulder

one of the most bizarre incidents in Michigan’s history stemmed from the cop-
per fields. in late 1841, Julius Eldred, a detroit merchant, decided to obtain the
fabled copper boulder along the ontonagon River, take it to detroit, put it on


display, and charge curious spectators 25¢ to gaze at “Michigan’s natural won-
der.” Eldred arrived at the site, which was still owned by the Chippewa, and
purchased the boulder from Chief okondokon for $150. Since it weighed more
than three tons, Eldred could not move it with the equipment he had brought,
so, in the summer of 1842, he returned to detroit to acquire the men, hoists,
ropes, levers, railroad track, and flatcar necessary to dislodge the rock.

When he returned the following year, Eldred discovered that the boulder had
been seized by another entrepreneur. Eldred negotiated with his rival and
finally convinced him to part with the boulder for $1,365 in cash. the boulder
was then hoisted upon the flatcar and pushed along tracks four miles to Lake
Superior, where it was loaded onto a ship. Upon reaching detroit, Eldred
encountered another unexpected obstacle when federal agents, acting on a
directive from the United States district attorney for Michigan, confiscated the
boulder and sent it to Washington, d.C., for display at the Smithsonian institute.
Furious and frustrated, Eldred spent years in court trying to recover his prized
possession, but ultimately he was compelled to accept a settlement of $5,664.98
from the government. Even though Eldred did not achieve fame and fortune
from his plan, his misadventures drew state and national attention to Michigan’s
copper country.

Iron Mining

iron ore was discovered in the upper peninsula in 1844 when William A. Burt,
a government surveyor, determined that the cause of his magnetic compass
needle’s wild spinning was the presence of iron deposits. Although Burt located
several iron ore lodes, especially in the vicinity of negaunee, reports of his find-
ings were not made public until the following year. Soon after Burt’s discoveries
were published, three major mining concerns began operation: the Jackson
Company, founded by Philo M. Everett of Jackson, Michigan, opened near
negaunee in 1846; the next year the Cleveland iron Company was established
at the same location; and in 1849, the Marquette iron Company was formed at

Early excavation for iron ore was relatively easy because the metal was near
the earth’s surface. Men often uprooted trees, scraped away sod and soil, and
used handpicks and sledgehammers to remove the ore. By 1870 deeper mines
had been dug and men sent up ore in hand-drawn buckets. Shortly before the
turn of the century, steam-driven machinery was introduced to lift ore from
the mines, and electric elevators were used to take the miners to and from the
depths. As in copper mining, large, well-financed companies bought smaller

Challenges of Statehood 79

ones, and then, having acquired a near monopoly, they expended huge sums of
money to modernize their operations, construct railroads, and improve harbor
facilities. From the mid-1880s, with the opening of the Menominee and
Gogebic ranges, until the early 1900s, when large-scale mining began in
Minnesota, Michigan reigned as the nation’s leading iron-ore producer.


A direct consequence of copper and iron-ore mining was the development of
lake ore-carriers. during mining’s early years, schooners and other sailing ships
transported ore, but by 1882 steamships capable of holding 2,100 tons of ore
were in operation. in 1886 the first steel ore-carrier was launched, and soon
afterward others reaching lengths of 400 feet and having cargo capacities of
3,000 tons were churning through the Great Lakes. today, ore-carriers extend
up to 1,013.5 feet in length and easily store more than 68,000 tons in their

improvements in loading and unloading procedures came with increased
production demands. originally ore was loaded onto ships by wheelbarrow
and handcart. When the ship reached its destination, men with shovels were
dropped into the holds and buckets lowered to them. the filled buckets were
lifted from the hold by hoist and their contents heaped along the shore. Because
of the difficulty of the labor and the reluctance of mining companies to pay
decent wages to stevedores, indians, who were willing to work for little money,
usually were hired to unload ships. As an example, in 1872 the Leland iron
Company paid its indian employees 25¢ per day to unload tons of ore. Finally,
in 1899, a steam-powered unloader, which could hoist more tonnage in eight
hours than 100 men could lift in a week, was perfected and put into service.

The Sault Ste. Marie Canal

Perhaps the most significant result of mining enterprises in Michigan was con-
struction of a canal at Sault Ste. Marie. Mine operators realized that, if they
were to become successful and wealthy, a means of conquering the rapids at the
Sault and of allowing easy movement from Lake Superior into Lake huron,
which was approximately twenty-two feet lower, had to be devised. Without a
canal, ships laden with ore from Lake Superior mines had to be unloaded,
removed from the water, rolled onto logs to the lower-water-level lake, and then
reloaded. the only alternative to this expensive procedure was the equally


Figure 5.2 Modern-day Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie. Courtesy of the US Army Corps
of Engineers.

Figure 5.3 Soo Locks, old state lock at Sault Ste. Marie, 1855. Courtesy of the US Army
Corps of Engineers, id #243.

Challenges of Statehood 81

unsatisfactory idea of using two ships, one in each lake, and having the ore
portaged from one ship to the other. Governor Mason’s internal improvement
message called for a ship canal at the Sault, but the contractor hired by the state
became convinced that the task could not be accomplished for the allotted
appropriation and abandoned the enterprise. From 1839 until 1852 Michigan
representatives in Congress attempted to obtain a federal land grant to assist
in the building of a canal at the Sault. in August 1852, despite objections by
opponents that the upper peninsula was as “remote as the moon,” Congress
authorized Michigan to sell 750,000 acres of public land to raise funds for the
desired canal.

the man who became known as the genius behind the project was Charles
harvey. Realizing the importance of such a canal to his employer, the Fairbanks
Scale Company, whose owners had invested heavily in Michigan mines, harvey
convinced Eastern investors to form the St. Mary’s Falls Ship Company and
appoint him to be chief engineer. harvey had to overcome many obstacles
before the canal was completed. the project was beset by cholera epidemics,
severe winter weather which stopped construction, and enormous expenses
which totaled more than $1 million—twice the original estimate. despite these
overwhelming difficulties, the canal and locks opened on May 31, 1855, less
than two years from the beginning of excavation. the canal was operated by the
state and was obligated by federal law to charge a 4¢-per-ton toll until such time
as the construction costs had been recovered. When the canal was paid for, it
was to be turned over to the federal government, and all tolls would be removed.
this was done in 1881, the same year a second lock was opened in the canal. in
subsequent years, three more locks have been added and today, with ocean-
going ships entering the Great Lakes from the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Sault
canal opens Michigan’s upper peninsula not only to American markets, but also
to those of the entire globe.

A New Capital

Economic growth was not the only issue concerning the Michigan legislature in
the 1840s. the state constitution stipulated that detroit remain the state capital
for ten years, at which time a permanent capital site had to be named. detroiters
wanted to retain the capital designation, but critics argued that the city was
dangerously close to Canada in case of another war with England, was not cen-
trally located, and offered a social life which had a corrupting influence on
lawmakers. Many cities vied for the honor of becoming the capital, and on
March 16, 1847, the legislature voted to place the seat of government in Lansing


township of ingham County. thereafter the question arose of what to name the
village that would soon spring up as if by magic. Rejecting such suggestions as
El dorado, Kinderhook, Michigan, and Swedenborg, the legislature decided to
name it after the township, Lansing. the choice was well received because
many of the settlers there were from Lansing, new York, which was named
after John Lansing, chancellor of new York from 1801–10. once again,
Michigan’s ties to new York were evident. the capitol constructed in Lansing
was replaced by a new structure in 1879, and this architecturally striking, white
sandstone building still serves as Michigan’s capitol.

The Constitution of 1850

on november 6, 1849, the Michigan electorate approved by a vote of 33,193 to
4,095 the calling of a constitutional convention to revise the existing document.
during its deliberations, the convention approved numerous proposals, the
most important of which were placing a $50,000 limit on the state debt and
ending all state aid for internal improvements. other significant measures
included allowing unlimited liability for bank officers and stockholders, thereby
making unscrupulous financiers legally responsible for their actions, and a
statement that all corporations, except those for municipal purposes, had to be
formed under general law, which prevented the legislature from granting spe-
cial favors to individuals.

the new document further stated that state legislators would be elected
every two years instead of annually and that legislative sessions would have to
be held only once during that period. Furthermore the governor and lieutenant
governor were made ineligible for legislative appointment to other offices dur-
ing their term of service, which was done to prevent them from becoming sena-
torial aspirants. the judiciary system was revised from a county court system
to one based upon eight circuit courts, and all principal state offices, including
university regents and members of the State Board of Education, would become
elective, rather than appointive, positions.

Although the convention rejected petitions to grant suffrage to blacks and
women, it did give the right to vote to aliens who had stated their desire to become
citizens and to indians who had renounced all tribal loyalty. the convention
delegates did authorize that the question of black suffrage be placed on a separate
ballot, which was done and was soundly defeated 32,026 to 12,840. obviously
many Michiganians agreed with a detroit delegate who argued that blacks should
remain segregated from whites and remain “in their present sphere.”

Challenges of Statehood 83

A New Look

the thirteen years since statehood had witnessed tremendous changes in
Michigan. its population had multiplied at a fantastic rate because of improve-
ments in transportation and communication. Beginning statehood during the
Panic of 1837 certainly was not an easy task and the financial difficulties
incurred by its ambitious internal improvement program had been a near eco-
nomic catastrophe. Yet, through improved fiscal management and the thrifty
policies of democratic governors and legislatures after 1841, Michigan’s econ-
omy became so sound that in december 1850 the state treasurer reported a
surplus of $36,057.85. despite such an optimistic harbinger of the future,
Michigan was about to undergo the effects of the divisive seeds of conflict
which had been sown throughout the nation’s history over the question of

For Further Reading

William G. Shade, Banks or No Banks: The Money Issue in Western Politics, 1832–1865
(detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1972) provides a modern treatment of the finan-
cial problems encountered by the states of the old northwest. the same author’s “Banks
and Politics in Michigan: A Reconsi deration,” Michigan History, LVii (Spring 1973) and
Ronald Seavoy, “Borrowed Laws to Speed development, 1835–1863,” Michigan History,
LiX (Spring–Summer 1975) offer analyses of financial politics and the origins of fiscal
legislation in Michigan.

Robert hybel, “the Lake Superior Copper Fever, 1841–1847,” Michigan History,
XXXiV (Summer‒Fall 1950) gives a solid background of houghton’s activities and the
saga of the ontonagon boulder. Angus Murdoch, Boom Copper: The Story of the First
United States Mining Boom (new York: Macmillan and Co., 1943) and William B. Gates,
Michigan Copper and Boston Dollars: An Economic History of the Michigan Copper
Mining Industry (Cambridge: harvard University Press, 1951) are comprehensive stud-
ies. donald Chaput, The Cliff: America’s First Great Copper Mine (Kalamazoo: Sequoia
Press, 1972) is a brief, well-written, and well-illustrated account of one of Michigan’s
most important copper mines. A recent study of the mining industry and its impact is
Larry Lankton, Cradle to Grave (new York: oxford University Press, 1991). other valu-
able and insightful resources include “Keweenaw Copper: A Michigan Story,” a thirty-
minute video produced by the State of Michigan; Charles K. hyde, Copper for America:
The United States Copper Industry from Colonial Times to 1990 (tucson: the University
of Arizona Press, 1995); and Larry Chabot, “i’ll Eat Every Pound of Copper From that
Mine,” Michigan History, i (January–February 2000).


Concerning politics, Floyd B. Streeter, Political Parties in Michigan: 1837–1860
(Lansing: Michigan historical Commission, 1918) is the standard, but dated, analysis.
An excellent supplement is Ronald P. Formisano, The Birth of Mass Political Parties:
Michigan, 1827–1861 (Princeton University Press, 1971) that stresses the ethnocultural
orientation of Michigan politics. William C. Klunder, “the Seeds of Popular Sovereignty:
Governor Lewis Cass and the Michigan territory,” The Michigan Historical Review
(Spring 1991) offers insight into the early political career of Cass.

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

decade of turmoil

A great reform zeal swept through the United States during the 1840s and
1850s. Religious revivals stressed that people were capable of improving both
themselves and society. Since these moral crusades for a Utopian America
began in western new York, from whence numerous people had emigrated
to Michigan, it was to be expected that Michigan would be in the forefront of
many reform movements, especially those for temperance and abolition of

Evils of “Old John Barleycorn”

From its early territorial stage, Michigan had restricted liquor traffic. Sale of
intoxicating spirits to indians, minors, servants, soldiers, and prisoners was
forbidden, as were all Sunday sales. Liquor vendors were required to be licensed
and, in 1845, the state legislature allowed each city, village, and township to vote
whether or not it wished to issue licenses. Very few communities chose not to
license because fees from sales went directly into the local treasury and were
the major source of income for many areas. in 1850 local option ended because
the new state constitution forbade issuing of licenses to regulate liquor traffic.
Liquor dealers and their attorneys interpreted this to mean that unregulated
sale of ardent spirits was legal, and the state supreme court concurred.



Michigan residents opposing the sale and use of “hard liquor” always beli-
eved that regulation would be futile, and in 1833 they formed the first of nine-
teen branches of the Michigan temperance Society. initially the organization
sought moderation and permitted consumption of an “occasional glass” of
wine or beer. however, since whiskey was inexpensive, and permissible substi-
tutes costly, the society was denounced as undemocratic and elitist, and soon
temperance advocates were forced into supporting full prohibition.

in 1840 at Baltimore, Maryland, a tailor, carpenter, coach maker, silver plater,
and two blacksmiths, all reformed drunkards, formed the Washington Society.
they drew up a pledge, signed it, and traveled throughout the country relating
their terrible drunken experiences and urging abstinence. the movement
reached Michigan in 1841 and, according to one supporter, “spread from town
to town, converting everybody by the irresistible power of its advocates.”

Meetings were held in nearly every community to warn the citizenry of the
evils of demon rum. in Battle Creek in 1841 speakers warned that even one
drink could lead to drunkenness, and a local liquor dealer told the cheering
crowd that “Washingtonianism had opened his eyes to the evils of liquor sell-
ing” and that now every time “he turned the fawcet the gurgling of the liquor
sounded to him like cutting men’s throats.” the final speaker was a Marshall
farmer, Robert hall, who related that when he first arrived his neighbors called
him Mr. Robert hall, then he began to “tipple” and they called him Bob hall.
When “tippling” led to deep drinking, he became “old Bob hall,” which lasted
until he became a drunkard, when his title changed to “old hall.” Finally, hav-
ing descended to a gutter drunkard, his neighbors referred to him simply as
“old alco-hall.”

the best known local orator was Augustus Littlejohn of Allegan, who con-
ducted a series of lectures at Climax, Schoolcraft, and Kalamazoo in 1844. he
was very professional in his organization and his meetings always followed a
pattern: temperance songs, prayer, more songs, a colorful, impassioned speech,
signing an abstinence pledge, and closing songs. his power and popularity
were further enhanced when liquor dealers attempted to disrupt his meetings.

With passage of prohibition legislation in Maine in 1846 and 1851, models
were created that other states could emulate. in 1851 the Michigan legislature
drafted a prohibition law, but failed to act upon it. the following year petitions
supporting the bill flooded the legislature, and among the petitioners were
Governor Robert McClelland, a democrat, Zachariah Chandler, a Whig, and
isaac P. Christiancy, a Free Soiler. temperance was an issue that transcended
party lines.

on February 12, 1853, the democratic legislature passed a law “prohibiting
the manufacture of intoxicating beverages, and the traffic therein.” Under this
act liquor could be manufactured for medicinal purposes only, punishments

Decade of Turmoil 87

for violators were established, and the legislature was given power to be the sole
governing body on the subject of liquor control. Enactment of the law, however,
was subject to a popular referendum later that year. if it was rejected by the
voters, the law provided for automatic effect in 1870. the election gave over-
whelming support for the law, but in 1854 the state supreme court ruled the law
invalid on the grounds that the legislature had no authority to pass a bill
dependent on a popular vote. in 1855 the Republican-controlled legislature
passed the same bill, without the ratification clause, and the court accepted its
legality. Clever attorneys soon discovered loopholes in the law and by 1857
detroit possessed 420 saloons, fifty-six hotels and tavern bars, twenty-three
breweries, and six distilleries.

the war against liquor continued to be waged. in 1874 the Women’s Christian
temperance Union was established in Michigan and a Prohibition Party was
created. “Red Ribbon Societies” were formed to promote the cause, and organ-
ized campaigns to put the question before the voters once again were common.
despite all such pressures, the state legislature not only rescinded the prohibi-
tion law in 1875, but also defeated new anti-liquor proposals in 1877, 1879, and
1881. Finally, in 1887, a local option law was passed, but ultimately only Van
Buren County remained “dry.” it was not until 1916 that the state voters again
endorsed a state prohibition law.

Bastion of Free Men

Although both the ordinance of 1787 and a Canadian statute of 1792 forbade
slavery in the northwest territory and Upper Canada, respectively, involuntary
servitude continued in the region for many years. British traders and trappers
who roamed the Lakes area after the American Revolution ignored prohibi-
tions on slavery. Even the Jay treaty, which gave the United States physical pos-
session of the northwest, circumvented part of the ordinance of 1787 by
stipulating that all settlers and traders could “continue to enjoy, unmolested, all
their property of every kind,” including slaves. thus, while no new slaves could
be introduced into the region, none could be emancipated either. nor could
slaves look to the northwest as a safe haven in which to escape, as the ordinance
of 1787 said that all fugitive laborers from other states had to be returned to
bondage. Enforcement of this law was strict and as late as 1807 Judge Woodward
refused to free two fugitive blacks on the grounds that they would always be
slaves by virtue of their past servitude.

As more settlers emigrated to Michigan from abolitionist areas in new
England and upstate new York an increased awareness of the immorality and
inhumanity of slavery arose. in 1827 the territorial legislature passed a law


Figure 6.1 this private home, the Bonine house, located just outside of the town
of Vandalia, once functioned as a station of the Underground Railroad. Credit:
Judith L. Roth.

protecting free blacks from being kidnapped by slave catchers, but the law also
clearly defined the black role in society by stating that blacks were neither state
citizens nor possessors of any civil rights. Five years later a group of Quakers
under the leadership of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler, who wrote poetry and
articles for William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist newspaper The Liberator,
gathered at Adrian and organized the territory’s first antislavery society.

despite efforts by Quakers, Germans, Jews, and free blacks, Michigan was
not immediately won over to the cause of abolition and intense rivalries arose
over the issue. in 1833 detroit residents had to face the slavery question directly
when that city underwent what a local newspaper called the “first negro insur-
rection.” thornton Blackburn, an escaped slave, had lived with his wife in
detroit for two years when Kentucky slave catchers arrived to return him to his
master. the slavers bribed the sheriff to arrest and jail Blackburn, preparatory
for his trip to Kentucky. the day following the arrest, as the prisoner was being
taken from the jail, a mob of club- and pistol-wielding whites and blacks
attacked the sheriff, killed him and wounded several of his deputies, freed

Decade of Turmoil 89

Blackburn and took him to Canada. terrified detroit authorities called for a
militia to quell the “uprising,” and when they arrived the 250-member black
community was subjected to indiscriminate beatings and arrests. in response
to this violence, Erotius P. hastings established detroit’s first antislavery
society in 1834, and within four years eighteen similar associations were
functioning in Michigan.

Antislavery leaders such as Laura Smith havilland, Erastus hussey, and
Sojourner truth sought freedom, civil liberty, and suffrage for Michigan’s black
population. Political leaders of the Whig and democratic parties, however, were
unwilling to go further than inserting a clause in the state constitution banning
slavery. Rebuffed, many abolitionists joined the Liberty Party, led by James
Birney of Bay City. While this party was never a major force in Michigan poli-
tics, it offered an outlet for Whigs and democrats to express their displeasure
with the positions taken on slavery by the major parties. that dissatisfaction
was present, and growing, is evidenced by the fact that in 1840 the Liberty can-
didate for president received 1 percent of Michigan’s popular vote, in 1844 the
figure reached 7 percent, and in 1848, under the Free Soil banner, 16 percent;
the 1848 figure would have been even greater had not the democratic candidate
been Senator Cass, who received many votes from state loyalty. Ultimately, abo-
litionist success did not come in politics, but rather through efforts to assist
escaped slaves to reach free soil by means of an “Underground Railroad.”

the Underground Railroad was so named because it provided secret trans-
portation and used railroad jargon in its messages. Each hiding place was a
“station,” its owner the “stationmaster,” slaves were “fares,” and escape routes
were “lines.” the operation was so secretive that each stationmaster knew only
the next station, never the preceding one; thus, if a stationmaster was arrested
the chain of stations could not be traced to its usual point of origin in either
Kentucky or Missouri. Stations, which could be farmhouses, barns, caves, hay-
stacks, groves of trees, or anything capable of concealing the runaways during
the day, were located at ten- to fifteen-mile intervals. At night, slaves would be
led on foot or loaded into a wagon bed and covered with hay, and then go to the
next station. occasionally a sympathetic trainman would transport them in a
boxcar, making rare instances when the system was truly a railroad.

Stationmasters were alerted to the arrival of runaways by coded messages
placed in the personal column of the local newspaper. For example, an adver-
tisement selling “light brown fillys and brown and tan pups,” meant that young
girls and several mulatto children were arriving.

there were two main routes across the state. the Central Michigan Line
began at Cassopolis and ran through Schoolcraft, Climax, Battle Creek,
Marshall, Albion, Parma, Jackson, Michigan Centre, dexter, Ann Arbor,


Figure 6.2 the famous Underground Railroad had several routes to transport runa-
way slaves to freedom. on this map, the heavy lines indicate the routes used during the
years 1840–60.

Ypsilanti, Plymouth, and detroit. A Southern Line started at either hillsdale or
Morenci, and went through Adrian, tecumseh, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Plymouth,
and detroit. in case of discovery, alternate terminals were selected. if detroit
was being watched by slave catchers, either Mount Clemens or Port huron
were used to transport slaves into Canada.

Perhaps the best example of Michigan’s antislavery fervor in the 1840s is the
case of Adam Crosswhite, a mulatto from Kentucky, who, with his family, fled

Decade of Turmoil 91

in 1844 via the Underground Railroad and settled in Marshall. in January 1847,
their former master sent four slave catchers to bring them back to Kentucky. As
they neared the town, an ex-slave known only as “Auction Bell” roused the resi-
dents, who met the Kentuckians at the edge of the city. Charles t. Gorham, a
prominent businessman, stepped forward and said that Crosswhite was a free
man, and a struggle would ensue if they tried to seize him. the raiders were
arrested, charged with breaking and entering, assault and battery, and illegal
possession of firearms, and jailed. in the meantime, Crosswhite and his family
were escorted to Canada.

having lost Crosswhite, the Kentucky master filed suit in federal court seek-
ing damages from Gorham and the other Marshall men who had foiled his
attempt to recover his lost property, but the case was dismissed. in mid-1848,
Cass, in an attempt to win Southern support in his bid for the presidency,
requested that another trial be held, with a United States Supreme Court Justice
presiding. in this trial a carefully selected jury found the Marshall men guilty
and ordered them to pay $1,925 restitution. the fine was quickly raised by

Figure 6.3 in this broadside supporters of the Underground Railroad, known as
“Stockholders,” are asked to contribute clothing, tools, and farm equipment to twenty-
nine former slaves who arrived safely in Canada via the detroit Underground Railroad.
Courtesy of the detroit historical Society.


abolitionists, but Cass’ role strengthened the belief that democrats were the
party of slavery and could not be trusted by the foes of that institution.

Another incident that angered Michigan residents also occurred in 1847.
Robert Cromwell, who had escaped from his owner in Missouri in 1840 and
grown prosperous as a barber in Flint and detroit, was located by his former
master who went to detroit to reclaim him. the owner bribed the sheriff to
bring Cromwell to the courthouse where he would be seized by the owner and
his henchmen. Cromwell arrived, was seized and dragged kicking and scream-
ing into the courtroom. district Judge Wilkens, a noted abolitionist, was pre-
siding, however, and he refused to sign a writ allowing Cromwell to be
reclaimed. Meanwhile, Cromwell’s shouts had attracted the attention of William
Lambert and George de Baptiste, two prominent abolitionist leaders, who
organized a crowd, freed Cromwell, and took him to Canada. the mob then
turned on the Missourian, who was beaten, charged with kidnapping, and
jailed. After serving six months while awaiting trial, he was found not guilty.
his lengthy pretrial incarceration served as warning to other slave catchers of
the treatment they could expect in Michigan.

other futile raids were made throughout the late 1840s, with Cass County
being a special target because of its large black population and proximity to the
indiana state line, which facilitated escape. By 1850, Michigan had become so
unsafe for slave agents that Senator henry Clay of Kentucky denounced the
state as a “hotbed of radicals and renegades.”

in an attempt to stop the Underground Railroad and appease irate Southerners
who were threatening civil war, Congress passed the Compromise of 1850 which
included a stronger Fugitive Slave Act. By the terms of this law, each state was
required by federal statute to return all runaway slaves to their masters. Michigan
residents ignored the law and continued the Underground Railroad. one
observer noted in 1851 that Underground Railroad traffic increased because the
Fugitive Slave Law gave it “more vitality, more activity, more passengers, and
more opposition, which invariably accelerates business.” in a further show of
disregard for federal law, in 1855 the Michigan legislature passed a Personal
Liberty Law requiring local prosecutors to defend escaped slaves and forbidding
the use of county jails to detain runaways. By 1855 opposition to the Fugitive
Slave Act was so widespread that detroit newspapers carried accounts of
“Underground Railroad operations,” which detailed the number of daily arriv-
als in the city. Michigan had earned the reputation of being a bastion of free men.

As one of the nation’s foremost antislavery centers, Michigan attracted many
of the country’s leading abolitionists. on March 12, 1859, Frederick douglass,
the black abolitionist, spoke to a detroit audience which included John Brown.
After the speech, Brown met with douglass and local abolitionists to tell them

Decade of Turmoil 93

of his planned raid on harpers Ferry. douglass urged him to dismiss the idea
as too risky. detroiters disliked the idea also, but only because it did not go far
enough. they proposed destroying every church in the South on a given Sunday
so that all supporters of slavery could reach hell at the same time. After Brown’s
abortive raid and subsequent capture, Michigan abolitionists thought about
rescuing him but decided that a dead martyr was more valuable to their cause
than a live failure.

the Underground Railroad continued to exist throughout the 1860s, but all
of the more than 50,000 slaves who reached Canada, and the thousands more
who remained in Michigan to start new lives, had been transported before
1862. on February 7, 1870, a celebration was held in detroit to mark the
official closing of the system. George de Baptiste put the feelings of all into
words when he hung a sign on his business door that read: “notice to all stock-
holders in the Underground Railway. this office is closed. hereafter all
stockholders will receive dividends according to their merit.”

King of the Beaver Islands

during the late 1840s and early 1850s residents of the northern part of the
lower peninsula were less concerned with the extension of slavery than with the
extension of Mormonism. James Jesse Strang, leader of a band of dissenters
opposed to Brigham Young’s polygamy policy, took his followers in 1845 from
Salt Lake City, Utah, to Racine, Wisconsin, and two years later, in January 1847,
to the Beaver islands in Lake Michigan. Strang’s coming enabled Michigan to
be the only state ever to have a king ruling over a portion of its territory after its
admission to the Union.

trouble quickly arose between the Mormons and their Gentile, or non-
Mormon, neighbors at Mackinac. Fears spread through the Gentile community
that hundreds more of the “clannish and ornery Mormon marauders” would
follow the initial settlers. Since nearly all of the Gentiles at Mackinac were
Catholic, they were furious at the Mormon contention that only Mormons were
God’s chosen people and would inherit the earth, while all nonbelievers would
be slain by the Lord. Animosities grew rapidly, and by the summer of 1847,
Gentiles were both verbally and physically assailing Mormons. in response,
Strang announced that Gentiles were morally bankrupt and survived only by
the insidious practice of giving liquor to indians in return for furs. Concerned
that Strang might destroy their profitable business ventures, Mackinac resi-
dents bribed ship captains not to bring Mormons to the Beaver islands and to
warn prospective settlers that they would be slain if they tried to join the


Figure 6.4 James Jesse Strang ruled a Mormon settlement on the Beaver islands and
made both himself and the Mormons a political force in Michigan. image taken from an
original 1856 daguerreotype from the collection of John hacjicek, Mormonism.com.
Used with permission.

Mormon colony. Among Gentiles, the cry arose that “the only good Mormon is
a dead Mormon!”

Publicly Strang insisted that he was not giving serious attention to Gentile
ravings. he claimed that his only interest was to gain complete economic and
political control of Mackinac and then to make Mormonism a political force
in Michigan. to accomplish this, he expected violence would be required,
and he was willing to use it. he told his followers that their enemies were
God’s enemies and that a holy war was necessary to purge the land of its
bad blood.

Conditions further deteriorated when Strang announced that on July 8,
1850, he was to be crowned king of the Beaver islands. Gentiles scoffed, held
pageants depicting Strang being crowned with a spittoon, and pledged to throw
“King Jimmie” into Lake Michigan. they determined to prevent the coronation

Decade of Turmoil 95

by attacking Beaver island on July 4, and each participant was told to bring his
own gun, ammunition, chewing tobacco, and whiskey. Strang learned of the
plot and prepared a counterattack. After Mormon cannon fired one shot at the
invaders the attack ended, and four days later Strang was crowned.

As king, Strang claimed he had God-given power to “execute judgment,
overthrow the rebellious, punish the wicked, rule the nation, and declare laws.”
to Strang, anyone who did not pledge him total loyalty was a traitor. this pre-
sented political problems, however, as the Beaver islands were legally part of
Mackinac County and subject to state laws. Following a series of arrests for
petty violations, Strang realized that state statutes were supreme. he then
decided to enter politics, gain power, and have the Beaver islands made into a
separate county under Mormon control.

in 1850 Strang ran a slate of candidates against an anti-Mormon ticket. Even
Strang admitted surprise when Mormon bloc voting resulted in the election of
his candidates to both the state legislature and county judgeship. Strang finally
had his mandate.

As a warning to state authorities and Gentiles, Strang published the follow-
ing threat, under the guise of a “revelation from God,” in his newspaper in
February 1851.

Let your fear be upon all men; and the terror of you upon your enemies; for this
is the day of vengeance of the Lord, and of your recompense upon your

Arise and thrash, for i will make thy power iron; the tread of thy foot shall
crush; thou shall break in pieces many people, and shall consecrate their spoil
unto God, and their dominion to the Lord of the whole earth.

Babylon the Great shall perish before thee. her cities shall be given to the
flames, and the inhabitants to the sword; her government shall be broken to
pieces and her dominions taken away.

this was a declaration of war upon Michigan, and it made Strang a national
figure who was both feared and respected by each major political party. the
Whigs and democrats could not afford to anger Strang and risk losing the
Mormon vote in what was expected to be a close election in Michigan in 1852,
but neither could they afford to appear so weak that they were appeasing a self-
proclaimed king.

in early 1852, President Millard Fillmore, a Whig, decided that his party
could gain more votes nationally by being anti-Mormon. ironically, his decision
was based on popular hostility against Brigham Young in Utah, but since
Young headed a large, powerful group in the Far West, the President proved his


anti-Mormonism against Young’s enemy, the weaker and more accessible

With orders to prosecute all Mormons who defied United States law, the fed-
eral district attorney for Michigan set out for the Beaver islands on the warship
Michigan, which was laden with cannon, marines, and deputy marshals. the
district attorney seized Strang and thirty-one others and threatened to hang
them from the yardarm of the ship if they resisted arrest. Strang assured him
that they would go peacefully and stand trial in detroit. At the trial Strang
pleaded that, like Christ, he was being persecuted for his religious beliefs. to
the amazement of the district attorney, his carefully selected jury acquitted all
the defendants on the grounds that America allowed religious toleration.
triumphantly Strang and the others returned home, and soon afterward the
king was elected justice of the peace, township supervisor, chairman of the
Board of health, and member of the state legislature. in the november elec-
tions, he delivered the entire Mormon vote to the democratic Party and, as a
reward, the democratic legislature redistricted the state and made the Beaver
islands a separate county.

Strang believed that he was invincible and he became lax in his control
over his followers, concentrating instead on preventing future Gentile inva-
sions. this was an error because many Mormons resented Strang’s ever-
growing power over their lives. Anti-Strang sentiment gained a leader when
a minister, who had been deposed from the church hierarchy for drinking,
drew up a plan to join with Gentiles and overthrow the authoritarian ruler.
Strang learned of the plot but ignored it, insisting that he was invulnerable to

in June 1856, the warship Michigan anchored in the harbor of St. James, but
the captain refused to tell Strang why his ship was there. Strang flattered him-
self by thinking that it had been sent to protect him, as a state legislator, from
the rumored assassination plot. Finally, on June 16, an officer invited Strang to
come aboard and speak with the captain. When Strang reached the dock, three
Mormon plotters shot him, leapt into a longboat manned by a crew from the
Michigan, and were taken to the ship. the captain then took the assassins to
Mackinac where they were greeted by cheering mobs of well-wishers offering
them cigars and whiskey.

After Strang’s death his followers lost all sense of power and direction. Soon
a drunken mob of Gentiles attacked the islands, looted homes and stores, raped
women, seized land, livestock, and farm equipment, burned the church and
Bibles, and drove all 2,500 Mormons from the islands. Within two weeks of
Strang’s death, his people were scattered from Green Bay to Chicago, and the
kingdom was ended.

Decade of Turmoil 97

Under the Oaks

the 1840s and 1850s saw sweeping political, as well as social, change. during
its early years of statehood Michigan was strongly democratic since most set-
tlers were adherents of the agrarian philosophies of thomas Jefferson and
Andrew Jackson. From 1836 to 1854 democrats controlled the statehouse for
all but two years, and their brief stint out of office in 1840–41 was a result of
voter reaction against the depression of 1839 rather than a strengthening of
their Whig opposition. during this period the legislature was always domi-
nated by democrats, and in every presidential election except 1840, that party’s
candidate easily carried the state. only a hope that internal factionalism would
eventually destroy the democrats kept the Whig Party functioning.

Whig hopes did have a basis in fact since the democrats were so badly
split that at times it appeared that they attacked each other more vigorously
than they did the Whigs. the state party was divided into four major
branches: (1) detroit-based federal patronage appointees who owed their
allegiance to incumbent officeholders; (2) fiscal and philosophical conserva-
tives who sought retrenchment in spending and maintenance of the status quo
on slavery and other controversial issues; (3) young, liberal abolitionists who
were deemed “dangerously radical” by conservatives; and (4) disgruntled west-
erners who felt the eastern half of the state had too much influence. despite
deep animosities, on election day these warring groups came together and
gained victory for the party.

Unfortunately for the Whigs, they too were split, but, unlike the democrats,
they were unable to reconcile their differences for even a day. Conservative
merchants and large landholders filled the party treasury but were unwilling to
take time from their business ventures to do organizational work or run for
office. Party machinery, therefore, fell to young, more liberal men, most of
whom were lawyers and abolitionists. difficulty arose when conservatives
refused to support these “radical” candidates, thereby assuring defeat. Con-
servatives, however, refused to accept responsibility for party losses, choosing
instead to blame them on the solidly democratic Catholic vote.

As the Whig Party swung to the left, many of its conservative members
bolted to the American or Know-nothing Party, which was opposed to
Catholics and immigrants. Conservative democrats, fearing both alien rule of
America and civil liberties for blacks, also joined. the Know-nothings, who
received their name by replying “i know nothing about it” to police interroga-
tions concerning destruction of Catholic property, were never a major force in
Michigan politics and had disappeared from the state scene by 1856. however,
in 1855, at the height of conservative fears, the party did manage to win brief


control of local governments in Marshall, Pontiac, Battle Creek, Mt. Clemens,
Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids—all of which had large Protestant and/or ethnic
groups with old World hatred toward Catholics.

to further complicate the political picture, many Whig and democratic lib-
erals and abolitionists joined the Free Soil Party. By 1850, Michigan, like the
rest of the country, was on the threshold of a major political realignment.

during the 1850s the dominant political issue in Michigan, and the nation,
was slavery and its extension into the Western territories. the Compromise of
1850 forestalled the outbreak of a civil war over the question, but displeased
nearly everyone. northerners claimed that maintaining the Fugitive Slave Law
was immoral, while Southerners said that the law should be strengthened even
more to assure their constitutional right to protection of personal property. the
issue broke open again in 1854 with the passage of the Kansas‒nebraska Bill,
which repealed that section of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 forbidding
slavery in any territory north of a line extending from the southern boundary

Figure 6.5 After the founding of the Republican Party at Jackson, mass meetings, such
as the one called at Mason, were held throughout the state to rally support for the new
party. Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative #00235.

Decade of Turmoil 99

of Missouri. the new law said that residents of the affected region could vote
on whether or not to allow slavery. this plan of “popular sovereignty” had first
been proposed by Cass in his 1848 campaign but had been rejected by
northerners who feared expansion of slavery throughout the country and
Southerners who believed that since most western settlers were northerners it
was part of a plot to surround and isolate slave states.

Passage of the Kansas‒nebraska Bill caused a popular uproar throughout the
north. in Michigan, protest meetings were held at detroit, Pontiac, Albion,
dexter, Kalamazoo, and numerous other communities. in early 1854, antislav-
ery democrats and Whigs met with Free Soilers to plan strategy. Joseph
Warren, radical editor of the Detroit Tribune, urged a political union “irrespec-
tive of old party organizations, for the purpose of agreeing upon some plan of
action that shall combine the whole anti-nebraska, antislavery sentiment of the
State upon one ticket.” Members of all parties seconded this idea and a call went
out for a mass meeting to convene at Jackson on July 6. nearly 1,500 persons
assembled on that date and because no building was large enough to accom-
modate them they gathered in an oak grove. delegates took the name
Republican because they were battling for personal freedom and “against the
schemes of aristocracy.” A platform calling for repeal of the Kansas‒nebraska
Bill and the Fugitive Slave Law was drafted by Jacob howard, a prominent
detroit attorney and former Whig congressman who was active in the
Underground Railroad. Austin Blair, a Free Soiler from Jackson, felt that
the platform was too mild and should call for the ending of slavery throughout
the nation, but delegates rejected his substitute platform. Finally, candidates
for  state offices were chosen and a ticket consisting of four Free Soilers, four
Whigs, and two democrats was agreed upon.

to the amazement of most national political observers the new party not
only elected Kinsley S. Bingham governor and Jacob howard attorney general,
but also won control of the state legislature. the strength of the party grew, and
in 1856 it retained all the state offices and control of the legislature, delivered
the electoral votes of the state to John C. Frémont, and swept all four congres-
sional seats. With the election of Zachariah Chandler to the Senate in 1857,
Republican control of the state was nearly complete. By 1859, when Moses
Wisner, of Pontiac, was governor, and Bingham was promoted to the Senate,
the Republican Party was firmly in the hands of “radicals” who were willing
to destroy slavery and the power of the democratic Party at any cost—even
civil war.

Republican strength in its early years was based on several factors. First, abo-
litionists were attracted to the party because of its antislavery position; this sup-
port was made concrete when the Republican legislature of 1855 passed the


Personal Liberty Law. Second, reformers, who were tired of democratic delays
in implementing laws for women’s rights and prohibition, turned to the new
party, and their support was rewarded by passage of a temperance law and
pledges to work for female suffrage. third, all Protestant churches, except
Lutheran, turned to the Republicans, as did the Know-nothings, as a force to
combat the Catholic influence in the democratic Party. Fourth, farmers, who
had been repeatedly denied an agricultural college by the democratic legisla-
ture, voted Republican. Again, Republicans kept faith with their followers, and
in 1855 the legislature authorized creation of Michigan Agricultural College
outside Lansing. the party was also aided by developing an image of being the
friend of both business and labor. Even the new state constitution of 1850, writ-
ten by a democratic-controlled convention, seemed to benefit the Republicans.
While the document was intended to restrict powers of the governor and
legislature, the Republicans used it to set precedents. When their attempts were
successful, it strengthened their hold on the government, and when they failed,
it was not because of malice but rather a misinterpretation of the wording of the
law. Finally, Republicans were fortunate to attract young, vigorous, popular
men as candidates, which offset the initial democratic advantage of having
older, well-known men such as Lewis Cass, Robert McClelland, Alpheus Felch,
and John Barry as their nominees. By 1860 the state democratic organization
was in disarray and Michigan was rapidly gaining a reputation of being one of
the most Republican states in the Union.

For Further Reading

While no secondary works exist on early temperance movements in Michigan, several
vivid firsthand recollections are available as articles. Among the best are J. Fitzgibbon,
“King Alcohol, his Rise, Reign, and Fall in Michigan,” Michigan History, ii (1917); Floyd
B. Streeter, “history of Prohibition Legislation in Michigan,” Michigan History, ii (1917);
and A. d. P. Van Buren, “temperance in Pioneer days,” Michigan Pioneer and Historical
Collections, V (1882) and “our temperance Conflict,” Michigan Pioneer and Historical
Collections, Xiii (1888). newspapers, especially the Ann Arbor Whig and Detroit Free
Press, also give extensive coverage to the debates over prohibition legislation.

the workings of the Underground Railroad and abolition groups are described in
detail in Martha Aiken, “the Underground Railroad,” Michigan History, Vi (1922);
Charles Barnes, “Battle Creek as a Station on the Under-ground Railroad,” Michigan
Pioneer and Historical Collections, XXXViii (1912); William hobart, “the Crosswhite
Case,” Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, XXXViii (1912); and John C.
Patterson, “Marshall Men and Marshall Measures in State and national history,”
Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, XXXViii (1912). An excellent national

Decade of Turmoil 101

overview of the development of the abolition movement is Gilbert Barnes, The Anti-
Slavery Impulse, 1830–1844 (new York: Peter Smith, 1933).

Strang and his Mormon colony have been virtually ignored by historians for nearly
four decades. the best works on Strang, although hostile to the extreme, are Milo
Quaife, The Kingdom of St. James (new haven: Yale University Press, 1930) and o. W.
Riegel, Crown of Glory (new haven: Yale University Press, 1935).

Michigan’s role in the antislavery movement is analyzed well in Maurice d. ndukwu,
“Antislavery in Michigan: A Study of its origin, development, and Expression from the
territorial Period to 1860,” an unpublished 1979 doctoral thesis for Michigan State
University, and John W. Quist, Restless Visionaries: The Social Roots of Antebellum
Reform in Alabama and Michigan (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998).
William Mcdaid, “Kinsley S. Bingham and the Republican ideology of Anti-Slavery,
1847–1855,” The Michigan Historical Review (Spring 1991) examines the political roots
of the antislavery impulse in Michigan.

Many volumes have been published on the formation of the Republican Party.
Standard works are William Stocking, Under the Oaks (detroit: The Detroit Tribune,
1904); Floyd B. Streeter, Political Parties in Michigan, 1837–1860 (Lansing: Michigan
historical Commission, 1918); and William Livingstone, A History of the Republican
Party (detroit: W. Livingstone, 1900). A more recent volume by Ronald B. Formisano,
The Birth of Mass Political Parties in Michigan, 1827–1861 (Princeton, nJ: Princeton
University Press, 1971) details value conflicts present in society which helped the
Republicans. other useful, though often dated, volumes include Wilmer C. harris,
Public Life of Zachariah Chandler (Lansing: Michigan historical Commission, 1917);
Sister Mary Karl George, Zachariah Chandler. A Political Biography (East Lansing:
Michigan State University Press, 1969); the Detroit Post and Tribune’s memorial edition,
Zachariah Chandler: An Outline Sketch of His Life and Public Service (detroit: Detroit
Post and Tribune, 1880); Jean J. L. Fennimore, “Austin Blair: Political idealist,” Michigan
History, XLViii (1964); and henry M. Utley, Michigan as a Province, Territory, and
State, 4 vol. (new York: the Publishing Society of Michigan, 1906). Election results and
all basic information on Michigan politics may be found in the annual Michigan Manual.

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

defense of the nation

By 1860 Michigan was solidly Republican and was expected to be instrumental
in the election of that party’s first President of the United States. Because of
his firm antislavery convictions, close personal friendship with Zachariah
Chandler, and residency in new York (which, in 1860, was the birthplace of
25 percent of Michigan’s population), Senator William h. Seward was the
choice of state Republicans for the presidential nomination. in Chicago’s
Wigwam, which was decked with boughs of northern Michigan pine, the state’s
twelve votes were cast on each ballot for Seward. When the nomination went to
Abraham Lincoln, the leader of the Michigan delegation, Austin Blair of
Jackson, told the convention that Michigan would never lose its affection for
Seward but would join with him in support of Lincoln. he then pledged a
Republican majority of 25,000 votes in the state for “the gallant son of illinois.”

the campaign was spirited, with Seward visiting the state to speak for the
Republican ticket, and Stephen A. douglas, the democratic presidential nomi-
nee, keynoting democratic rallies throughout the lower peninsula. the state
Republican ticket was headed by Blair, with James Birney of Bay City, son of the
famous abolitionist leader, running for lieutenant governor. democrats coun-
tered by nominating for governor John Barry of Constantine, a conservative
who had held the position twice previously. in november, Republicans scored
an overwhelming triumph, electing Lincoln and Blair by majorities of slightly
more than 20,000, capturing every state office and congressional seat, and win-
ning all but two seats in the state senate and ten in the state house.


Defense of the Nation 103

Following Lincoln’s election, talk of Southern secession gripped the nation.
President James Buchanan did not appear willing to try to save the Union, and
took the position that secession was illegal, but so was any attempt by the fed-
eral government to prevent it. Buchanan’s weakness led Michigan’s elder states-
man, seventy-eight-year-old Secretary of State Lewis Cass, to resign, saying that
he had seen the Constitution born and now he feared that he was seeing it die.

once South Carolina left the Union in december 1860 events occurred at a
rapid pace. outgoing governor Moses Wisner addressed the state legislature
and urged adoption of a strong resolution in support of the Union and the
Constitution. in his emotional message he told the legislators,

this is no time for timid and vacillating councils, when the cry of treason and
rebellion is ringing in our ears. . . . Michigan cannot recognize the right of a state
to secede from this Union. We believe that the founders of our government
designed it to be perpetual, and we cannot consent to have one star obliterated
from our flag. . . . i would calmly but firmly declare it to be the fixed determina-
tion of Michigan that the federal constitution, the rights of the States, must and
shall be preserved.

on January 2, 1861, Blair was sworn in as Michigan’s thirteenth governor. in
his inaugural address, he warned that the Union had to be maintained at any
price, that secession was revolution, and that such treasonous activity had to be
punished. Following the lead of the new governor, the legislature emphatically
rejected an invitation from Virginia to send delegates to the Washington Peace
Conference which was being held in an attempt to devise a nonviolent solution
to the nation’s problems. in the refusal resolution, the legislature expressed the
sentiment of a majority of the state’s citizens by stating that “concessions and
compromise are not to be entertained or offered to traitors.” Senator Chandler,
Michigan’s most virulent Republican legislator, concurred with this action and
wrote Blair that a civil war was desirable because the blood of patriots and
tyrants was the “natural manure” of the tree of Liberty and that “without a little
bloodletting” the Union would not be “worth a rush.” Michigan would not tol-
erate compromise on the questions of Union and the extension of slavery into
the territories.

on March 15, 1861, the state legislature gave Governor Blair broad powers to
furnish men “by draft, voluntary enlistment, or otherwise” to serve in a federal
army to put down any rebellion against the central government. this authori-
zation took on added importance when the news of the shelling of Fort Sumter
reached detroit. on April 13, the Detroit Free Press ran the headline: “the Blow
at Last Fallen. War! War! War! the Confederate Batteries open on Sumter
Yesterday Morning.” three days later Blair met with state officials, businessmen,


and civic leaders to raise money to finance equipping one infantry regiment in
order to meet the state’s quota in Lincoln’s call for volunteers. Pledges for
$81,020 were received and Michigan’s first ninety-day volunteers, the
1st Michigan infantry, were mustered into the United States Army on May 1.
the 1st Michigan infantry arrived at Washington on May 16, and it is said that
Lincoln was so pleased with this tangible demonstration of Western support for
the war that he tearfully exclaimed, “thank God for Michigan!”

War Politics

on January 2, 1862, Blair addressed a special session of the state legislature
which he had assembled to vote on tax measures to finance the war effort. in his
message he attacked the Lincoln administration for its conduct of the war and
singled out for special criticism the president’s refusal to turn the struggle into
a crusade to end slavery:

he who is not for the Union, unconditionally, in this mortal struggle, is against it.
the highest dictates of patriotism, justice, and humanity combine to demand that
the war should be conducted to a speedy close upon principles of the most heroic
energy and retributive power. the time for gentle dalliance has long since passed
away. We meet an enemy, vindictive, bloodthirsty, and cruel, profoundly in earnest,
inspired with an energy and self sacrifice which would honor a good cause, respect-
ing neither laws, constitutions, nor historic memories, fanatically devoted only to
his one wicked purpose to destroy the government and establish his slaveholding
oligarchy in its stead. to treat this enemy gentle is to incite his derision. to protect
his slave property is to help him to butcher our people and burn our houses. no. he
must be met with an activity and purpose to equal his own. hurl the Union forces,
which outnumber him two to one, upon his whole line like thunderbolt. … if our
soldiers must die, do not let it be of the inactivity and diseases of camps, but let
them at least have the satisfaction of falling like soldiers, amid the roar of battle,
and hearing the shouts of victory. Let us hope that we have not much longer to wait.

in response to this stirring appeal, the legislature passed a resolution stating
that “Michigan does not hesitate to say that . . . slavery should be swept from the
land, and our country maintained.”

two days later, the Republican legislative caucus selected Jacob M. howard,
of detroit, to fill the vacancy in the United States Senate caused by the death of
Kinsley Bingham. howard’s nomination was opposed by outstate Republicans
who supported Blair on the contention that both senators should not reside in

Defense of the Nation 105

War policy dominated the gubernatorial contest in 1862. Blair was easily
renominated and ran on a platform calling for the unconditional surrender of
the South and support of the Emancipation Proclamation as a necessary war
measure. in an attempt to dissociate themselves with “Southern democratic
traitors,” Michigan democrats selected Byron G. Stout, of Pontiac, a former
Republican, to head a “Union” ticket. the election reflected declining northern
support in the handling of the war. Blair was reelected, but only by 5,714 votes,
and the Union democrats gained one seat in the congressional delegation,
twenty-seven in the state house, and twelve in the state senate.

Following announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in September
1862, an anti-Radicalism swept Michigan. the powerful and influential Detroit
Free Press refused to endorse a war to end slavery and called for a negotiated
settlement, saying that Lincoln had obviously become a mere puppet of the
Radicals. A Monroe County newspaper editorialized that the war had been
caused by northerners and that “Abolitionists in their greed of office” were
determined “to prolong the strife as long as possible, destroy the country, and
raise hell itself.” in Calhoun County, a prominent judge denounced Lincoln as
a “damnable Abolitionist” and urged the people “to rise up and hurl him from
his chair” before he further sacrificed American soldiers in an “unjust cause.”

in early February 1863, heartened by their election successes, Michigan
democrats adopted a state party platform that asserted that the nation was
faced with a choice between freedom and despotism. Party leaders contended
that Lincoln was a tyrant who was intent on destroying civil liberties through
his edicts to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, deny jury trials, limit freedom
of speech and the press, and establish martial law in states not in rebellion. in
impassioned speeches, delegates attacked the University of Michigan as a hot-
bed of radicalism and antislavery sentiment, and they reminded the citizens of
Michigan that the “United States government was entirely for white men and
only white men.”

the immediate result of the adoption of this platform was the destruction of
the Union democratic Party. infuriated by the new direction of their party,
prominent “War democrats,” including former governors Lewis Cass and
Robert McClelland, announced their allegiance to the Republican Party. to
capitalize on this rift in the democratic ranks, the Republican legislature passed
a resolution assuring the people of Michigan that it was

. . . unalterably opposed to any terms of compromise and accommodation with
the rebels, while under arms and acting in hostility to the government of the
Union, and on this we express but one sentiment—unconditional submission and
obedience to the laws and constitution of the Union.


throughout the war “Peace democrats” continued to agitate for an end to
the struggle by appealing to racial prejudice and war weariness, but to no avail.
Calls to restore the Union without the destruction of slavery could not succeed
in a state renowned as “the bastion of free men.”

in 1864, Michigan delegates to the Republican national Convention sup-
ported the renomination of Lincoln, but opposed his choice of Andrew
Johnson, a tennessee “War democrat,” to be his running mate. the delega-
tion stood firm for the Radical incumbent, hannibal hamlin, of Maine, and
turned to Johnson only to make his nomination unanimous. At the state
level, Blair, who had nearly exhausted both his personal fortune and health
serving as governor, chose not to run for another term, and the Republicans
nominated the wealthy Flint lumber and railroad magnate henry h. Crapo
to succeed him. As in 1862, the conduct of the war was the only issue, but in
1864, this proved beneficial to the Republicans. With the news of General
William tecumseh Sherman’s taking of Atlanta thrilling state voters and fill-
ing them with hope that the long struggle was nearing an end, they gave the
Republican ticket a vote of confidence. Republicans swept every national
and state contest, regained the lost congressional seat, and won back seats in
the state house and senate. Michigan voters had given a resounding message
that they wanted the party that was winning the war to dictate the peace
as well.

The Struggle for Freedom

over 90,000 Michigan men, approximately 23 percent of the state’s male popu-
lation and over half of its military-age male population, served in the Union
armed forces. Among them were 1,661 blacks, many of whom made up the
First Michigan Colored infantry, which was created in late 1863. Later known
as the 102nd Regiment United States Colored troops, these soldiers were sub-
jected to ridicule by a large segment of the state’s residents who believed that
blacks were not qualified to fight. the Detroit Free Press sneeringly referred to
the regiment as the “First Ethiopians,” and the Republican Detroit Advertiser
and Tribune regretfully reported high incidents of drunkenness and unruly
behavior among black troops. the state’s white soldiers wrote songs telling how
they were willing to prove their “liberalism” on the race issue by letting “Sambo
be murdered in place of myself.” Such criticism was unfounded, however, as the
102nd campaigned in South Carolina and Florida during the last months of the
war and contributed to the Union victory by destroying miles of Southern

Defense of the Nation 107

Another minority that served the country well was the American indian.
during the war more than 200 of Michigan’s indians, including two chiefs,
enlisted in the Union army to, as one put it, “protect the old banner which is
the pride of all loyal American people.” An indian company, commanded
by Lieutenant Graverat, of traverse City, was formed in the 1st Michigan
Sharpshooters and it compiled an admirable battle record, earning commenda-
tion for valor at Spotsylvania.

the “fight for freedom” also drew to its cause thousands of German, irish,
and English immigrants who had not yet received citizenship but wanted to
serve their new homeland. in all, Michigan raised thirty regiments of infantry,
eleven of cavalry, one of artillery, and one of sharpshooters, while 482 men
enlisted in the United States navy.

Michigan men fought heroically in every theater of the war. they were with
McClellan on the Peninsula, Grant in the Wilderness, and Sherman on his
“March to the Sea.” individual valor was shown numerous times. At Bull Run
General orlando B. Willcox and his 1st Michigan infantry suffered heavy losses
trying to stem the Rebel advance toward Washington. Major General israel
P.  Richardson, of Pontiac, one of the finest officers in the Union army, lost his
life  leading an assault on an enemy position at Antietam. At Gettysburg the
24th Michigan infantry, consisting mainly of men from Wayne County and part
of the famed “Black hat” iron Brigade, proved that its fighting reputation was
well deserved. on the first day of the battle they were called upon to hold
Seminary Ridge against an overpowering Confederate force. By nightfall the iron
Brigade was forced to retreat with heavy casualties. of the 496 Michigan soldiers
in the fray, 399 lost their lives, but their effort had gained the rest of the Union
army enough time to make strategic troop and artillery placements that resulted
in the ultimate defeat of Robert E. Lee’s army. the 4th and 5th Michigan infantry
fought bravely at Gettysburg as well, helping to secure Big and Little Round top,
while the 7th Michigan infantry took the brunt of General George Pickett’s
famous charge on the final day of the battle. Wherever Michigan men served,
their commanders always praised their “skill and cool gallantry” under fire.

of all Michigan’s gallant sons who fought in the war perhaps the most
famous was George Armstrong Custer, of Monroe, who commanded the
Michigan Cavalry Brigade. A West Point graduate who had begun his active
service as a lieutenant and aide-de-camp to General George B. McClellan,
Custer rose quickly through the ranks. in early June 1862, at the age of twenty-
two, he was made captain; later that month he was promoted to brigadier
general, the youngest man ever to hold that title; and two years later he became
the nation’s youngest major general. As a commander Custer was a striking
figure. Major James h. Kidd, of the 6th Michigan Cavalry, recalled,


he was clad in a suit of black velvet elaborately trimmed with gold lace, which ran
down the outer seams of his trousers, and almost covered the sleeves of his cavalry
jacket. the wide collar of a navy blue shirt was turned down over the collar of his
velvet jacket, and a necktie of brilliant crimson was tied in a graceful knot at the throat,
the long ends falling carelessly in front. the double rows of buttons on his breast were
arranged in groups of twos, indicating the rank of brigadier general. A soft, black hat
with wide brim adorned with a gilt cord, and rosette circling a silver star, was worn
turned down on one side giving him a rakish air. his golden hair fell in graceful luxu-
riance nearly or quite to his shoulders, and his upper lip was garnished with a blonde
moustache. A sword and belt, gilt spurs and top boots completed his unique outfit.

Custer’s attire was a source of pride to himself and his men. Knowing that the
most respected infantry unit was identified by its black hats, Custer had his wife
make red ties, identical to his own, for each of his soldiers. Soon, to be a “Red
tie” serving with “the Boy General” meant cavalry excellence.

to watch Custer lead a charge was unbelievable, and observers said that it
was like seeing a “circus rider gone mad.” he would be in front of his men,
waving either a saber or his hat, and yelling in his high shrill voice, “Come on
you Wolverines!” he became so popular that men in other regiments would

Figure 7.1 “Come and Join Us Brothers,” a Union recruiting tool published by the
Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments. Rare Book, Manuscript, and
Special Collections Library, duke University.

Defense of the Nation 109

desert to try to join his force, and once 300 enlistees petitioned to serve in his
command. in return for such devotion, Custer always gave full credit for his
victories to his men and blamed only himself for any failure.

Custer’s war record was illustrious and earned for him the reputation of
being one of the finest cavalry officers in either the Union or Confederate
armies. As a reward for his valor, Custer was given the honor of receiving Lee’s
surrender flag and being present in the McLean house when the Confederate
leader surrendered the Army of northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant.
Custer’s accomplishments were so appreciated by General Philip Sheridan that
he presented the table upon which Lee signed the surrender document to
Mrs. Elizabeth Custer, saying that there was “scarcely an individual in our ser-
vice who has contributed more to bring about this desirable result than your
very gallant husband.” Grant concurred, adding that Sheridan was the best
judge of officers in the army and his confidence in Custer was complete.
the northern people shared in this view and in the postwar victory parades the
cheers given Michigan’s hero were equal to those afforded Grant.

Figure 7.2 Major General George A. Custer, c. 1864. Courtesy of the national
Archives, ARC: 558719, Loc: AnSCo-CA-10.


While Custer was the state’s most illustrious soldier, Frank thompson was
its most unusual. Private thompson enlisted in the Union army in 1861, along
with scores of other Flint residents. What made this enlistment different was that
in reality thompson was a male impersonator named Sarah Emma Edmonds.
For several years she had masqueraded as a man while selling Bibles to earn a
living. in the army she somehow managed to conceal her sex and identity for two
years, during which time she served with her comrades in the  2nd Michigan
infantry in the First Bull Run, Peninsula, Antietam, and Fredericksburg cam-
paigns. on several occasions she served as a spy for General McClellan, generally
choosing as her disguise that of a woman. in 1863, because of poor health she left
the army and returned to civilian life. in 1882 she applied for a pension under her
given name. Following a congressional investigation her claim was granted and in
1884 she was awarded full membership in the Veterans Association of the Grand
Army of the Republic—the only woman in Michigan to receive such an honor.

Figure 7.3 Sara Emma Edmonds Seelye, shown here as Private Franklin thompson.
Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada, Acc. no. 1993-483-305. Copyright: Estate of
Gordon Johnston.

Defense of the Nation 111

Michigan’s most unusual occurrence during the war involved the passenger
steamer Philo Parsons. in 1864 a group of Confederate agents devised a daring
scheme to capture the warship U.S.S. Michigan on Lake Erie and use it to free
several thousand Rebel prisoners held on Johnson’s island near Sandusky, ohio.
the plan called for a Rebel spy to infiltrate the Michigan’s crew and, on an
assigned day, drug the sailors’ noon meal, thus disabling them and making the
ship easy prey for a boarding party. on September 19, 1864, at detroit, a
Confederate agent booked passage on the Philo Parsons and requested the pilot
to stop at both Sandwich and Amherstbergh, ontario, to pick up some friends
who were unable to reach detroit in time to board. needing the fares, the pilot
agreed. At Amherstbergh a crate was brought aboard that, unbeknownst to the
pilot, contained guns and ammunition. once underway again, the Confederate
agent and his men distributed the guns, seized control of the ship, its passen-
gers and crew, and charted a course toward the Michigan.

Unfortunately for the Rebels, their plan, which had progressed smoothly,
began to fall apart. the governor general of Canada had learned of the plot and,
through the British embassy in Washington, warned the American govern-
ment, which then ordered the arrest of the bogus crewman on the Michigan.
When the Parsons steamed toward the warship, the Rebels were shocked to
discover that its guns were manned and ready for an attack. Panic-stricken, the
Rebels mutinied and ordered their leader to return the ship to Amherstbergh.
Upon reaching that port, the Confederates scuttled the Parsons and fled. this
abortive raid became more ironic when seven of the Rebels tried to return to
the South and were seized and imprisoned on Johnson’s island with the captives
they had sought to free.

having been involved in nearly every aspect of the war effort, it was fitting
that Michigan men were involved in one of the final events of the struggle—
the capture of Jefferson davis. When Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865, the
4th Michigan Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Benjamin d. Pritchard, of
Allegan, was campaigning in the deep South. While in Macon, Georgia, word
reached Pritchard that davis had fled Richmond and was headed toward
Macon. on May 7 the 4th Cavalry received orders to search for the Confederate
president and prevent him from escaping and reaching the trans-Mississippi
region where he might be able to establish a new government and rally the
remaining Rebel armies. three days later, Pritchard’s force arrived at the small
town of irwinville and was informed by residents that davis and his party were
camped about a mile and a half away. A predawn raid was made the next day,
and everyone in the encampment was captured. Pritchard then delivered the
most famous prisoner of war to federal authorities at Fortress Monroe in


As always, the war brought more tragedy than glory. nearly 15,000 of
Michigan’s military contingent never returned home, while those who did
never forgot the horrors of war. these men had not fought and died in vain,
however, as their efforts had made certain that freedom and democracy could
endure. Governor Crapo echoed the sentiments of all Michigan residents in his
proclamation of welcome to the returning soldiers: “Soldiers! You have taught
a lesson, not only to the enemies of your country, but to the world, which will
never be forgotten.”

Life and Labor During the War

during the war the economic growth of the state quickened. Prices and wages
rose steadily, demand for manufactured and agricultural goods soared, and as
a result industrialists and farmers made fabulous profits.

Because of the shortage of men to work the fields, farmers turned to machin-
ery. demand for reapers and mowers was so great that suppliers could not
meet it. harrows, cultivators, threshers, and stump lifters became common.
Bumper crops of wheat, corn, oats, and rye were sold at record prices to the
government as food for the military. Loss of Southern cotton and sugar cane
increased the demand for Michigan wool and corn sorghum. While the
war  raged, Michigan farmers achieved prosperity of which they had never

the state’s copper-mining industry also boomed during the war, as govern-
ment orders for brass buttons, copper canteens, and bronze cannons were so
numerous that they could not be immediately filled. Even with the incentive of
high market prices for every pound of copper produced, severe labor problems
resulted in shortages. Mine owners became so desperate that they established a
$90,000 fund to finance a Swedish engineer who promised to recruit laborers in
Europe. this plan might have worked, as over a hundred Scandinavians arrived
at detroit, but many were lured by army bonuses into the military before they
could board the ship which was to take them to the upper peninsula mines.
despite these setbacks, during the war 70 percent of the nation’s copper came
from Michigan.

of all the state’s industries, lumbering suffered the most, but only by com-
parison to mining and agriculture. At the start of the war the lumber market
was glutted and, even though demand for timber steadily rose, lumbermen did
not have sufficient capital to expand their facilities to meet it. By 1865 the price
of lumber had doubled its 1861 level but only a fortunate few had been able to
use amassed monies to purchase more timber stands. these men made

Defense of the Nation 113

overnight fortunes and most invested their new wealth after the war in the blos-
soming railroad industry.

in the noneconomic areas of the home front, much was done for the state’s
military men. in Washington, d.C., a Michigan Soldiers’ Relief Association was
established to care for emergency needs of Michigan troops in the Army of the
Potomac. the association solicited money, clothing, and medical supplies, as
well as running a hotel, known as the Michigan Soup house, for Michigan sol-
diers on leave. in Michigan a local chapter of the relief association collected
food, books, clothing, and everything else that friends and relatives thought the
men at the front might need. Churches collected and distributed Bibles and
religious materials, while women made thousands of bandages to be sent to
field hospitals and wrote regularly to loved ones to keep up their morale. Still
others contributed to the war effort by purchasing state and federal war bonds.
in Michigan, as in the rest of the loyal states, the Civil War was truly one of citi-
zen involvement. Unfortunately, after the battlefield struggle ended, domestic
political struggles continued and war hatreds lingered on for years.

For Further Reading

numerous volumes have been published concerning Michigan’s role in the Civil War.
of these, George S. May, A Bibliography of Printed Sources on Michigan and the Civil
War (detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1962) and John Robertson, Michigan in the
War (Lansing: W. S. George & Co., 1882) are invaluable resource tools. the best single
volume histories of Michigan’s total involvement in the struggle are Frederick Williams,
Michigan Soldiers in the Civil War (Lansing: Michigan historical Commission, 1960)
and Philip Mason and Paul Pentecost, From Bull Run to Appomattox (detroit: Wayne
State University Press, 1961). Frank B. Woodford, Father Abraham’s Children (detroit:
Wayne State University Press, 1961) is a delightful study of selected persons and events
which made Michigan’s wartime role unique.

For more specific insight into selected topics, several excellent sources are available.
Betty Fladeland, “Alias Franklin thompson,” Michigan History, XLii (1958) and “new
Light on Sarah Emma Edmonds, Alias Frank thompson,” Michigan History, XLVii
(1963) offer complete details on Michigan’s most unusual enlistee. Michigan Women in
the Civil War (Lansing: Michigan Civil War Centennial observance Commission, 1963)
relates the crucial role played by women in securing the Union victory. Richard Sewell,
“Michigan Farmers and the Civil War,” Michigan History, XLiV (1960) and herbert
Brinks, “the Effect of the Civil War in 1861 on Michigan Lumbering and Mining
industries,” Michigan History, XLiV (1960) describe the economic impact of the war on
Michigan. J. h. Kidd, Personal Recollections of a Cavalryman (ionia: Sentinel Printing
Co., 1908) and Washington Gardner, “Civil War Letters,” Michigan History, i (1917) put


forth the human side of the struggle. Jean Fennimore, “Austin Blair: Civil War Governor,”
Michigan History, XLiX (1965) offers an excellent survey of a Michigan wartime leader.
the role of Custer is further recounted in Edward G. Longacre, Custer and His
Wolverines: The Michigan Calvary Brigade, 1861–1865 (Conshocken: Combined
Publishers, 1997). the oft-told capture of Jefferson davis is examined through the
accounts of Colonel B. d. Pritchard in Paul d. Mehney, “Capturing a Confederate,”
Michigan History (May–June 2000). Jeffrey Charnley, “Michigan’s A. S. Williams and the
Civil War: A Century of neglect,” The Michigan Historical Review (Spring 1986) recounts
the career of one of Michigan’s forgotten political generals, while Martin hershock,
“Copperheads and Radicals: Michigan Partisan Politics during the Civil War Era, 1861–
1865,” The Michigan Historical Review (Spring 1992) offers an overview of the deep divi-
sions within state politics. three more recent examinations of Michigan’s role in the
Civil War are Richard Bak, A Distant Thunder: Michigan in the Civil War (Ann Arbor:
huron River Press, 2004); Jack dempsey, Michigan in the Civil War (Charleston, South
Carolina: history Press, 2011); and William Kimball, Among the Enemy: A Michigan
Soldier’s Civil War Journal (detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2013).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Radicals and Reformers

national politics during the thirty-five years following the Civil War tradition-
ally has been depicted as the “Republican Era,” a time of one-party rule, scan-
dal, incompetency, and general insensitivity toward the social problems
manifesting themselves in a rapidly changing America. Yet, this picture is mis-
leading. Passage of legislation such as the interstate Commerce Act and the
Sherman Anti-trust Act belies the myth that unregulated business ran
the nation. Although politicians were reluctant to discard immediately the
Jeffersonian theory of limited government, they did accept the notion of federal
responsibility for social and economic reforms, as well as limited regulation of
business. it is equally erroneous to characterize the period as one of solid
Republican dominance. After 1872 the democratic Party was always competi-
tive in presidential contests and often controlled the house of Representatives.
the United States Senate was continuously in Republican control, but rarely
did the victorious party have more than a three-vote margin. Because of the
closeness of party strength, both major parties relied on emotional speeches,
bands, and parades, rather than issues to bring the faithful to the polls.
Avoidance of controversial policy questions was common, as party leaders
feared alienating any segment of voters. Consequently, many groups felt left out
of the political process and created their own parties in the hope of mustering
enough support to convince a major party to adopt their platforms to gain
more votes.



Michigan politics were a reflection of the national scene. ostensibly Michigan
was a state that could be relied upon to deliver its electoral votes for the
Republican presidential candidate. it was thought to be so safely in the
Republican column during this time that no native son was ever seriously con-
sidered for a presidential nomination, as that honor went to men living in
“swing states” whose electoral votes were in doubt. Every United States senator
from 1857 to 1900 was Republican, and Michigan democrats sent only eleven
men to the house of Representatives between 1860 and 1895. Republicans con-
trolled the governorship for all but four years during this time and dominated
the state legislature. Yet, Republican dominance was largely illusory. numerous
Republican gubernatorial candidates triumphed only because democrats and
minor parties split the opposition vote. Judicious reapportionment and crea-
tion of gerrymandered districts were the only ways Republicans could retain
power over the state’s congressional delegation and state legislature, which
elected United States senators. German and irish immigrants, who had moved
in great numbers into detroit, were opposed to Republican pledges for prohibi-
tory liquor laws and used their influence to weaken Republican control over
Michigan’s largest city. Republicans also suffered internal rifts over the issues of
paper money, tariff revision, and detroit’s stranglehold of party machinery.
thus, while Republicans represented Michigan’s dominant party, their power
rested upon an eroding foundation.

Black Suffrage Agitation

Like most northerners, Michigan residents were ambivalent on the question of
black suffrage. Even though Michigan was in the forefront of the antislave
movement, in 1850 a proposed amendment to the new state constitution call-
ing for black enfranchisement was defeated by a 7–1 margin. After the war,
Senators Jacob M. howard and Zachariah Chandler strongly backed Radical
Reconstruction measures and passage of the thirteenth, Fourteenth, and
Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, but at home in
Michigan, in 1867 a proposed new state constitution calling for black suffrage
was defeated 110,582 to 71,333. Before the election, democrats and moderate
Republicans waged an emotional campaign claiming that blacks were neither
mentally competent to cast an intelligent vote nor equals of white men, and
they expressed fears of a mass immigration of blacks to Michigan if the consti-
tution passed. Radical Republicans argued that it was illogical to support black
suffrage in the South and oppose it in Michigan, but the soundness of their
position was overlooked by the voters.

Radicals and Reformers 117

in 1870 an amendment eliminating racial qualifications for suffrage was
narrowly passed by the state’s voters. however, residents of the fifteen counties
with the largest black population voted against the amendment by sizable
majorities. Cynics claimed that the referendum did not mark any change in
racial attitudes, but merely a narrow vote of confidence in the newly passed
Fifteenth Amendment to the federal constitution, which negated state “white
only” clauses to restrict suffrage.

despite having fought vigorously against black suffrage, democrats eagerly
wooed black voters once they had become eligible for the ballot. their efforts
were stymied, however, as Republican newspapers, such as the Detroit Tribune,
reminded blacks of the 1863 draft riot in which “. . . a mob of democrats hunted
down and murdered the friends and relatives of the very colored men whose
votes they now unblushingly seek.” Black delegates were well represented at
Republican political conventions, and blacks received patronage positions at all
government levels. Republicans also supported civil rights legislation and ran
black candidates for office. Republicans were, as the democratic Detroit Free
Press lamented, the blacks’ “best friends.”

The Quest for Women’s Suffrage

Blacks were not the only group seeking the ballot following the Civil War as in
1867 delegates to the constitutional convention were deluged with petitions
advocating women’s suffrage in Michigan. Proponents responded by drafting
an amendment granting the franchise to females, but it was defeated 34–31.

Except for giving women the right to vote in school elections, little was done
in Michigan during the years 1867–70 to promote women’s suffrage. in 1870,
the Michigan Suffrage Association and the northwestern Association were
founded, and through their efforts on March 19, 1874, a women’s suffrage
amendment to the state constitution overwhelmingly passed the legislature.
the amendment then was placed on the november ballot to receive the
approval of the electorate necessary for it to become law. this referendum was
the second of eighteen such votes that would be held in the state between the
years 1867 and 1910. Supporters expected that it would succeed because
Michigan was a progressive state with a large population, many of whom were
descendants of settlers from new England and new York, where women’s suf-
frage had its origins. The Nation magazine forecast that the “proposal of change”
in Michigan would have “greater impact than in any other state in the west.”
Confident of victory, optimistic suffragists fervently urged passage of the


the Michigan campaign depended heavily upon appearances by suffrage
leaders such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. however,
“importation of foreigners” who had “grown gray in denouncing the abuse of
men, and bemoaning their own unhappy condition” was resented by much of
the Michigan press, irrespective of their editorial position on the suffrage issue.
Apathy was the major factor, however, working against passage, as most voters
did not feel strongly about the question.

in november, the amendment was crushed by a vote of 135,957–40,077.
A contributing cause to the defeat was that so-called liquor interests dissuaded
irish and German voters from supporting women’s suffrage on the grounds
that it would guarantee passage of prohibition legislation. Susan B. Anthony
noted bitterly that in Michigan “every whiskey maker, vendor, drinker, gambler,
every besotted man was against us.”

Following the defeat of 1874, the suffrage movement lapsed into inactivity
until 1884 when the Michigan Equal Suffrage Association, with Mary doe as
president and Governor Josiah Begole as vice-president, was founded at Battle

Figure 8.1 Elizabeth Cady Stanton, seated, and Susan B. Anthony, late 1800s. Library
of Congress, Washington, d.C., LC-USZ61-791.

Radicals and Reformers 119

Creek. Shortly thereafter, Michigan’s two United States senators, thomas
W. Palmer and omar d. Conger, made impassioned speeches in Congress
advocating national women’s suffrage, but to no avail. in 1908, another consti-
tutional convention was convened, but, once again, the resultant new docu-
ment failed to include a provision for complete female voting privileges,
although women taxpayers were allowed to vote on bond issues. Finally, in
1920, after ratification of the nineteenth Amendment to the federal constitu-
tion, an amendment was added to the Michigan constitution giving women
equal voting rights.

Senatorial Contests of 1869 and 1871

in 1866, former governor Blair, who had long aspired election to the United
States Senate, mounted a campaign to unseat Chandler. to avert a party split,
mutual friends of the two contestants proposed a compromise whereby Blair
would withdraw from the race and support the incumbent, who, in turn, would
back Blair for the next Senate vacancy in 1871. Blair refused the offer and chose
to actively attack Chandler. this proved disastrous since the state legislature
was predominantly in favor of Chandler and reelected him by a crushing
75–3 margin.

two years later, Blair joined William howard of Grand Rapids and thomas
W. Ferry of Grand haven in the quest for Jacob howard’s place in the Senate.
Blair’s cause once again was doomed. in the nominating caucus Republicans
from the western side of the state demanded the seat as a reward for furnishing
constant Republican majorities. Blair might have weathered the storm of geo-
graphic protest, but he could not ride out the turbulence generated by the pub-
lication of a private letter he had written in which he slandered both howard
and Ferry and characterized all other senatorial possibilities as “corrupt scoun-
drels.” this personal attack further alienated Blair from party regulars, who
gave the nomination to Ferry.

The Liberal Republican Movement

in the 1868 gubernatorial contest, henry P. Baldwin, of detroit, easily won
election, and two years later was reelected, but only by half of his previous mar-
gin. this indication of declining strength concerned state Republican leaders
who sought to maintain party power by having the legislature gerrymander
congressional districts so that the heavily democratic counties of Washtenaw,


oakland, and Macomb were split and placed piecemeal with overwhelmingly
Republican areas.

during Baldwin’s administration, projects initiated by his predecessor,
henry Crapo, were completed. A geological survey of the upper peninsula was
made, lock capacity at Sault Ste. Marie was tripled, a ship canal was built from
Lake Superior to Portage Lake, and nearly 2,000 miles of railroad track were
laid in his first two years in office. he supported expansion of the school for the
deaf, dumb, and blind at Flint and the asylum for the insane at Kalamazoo, as
well as construction of a home for indigent and needy children at Coldwater. in
addition, Baldwin recommended to the legislature that a commission be estab-
lished to study the state’s penal, reformatory, and charitable institutions. the
study was made, and the governor strongly advocated most of the suggested
progressive reforms.

Michigan’s declining support for the Republican Party was indicative of
national sentiments. Revelations of scandal in President Ulysses S. Grant’s
administration alienated many of the party faithful. Following Grant’s renomi-
nation in 1872, men such as Charles Francis Adams, Charles Sumner, and
Carl Schurz bolted the party and founded the Liberal Republican Party. in
Michigan, Liberal Republicans were led by the state’s most disgruntled politi-
cian, Austin Blair. the former Radical governor echoed the call of the national
Liberal organization by urging amnesty for all former Confederates, an end to
“bloody shirt” campaigning by Republicans, and elimination of corruption in
politics. to further sever his past ties to the regular Republicans, Blair sought,
and received, the Liberal Republican nomination for governor to oppose the
Republican candidate, John J. Bagley, of detroit. As might be expected, Blair led
the Liberal ticket to a staggering defeat. only two counties gave either Blair or
the Liberal candidate for President, horace Greeley, a plurality. Blair received
only 36 percent of the vote, as angry Republicans denounced their wartime
leader as a “traitor” and showed their wrath at the polls. once again what super-
ficially appeared to be a great show of strength was really more of an indication
of opposition weakness.

The Campaign of 1874

Republican fortunes seemed to take another turn for the worse in 1873 when a
severe economic depression gripped Michigan and the nation. State farmers,
hit hard by the crisis, joined the Patrons of husbandry, or Grange, in an effort
to mobilize their political strength. Within five years Michigan’s Grange mem-
bership was the ninth highest in the nation. Since most Michigan farmers

Radicals and Reformers 121

belonged to the Republican Party, it was faced with mass defections unless it
proved responsive to agrarian demands for inflation, prohibition, and regula-
tion of railroads. Unfortunately, Republicans were deeply split on each of
these issues.

during the Civil War, the federal government had issued paper currency,
called “greenbacks,” to expand the amount of money in circulation and finance
the war. Following the conflict, a move was begun to redeem all paper funds
with gold and silver and to halt printing of “soft money.” Michigan’s congres-
sional delegation mirrored national and state indecision on this question.
Senator Chandler and all but two of the state’s nine congressmen supported
resumption of specie, or “hard money,” payments, while Senator Ferry and the
other congressional members opposed it. Ferry argued that the depression had
been caused by insufficient currency in circulation, which resulted in lower
spending and business closings; to Ferry, further reduction would lead only to
more suffering, and, to avoid that, inflation was the only solution. Emotions
grew so heated that when Congressman omar d. Conger warned that unless
the economy improved and business increased wages for workers a labor revolt
could occur, he was denounced by “hard money” Republicans as being
“Communist.” Congressional action calling for limited resumption was a com-
promise which pleased neither side, and currency agitation continued for over
two decades.

Prohibition was another divisive issue, even though Michigan had had a
prohibition statute in effect since 1855. the Republican Party had long been
associated with prohibition, primarily as a means of linking democrats to
“whiskey guzzling” irish Catholics. Prominent Republicans joined “Red Ribbon
Clubs,” led petition drives for prohibitory legislation, and spoke at antiliquor
rallies. however, following the Civil War, Republicans were faced with a
dilemma. German-Americans, who had a proclivity to imbibe beer, had sup-
ported the Republican Party because of its position on slavery, but now that
that question had been resolved they began to demand that their party alter its
stand on prohibition. Republican fears increased when state democrats pledged
in 1872 to support temperance rather than prohibition, which drew many
Germans from the Republicans. Caught in the midst of this maelstrom,
Republican leaders sought the shelter of silence, hoping that by ignoring the
liquor question it would fade from public attention. When the issue refused to
die by itself, Governor Bagley settled the matter in 1875 by recommending, and
receiving from the legislature, repeal of the 1855 statute and the institution of a
system of taxation and licensing to regulate liquor traffic.

the question of business regulation, especially control of railroads, was
equally damaging to Republicans. Most of the party’s prominent members were


businessmen who had invested heavily in railroads and who were often lobby-
ists for special business interests. After the Crédit Mobilier scandal, railroad
companies were viewed with a critical eye by a reform-minded electorate, and
because the scandal had occurred under Grant’s administration the Republican
Party came under special scrutiny. once again, Republicans were caught in the
midst of an impossible situation: to come out strongly for regulation would
alienate the major contributors to the party, but to oppose regulation would
imply that Republicans did not care about stopping illegal business practices.

in light of these problems, it is not surprising that the Republicans suffered
reverses in 1874. Governor Bagley was reelected by only 3,000 votes, but the
party nearly lost three congressional seats and barely retained legislative

Zachariah Chandler: Down but Not Out

democratic resurgence in Michigan in 1874 had an important impact on
national, as well as state, politics. Zachariah Chandler’s Senate term expired in
1875, and with the Republican majority in the state legislature reduced to ten
his reelection was not assured. during his eighteen years in office “old Zach”
had alienated many moderate Republicans by his “coarse behavior,” intemper-
ance, unyielding support for black rights, and unending “waving of the bloody
shirt” in opposition to any reconstruction policy urging reconciliation with the
South. Blatant use of machine politics gave him, and the so-called “detroit
Ring” of Chandler partisans, complete power over all federal patronage, much
to the dismay of younger moderates led by Governor Bagley. Because of his
close ties to the Grant administration, Chandler was tainted by the scandals
which came to light during the President’s second term. these factors com-
bined to make Chandler vulnerable to defeat. When the legislature convened in
January 1875, a small number of young Republican lawmakers, mostly from
rural southwestern Michigan, joined with democrats to oust Chandler and
replace him with the respected moderate Republican justice of the Michigan
Supreme Court, isaac P. Christiancy.

Chandler bitterly vowed revenge on those “traitors” who had defeated him,
and eagerly accepted Grant’s offer to serve as secretary of the interior to retain
some base of political strength. in 1876 he was made chairman of the Repub-
lican national Committee and was instrumental in orchestrating the events
that led to the election of Rutherford B. hayes.

two years later Chandler was chosen chairman of the Michigan Republican
State Committee and brilliantly directed the 1878 campaign. Republicans

Radicals and Reformers 123

suffered reverses nationwide, but in Michigan Governor Charles Croswell was
reelected to a second term, the entire Republican state ticket was elected, and
every congressional district was captured by the Republicans. While this vic-
tory was more a result of factionalism among democrats, Greenbackers, and
Prohibitionists than a solid endorsement of Republican policies, nevertheless
Chandler was jubilant, for once again he was “King of Michigan politics.”

in January 1879, amid reports of marital strife and domestic scandal, Senator
Christiancy resigned his seat under pressure from President hayes, who then
appointed him minister to Peru. this paved the way for a possible return to the
Senate for Chandler. Respected and powerful Radical congressmen omar d.
Conger and henry Waldron, both of whom aspired promotion to the Senate,
threw their support to “the greatest Radical of them all,” leaving only ex-
Governor Bagley to contest Chandler. the opposition was futile, and Chandler
won easily. Eyeing the presidential nomination in 1880, Chandler continued
his attacks on “Rebel Brigadiers,” as democratic congressmen were derisively
dubbed, and warned the nation not to forget past treason committed by
Southerners and democrats. in november 1879, after delivering one of his
famous harangues against democratic policies, Chandler suffered a fatal stroke.
With his passing an era ended in Michigan politics. Radicals and moderates
began a grim struggle to claim Chandler’s leadership mantle, which fur-
ther  factionalized the already divided Republican Party. the “citadel of
Republicanism,” as party officials proudly called Michigan, was beginning to

From Chandler to Pingree

the battle for power first manifested itself in the selection of Chandler’s succes-
sor. Governor Charles Croswell sought the seat for himself but did not want to
suffer the adverse repercussions which invariably arose from self-appointment
to higher office. thus, he selected Judge Fernando Beaman, of Adrian, who was
to serve until the term expired in 1881 and then step aside for Croswell.
however, Beaman refused to serve, citing age and ill-health, which forced
Croswell to nominate another “weak” caretaker. his choice was former
Governor Baldwin, a selection which further alienated young moderates in the
party, who vowed to oppose Croswell in the future. two years later, when
Baldwin sought reelection, he was opposed by Congressman Conger and
ex-Governor Bagley. Conger and Baldwin made an arrangement whereby in
case of a stalemate between them the one with the lesser votes in the conven-
tion would withdraw and support the other to assure Bagley’s defeat. Baldwin


did so and Conger was sent to the Senate. the means used to secure his defeat
so infuriated Bagley that he moved to California where he lived out the brief
remainder of his life. once again the “old Guard” had triumphed.

this election was even more significant because it so closely followed the
bitter struggle for the gubernatorial nomination in 1880 between wealthy lum-
berman david Jerome of Saginaw, thomas W. Palmer of detroit, and Francis B.
Stockbridge of Kalamazoo. After a prolonged contest filled with allegations of
bribery, fraud, and slander, Jerome emerged triumphant. in november, the
Republican presidential candidate, James A. Garfield, swept to victory in
Michigan by a nearly 50,000-vote margin and carried Jerome into office on his

Republican newspapers characterized the 1880 election as a “clean sweep”
and a “victory by an old time majority,” but this enthusiasm proved unfounded.
in 1882 democrats and Greenbackers joined forces to create a Fusion Party.
their gubernatorial standard-bearer was Josiah Begole, a respected, popular
former Republican “soft money” congressman from Flint. Governor Jerome
came under attack for being aloof, impersonal, intemperate in his drinking,
and a tool of vested business interests, and lost his bid for reelection in a close
contest. For the first time since the creation of the party in 1854, Republicans
had lost control of Michigan’s statehouse. More importantly, Republicans dis-
covered that, if their opponents united against them, they were a minority

Fusionist control proved short-lived and in 1884 detroit lumberman Russell
Alger recaptured the governor’s chair for the Republicans, but only by a mere
4,000 votes. had Begole not been stung by charges of collusion with railroad
men in the letting of contracts, his reelection would have been secure.

Public sensitivity to scandal had been heightened by the 1883 contest for the
United States Senate seat. Knowledgeable observers were confident that the
incumbent, thomas W. Ferry, would easily be nominated for a third term.
however, during the convention, rumors spread that Ferry had been engaged
in several questionable financial matters. his denials of any wrongdoing were
overshadowed by a charge by detroit Mayor William thompson that Ferry had
offered him a bribe in return for his support. After nearly two months of strug-
gle and eighty-one ballots, the Republican legislative caucus settled upon
thomas W. Palmer, a wealthy lumberman and former supporter of Zachariah
Chandler, for the senatorship. Palmer’s election was a milestone of sorts in
Michigan politics as it marked the last time a member of the Chandler faction
would achieve political prominence.

the years 1886–90 were politically tranquil. to calm outstate fears that the
Republican Party had fallen into the grasp of the detroit-based and

Radicals and Reformers 125

urban-oriented Michigan Club, the party selected Cyrus G. Luce, a Branch
County farmer and former head of the Michigan Grange, to run for governor
in 1886. his narrow election over the Fusion candidate, former democratic
congressman George L. Yaple of Mendon, demonstrated the continued stagna-
tion of Republican growth in the state.

the man who ultimately replaced Chandler as Republican kingmaker was
James McMillan, a wealthy detroit businessman. As state Republican chair-
man, McMillan established a strong political machine. his personal fortune,
close ties with railroad and utility magnates, links with the Grand Army of the
Republic Veterans Association, and support of the upper peninsula based on
his insistence that the region always be represented on the state ticket, formed
the nucleus of his political strength.

McMillan’s far-reaching influence was shown in the 1887 senatorial race.
Senator Conger enjoyed widespread support among the people, but not state
legislators, and numerous prominent, wealthy Republicans sought to deny him
a second term by using their fortunes to purchase his seat. Moreover, there was
pressure from the solidly Republican western side of the state to be represented
in the Senate. McMillan, who coveted Palmer’s place in 1889, knew that if

Figure 8.2 Republican rally in Coldwater, 1896. Courtesy Archives of Michigan,
negative #04961.


Conger, who lived in Port huron, was reelected, the 1889 bid would go to a
westerner rather than himself; thus he threw his influence and money behind
Francis Stockbridge. With McMillan’s aid, Stockbridge narrowly defeated
Conger and was sent to Washington as Michigan’s second millionaire senator.

The Pingree Era

the decade of the 1890s opened with continuing reverses for state Republicans.
in the 1890 election, democrats seized control of the statehouse for only the
second time in thirty-four years and also gained a majority in the state senate.
the only Republican “rising star” was the young, dynamic, progressive mayor
of detroit, hazen S. Pingree, who had amazed everyone, including his con-
servative Michigan Club backers, by forging a coalition of businessmen and
ethnic groups that carried him to victory in a bastion of democratic strength.

As mayor, Pingree set the standards that later “progressives” utilized to bring
about urban reforms. he constantly battled for the common man against all
vested interests, which won him the love of the people and the hatred of his
conservative supporters, especially Senator McMillan. When utility companies
refused to lower their rates, Pingree called for municipal ownership of gas and
light companies; when street railroad firms refused to reduce fares, the mayor
threatened to veto their franchise renewal requests and to establish a city-
owned transit system; when strikes occurred, Pingree urged arbitration rather
than indulging in the common practice of calling in the state militia to act as
strikebreakers; and when the depression of 1893 caused massive hunger,
Pingree set aside vacant city lots in which the poor could plant vegetable gar-
dens. to aid those impoverished by the economic collapse, the mayor asked
wealthy detroiters to make financial contributions to a relief fund, but his for-
mer backers refused. to shame them, Pingree sold his valuable prize horse at
public auction and donated the proceeds to the relief program.

Calls for increased taxes on business, with revenue going to assist the needy,
earned Pingree the enmity of nearly every prominent detroit Republican.
Acting from revenge, his former friends attempted to discredit Pingree and
ostracize him from the city’s elite social circle. they nicknamed the mayor
“Potato Patch Pingree” and warned city residents that hordes of potato beetles
were headed for detroit. in addition, his memberships in exclusive clubs were
not renewed, banks refused to extend him credit, and his preferred church pew
was taken from him. Such petty acts of vindictiveness only increased Pingree’s
popularity with the masses, and he was reelected twice with ever-larger

Radicals and Reformers 127

Pingree soon discovered that many of his proposals for municipal reform
were being killed in the conservative Republican state legislature. to be in a
position to give more assistance to detroit, he sought the Republican guberna-
torial nomination in 1892 and 1894, but was blocked by Senator McMillan,
chairman of the state Republican committee. in 1896, many Republicans real-
ized that their presidential candidate, William McKinley, would have difficulty
carrying Michigan on his own, and, in order to assure the success of the national
ticket, they urged that Pingree receive the nomination for governor. this was
done, and McMillan angrily resigned as state chairman so that he would not
have to campaign for a “repugnant” gubernatorial candidate.

during the campaign, Pingree amazed everyone by urging Republicans to
split their tickets and vote for him and William Jennings Bryan, the democratic
presidential candidate, whose position on flexible currency was closer to
Pingree’s own views. the Detroit News predicted that a Pingree triumph would
be the “greatest personal victory ever achieved by any man in the field of

Figure 8.3 hazen Pingree capitalized on his political position by having his company
name its best shoe the “Governor.” Pingree shoes were said to be “honest and feel best.”
Courtesy of the collection of Linda Gaio.


Michigan politics.” Pingree campaigned hard and won election by 83,000 votes,
which ironically was enough to pull McKinley through as well. once elected,
Pingree again astounded observers by announcing that he was planning to
remain the mayor of detroit while serving as governor. told that serving in two
offices would constitute a conflict of interest, Pingree reluctantly relinquished
his mayoral duties.

As governor, Pingree continued to fight for equalized taxation, improved
labor standards, and an end to corrupt business practices. Unfortunately, most
of Pingree’s plans were stopped by a conservative, pro-McMillan bloc in the
state senate, whom Pingree derisively called the “immoral nineteen.” Frustrated,
in 1901 Pingree relinquished the governor’s chair to his conservative Republican
successor, Aaron Bliss, and retired to private life.

Pingree’s political legacy was that of social reform. he attempted to revitalize
the democratic process and introduce innovative approaches to challenges
posed by a new urban society. By skillfully welding a coalition of immigrants
and reformers he managed to transcend traditional party lines to defeat the
entrenched conservative machine that had dominated Michigan politics for
decades. through Pingree’s leadership, Michigan was well prepared to enter an
urban-oriented twentieth century.

For Further Reading

While no volume deals exclusively with Michigan politics during the post–Civil War
period, insight into the political machinery at work can be gained from William
Livingstone, History of the Republican Party (detroit: W. Livingstone, 1900); harriette
M. dilla, Politics in Michigan (new York: Columbia University Press, 1912); and Stephen
B. and Vera h. Sarasohn, Political Party Patterns in Michigan (detroit: Wayne State
University Press, 1957). Sister Mary Karl George, Zachariah Chandler: A Political
Biography (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1969) offers an excellent
account of the senator’s federal career, but neglects his impact on state politics. Melvin
holli, Reform in Detroit: Hazen S. Pingree and Urban Politics (new York: oxford
University Press, 1969) is a superior study of the “Father of Urban Progressivism.”
Radical Republicanism in Michigan is treated in George M. Blackburn, “Radical
Motivation: A Case history,” Journal of Negro History (April 1969) and James C. Mohr
(ed.), Radical Republicans in the North: State Politics During Reconstruction (Baltimore:
Johns hopkins University Press, 1976). donald C. Swift and Lawrence E. Ziewacz, “the
Election of 1882: A Republican Analysis,” The Journal of the Great Lakes History
Conference, i (1976) discusses the first Republican gubernatorial defeat in the post–Civil
War era. other useful material may be found in Richard M. doolen, “the national
Greenback Party in Michigan Politics,” Michigan History (June 1963); John Lederle and

Radicals and Reformers 129

Rita Feiler Aid, “Michigan State Party Chairmen,” Michigan History (June 1957);
Lawrence E. Ziewacz, “the Eighty-first Ballot: the Senatorial Struggle of 1883,”
Michigan History (September 1972), and Bruce A. Rubenstein, “omar d. Conger:
Michigan’s Forgotten Favorite Son,” Michigan History (September–october 1982).
Elizabeth Giese (ed.), Michigan’s Women’s Suffrage: A Political History (Lansing: the
Michigan Political history Society and the Michigan Women’s Studies Association,
1995) and Lawrence E. Ziewacz, “thomas W. Palmer: A Michigan Senator’s ‘Masterly
Argument’ for Women’s Suffrage,” The Michigan Historical Review (Spring 2000) offer
insight into the politics of the crusade of women’s suffrage. Philip VanderMeer, “Political
Crisis and third Parties: the Gold democrats of Michigan,” The Michigan Historical
Review (Fall 1989) examines the impact of the currency question on Michigan politics.

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Early Ethnic Contributions

in 1860 Michigan’s population was 749,113, but by 1890 it had almost tripled,
reaching 2,093,889. detroit, Michigan’s largest city, grew at an even more phe-
nomenal pace during that period, increasing from 45,619 to 205,876 or nearly
450 percent. Much of this increase in population was a result of foreign immi-
gration. Between 1860 and 1900 over 700,000 new inhabitants migrated to
Michigan, of whom almost 400,000 came from foreign lands. in 1870 detroit
ranked fourteenth among the nation’s cities in the size of its foreign-born popu-
lation, and by 1890, one-fourth of its population was foreign born.

Michigan and Immigration Encouragement

As early as 1845 the state of Michigan actively initiated a policy of attracting
new settlers from Europe. Reacting to a joint resolution of the legislature, intro-
duced by State Senator Edwin M. Cust of Livingston County, calling for estab-
lishment of an office of Foreign Emigration in new York, Governor John Barry
signed the bill into law March 24, 1845. on April 19, the governor appointed
John Almy, of Grand Rapids, as new York agent for landowners seeking to
attract settlers to their sparsely populated lands in ottawa and Kent counties.
Almy was paid $60 for two months’ work and an additional $30 for the cost of
preparing a pamphlet describing Michigan’s attractions.


Early Ethnic Contributions 131

Almy wrote a six-page pamphlet, State of Michigan—1845—To Emigrants,
which gave general information about the state, praised its resources, and
included a map. over 5,000 brochures were printed and distributed to potential
immigrants. Although Governor Barry was impressed with Almy’s efforts and
offered to extend his contract for sixty additional days, Almy declined.

interest in state-promoted immigration activities did not cease with Almy’s
retirement. in early 1849 Governor Epaphroditus Ransom sought to encourage
German and dutch settlers to emigrate to Michigan. he reinstituted the office
of emigrant agent and selected Edward h. thomson, a former state senator
from Flint, to fill the position. By May, thomson was in new York making
contacts with shipping officials. Soon thereafter he prepared a forty-seven-page
brochure entitled The Emigrant’s Guide to the State of Michigan. Printed in
English and German, this pamphlet gave a brief description and history of the
state, including information about “its rails, climate, markets, agriculture and
commercial advantages, imports and exports, the laws relating to education,
and many other details of interest and importance to prospective immigrants.”
during the remainder of 1849, more than 14,000 of these glowing advertise-
ments were printed and distributed. An attempt was made in 1850 to continue
thomson’s position, but newly reelected Governor Barry refused to act upon a
bill that would have provided for funding for the agent, and thomson was

nine years later, thomson, then a member of the state house of representa-
tives, offered a joint resolution for the appropriation of $2,500 to employ an
immigration agent. having passed both houses of the legislature, the proposal
was then signed into law by Governor Moses Wisner. Subsequently, two
Germans, Rudolph diepenbeck and George Veenfliet, were appointed to
encourage immigration by establishing and manning offices in new York and
detroit, respectively. diepenbeck had 5,000 copies of thomson’s booklet
reprinted and distributed. By 1861 the agents had been so successful that
Governor Wisner reported that in two years more than 1,500 German emi-
grants, who possessed “a cash capital of $150,000,” had been brought to

the Civil War halted further extension of the emigration agent program, but
in 1869 the legislature appropriated $5,000 to hire an emigrant agent to reside
in Germany. Max E. Allardt, a lawyer and real estate agent from East Saginaw,
was appointed to fill the position. he first made his headquarters in Frankfurt
and then moved to hamburg. Allardt wrote an eight-page booklet, Der
Michigan Wegwiser (the Michigan Guide), of which approximately thirty dif-
ferent issues were published and distributed primarily in Germany, Bohemia,
and hungary. in 1872, Allardt reported to Governor John J. Bagley that 2,722


Germans had settled in Michigan as a result of his efforts. the governor, how-
ever, was not convinced that the results warranted the expense of maintaining
a foreign office, and in 1874 Allardt was recalled.

Allardt’s removal did not end state involvement in active immigrant recruit-
ment. in 1881, Governor david Jerome named Colonel Frederick Morley, a
former detroit newspaper editor, to be commissioner of immigration with his
office in detroit. Like his predecessors, Morley prepared and distributed an
advertising brochure. his effort was on a grand scale, as it was 144 pages in
length and had a distribution of 42,000 copies. Four years later, Governor Josiah
W. Begole, citing that the yearly expense of $11,500 was too high and that
Michigan had a surplus of workers, abolished Morley’s position. Begole’s action,
for all practical purposes, ended state involvement in emigration work. once
again, Michigan had been an innovator, as six other states followed its example
in active promotion of foreign settlement.

Figure 9.1 in 1827, Washtenaw County residents formed a society to furnish infor-
mation on the soil, climate, and desirability of life in Michigan to prospective emigrants.
Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative #05260.

Early Ethnic Contributions 133


no group was more eagerly recruited for settlement than the Germans.
Staunchly religious, family oriented, industrious, and educated, Germans were
viewed as ideal residents for Michigan.

German Lutheran missionaries and settlers arrived in the Ann Arbor area in
the 1830s, and by 1855 an estimated 5,000 Germans resided in that region. in
1840 a substantial group of German Catholics founded the settlement of
Westphalia in Clinton County, and five years later German Lutherans estab-
lished Frankenmuth in Saginaw County. Between 1846 and 1855 a combina-
tion of poor harvests and the failure of the liberal revolt of 1848 in Germany
sent more than 3 million Germans across the Atlantic ocean. of that number,
many came to Michigan to live with relatives and start new lives. thus, by 1860,
Michigan’s German population was nearly 39,000.

Germans made many contributions to Michigan’s heritage, especially in the
area of education. Michigan’s basic school laws were derived from the Prussian

Figure 9.2 native language appeals, such as this one in German, were made by the
state in an effort to attract immigrants. Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative


model, and Bishop Caspar Borgess founded a center for higher education that
ultimately became the University of detroit. Germans were also prominent in
lumbering and mining. in the southwestern portion of the state, they pioneered
in fruit and berry growing, which became the foundation for the nationally
known Benton harbor Fruit Exchange.

Attempts were made to preserve native cultural traditions through German-
language newspapers, schools, churches, fraternal organizations, and organized
tours to Germany. With the outbreak of World War i, German-language news-
papers were ordered by the federal government to be translated for every post-
master before distribution. Speaking and teaching the German language were
forbidden, and people with German names were urged by the government
either to change them or run the risk of being arrested as traitors. Consequently,
World War i resulted not only in the military defeat of Germany, but also in the
destruction of much of Michigan’s Germanic cultural heritage.

Canadiens and Canadians

Because of its location, Michigan has always been a source of refuge for
Canadians. in 1837–38, following an unsuccessful revolt, hundreds of Canadian
soldiers fled across the detroit River to avoid punishment. in the 1840s, British
free-trade policies caused a depression in Canadian timber and shipbuilding
industries and many workers sought employment in Michigan. during the
American Civil War thousands of Canadians came to Michigan to work or join
the Union army. Between the years 1870 and 1890, many French Canadiens
became disgusted with the failure of the Canadian government to open land for
settlement and came to Michigan to work in mining and lumber camps in
order to earn enough money to purchase a homestead. the 1890 census
reported that there were 63,565 Canadians and 15,436 Canadiens “over ten
years of age and engaged in gainful occupations” in Michigan. of these, nearly
32,000 were farmers, fishermen, or miners, while another 17,000 were engaged
in personal or domestic service. Manufacturing occupations attracted approxi-
mately 18,000 Canadians and Canadiens, and professional service engaged
another 1,200. Most immigrants from across the detroit River settled in Wayne
County, but sizable numbers also migrated to the state’s lumber and mining
centers in Saginaw and Marquette counties.

English-speaking Canadians melted into the mainstream of American
society willingly and easily, but the French-speaking Canadiens were very
concerned with preserving their cultural identity. to accomplish this, they
established national societies, French newspapers, and Roman Catholic

Early Ethnic Contributions 135

parishes run by Canadien priests. that they ultimately failed in their goal was
more a result of scattered settlement patterns than lack of zeal.

the first national society in Michigan was the Lafayette Society, which was
founded in 1857. the Association St. Jean-Baptiste was formed in 1864 with the
objective of offering a platform for discussion of religious and political ques-
tions. the societies grew, and in 1869 they invited Mederic Lanctot to speak on
the occasion of the centennial of napoleon’s birth. in the course of his address,
Lanctot said that Quebec should sever its ties with England and become part of
the United States. Members of the French-speaking population were split on
this issue, and from that date on dissension over the question of annexation of
Quebec destroyed the societies.

With the decline of the national societies, social activity centered around the
church, but as years went by only the older French Canadiens persisted in read-
ing native-language newspapers and in making pilgrimages to Quebec. By 1920
a new generation had arisen, seeking assimilation with the rest of Michigan’s
English-speaking population. Consequently, little remains of Canadien culture
in Michigan.


one of the more organized immigration efforts undertaken by an ethnic group
was that of the dutch. during the 1840s, a combination of religious dissatisfac-
tion, high taxes, and potato blight convinced many members of the dutch
Reformed Church that they should leave holland. After rejecting Java and
South America as potential settlement sites, the dutch decided upon the United
States. in September 1846, Reverend Albertus Van Raalte, along with his family
and fifty-three others, sailed to new York. From there they managed to reach
detroit, where they planned to spend the winter before continuing their trek
either to iowa or Wisconsin. Prominent detroiters and state legislators per-
suaded the dutch to stay in Michigan because it had an established population
which was “better educated, more religious, and more enterprising” than that
in areas farther west.

Unlike other immigrants, the dutch went to the extreme western side of the
lower peninsula and purchased an area between the Grand and Kalamazoo riv-
ers, where the Black River flows into Macatawa Bay. this location, far from
other communities with which to trade, caused financial hardships, and the
settlers had to request loans from the netherlands to sustain them. the dutch
also had problems with their indian neighbors. in 1847, the indians, who had
sold a portion of their land to the dutch, planted their crops and then, as was


their custom, left to spend the summer hunting and fishing. the dutch, being
unfamiliar with indian habits, assumed that their neighbors had abandoned
the land, and they gave it to new settlers. When the indians returned and found
their crop land overrun with whites, they demanded that the invaders leave.
A temporary settlement was reached, but by 1849 dutch‒indian relations had
deteriorated to such a level that the indians sold their remaining land in the
area to the dutch and moved north to traverse Bay. dutch settlements grew at
Grand haven, Zeeland, holland, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo, and by 1874
over 5,000 dutch called Michigan their home. Known as excellent farmers, the
dutch earned a reputation for growing celery and made Michigan a leader in
its production. today, the famous windmills in holland, the annual tulip
Festival, and the netherlands Museum stand as testimony to the heritage of
Michigan’s early dutch settlers.

Cornish and Irish

originally from Cornwall, a peninsula in England traditionally known for its
copper and tin mines, the Cornish represent one of Michigan’s most interesting
ethnic groups. By the 1850s ores in their native land were becoming depleted
and many Cornish found their way first to the lead mines of Wisconsin and
then to the copper mines in Michigan’s houghton and Keweenaw counties.
Later, they settled in towns such as ishpeming, iron Mountain, and iron River
near the Marquette iron range, and in Bessemer, Wakefield, and ironwood
along the Gogebic range.

the Cornishmen were strongly independent, staunchly Methodist, and
blessed with mining expertise. Because of this latter talent, they generally were
hired to serve in a supervisory capacity, either as shift bosses or mine captains.
Excellent wages, ranging from $65 to $100 a month according to the amount of
work each man contracted to do, encouraged workers to write home and urge
their relatives to come to Michigan. Legend has it that every time laborers were
needed for the mines Cornishmen would quickly recommend a “Cousin Jack”
in Cornwall who was eager to come and work.

Some Cornish went into iron mining, but most preferred to mine copper
deep in the earth rather than do “bloody ditch digging” for iron. of the Cornish
immigrants who were not miners, nearly all were either Methodist preachers or
social workers. By 1900 most of Michigan’s Cornish population lived in the
houghton area of the upper peninsula, but large Cornish communities also
existed in Grand Rapids and detroit.

during the years 1846–50, ireland’s great potato famine caused more than
900,000 irish to emigrate to the United States, and thousands of these new

Early Ethnic Contributions 137

settlers came to Michigan. in Lenawee County so many newcomers arrived
that part of the area was named “the irish hills.” Statewide, the irish popula-
tion reached 46,000 by 1900, with strongholds in Wayne, Kent, houghton, and
Marquette counties.

Unlike most other immigrants, the irish came to Michigan solely to find
work. having few possessions, many irishmen traveled from county to county
mining, digging canals, laying railroad tracks or selling merchandise, especially
linen goods. others, who chose to remain in urban centers, became active in
public service employment, particularly in the police and fire departments.

irish immigrants were devout Roman Catholics who looked to the church
for strength and guidance. they preferred to live in isolated irish communities,
such as detroit’s “Corktown,” where they could control their own politics, speak
openly against Protestants and Englishmen, reminisce about ireland, read
Catholic newspapers, and generally feel free.

Figure 9.3 A typical “Cousin Jack,” 1900. the Cornish were well known for their tin
and copper mining acumen and ranked among the world’s greatest hard-rock miners.
during the mid-1800s the mines failed in Cornwall and many “Cousin Jacks” and
“Jennies” immigrated to the mining regions of north America. Photo courtesy of the
California department of Conservation CGS library G.W. Starr Collection, Cd 98-001,
Photo A5188.


the irish became powerful in the democratic Party and dominated detroit
politics until the late 1800s. As more non-irish immigrants arrived in detroit,
the irish began to feel threatened both economically and politically. despite
their long history of being persecuted and discriminated against in this coun-
try, the irish started a campaign to stop all further immigration to the United
States, thereby eliminating new laborers and anti-irish voters. Failing in this,
the irish steadily lost power in the state and urban governments, and in the
twentieth century only Frank Murphy, Frank Fitzgerald, Frank Kelley, and
Patrick Mcnamara achieved statewide political recognition and influence.


in 1850 there were only 107 Scandinavians living in Michigan, but by 1890 the
number had swollen to over 37,000. danes, Swedes, Finns, and norwegians
came to Michigan for various reasons. Some were lured by pamphlets that

Figure 9.4 “Just up. Ascending from the depths of a Copper Mine.” Postcard showing
miners of the Calumet and hecla Mine, shaft no. 2, in Calumet. Library of Congress,
Prints and Photographs division, detroit Publishing Company Collection, LC-d4-19051.

Early Ethnic Contributions 139

extolled the state’s climate and soil; others were recruited by agents for mining,
lumbering, or railroad companies; many came to live with relatives and start a
new life; still others were drawn to communities such as Grand Rapids which
advertised for Scandinavian settlers; and some came simply to avoid military
service in their native countries. Regardless of the reasons for their coming,
Michigan welcomed Scandinavians as residents because, like the Germans,
they were literate, hard-working, religious, and willing to become assimilated.

Swedes constituted the largest number of Scandinavians in Michigan, having
strongholds in Kent and Muskegon counties in the lower peninsula and
Marquette, Gogebic, houghton, and iron counties in the upper peninsula.
Bates township, in iron County, was regarded as “Little Sweden” because
90 percent of its residents were Swedish. Most Swedes left their native country
because of a lack of available farmland, but ironically, once in Michigan, most
found jobs in the lumbering and mining industries rather than in agriculture.

Finns, while not as numerous as the Swedes, had as great an impact on the
state. Generally Lutheran, Finns believed in strict discipline. they formed

Figure 9.5 Suomi College and theological Seminary, a Finnish school, located in
hancock, Michigan. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs division, detroit
Publishing Company Collection, LC-d4-19054.


numerous temperance associations, workingmen’s unions, benefit societies,
choirs, and physical culture groups. dancing, card playing, and theater attend-
ance were forbidden, but all aspects of education were encouraged. in 1896
Suomi College was founded in hancock, and in 1981, it was the only Finnish
institution of higher learning in the United States. Finns were also interested
in preserving their cultural heritage and published their own newspapers,
calendars, and dual-language dictionaries. thus, like all other immigrants,
Scandinavians helped mold Michigan’s society.

The New Immigration

After 1890, most immigrants to the United States came from Southern and
Eastern Europe, especially Poland, hungary, Yugoslavia, and italy. these immi-
grants were in striking contrast to their earlier counterparts, as they were usu-
ally illiterate, unskilled menial laborers, who chose to live in native-speaking
urban ghettos, usually in detroit, and refused to become assimilated into
American society. despite hostility, these new immigrants did represent the
ideal future citizen because they worked hard, were thrifty, craved the status
that money would bring, and believed that diligent effort would result in
upward social mobility. By 1920 Michigan had 63,000 Poles, 20,000
hungarians, 56,000 italians, and 25,000 Yugoslavians as residents.

this influx of new immigrants caused unrest among native-born Americans
and earlier immigrants. Fearing loss of their jobs to these newcomers, they gen-
erally agreed with the sentiment expressed in the Manistee Broadaxe that it was
“time to get out of the asylum business, time to cease to be a dumping ground
for the vicious, delinquent product of other nations.” the American Protective
Association of Michigan, which had been founded in 1890 to save “real
Americans” from an influx of Catholics, Mexicans, and orientals, grew in
strength and supported restricted immigration laws. Finally, in 1924, Congress
passed the national origins Act, which restricted the total number of immi-
grants allowed into the country to 164,000 per year, of whom fewer than
20 percent could come from Southern Europe and none from Asia. thus, the
“Melting Pot” was closed, but the contributions of immigrants to Michigan’s
economic, cultural, and political development cannot be minimized. truly,
Michigan grew on the muscles of immigrant labor.

in 2012, a new initiative, “Welcoming Michigan,” was instituted to once
again encourage immigrants to make Michigan their home, raise families, and
start businesses in the Great Lakes State. if this effort is as successful as those of
the past, Michigan will undergo tremendous economic and cultural advances.

Early Ethnic Contributions 141

For Further Reading

the two most recent general treatments of immigration and nationality groups are
C. Warren Vanderhill, Settling the Great Lakes Frontier: Immigration in Michigan, 1837–
1924 (Lansing: Michigan historical Commission, 1970) and George P. Graff, The People
of Michigan (2nd ed., Lansing: Michigan dept. of Education, Bureau of Library Services,
1974). the role of the emigration agent is covered in two articles from Michigan History,
William L. Jenks, “Michigan immigration,” XXViii (1944) and daniel E. Sutherland,
“Michigan Emigrant Agent: Edward h. thomson,” LiX (1975). John Russel, The
Germanic Influence in the Making of Michigan (detroit: University of detroit Press,
1927) covers German contributions. Aleida J. Pieters, A Dutch Settlement in Michigan
(Grand Rapids: the Reformed Press, Erdmans Co., 1923) is a dated, but useful, story of
the dutch immigration. A. C. todd, The Cornish Miner in America (Glendale: Clark
Co., 1967); A. L. Rowse, The Cousin Jacks: The Cornish in America (new York: Scribner,
1969); and John Rowe, The Hard Rock Men: Cornish Immigrants and the North American
Mining Frontier (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1974) are three excellent works
on the Cornish. Sister Mary R. napolska, “the Polish immigrant in detroit in 1914,”
Annals of the Polish Roman Catholic Union Archives and Museum, X (1945–46) gives
good information on the Poles in detroit.

there are numerous articles in Michigan History concerning ethnic groups in
Michigan. Some of the best include: James E. Jopling, “Cornish Miners of the Upper
Peninsula,” Xii (1928); James Fisher, “Michigan’s Cornish People,” XXiX (1945); Lois
Rankin, “detroit nationality Groups,” XXiii (1939); John Wargelin, “the Finns in
Michigan,” XXiV (1940); henry S. heimonen, “Agricultural trends in the Upper
Peninsula,” XLi (1957); and Josias Meulen dyke, “dutch Settlements north of Muskegon:
1867–1897,” XXXi (1947).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Grain, Grangers, and Conservation

Because of Michigan’s present status as one of the nation’s foremost industrial
centers, its long agricultural heritage is often overlooked. As late as 1935,
Michigan had more than 18.5 million acres under cultivation and approxi-
mately 20 percent of its population listed their occupation as “farmer.” By 1970,
however, agriculture accounted for a mere 4 percent of the state’s production
income, and only 1.5 percent of the state’s residents were farmers. Between
1982 and 2005 the decline continued as the amount of farmland in Michigan
was reduced from 10,940,000 acres to 10,100,000 acres, and the number of
farms dwindled to 53,000. At the turn of the twenty-first century, Michigan was
losing 233 acres of farmland daily to urban sprawl, placing it fourth behind
Florida, California, and Colorado in number of acres being sold per day to
developers. Equally disturbing is that only 8,000 of Michigan’s 53,000 farms
generate revenue of more than $100,000 annually, and most of these are large
agribusiness operations. the era of family owned and operated farms is rapidly
coming to an end.

despite a steady decline in the number of farmers and in the amount of acres
tilled, improved methods of soil usage, high yield seed, and modern equipment
have resulted in increased agricultural production. Without question, agricul-
ture is still an important aspect of Michigan’s economy, as shown by the 2005
apple harvest of 790 million pounds, valued at $100,000,000, and the more than
208 million pounds of cherries produced annually in Grand traverse County.


Grain, Grangers, and Conservation 143

Climate and Soil

Michigan residents are fully aware that the state’s climate is unpredictable and
can change drastically, within the same area, in a matter of hours. Much of this
instability is caused by Michigan being a peninsula, as surrounding waters, espe-
cially Lake Michigan, greatly affect the state. during the summer months, winds
crossing Lake Michigan are cooled, thereby creating a more even climate along
western Michigan than anywhere else in the state. Along the Lake Michigan shore
the nights are not as cold and the days not as warm as they are farther inland. the
western coast also has more sunny days because the land is warmer than the
water; thus, westerly winds carrying moisture do not condense and form clouds.
in the autumn, Lake Michigan is usually fifteen to twenty degrees warmer than
the land and, as a result, the western shore of Michigan has long, mild falls.
Autumns, however, are overcast because when the warm, moist lake air comes in
contact with the cooler land, it condenses and forms clouds. during the winter, it
is this same pattern that causes heavy snowfall in the southwest corner of the state.

Knowledge of climatic conditions is crucial to farmers, who must be aware of
the length of the growing season, number of days free from killing frost, and
the amount of average rainfall. As might be expected, Michigan has a wide vari-
ation in each of these areas. the average number of frost-free days extends
from 180 in Berrien County in southwest lower Michigan to ninety in the
extreme upper peninsula. Even this is not constant, however, as frost has
occurred in the lower peninsula as late as mid-June. Rainfall in the state is
nearly perfect for agriculture, with heaviest amounts falling during the growing
season of May through July and the least precipitation occurring at harvest
time. Average yearly rainfall ranges from twenty-eight inches in drier sections,
such as the thumb, to thirty-six inches along the indiana border.

Variations are also found in the state’s soil composition, and it is not unusual
for even small farms to contain several types of soil, each suited to grow only
certain crops. All Michigan’s soil was originally glacial drift that was carried
south by an advancing ice mass. over long periods of time, the crushed rock
weathered and was moved by rivers and streams throughout the state, creating
deposits of clay, sand, and swampy muck. Because of the wide range of climate
and soil, a great many crops flourish in Michigan.

Effects of the Civil War

the 1860s marked an important transitional period in Michigan’s agricultural
history. during the early years of statehood, much of Michigan remained in a


state of nature. in the early 1850s, a rapid increase in cultivation occurred and the
amount of acres put under the plow tripled between the years 1850 and 1860. this
massive clearing and tilling is all the more remarkable because it was accom-
plished almost entirely by hand tools and ox-drawn plows. throughout the 1850s
new machinery was introduced to the nation’s farmers. Michigan agriculturalists
were intrigued by Cyrus McCormick’s reaper, John deere’s steel plow, Jerome
Case’s thresher, and a harvester combine invented by their fellow Michiganian
hiram Moore of Climax, but they did not purchase many of them. two reasons
dictated this reluctance to mechanize their farms. First, most Michigan farms
were not developed sufficiently for efficient use of machines. Land was still in the
process of being cleared, and stump-cluttered fields made machinery impractical.
Second, most early farm machinery was horse- powered and, during the pre–Civil

Figure 10.1 the McCormick Reaper was first used by Cyrus McCormick in 1831. By
1849 over 2,000 McCormick Reapers had been sold. one man drove the horse while
another raked the grain off in sheaves to be tied into bundles, ushering in a new era in farm-
ing. The Abilene Reflector (Abilene, Kan.), 29 May 1884. Chronicling America: historic
American newspapers. Library of Congress. Courtesy of the Kansas State historical Society.

Grain, Grangers, and Conservation 145

War years, Michigan farmers did not own enough horses to operate the new
machinery. in the 1830–60 period, settlers used oxen as their primary draft
animals. one settler recalled that “in the early days the men who cleared the land
used oxen exclusively and the poorer farmers used them for driving about. i don’t
know how the country could have been cleared if it had not been for oxen. hauling
the forest trees, pulling stumps, and turning over the new soil would have been
too heavy work for the strongest draught horses.” Although oxen were excellent
for clearing and hauling, they moved too slowly to power farm machinery and it
was only after the fields had become developed that oxen were replaced by horses.

in the realm of scientific agriculture most frontier farmers were quite back-
ward. they operated under the traditional tenet that a man should work a piece
of acreage until it was exhausted and then simply move to another plot. Land
seemed limitless and it was deemed foolish to invest money in, and labor upon,
depleted soil when fertile virgin territory was readily available. As the state
became more settled and land began to grow scarcer, this attitude altered.
Farmers realized that productive soil was limited, and they began to practice
intensive, rather than extensive, agriculture. Farm journals of the 1850s con-
tained advice on methods to improve land, livestock, and crops. one farmer,
angry because his neighbors refused either to experiment with new breeds of
livestock or improve their land through proper plowing, wrote the Michigan
Farmer magazine that he was “sorry to say that a majority of the farmers in this
rich town of Grand Blanc . . . do not believe in raising durham cattle, Spanish
sheep, or Suffolk pigs, and some of them think a common two horse plow is just
the thing to till corn, and that blind ditches will not pay.”

the movement toward commercial farming was accelerated by the opening
of Michigan Agricultural College in May 1857 to “improve and teach the science
and practice of agriculture.” Many state legislators claimed that the school was a
waste of money because it was impossible to learn farming from a book. Enough
farmers in the state, however, realized that if fertile land was limited, it was
essential that soil presently under cultivation be carefully cared for to prolong its
productivity. More knowledge concerning fertilizers, crop rotation, cultivation,
and pest control was needed, and farmers believed that such information would
best be provided by an institution that taught scientific agriculture.

Another reason for farmers’ slow acceptance of commercial farming was
cost. Most Michigan farmers were closer to poverty than wealth, and farm
machinery was expensive. A single-horse thresher adapted to the needs of
small grain growers cost $128 in the mid-1850s, and most farmers would have
had to borrow money to purchase not only the machine but also the horses
necessary to operate it. high equipment costs, coupled with low prices for farm
products, reinforced farmers’ traditional conservatism and delayed widespread
adoption of mechanized farming.


the Civil War had a major impact on Michigan agriculture. When the war
began in 1861, a severe manpower shortage hit Michigan farms as large num-
bers of men enlisted in the Union armed forces. the shortage was alleviated
temporarily by women, children, and elderly men working in the fields, but the
only permanent solution was mechanization. Farmers began to buy machinery
on an unprecedented scale. A Pontiac farmer wrote to Country Gentleman
magazine that “. . . over two hundred and fifty mowing machines have been
sold in this town this season, and the demand was not fully met. Men are of no
account now except to vote—steam and horse do the work.” the secretary of
the Kalamazoo County Agricultural Society noted in 1864:

What a providence, surely, to the American farmer during the present scarcity of
labor—the war taking off such a large proportion of the best bone and muscle of
the country—that one man, through the aid of improved implements for plant-
ing, cultivating, harvesting and threshing, can do the work of ten, at least, under
the old-fashioned mode.

Figure 10.2 the Gale Manufacturing Company began in 1853. the Albion manufac-
turer was one of the nation’s foremost producers of farm equipment. Stock Certificate,
1900. image courtesy of Stocklobster.com.

Grain, Grangers, and Conservation 147

Although these statements are exaggerated, it is evident that farm machinery
was being used on a wider scale and, for the first time, Michigan had modern

the Civil War also improved the farmers’ financial situation and allowed
them to make substantial investments both in equipment and land improve-
ments. the federal government spent nearly $6.8 billion during the Civil War
for transportation, forage, and subsistence of the army, and much of this
amount went to American farmers through price increases on food. For exam-
ple, in August 1861, red wheat, a major Michigan crop, was listed by the detroit
Board of trade at 84¢ per bushel. By the end of the war, red wheat was selling
for $2.25 per bushel.

Soldiers’ wages were another source of income for many farm families. the
federal government disbursed more than $1.3 billion in wages to Union mili-
tary men, and since many soldiers and sailors were farmers, a portion of this
money found its way back to the farm. Massive spending by the federal govern-
ment created inflation, which helped farmers by enabling them to repay their
mortgages with devalued dollars. the war-related financial factors of inflation,
increased demands for farm goods, and increased prices combined to give the
economic stimulus needed to modernize Michigan’s farms. had it not been for
the Civil War, commercial farming would have evolved at a much later date.

Modernization of farming brought with it increased agricultural income and
an improved standard of living. during the late 1860s, many farmers moved
from log cabins into spacious, white frame houses. to make life more comfort-
able, farmers bought luxury items such as sewing machines, carpeting, books,
furniture, and even bathtubs. A popular luxury item was the screen door,
because, as a farm woman recalled,

Mosquitoes were one of the torments of early settlers for they had no screen
doors or screens for the windows. As dusk came on they would make a smudge
by putting damp chips in a pan and setting fire to them. this pan placed in front
of a door would make a smoke screen which kept the pests out. Soon after i was
married (1866) we had a screen door which was the first one seen in this

other items, once manufactured in the home to save money, were now pur-
chased: patent soap substituted for lye soap, kerosene lamps were used instead
of candles, and baking powder replaced soda and sour milk. With fewer house-
hold chores and new labor-saving devices in the fields, much of the drudgery
inherent in the old style of farming disappeared and life for farmers and their
families became more pleasant and prosperous.


one luxury that still eluded most rural Michigan women was professional
medical attention. this void often was filled by midwives, known affectionately
as “Angels of Mercy.” occasionally these women possessed training, but most
relied merely on practical experience. they traveled throughout the farm com-
munities lending their skills, especially in delivering babies, and usually
included as many as ten days of postnatal care as part of their service. While
there are few written records regarding these women, the role they played in
nineteenth and early twentieth-century Michigan should not be forgotten.

By 1870, modern commercial agriculture, based on mechanization and sci-
entific knowledge of soil, seeds, and livestock, was firmly established in
Michigan. this change brought with it a new public evaluation of farmers and
their profession. Governor henry h. Crapo articulated this new rural image in
a speech to the state legislature:

Agriculture is no longer what it was once regarded by the majority of other profes-
sions of men, and partially admitted by the farmer himself to be a low, menial
employment, a mere drudgery, delving in the soil, a simple round of labors, in
which no thought, or mind, or study, was necessary, but it is becoming recognized
as a noble science. Formerly, any man who had merely sufficient sense to do just
as his father did before him, and to follow his example, and imitate his practice,
was regarded as fully competent to become a farmer; and the idea of applying

Figure 10.3 the delos Snyder farmhouse about 3 miles south of Albion, as it looked
in 1890. the home was replaced in 1896 with a new farmhouse that still sits there today.
image courtesy of Frank Passic, Albion historian.

Grain, Grangers, and Conservation 149

science—of agricultural chemistry—to the business, was sneered at by many of the
farmers themselves, denounced as ‘book farming,’ and resisted as an unwarranta-
ble encroachment upon their own peculiar prerogatives. But at the present time
the cultivation of the soil has justly come to be regarded as one of the most noble
and dignified callings in which an educated and scientific man can be engaged.

The Patrons of Husbandry

Following the Civil War, several farm organizations emerged, the first of which
was the Patrons of husbandry, or as it was more commonly known, the Grange.
Founded in 1867, the Grange was a social, cultural, and educational group
intended to bring farm men and women together in a spirit of community

the first Michigan Grange chapter was established on June 10, 1872, and by
the end of that year six more chapters had been founded. As the effects of the

Figure 10.4 By the turn of the twentieth century, Michigan farmers were using both
the traditional horse-drawn wagons and modern machinery in their fields. Courtesy of
the Archives of Michigan, negative #05056.


depression of 1873 ravaged the farm community, more Grange chapters sprang
up as farmers desperately sought ways to bring about economic salvation. By
october 1875, Michigan had the ninth largest Grange membership in the
nation with 605 chapters and 33,196 members.

By 1873, the purposes of the Grange had become political and economic.
Attacks on railroads, business monopolies, and banks were common. in
Michigan, Grangers supported laws to regulate railroads and, in 1874, the state
Grange passed a resolution demanding “such legislation as will control and
regulate the carrying trade of our country and compel all railroad companies to
carry passengers and freight at reasonable and uniform rates.”

As part of their program, Grangers established the first large-scale coopera-
tive movement in the nation’s history. Stores, grain elevators, warehouses, fac-
tories, and insurance companies were created. in Michigan, the cooperatives
were very conservative and were operated by county councils and local agen-
cies. A state agent was empowered only to make contracts with manufacturers
and dealers. By the late 1870s, firms in detroit and Chicago were hired to act as
agents for filling orders and selling produce, as Grange members realized
that they did not possess the experience necessary to make the cooperatives
financially successful.

When prosperity returned to the farmers in the late 1870s, Grange member-
ship rapidly declined. A revival was begun in 1881 but the Grange never again

Figure 10.5 Grange meetings, such as this one held in december 1888 at the ingham
County Pomona hall, were major social events for those in Michigan’s rural communi-
ties. Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative #03439.

Grain, Grangers, and Conservation 151

sought political and economic power. today, Grange chapters still exist but,
once again, they are primarily socially oriented.

Kellogg and Post

Closely linked to Michigan’s grain industry was the rise of Battle Creek as the
“breakfast food capital of the world.” on September 5, 1866, the Seventh day
Adventist Church founded a sanitarium in Battle Creek to promote a regimen
of water baths, diet, rest, exercise, fresh air, and health food for its members.
dr. John harvey Kellogg was named physician-in-chief of the institution, and
he was later joined by his brother Will Keith Kellogg. in 1894, the Kellogg
brothers, seeking a more digestible substitute for bread, developed the wheat
flake. W. K. Kellogg further developed the process, perfected the corn flake,
and founded his own company in 1906. Unfortunately, operation of the

Figure 10.6 Postum, a beverage made primarily of roasted wheat and molasses, was
created by C. W. Post as a caffeine-free coffee substitute. Postum was in production until
2007. Photo courtesy of www.javaholics.net.


company created an irrevocable split between the Kellogg brothers. dr. John
Kellogg sold his stock in his brother’s company and attempted to establish a
competing firm. After a number of lawsuits, in 1920 W. K. Kellogg was granted
exclusive rights, except in some minor instances, to use the name “Kellogg” for
his cereals.

Meanwhile, in 1891, a young businessman named C. W. Post was hired to
work at the Battle Creek sanitarium. impressed by the food served there, in
1894 he began marketing a cereal coffee called “Postum.” Four years later he
began producing Grape-nuts cereal and was on his way to becoming a multi-
millionaire. Kellogg and Post had made Battle Creek the heart of the breakfast
food industry.

in 1999, however, the Kellogg Company, while still the world’s leader in
ready-to-eat cereal, announced it was considering closing most of its historic
Battle Creek plant as a result of declining sales caused by increased competition
from store brand cereals and consumer preference for “eat-on-the-go” hot
meals rather than dry cereal.

Agriculture in the Late Twentieth
and Early Twenty-first Centuries

Michigan farmers did not share in the economic boom that swept the nation
following World War i. Prices for farm products were low and costs for new
equipment were rising. in an effort to gain economic security, some farmers
turned to other occupations by choice, but countless others were forced to seek
new jobs because they lost their farms through delinquent taxes or foreclosure.
Consequently, during the 1920s the number of farms in Michigan declined by
13.5 percent, which meant that approximately 2 million fewer acres were being

Many of the remaining farmers turned to specialty crops. Farmers living
near urban centers raised poultry, dairy cattle, fruit, and vegetables. Along Lake
Michigan, cherries became the staple crop. in the thumb and Saginaw Valley,
beans and sugar beets were major cash crops. Southwestern Michigan farmers
grew onions, celery, and mint. in the northern lower peninsula, potatoes, cattle,
sheep, and hay were the rule, while the upper peninsula was primarily a dairy

the depression drove farmers even deeper into economic ruin. Subsistence
farming and sharecropping became common. ironically, while farm prices
sank to new lows, various new deal programs improved the quality of rural
life. Most notable among these were federal road construction projects and the

Grain, Grangers, and Conservation 153

Rural Electrification Act, which brought electricity to four times as many
Michigan homes in 1940 than had had access to it ten years earlier.

during the years 1950–2001, the number of farms continued to decline,
while average farm size rose. Constant improvement of agricultural techniques
increased productivity to such a degree that one modern farm worker now pro-
duces enough food for twenty people, whereas a century ago a lone laborer
produced enough for only four persons.

Another continuing problem affecting Michigan is the high cost of farming.
Land prices have soared, wages have risen steadily, and machinery and fuel
expenses have become excessive. Conservative estimates show that a person
wishing to embark upon a career in agriculture requires a minimum capitaliza-
tion of $100,000. As costs spiral upward, increasing numbers of farms will fall
into the control of major agricultural corporations, who can raise revenue
through sales of stock in their “agribusinesses.”

despite hardships and declining numbers, Michigan’s farmers remain an
important force in the state’s economy. Michigan raises sixty major, and sixty-
five lesser, commercial crops and ranks in the top three producing states for
more than twenty crops, leading the nation in production of tart cherries, black
beans, cranberry beans, dry peas, blueberries, and niagara grapes. in 2005
Michigan ranked second in production of dairy products from cows, navy
beans, dry beans, red beans, carrots, and celery; third in apples, asparagus, snap
beans, sweet cherries, sod, and Concord grapes; fourth in cauliflower, potatoes,
sweet potatoes, melons, and cucumbers; and fifth in mushrooms, bell peppers,
plums, and sugar beets. As well, in 2005 Michigan ranked first in the country in
production of flowering bedding plants and flowering hanging baskets; second
in gladiola and potted Easter lilies; and fifth in potted poinsettias. Michigan
also produced 66 million pounds of blueberries, 22.4 million pounds of
peaches, and 5.2 million pounds of strawberries in 2005. Monetarily, Michigan’s
agricultural output resulted in sales in 2005 totaling $37 billion.

Waste of Wildlife

While frontier farmers depleted much of Michigan’s soil through wasteful agri-
cultural techniques, hunters and fishermen wantonly destroyed much of the
state’s wildlife. Commercial fishermen strung huge gill and trap nets through
spawning beds to catch thousands of fish. Such practices had a built-in weak-
ness, however. the fish were netted as they swam toward the spawning grounds
and thus they never had an opportunity to reproduce. Fish living in inland
waters fared little better, as fishermen pursued them with hooks, nets, and even


dynamite. Perhaps the best example of the scope of waste involved in fishing
concerned the grayling, a beautiful game fish that thrived in the Manistee and
Au Sable rivers. this fish was not only beautiful, with a dorsal fin having a rain-
bow of colors, but was also delicious. overeager sportsmen sought the grayling
avidly, often measuring their skill by the number of bushel barrels they filled. in
1871, a party along the Au Sable caught so many grayling that they left more
than 2,000 on the shore to rot.

Birds were sought with equal vigor. Quail, grouse, and prairie chickens were
killed in such numbers that in many southern Michigan areas they were extinct
by 1865. the prairie chicken, for instance, was hunted with every type of gun
available. Most popular was the swivel, or punt, gun, which was similar to a
small cannon placed on a pole and fired one-half pound of lead balls at a time.

the most tragic example of aviary slaughter involved the passenger pigeon.
these beautiful birds arrived in Michigan in early March and remained until
early autumn. When they returned to Michigan, residents recalled that the
flocks were so large that they blocked out the sun for several hours.
Unfortunately, like the grayling, passenger pigeons were delicious as well as

Figure 10.7 “Arctic Grayling,” by Robert W. hines. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Grain, Grangers, and Conservation 155

beautiful. Because they brought between one and two dollars apiece in the mar-
ketplace, professional hunters systematically attacked their nesting places using
poles, nets, guns, axes, and fire either to kill or capture the birds. Most slain
birds were salted and shipped to markets in Chicago and new York. Many cap-
tured birds were distributed to state and national shooting clubs, where during
tournaments they would be released one at a time to be fired upon by target
shooters—they were live “clay pigeons.”

the most devastating slaughter of these birds occurred in Petoskey during
March through June 1878. Professional hunters moved in on roosting birds
and toppled their low-lying nests, while others set up nets to snare fleeing
pigeons. By June, more than 1 million passenger pigeons had been slain in
Petoskey. Massacres such as this continued until by 1914 the species had
become extinct.

Similar mass executions were performed by hunters upon deer, especially
the Virginia whitetail. deer were shot, trapped, poisoned, and snared. hunters
shot them as they crossed streams and set out lanterns to cause them to “freeze”
at night at the sight of the light, thereby creating an easy target.

While this was occurring, efforts were being made to try to preserve some
wildlife. in 1859, the Michigan legislature passed a law forbidding the killing of
deer from January 1 to August 1 and the hunting of wild turkey, partridge, and
woodcock from February 1 to october 1 annually, so that mating could occur
and the species replenish. A five-dollar fine was imposed upon violators, but
enforcement was lax. By 1863, laws had been passed to protect swans and bea-
vers, and the use of swivel guns was prohibited. in 1871, legislation to protect
the grayling and trout was enacted and the use of gill nets was outlawed. ten
years later, Michigan passed the landmark Anti-Market hunting Act in
response to reports that more than 100,000 deer had been slain in the state dur-
ing 1880 by commercial hunters. this law made it illegal to kill any deer or
game birds except for consumption within the state. no longer could slain
wildlife be shipped to national markets. ironically, more than 100 years after
the passage of the Anti-Market hunting Act, Michigan remains one of the fore-
most states in the killing of deer for noncommercial purposes, with nearly
1 million being slain during the hunting seasons of 1998–2000.

Laws are meaningless without strict enforcement and, in many localities,
that was difficult to obtain. thus, in 1887, Michigan became the first state in
the nation to hire a full-time game warden. William Alden Smith, the initial
game warden, was effective and obtained 220 convictions in his first year in
office, compared to a mere twenty-two the previous year.

in the early 1900s, a massive reforestation program was instituted to plant
new trees to provide cover for wildlife. Game farms were established to raise


birds and animals for transport to areas where they had become extinct or
greatly diminished in number. Fish-breeding centers were created, and foreign
fish, such as the carp, were imported. By 1920, nearly all the conservation prin-
ciples in practice today had been adopted in Michigan. the Wolverine State has
always been in the forefront of the conservation movement, and with Michigan
State University’s forestry, fishery, and wildlife programs, it remains among the
nation’s leaders in seeking new ways to protect wildlife and the environment.
Michiganians’ pride in this endeavor, however, must be tempered by the reali-
zation that such programs were made necessary because of the senseless waste
of natural resources and wildlife that was practiced by the state’s citizens during
the early and mid-nineteenth century.

For Further Reading

no works have been published dealing exclusively with Michigan’s agricultural growth.
County histories and the Michigan Farmer magazine offer some insight into rural life,
but they are limited in scope. two articles have been written concerning the effects of
the Civil War on Michigan farmers: Joseph J. Marks (ed.), “Effects of the Civil War on
Farming in Michigan” (Lansing: Michigan Civil War Centennial observance
Commission, 1965) and Richard h. Sewell, “Michigan Farmers and the Civil War,”
Michigan History, XLiV (december 1960). the rise of the Grange is recounted in Ford
trump, The Grange in Michigan (Grand Rapids: dean hicks Co., 1963); Solon J. Buck,
The Granger Movement (Cambridge: harvard University Press, 1913); and Kenyon L.
Butterfield, “Recent Grange Work in Michigan,” Outlook (September 17, 1898).
Statistical analysis of land usage may be found in Lawrence M. Sommers (ed.), Atlas of
Michigan (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1977). An excellent account of
conservation is Eugene t. Peterson, Conservation of Michigan’s Natural Resources
(Lansing: Michigan historical Commission, 1960). Pauline Adams and Emma S.
thornton, A Populist Assault: Sarah E. Van De Wort Emery on American Democracy,
1862–1885 (Bowling Green State University Press, 1989) chronicles the career of a
Michigan woman as a political and social activist. Laura Bennett-Kimble, “Sweet Smell
of Success,” Michigan History (March–April 2000) succinctly traces the history of the
state’s sugar beet industry. Roger Rosentreter, “Cereal City,” Michigan History (July–
August 1999) and Benjamin K. hunnicut, Kellogg’s Six-Hour Day (Philadelphia: temple
University Press, 1996) offer insights into Battle Creek and its dominant industry.

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

development of intellectual Maturity

in many ways, Michigan has been a leader in educational development. during
British rule, public schools were established for children of soldiers and fami-
lies living at, or near, military outposts, while private schools were opened
for the offspring of officers and wealthy merchants. As settlers trickled into
Michigan from the East, they brought with them the Puritan beliefs that educa-
tion was godly, ignorance the tool of the devil, and a moral society could only
result from an educated citizenry. As a result of this background, it was easy for
Michigan to uphold the wish of the ordinance of 1787 that “schools and the
means of education shall forever be encouraged” in the northwest territory.

School Laws and Financing

in 1809, the territorial council passed a law imposing on families with school-
age children a tax of $2 to $4 per child to support public education. While this
levy was rarely collected, it did set the precedent for taxation to maintain
schools. Eighteen years later the territorial legislature adopted a primary-school
law based on that of Massachusetts. Under this act, every township with fifty or
more residents had to hire a teacher “of good morals” to offer instruction, over
a six-month period, in reading, writing, arithmetic, English, French, and decent
behavior. if a township possessed over 200 inhabitants, it was required to have
a “higher school” which offered advanced training in the basic skills as well as



Latin. in 1829 this law was revised, and the provision regarding the types of
schools to be maintained according to population was repealed. Under the
amended law each township was to elect five Commissioners who would divide
the township into districts. in each district, three men would then be elected to
supply reports to the superintendent of common schools and oversee all educa-
tional matters. these early statutes, even though never fully enforced, created
the cornerstone for Michigan’s program of public education by establishing that
schooling was to be nondenominational, state operated, and tax supported.
they also made clear that while individual localities could run their own pri-
mary schools, the state retained the right to determine curriculum, set the
length of the school year, and inspect institutions of learning for adherence to
state regulations.

Michigan’s public-school system during the early years of statehood is
reputedly based on ideas formulated by Reverend John d. Pierce and General
isaac Crary as they sat under an oak tree near their Marshall home. this story
has made the tree famous as the state’s “educational oak,” but it should be noted
that the two men had engaged in extensive research before finalizing their
plans under the shady oak boughs.

during the winter of 1834–35, Crary, an attorney, and Pierce, a member of
the home Missionary Society of the Congregational Church, studied Victor
Cousin’s Report on the Condition of Public Instruction in Germany and Parti-
cularly Prussia. Cousin, a leading French philosopher, educator, and member of
the French Council of Public Education, said that in Germany the state super-
vised a highly efficient centralized program of public education. impressed by
this report, and convinced that such an authoritarian system would not be
inconsistent within a democracy, Crary and Pierce, who had been delegated to
write the article on education for the proposed Michigan constitution, incorpo-
rated several German concepts into their document. Consequently, Article X of
the first Michigan state constitution included many liberal, farsighted, and
innovative ideas on education. For example, this 1835 constitution authorized
the state to hire a superintendent of public instruction who was to watch over
“not only the primary schools, but also the university, the academies, and
schools of other kinds.” While several other states had created a similar position
by an act of the legislature, only Michigan had the post made permanent by its
constitution. the constitution also stated that libraries should be created as
soon as possible in every township and that schools had to be open a minimum
of three months every year.

Financing of schools was determined by the new constitution as well. Under
the ordinance of 1785, section sixteen of every township in the northwest
territory was set aside for educational purposes, with funds raised by the sale

Development of Intellectual Maturity 159

of public lands therein having to be spent in support of schools. By this provi-
sion, Michigan received approximately 1 million acres of land. the average sale
price proved to be $4.58 per acre, which was less than half of what state officials
hoped to receive, but was still $1 per acre more than the average in indiana and
illinois and nearly $3 more than that in Wisconsin. the money raised, known
as the primary school fund, was either banked or invested, with the interest
divided annually among each school district that had been open at least three
months during the year. the amount each district received was determined by
the number of pupils between the ages of five and seventeen who had attended
school. Later, this fund was augmented by tax monies on railroads, telephone
and telegraph companies, and a percentage of estate and inheritance taxes.
Financing of schools through the primary school fund and primary interest
fund continued until 1964 when the state legislature, in accordance with the
new state constitution, passed a law that all funding of education should come
from the state general fund.

Figure 11.1 School operating costs, tuition payments, and courses offered in the
Pontiac Union School in 1851 are detailed in this announcement to the parents of
schoolchildren in the district. Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative #00086.


the 1835 constitution also expanded the ordinance of 1785 to include
support of higher education. Under its provisions, “the monies obtained from
public land sales granted by the United States for the support of a University,
shall be, and remain, a permanent fund for the support of said University
with such branches as the public may hereafter demand for the promotion of
literature, the arts and sciences, and as may be authorized by the terms of
such grant.” Moreover, the state persuaded the federal government that funds
from land sales should be given to the state, rather than townships, for

despite receiving land grants and other monies, Michigan did not always
have free public education. in the early years “rate bills,” or tuition statements,
were issued by local governments to each family having children in school.
Since each child was “rated,” or taxed, whenever parents were short of money
they simply kept one or more of their children home to reduce their school tax.
Moreover, parents were expected to share in the payment of the teacher’s salary,
provide a portion of his or her housing, and help furnish firewood for the
schoolhouse. As a result of these additional demands, many poor families, who
felt that they could not contribute their fair share toward the maintenance of
the school and were too proud to accept offers for free schooling, refused to
send their children to be educated.

John d. Pierce, who became Michigan’s first superintendent of public
instruction upon the recommendation of his friend isaac Crary, who had been
elected the state’s first representative to Congress, urged the necessity of state
funding for public schools. he sought to create a comprehensive school system
that would be properly staffed and uniformly supervised. in his report to the
legislature in 1837, he said that the state should

place the public schools upon high and educated ground, to make them adequate
to the wants of the whole community; to place them on such footing as to furnish
the best instruction, not only in the more common, but in all the higher branches
of elementary knowledge; so that those who send to them may have the satisfac-
tion of knowing that their children are receiving good instruction, as the wealth
of the indies can provide.

Unfortunately, the legislature refused to pass a law for statewide free primary
public education until 1869.

in the meantime, detroit took a bold initiative and, in 1844, established a
free public high school. Subsequently several other cities did the same. this
was not always a popular step, however. in 1873 a group of Kalamazoo citi-
zens filed a suit against their city for using taxes to support the local high

Development of Intellectual Maturity 161

school. the court upheld the city’s position, but the decision was appealed to
the state supreme court. on July 21, 1874, Justice thomas M. Cooley spoke
for the majority of the court in upholding the lower court verdict. in his
ruling he said,

if these facts do not demonstrate clearly and conclusively a general state policy,
beginning in 1817 and continuing until after the adoption of the present Con-
stitution in the direction of free schools in which education, and at their option
the elements of classical education might be brought within the reach of all the
children of the state, then, as it seems to us, nothing can demonstrate it. We might
follow the subject further, and show that the subsequent legislation has all con-
curred with this policy, but it would be a waste of time and labor. We content
ourselves with the statement that neither in our state policy, in our Constitution,
or in our laws, do we find the primary school districts restricted in the branches
of knowledge which their officers may cause to be taught or the grade of instruc-
tion that may be given, if their voters consent in regular form to bear the expense
and raise the taxes for the purpose.

Cooley’s opinion helped convince state residents of the propriety of state-
funded education. Pierce’s dream had finally become an accepted reality.

Teachers, Students, and the “Little Red Schoolhouse”

Like all states, Michigan had the famed “little red schoolhouses,” so named
because they were both little and painted red—a color chosen because it was
common, inexpensive, and did not show dirt. Michigan had so many of these
schools that a traveler from new York remarked in 1872 that Michigan should
be renamed “the School house State.”

Before the Civil War nearly all schoolhouses were made of logs, but after
1865 most were of frame, and later brick, construction. initially, nearly all
were one-room structures, usually eighteen-by-twenty feet, and were cold,
drafty, and poorly lit. A stove furnished heat in winter, but rarely were lamps
available to augment natural light. Schools generally housed twenty to thirty
students, ranging in age from five to seventeen years. Long planks served as
desks, while planks placed at a lower level formed bench seats. in the front of
the room, which was near the warmth of the stove in winter and the open door
in the spring and autumn, was the teacher’s table on which were kept an ink-
well, quill pens, a cherry ruler used both to draw straight lines and crack
knuckles, and a birch rod to assure proper classroom behavior. Since it was


commonly believed that boys were “totally depraved,” discipline was stern and
intended to embarrass the offender. Common punishments were having to
wear a dunce cap while sitting in a corner, sitting with the girls, and standing

Figure 11.2 Students and teacher of oakgrove School, Cooper township, Kalamazoo
County, ca. 1900. From the collection of the Kalamazooo Valley Museum, #61.373.E.

Figure 11.3 district #3 school, Pavilion township, Mi, ca. 1895. From the collection
of the Kalamazooo Valley Museum, #64.171

Development of Intellectual Maturity 163

on one leg for an hour in front of the class. Usually schools had no black-
boards, texts, or paper. during the pre–Civil War years paper was so expensive
that students wrote their alphabet and lessons with their fingers in trays of
moist sand. Likewise, during that period, reading was often taught from a
book the child brought from home, usually the Bible. By the 1870s, however,
readers, spellers, arithmetic books, and geography texts were furnished, and
many rural school districts were consolidating to form “union districts” in
order to furnish a higher quality of education. nevertheless, one-room schools
were still the rule in Michigan until the late 1920s.

teachers were often ill-trained persons who viewed their occupation as a
temporary means of earning a living until something better presented itself.
Each school district set its own hiring standards and, in many instances, the
only requirements were that the teacher be able to read, write, do arithmetic,
and be able to defeat the strongest boy in school in a fistfight. Consequently,
women usually were hired to teach only during the summer when the biggest
boys were working in the fields and only small children were in school. Low
standards were matched by low salaries, and in the late 1880s, even a wealthy
community such as Saginaw paid its male teachers a meager $7 a week and
females only $4.

Lack of standards brought many totally unqualified persons into the class-
room, and often physical cruelty was the result. in Clare, for example, a teacher
was fired in 1878 for beating a boy about the head so severely that the lad’s
eardrums burst and bled. After being removed, the man found another teaching
position almost immediately in a nearby town that admired his “physical
approach” to learning. other instances of excessive punishment included
breaking a student’s leg with a rod and giving fifty lashes for throwing snow-
balls during recess. during the 1870s and 1880s teachers maintained, however,
that such force was necessary because students were bringing loaded revolvers,
knives, and dynamite caps to school. A popular saying of the time was “i’m
going to fill your head with lead,” and many students seemed to want to take a
literal interpretation of that warning. in any case, savage abuse was common in
nearly all schools during the late nineteenth century.

Even though it was common knowledge that many public schoolteachers
were incompetent, the state legislature did not pass a law requiring that teach-
ers needed at least one year of training until 1925. As late as 1928, anyone with
three years’ experience could receive a lifetime teaching certificate from the
state. Quality of instruction was so poor in the public schools that in some areas
of the state parents chose to send their children to federally supported indian
schools which paid teachers higher salaries and demanded much more rigor-
ous qualifications to be hired.


despite their lack of professional competence, in 1852 Michigan teachers
formed a union. the Michigan State teachers’ Association, which became the
Michigan Education Association, lobbied for better financing of schools and
increased salaries for teachers. Membership grew slowly, however, and it was
not until the early 1900s that more than 1 percent of the state’s teachers joined
the union.

Student attendance was irregular. Parents considered their children as a
source of cheap labor, and school was a luxury that could not be afforded dur-
ing planting and harvesting seasons. to avoid this problem, schools generally
opened in mid-october, after the harvest, and closed in late March, before
planting. this schedule gave the district enough flexibility to miss a few weeks
and still be open the three months necessary to be eligible for state aid. A com-
pulsory attendance law was not passed until 1871, and then it only required
children between the ages of eight and fourteen to attend school for at least
twelve weeks. in 1883 the length of attendance was increased to sixteen weeks,
but the law was rarely enforced. Finally, in 1905, the legislature passed an act
requiring all children between the ages of seven and sixteen to attend school for
a full nine-month academic year, and funds were allocated for districts to hire
truant officers to enforce the law.

Higher Education

the first plan for higher education in Michigan came in 1817 when territorial
Judge Augustus Woodward drafted a grandiose scheme for a Catholepistemiad,
or University of Michigania. Woodward had previously written a book in which
he categorized all human knowledge into thirteen areas and thus he proposed
a college with a professorship in each of those subjects. the professors and head
of the university were also to “establish colleges, academies, libraries, museums,
atheneums, botanic gardens, laboratories, and other useful literary and scien-
tific institutions.” Woodward’s idea was not merely to create a college but rather
to establish an outline for a “complete system of education extending from the
lowest grade of primary school to the highest level of college,” supported by
a 15 percent increase in public taxation, lotteries, and tuition payments.
Unfortunately, Governor Lewis Cass was unable to find thirteen qualified men
to fill the professorships. Finally, Reverends John Monteith and Gabriel Richard
were hired to run the single-building institution, with the former responsible
for seven subjects and the latter six.

the university was a disaster. it was too expensive for the struggling territory
to support, and its name elicited derisive laughter. Even Cass could not

Development of Intellectual Maturity 165

pronounce its title and referred to it as the “Cathole-what’s-its-name.” in 1821
territorial officials repealed the law providing for the Catholepistemiad and
then empowered twenty-one trustees to “establish colleges, academies, and to
inspect them, to make laws for the government; to appoint all members of the
teaching body, fix their salaries, discharge them if thought best; and to control
funds.” however, no action was taken.

in 1837, Superintendent Pierce urged the state legislature to create a
university, with branch campuses throughout the state, that would be con-
trolled by a Board of Regents. in March of that year, the legislature passed a bill
establishing the University of Michigan, that was to have three departments:
law, medicine, and literature, science, and the arts. As Pierce had suggested, a
Board of Regents was appointed and given power to control the university and
create nondegree-granting branch universities. the legislature also provided
for the eventual founding of departments of agriculture and teacher educa-
tion, as well as a school for female education whenever sufficient funds were

the University of Michigan opened in 1841 with two professors, one in
mathematics and the other in language, and six students. Branch campuses
were created at Pontiac, Monroe, Kalamazoo, detroit, niles, White Pigeon,
tecumseh, and Romeo, but by 1846 financial support had been withdrawn and
all were closed.

during its first years in existence, the University of Michigan was beset by
problems. the medical school did not open until 1850 and the law school until
1859. Angry citizens complained about fraternities on campus and immorality
caused by nonministerial faculty. Churches lobbied for a religiously oriented
university and, as a compromise, the Board of Regents, who were badly split on
the issue, agreed to choose future faculty both for their academic qualifications
and religious affiliations. dissension continued, and only the passage of a new
constitution in 1850, which provided for an elected Board of Regents with
complete control over the university and its fiscal policy, saved the institution
from ruin.

the appointment of henry tappan as president in 1852 gave the University
of Michigan a great boost. A Presbyterian minister from new York and a distin-
guished scholar, tappan proved to be the leader who set the university on the
road to becoming “the harvard of the West.” Like Crary and Pierce, tappan
was an enthusiastic admirer of German universities which stressed scholarship
and science. the new president announced that he intended to establish a grad-
uate program and hire faculty solely on their academic credentials. immediately
criticism was leveled at tappan. Religious groups attacked him for his hiring
practices; farmers were incensed at his refusal to start a school of agriculture;


and supporters of vocational education claimed that he was an “elitist” because
of his emphasis on science and classical subjects. When prohibitionists, aboli-
tionists, and women’s rights advocates joined the anti-tappan forces, the
regents removed him in 1863, but his leadership had put the university on solid

not all Michigan residents favored the University of Michigan’s dominance
in higher education. Church-supported schools began in Michigan in 1833
with the opening of Kalamazoo College, and within twenty-five years colleges
had been established at Adrian, Albion, olivet, and hillsdale. Each was ham-
pered, however, by a state law which gave the University of Michigan a monop-
oly in granting degrees. Furthermore, as long as the democrats were in power,
tappan, a leader in that party, could convince the legislature that his university
would suffer severe enrollment declines if other universities were allowed to
grant degrees. When the Republicans gained control in 1855, they fulfilled a
campaign pledge and passed a general college bill that established specifica-
tions by which colleges could be created and issue diplomas. Following the pas-
sage of this law, church-supported colleges flourished, and in 1980 there were
over thirty such institutions in Michigan.

Republicans delivered another campaign promise in 1855 by passing a law
authorizing the establishment of an agricultural college to be located within ten
miles of Lansing. in May 1857, Michigan Agricultural College opened with
eighty-one students, each of whom was required to spend four hours a day
working on the college farm in addition to his classroom studies. in 1862,
Congress passed the Morrill Act which authorized grants of public land to
states for the purpose of supporting the education of farmers and mechanics.

Figure 11.4 Michigan Agricultural College (Michigan State University), East Lansing,
c. 1912. Library of Congress, Washington, d.C., Control #2007662299.

Development of Intellectual Maturity 167

Michigan received 240,000 acres under this act and the funds derived from the
sale of the land assured the financial stability of the nation’s “pioneer land grant
college,” which is today Michigan State University.

Vocational and technical colleges began in Michigan during the late 1800s.
the Michigan School of Mines, now Michigan technological University,
opened in 1885; the detroit institute of technology began in 1909; and
General Motors institute in Flint, now Kettering University, was created in
1916. the first normal or teacher training school west of the Allegheny Moun-
tains was started at Ypsilanti in 1852 and by 1903 normal schools had been
opened at Ann Arbor, Mt. Pleasant (Central Michigan University), Kalamazoo
(Western Michigan University), and Marquette (northern Michigan

Women’s Education

Both public and private schools in Michigan generally were coeducational,
although many segregated women into a “female department.” Educational
leaders urged coeducational schools on all levels, but voters saw little need for
it above primary grades since it was believed that females did not require higher
education to do “women’s work” at home.

Prior to 1855 five private female seminaries had been created in the state.
hoping to receive funding from the new Republican legislature, new schools for
women were opened in Lansing and Marshall. When no financial assistance was
given, the Marshall school closed in 1859 and the Lansing seminary shut down
in 1871, later selling its buildings to the State School for the Blind. Church schools
continued to operate “female colleges” or “female departments,” and several even
awarded the degree of “Mistress of Arts.” After the Civil War, coeducational
higher learning finally triumphed and, in 1870, both the University of Michigan
and Michigan Agricultural College admitted women.

Special Education

the 1850 state constitution said that “institutions for the benefit of those
inhabitants who are deaf, dumb, blind, or insane shall always be fostered and
supported.” Following the direction of the constitution, in 1854 the legislature
provided for the establishment of an institute in Flint for the education of the
deaf, dumb, and blind. in 1879 a separate school for the blind was founded at


to care for delinquent children, a Boys Vocational School was begun at
Lansing in 1855 and a similar school for girls was created in 1879 in Adrian.
From 1873 until 1935 a home at Coldwater was operated to support orphans
and children of poor parents. in 1936 it was converted into a home for mentally
disabled children.

Prior to 1949, relatively few school districts held classes for the mentally
handicapped. A partial state reimbursement program for school districts was
instituted in 1949, and five years later the legislature passed a law allowing
counties to levy special taxes for the implementation of handicapped children’s
programs. Although not totally solving the problem of educating the mentally
handicapped, this marked a huge stride forward.

Recent Educational Advances

At present there are fifteen state-supported colleges and universities, and over
200,000 students attend private and parochial schools in the state. Regional
universities, such as the University of Michigan at Flint and dearborn, are
growing in popularity, as are the state’s twenty-eight community colleges. Adult
education programs are drawing increasing numbers of participants. Without
question, Michigan is maintaining its position as a leader in educational

As proof of its continuing innovative spirit, Michigan has been in the fore-
front of two controversial programs. in 1993, under the urging of Republican
Governor John Engler, the legislature established charter schools as another
means for educating Michigan’s students. these schools receive public funding
from the state on a per student basis, but they do not get state aid for facilities
and cannot levy taxes or bonds. in 1994, there were eight charter schools in the
state, and by 2006, the number had reached 230, with 100,000 students enrolled.
Supporters of these schools claim that they offer an educational alternative for
children attending failing public schools, as well as providing a stimulus for
public schools to improve their performance. opponents argue that charter
schools merely drain money from public schools. A study by the Great Lakes
Center for Education Research and Practice found that in the 2006–07 aca-
demic year, nearly half of Michigan’s charter schools were performing better
than the public schools in their surrounding areas, which led the head of the
Michigan Association of Public School Academies to state that charter schools
should be permitted to expand in the state.

the second innovation was the creation of the Michigan Virtual University
to train students and workers through online computer courses. Governor

Development of Intellectual Maturity 169

Engler, who envisioned the virtual university as being the cornerstone of his
administration’s strategy to make Michigan a major high-technology state,
funded the concept with money raised from fees paid into the Michigan
Renaissance Fund by American indian gambling casinos. Beginning with the
Michigan Virtual Automotive College in 1996, Governor Engler hoped eventu-
ally to have a Virtual information technology College, as well as virtual col-
leges offering degrees in teacher education, tourism, aviation, and accounting.
traditional colleges, however, feared that on-campus programs would be
diminished, and that the quality of higher education in Michigan would suffer
because of the lack of direct classroom contact between professors and

in the case of both charter schools and virtual universities, the battle over
their effectiveness will rage well into the twenty-first century. one thing is cer-
tain, and it is that the outcome of those battles will determine the future of
public education in Michigan for decades to come.

Social and Cultural Enrichment

Even the earliest pioneers agreed that not all intellectual growth was gained in
school. Consequently, various aspects of cultural development were fostered.
For example, interest in the theater existed in detroit as early as 1816 when
amateur theatricals were presented by army officers. Although women did not
perform in the plays, they painted scenery and made stage properties. in 1830
a barn was converted for theater use. during the Civil War a theater was built,
but it burned in 1867; however, in that same year the detroit opera house was
finished. From 1850 to the turn of the century, German theaters operated in
detroit, presenting plays by such authors as William Shakespeare, Frederich
Schiller, and heinrich Laube. outstate, many ornate opera houses were con-
structed, and as prosperity reached the mining districts of the western upper
peninsula, opera houses, some of which seated over a thousand people, were
erected at Calumet, houghton, hancock, Lake Linden, and Laurium. during
the last decades of the nineteenth century, theaters also housed speakers on the
Chautauqua circuit.

in the area of painting, the first “artist of record” in Michigan was
James o. Lewis, who did portraits of Father Gabriel Richard and Lewis Cass.
Lewis was commercially unsuccessful and had to resort to engraving and die
making to support himself. t.W.o.P. (Alphabet) Burnham, of whom little is
known, painted the famous picture of the state election of 1837, which was
done “in the satirical fashion of hogarth,” and now may be seen in the detroit


institute of Art. J. M. Stanley and Alvah Bradish were two other noteworthy
portrait painters before the Civil War, while in the postwar era Robert hopkin,
William B. Conely, and Geri Melchers gained fame. in 1875, detroit could
boast of the founding of the detroit Art Association, whose purpose was “to
provide exhibitions of works of art and as soon as practicable to establish a
permanent Gallery of Paintings and Sculpture in this city and to increase the
knowledge and enjoyment by such means as may be deemed expedient.”
thirteen years later the detroit Museum of Art was opened, and, in 1927, a
$4-million structure was completed on Woodward Avenue to house the collec-
tion that was now known as the detroit institute of Art.

Architecture also played a role in the state’s cultural development. during
the 1830s and 1840s, the Greek Revival style was popular, and Marshall became
the “architectural capital of Michigan.” the best example of Greek Revival
found in that city is the dr. Andrew L. hays house, but the entire city is rich in
architectural interest. Michigan has given the world three great architects:
Albert Kahn, the greatest factory architect in history, who designed the General
Motors Building in 1920, and who was also responsible for the Clements
Library and hill Auditorium on the campus of the University of Michigan; Eliel
Saarinen, a Finnish immigrant, who designed the Cranbrook School and
institute of Science, and the Kingswood School for Girls; and Eero Saarinen,
Eliel’s son, who designed the dulles Airport in Washington, d.C., the Columbia
Broadcasting System Building in new York, and the John deere Building at
Moline, illinois.

in the area of literature, a local commentator wrote in 1939 that an “upper
case author” was as “rare as a skunk bear” in Michigan, and concluded that
Michiganians were “better at building automobiles that are works of art than we
are at fashioning great sonnets, we make better furniture than novels, we con-
coct better breakfast foods than drama.” this alleged lack of great authors may
result from problems of definition and categorization. does birth alone qualify
a state to claim an author as its own? if so, Edna Ferber, who was born in
Kalamazoo, and Ring Lardner, who lived in niles as a youth, could be consid-
ered “Michigan authors.” if authors are claimed by a state simply because they
used the state as the location for their works, then Michigan can be proud of
James Fenimore Cooper, who set his Oak Openings in Kalamazoo; Washington
irving, whose Astoria reflected the Michigan fur trade; henry Wadsworth
Longfellow, whose “hiawatha” immortalized the upper peninsula; and Ernest
hemingway, whose Torrents of Spring concerned workers at a Petoskey pump
factory. Unfortunately for Michigan, however, fifteen years of residence is gen-
erally regarded as the “rule of thumb” for claiming authors as “one’s own.”

Development of Intellectual Maturity 171

While none of Michigan’s native sons or daughters has been recognized as a
literary giant, many have done some excellent work. in the nineteenth century
some of the best Michigan novels included Caroline Kirkland, A New Home, a
tale of pioneer life in Livingston County; Major John Richardson, Wacousta
and Matilda Montgomery, which used Pontiac’s uprising and the War of 1812,
respectively, as historical backdrops; and Constance Fenimore Woolson, Anne,
a story of Civil War Mackinac.

Lumbering activities have been the theme for several volumes, such as
Stewart Edward White, River Men and Blazed Trail; Eugene thwing, The Red
Keggers and Man from Red Keg; and harold titus, Timber. Rural life is realisti-
cally depicted in G. d. Eaton, Backfurrow, which is considered by some critics
to be a “masterpiece among Michigan novels.”

Michigan’s most prolific writer was James Curwood of owosso. Several of his
novels, most notably Courage of Captain Plum and Green Timber, are set in

Figure 11.5 one of the world’s premier industrial architects, Albert Kahn is responsi-
ble for changing the urban landscape of the Motor City. Courtesy of the detroit
historical Society.


Michigan. While critics say that his plots were predictable and the characters
stereotyped, his works were commercially successful and several were made
into movies.

in more recent times, Michigan’s finest authors are harriette Arnow, who
wrote The Dollmaker, a poignant tale of a Kentucky family in wartime detroit;
Michigan Supreme Court Justice John Voelker, who, under the pen name
Robert traver, wrote such highly popular novels as Small Town D.A., Troubled
Shooter, and Anatomy of a Murder; and Larry Smith and Jim harrison, whose
The Original and Wolf, respectively, deal with the changes caused by com-
mercialized exploitation of the wilderness.

While tales of ships and shipwrecks on the Great Lakes have been told by
many authors, most notably dana thomas Bowen and Walter havighurst, no
one has captured the stories with as much grace and poignancy as Jim Clary of
St. Clair, the foremost maritime artist of the Great Lakes. during the past three
decades, Clary has produced more than 350 paintings, written two books on
Great Lakes ships and shipwrecks, participated in an early expedition to

Figure 11.6 the General Motors headquarters in detroit was the second largest office
building in the world when it was completed in 1922. Courtesy of the detroit historical

Development of Intellectual Maturity 173

discover the Titanic, and had his most recent book, The Last True Story of the
Titanic, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Visitors to his gallery in downtown Port
huron can relive, through his paintings, prints, and books, the history and
drama of life on the Great Lakes.

Michigan has never been blessed with a poet of the stature of a Carl Sandburg
or Robert Frost, but the state can claim at least three famous versifiers. Will
Carleton gained fame as “the Poet Laureate of Michigan” for his “over the hill
to the Poor house.” his writings on rural life earned him favorable comparison
with indiana’s James Whitcomb Riley. Edgar Guest, whose homely writing
earned him the title of “the Poet of Mother, home, and heaven,” was revered
by thousands of readers during the early and mid-twentieth century. While not
as popularly acclaimed as Guest and Carleton, perhaps Michigan’s most influ-
ential poet was theodore Roethke of Saginaw, who won a Pulitzer Prize and a
national Book Award during his career. his most noted work, “My Papa’s
Waltz,” gained him worldwide praise.

Michigan has given the nation more than its share of notable persons in the
entertainment industries. Among the more recognizable Michigan-born per-
sonalities are comedians tim Allen, david Allen Grier, tim Meadows, Gilda
Radner, Andy Richter, Sinbad, david Spade, danny thomas and Lily tomlin;
singers Sonny Bono, Alice Cooper, Mark Farner, Glenn Frey, Madonna, ted
nugent, iggy Pop, della Reese, Smokey Robinson, Kid Rock, Bob Seger, and
Stevie Wonder; actors Justin Bartha, Kristen Bell, Selma Blair, timothy
Busfield, dave Coulier, Pam dawber, dann Florek, Max Gail, Lee Majors, Ed
McMahon, harry Morgan, George Peppard, terry o’Quinn, Steven Seagal,
tom Selleck, tom Skerritt, tom Sizemore, Courtney B. Vance, and Robert
Wagner. Special recognition for their contributions to their home state must
be awarded to actor/comedian Jeff daniels and producer/director Michael
Moore. in the 1990s, daniels founded the Purple Rose theatre in Chelsea to
bring high-quality theatrical performances, usually reserved for residents of
major metropolitan areas, to suburban audiences. Moore, in 2005, established
the traverse City Film Festival, which in its second year sold more than 72,000
tickets and brought approximately $5 million into the traverse City

Michigan’s residents were also very much interested in music, with nearly
every city of any size having a town band. our heritage of music appreciation is
today carried forward by excellent music programs in high schools and colleges
and through the efforts of local symphonies. the interlochen Music Camp,
founded in 1927 by Joseph Maddy, has achieved national prominence and has
placed Michigan firmly on the world’s “musical map.”


in education, literature, and the arts, Michigan has always been active.
Culture and mental stimulation have always been an integral part of the state’s
growth and have brought the state respect and admiration throughout the

For Further Reading

the growth of public education is discussed in George L. Jackson, The Development
of State Control of Public Instruction in Michigan (Lansing: Michigan historical
Commission, 1926) and Martha Bigelow, Michigan: Pioneer in Education (Ann
Arbor: Bulletin no. 7: Michigan historical Collections, University of Michigan,
1955). A comprehensive treatment is provided by four volumes in the Munson
history Fund “history of Education in Michigan,” which include Floyd R. dain,
Education in the Wilderness (Lansing: Michigan historical Commission, 1968);
Charles R. Starring and James o. Knauss, The Michigan Search for Educational
Standards (Lansing: Michigan historical Commission, 1969); donald W. disbrow,
Schools for an Urban Society (Lansing: Michigan historical Commission, 1968); and
Willis F. dunbar, The Michigan Record in Higher Education (detroit: Wayne State
University, 1963).

Cultural and social activities are detailed in the following articles from Michigan
History: J. B. deise, “Entertainment in Early detroit,” XXX (1946); Mark o. Kisterl, “the
German theatre in detroit,” XLVii (1963); Melvin h. Miller, “the Chautauqua in
Lansing,” XL (1956); Clyde h. Burroughs, “Painting and Sculpture in Michigan,” XX
(1936); and Willis F. dunbar, “the opera house as a Social institution,” XXVii (1943).

Useful articles on Michigan literature and architecture include: Arnold Mulder,
“Authors and Wolverines,” Saturday Review of Literature (March 4, 1939); Francis X.
Scannell, “the novelist and Michigan,” Detroit Historical Society Bulletin, XXi (1964);
douglas noverr, “new dimensions in Recent Michigan Fiction,” Midwestern
Miscellany no. 2 (1974); and Wayne Andrews, Architecture in Michigan (detroit:
Wayne State University Press, 1967). the best biography of Roethke is Allan Seager,
The Glass House (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991). An interesting
compilation of Michigan authors is dave dempsey and Jack dempsey, Ink Trails:
Michigan’s Famous and Forgotten Authors (East Lansing: Michigan State University
Press, 2012).

For a glimpse into Michigan’s maritime history see Walter havighurst, The Long Ships
Passing (new York: the MacMillan Company, 1944), and two volumes by dana thomas
Bowen, Memories of the Lakes (daytona Beach: dana thomas Bowen, 1946) and
Shipwrecks of the Lakes (daytona Beach: dana thomas Bowen, 1952). Jim Clary has
authored Ladies of the Lakes I and Ladies of the Lakes II (West Bloomfield: Altwerger and
Mandel Publishing, 1989 and 1992). Clary’s art is discussed extensively in Sheryl James,
“Ship to Shore,” Michigan History (november–december 1998).

Development of Intellectual Maturity 175

other more recent contributions recounting Michigan’s cultural history include
Clarence A. Andrews, Michigan in Literature (detroit: Wayne State University Press,
1992); Jerry herron, After Culture: Detroit and the Humiliation of History (detroit:
Wayne State University Press, 1993); Larry B. Massie, From Frontier Folk to Factory
Smoke: Michigan’s First Century of Historical Fiction (Avery Color Studios, 1987); and
Judith A. Eldridge, James Oliver Curwood: God’s Country and the Man (Bowling Green:
Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1993).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Wood and Rails

during the years 1860–1900, Michigan’s commercial development was domi-
nated by the sawing, harvesting, milling, and marketing of timber. tens of
thousands of men were employed in this enterprise, while hundreds more,
mostly recent emigrants from new England, used their financial acumen to
amass fortunes as “lumber barons.” these wealthy men then utilized their
money to influence the state’s politicians and judges. Because lumbering was
so critical to Michigan, its politicians did everything in their power to protect
it. When a bill to aid the victims of the great Chicago fire was introduced in
the house of Representatives in March 1872, Representative omar d. Conger,
of Port huron, threatened to defeat it by having it recommitted to his lumber-
oriented Committee on Commerce unless a provision allowing Canadian
lumber to enter the United States duty free was deleted. the congressman
claimed that, as written, the bill would “be injurious to the lumbermen of
Michigan and the laboring people of Michigan,” and that if Chicago were to
be reconstructed, it would be with timber purchased from Michigan and
Wisconsin; if not, Conger assured his colleagues that Chicago would “remain
in ashes throughout eternity.” the offensive section was then removed and
the relief bill passed. Seemingly limitless strength rested with lumbermen
because of their wealth.


Wood and Rails 177

Finding the Timber

Even though southern Michigan was covered with lush stands of sugar maple,
beech, ash, oak, and hickory, the region was virtually ignored by lumbermen
because hardwood trees had a limited market value. demand was for the
creamy white cork pine and norway pine found in abundance in central and
northern Michigan. Clearing of these pine forests, whose lumber was used
primarily for home building and home furnishings, occurred at the rate of
33,000 acres per year during the last four decades of the nineteenth century. By
1882, the Saginaw Valley had contributed over one half of the 8 billion board
feet of white pine cut throughout the entire old northwest. Unfortunately,
indiscriminate cutting, lack of reforestation, and devastating conflagrations
caused by careless milling procedures nearly made the stately white pine
extinct. today a small number are preserved in the hartwick Pines State Park
near Gaylord to serve as a reminder of Michigan’s natural beauty before the
coming of avaricious lumbermen.

to find the location of the best timber, lumbermen hired “pine scouts” or
“timber cruisers” to walk the forests and mark on maps the sites of stands of
choice trees. Whenever possible, indians were employed for this task because of
their intimate knowledge of the woodlands. having found the best sites, the
scouts then estimated the probable lumber yield in board feet (one board foot
equals a board one foot square and one inch thick), and reported on the prox-
imity of the timber stand to waterways by which the cut logs could be floated to
mills. Lumbermen paid their scouts with one third of the timber on the prop-
erty selected, thereby assuring that the men would select the sites that would
result in the largest monetary return. After receiving the scouting reports, lum-
bermen filed claims at the nearest Government Land office and purchased the
land for $1.25 per acre.

occasionally a timber scout invested his returns in the lumbering business
and became a “baron” himself. david Ward of Port huron began his career as a
surveyor and “land looker” for lumbermen. in the early 1850s, he started to
purchase timber lands in Michigan and Wisconsin, and, by the time of his
death in 1900, he was proud to be known as “the richest man in Michigan,” with
an estate valued at over $10 million.

Competition was fierce, and lumbermen went to great lengths to acquire
heavily timbered lands, especially in the Saginaw Valley region which pos-
sessed both the best white pine and waterways. A major obstacle, however, was
that much of the choicest land was held by indians either as reservations or
homesteads. Because until 1870 the federal government refused to permit
indians to sell any timber on their property, lumbermen had to seize the trees


illegally. Generally, simple theft was utilized; lumbermen entered reservations,
cut trees, and hauled them away. in 1871, henry W. Sage, one of the state’s fore-
most lumber barons, ordered flagrant cutting of timber on the isabella indian
Reservation near Mt. Pleasant. After receiving numerous indian complaints,
the government sent an agent to investigate. he discovered that Sage had
cleared over 10,000 acres and had been aided in this criminal act by former

Figure 12.1 Before large numbers of whites arrived in Michigan, the region was
covered by forests. Base map data source from RS&GiS, Michigan State University

Wood and Rails 179

Congressman John F. driggs, of Saginaw. no prosecutions were ever made,
however, since it would have been impossible to find a judge in Michigan who
would rule against a man such as Sage. Practices such as this were so common
that during the years 1860–80 over 1 million board feet of timber, with a mini-
mum value of $36 million, was stolen from indian reservations.

When indian land was held as homesteads, capable of being purchased,
unscrupulous speculators and “timber sharks” used every available means to
acquire it. Cheap sewing machines and parlor organs, which missionaries and
teachers had taught indians to accept as symbols of civilization, were sold with
land mortgages taken as collateral. When indians failed to meet payment dead-
lines, the goods were repossessed and the land seized as payment. Some specu-
lators induced indians to borrow $50 or $100 to improve their property.
Mortgages served as collateral, and repayment dates were set for winter months
when indians were least likely to be able to meet payments. if payment was
made, indians still lost their land, for whites showed them a clause in the

Figure 12.2 during the 1887 cutting season this teamster and his horse-drawn sled
would transport as much as 100,000 pounds of sixteen-foot logs at one time. Courtesy
of Edwards hines Lumber Company.


contract stating that they were obligated to pay a large attorney’s fee for han-
dling the arrangements. Another method used in cheating indians was to lend
drunken indians money and demand repayment, with interest, the following
day. Creditors threatened imprisonment for indians refusing to sell their prop-
erty to cover the debt. Widows with dependent children were special targets for
swindlers. A favorite ploy was to purchase timber from widows and have them
sign what was claimed to be a receipt but was actually a deed. A similar trick
was for agents of lumbermen to go among starving indians in winter, claiming
to be representatives of charities, and offering them $5 to purchase food; in
return, indians, who were unable to read, signed receipts which were actually
deeds to their land. occasionally, physical violence would be used to force
recalcitrant indians to sell their land, and men were hired to burn indian houses
and bludgeon the owners with clubs and iron rods.

two of the major land frauds in the state involved prominent residents of
Saginaw—Arthur hill and Ezra Rust. in 1872, hill ordered the burglary of a
safe containing the Michigan indian Agent’s plat maps showing exact locations
of property to be granted as homesteads to indians. he copied the maps, sent
scouts to examine the timber on each site, and purchased the best from unwit-
ting indian owners, who had never seen their new land, for a minimum price,
much below its market value. the agent brought suit against hill for stealing
government documents, but despite testimony against the lumberman by his
hired thieves, hill was given only a reprimand by a judge who did not wish to
earn the wrath of the powerful lumbering community.

in 1864, Ezra Rust illegally gained control of 15,000 acres of choice isabella
County pine land, which had been reserved for indian ownership, by bribing
two indians to buy it and then immediately sell it to him. indians protested the
“Rust Purchase” for six years without success. then, in 1870, two Saginaw lum-
bermen, George F. Williams and timothy Jerome, whose brother, david, was a
state senator and later became a member of the Board of indian Commissioners
and governor of Michigan, joined Reverend George Bradley, the missionary at
the isabella indian Reservation, in a scheme to further defraud indians. the
lumbermen instructed Bradley to meet with the indians and announce that
Jerome and Williams would prosecute Rust and restore indian property, free of
cost, if the indians would sign a contract authorizing the action. the chiefs
asked Bradley to read the contract to them but he refused. they were eager,
however, to have their land returned, and knowing that Bradley was a “minister
of God” they did not think that he would do anything wrong and signed the
agreement. Subsequently they discovered that they had agreed to allow Jerome
and Williams to choose land for them on the restored property, to prohibit all
indian improvements on these selections for ten years, and to retain exclusive

Wood and Rails 181

timber privileges during this ten-year period. the indian agent notified the
government that this contract was made through deception, and, after four
years of litigation, it was nullified. Unfortunately, as in so many cases, nearly all
the valuable timber was removed before a court decision was reached. Michigan
was truly a state run by lumbermen for lumbermen.

Cutting and Milling

once the timber was acquired it had to be cut and milled. to do the cutting,
lumberjacks, or “shanty boys” as they called themselves, were hired. While men
of all nationalities were employed, most woodsmen were either irish, French
Canadien, American indian, or plain Yankee farm boys.

despite Paul Bunyan tales and movie caricatures, shanty boys were neither
happy and carefree nor healthy and robust. their life was rigorous, dangerous,
and tedious. Every morning, except Sunday, they rose at 3:30 and breakfasted
on pancakes, steak, potatoes, and coffee. At five o’clock, they began work. At
noon, a lunch of meat, potatoes, vegetables, and pie was delivered to them. the
meal was taken to the men so that a minimum of working time would be lost.
Work continued until sundown, when the men returned to camp for a dinner
of roast beef or pork, gravy, potatoes, vegetables, fresh bread, and pie. After a
brief period of socializing, bunkhouse lights were out by nine o’clock.

Living conditions were not nearly so good as the food. Usually a camp had a
single bunkhouse to hold sixty to one hundred men. Windowless and heated by
a stove, the bunkhouse was a gloomy, poorly ventilated, depressing building.
Bunks consisted of mattresses of branches and hay sacks for pillows. A com-
mon complaint was that every man had bedbugs for his bunkmate. Rules were
strict, and the use of alcohol was forbidden. often it seemed that tobacco and
fist fighting were the only permissible forms of relaxation. in fact, fighting
became a way of life in logging camps, and, as the cutting season grew longer,
tempers became shorter and any minor incident could result in a brawl.
Moreover, the work of a shanty boy was conducive to illness and injury. For
example, in 1884–85, approximately 40,000 men were working in Michigan
forests. of this number, nearly 3,000 were hurt in accidents, and a like number
were sick for extended periods. Considering the nature of their work, however,
perhaps it is amazing that the numbers were so low.

For this privilege of working long hours in a dangerous job, and living in
deplorable conditions, a shanty boy received $20 to $28 per month, but wages
were not paid until all the logs had been sold the following spring. Lack of ready
money was not a hardship, however, as all room and board was furnished for


the men, and had they been paid sooner, they merely would have gambled their
wages away.

Generally lumbering operations took place during September through
March, and the snowier the winter the better it was for logging. Shanty boys
designated as “choppers” and “sawyers” used felling axes and, in later years,
seven-foot crosscut saws to fell trees and cut them into sixteen-foot lengths;
then “trimmers” and “swampers” lopped off all branches. the logs were then
dragged by men called “skidders” to a timber trail where “loaders” put them on
either a “Big Wheel” cart or horse-drawn sled. to facilitate transporting logs in
winter, lumber companies constructed roads to the nearest river and then
waited for a heavy snowfall. When snow covered the road, a sled, dubbed “the
sprinkler,” was put into action. this sled, which carried a huge water tank with
plugs on each side, traversed the road, dousing it with water to create a thick
layer of ice. After several applications of water, the icy path permitted a sled
carrying fifty tons of logs to be drawn effortlessly by two horses. if snowfall in
the cutting area was not heavy, men were sent to neighboring regions to bring
back wagonloads of snow to spread on the roadway. Sand was placed on steep
grades to slow the loaded sleds, but often the load shifted forward, crushing
both the teamster and horses.

When the logs arrived at the riverbank, they were placed at seven-mile inter-
vals in piles twenty to thirty feet in height and then branded. Marking was criti-
cal because every company in the area floated its logs to mills together, and
company identification was possible only by branding. over 3,500 log marks
were registered in Michigan, but even branding did not eliminate all problems.
Logs were marked on one end with a hot iron; however, “log rustlers” often
came to the riverbank and altered brands to aid either themselves or another
company. if the brand could not be altered easily, the end of the log was sawed
off and a new mark embedded. Finally, companies hired inspectors to patrol
the riverbanks and apprehend thieves.

in April, when the frozen rivers thawed, all the logs were rolled into the
water, and the log drive began. thousands of spectators lined the shores to view
the annual spectacle of rivers literally jammed from bank to bank with logs.
Even after railroads made logging operations practical in all seasons and
allowed for mill constructions at sites other than mouths of rivers, many com-
panies continued to use river drives. in fact, this practice was not discontinued
until 1911.

Sawmills had been operating in Michigan since 1805 at detroit and 1822 at
Sault Ste. Marie, but these early mills cut timber for home building rather than
commercial sale. once lumbering became a major industry, mills sprang up in
nearly every town located at the mouth of a river. Main lumbering centers were

Wood and Rails 183

Menominee in the upper peninsula and Saginaw, Bay City, Alpena, Ludington,
Port huron, Grand haven, traverse City, Muskegon, and Petoskey in the lower
peninsula. Large mills were highly mechanized, two-story structures which
used a V-trough with a forked chain conveyor belt to lift logs from the river to
the second-story cutting room. there, logs were sawed into boards sixteen feet
in length and one inch thick. Conveyor belts then piled the boards. nothing
was wasted at the mills, as even sawdust was kept and used to fuel machinery.
not all mills were large, however, and for every mill in Michigan that cut more
than 10 million board feet annually, there were fifty or sixty cutting less than
that number.


Without question, fire was the greatest threat facing lumbermen, and unfortu-
nately it occurred with distressing regularity. twice, however, major blazes dev-
astated large portions of the state. on october 8, 1871, the same day that
Chicago began burning, fires started along the western Michigan shoreline and
quickly spread across the state to Lake huron. in terms of monetary loss and

Figure 12.3 “First train West of the Alleghenies,” Michigan’s first railroad, the Erie
and Kalamazoo, had a wood-burning engine and a converted stagecoach serving as a
passenger car. Courtesy of Willard Library.


human suffering, Michigan’s fires were far more costly than the Chicago confla-
gration. the town of holland was destroyed; students at Michigan Agricultural
College struggled bravely to save Lansing from being engulfed in flames; and in
the thumb district, 90 percent of the homes were leveled, while twenty-three
townships were severely burned and another eighteen suffered partial burning.
Lumbermen defensively claimed that gale-force winds had carried sparks from
Chicago across Lake Michigan to the Michigan shore, but in truth the fires in
Michigan were a result of careless milling and logging that caused sparks to
ignite tinder-dry forests.

ten years later, the thumb was again ravaged by fire. huron, tuscola, Sanilac,
and Lapeer counties were swept by flames so intense that potatoes and onions
were roasted in the ground and fish boiled in the rivers. one hundred twenty-
seven people lost their lives from either the fire or the typhoid epidemic that
followed, and the monetary loss caused by destruction of crops and timber
exceeded $2 million. Another noteworthy feature of this fire was that the State
Relief Committee, organized in Port huron by Senator Conger, requested the
newly formed American Red Cross, headed by Conger’s close friend Clara
Barton, to aid Michigan’s disaster victims. the Red Cross, whose effectiveness
had never been tested, immediately responded and proved its worth by fur-
nishing food and clothing to ease the suffering of the needy.

Nature or Money

despite the effects of these fires, as late as 1900, Michigan was still the nation’s
leading pine producer. Between the years 1860 and 1900, Michigan gave forth
over 200 billion board feet of timber. Put in other terms, this meant that over
1 billion of the state’s trees had been cut. historians of the lumber industry note
that this represented enough lumber to floor the entire state of Michigan with
pine boards one inch thick and still have enough remaining to cover Rhode
island or to construct fifty plank roads, sixteen feet wide and one inch thick,
from new York to San Francisco. More significant, perhaps, is that, in terms of
monetary value, Michigan’s “green gold” was worth over $1 billion more than
all the “yellow gold” mined in California.

Lumbering had both a negative and positive impact on Michigan. negative
factors centered around the environment. Forests were destroyed, and their
elimination forced animals to leave their native homes. thousands of other
animals were slain by forest fires, while mill pollution fouled the waters and
killed countless numbers of fish. Fires scorched the earth so badly that in some
areas it could not be farmed for years. the environmental balance clearly was

Wood and Rails 185

disrupted by the lumber industry. Positive factors, on the other hand, centered
around economics. the lumber industry induced many new settlers to enter
the state, created employment for thousands, offered farmers new markets in
which to sell their crops, built dams, roads, and railroads, and fostered such
lucrative profits that excess capital could be invested in other developing
industries, such as railways. the unanswerable question “What is progress and
how is it to be measured?” certainly is applicable to the state’s lumber industry.

Timber in Modern Michigan

Although Michigan is no longer known for its shipbuilding and once-famous
Grand Rapids furniture, timber remains a significant factor in the state’s eco-
nomic growth. in 1999, Michigan contained 18.6 million acres of timberland,
of which 45.5 percent was owned by individuals, 20.1 percent by the state,
13.9 percent by the federal government, and the remainder shared among
private corporations, forest industries, and local governments. timber product
industries provide 150,000 jobs in the state and generate $9 billion of revenue
for the state’s economy annually. the largest timber-related industry is pulp and
paper, which has 235 manufacturing plants in the state. tourism and recreation
directly linked to forests, such as camp sites and parks, provide another 50,000
jobs and $3 million to the state economy. Moreover, forests are the natural habi-
tat for wildlife and more than 1,800 species of native plants.

Riding the Rails

Closely linked to lumbering as a source of economic growth was the rise of the
railroad industry. Michigan’s railway system developed in two distinct stages.
Before 1860, rail travel was primitive, dangerous, and uncomfortable. Because
of limited rail accessibility to most cities, it was common for passengers either
to begin or end their train journey by stagecoach, riverboat, or lake steamer.
Following the Civil War, the state’s railroads entered into their “Golden Age.”
tracks reached nearly every community, and the advent of dining and Pullman
cars, air brakes, and standard gauge track made travel both convenient and safe.

Michigan entered the railroad business in 1830 when the territorial council
granted what is thought to be the first railway charter in the old northwest to
the Pontiac and detroit Railroad Company. this line, however, was never com-
pleted. the state’s first working rail line, the Erie and Kalamazoo, came about as
the result of a struggle between Adrian and tecumseh over which city should


become the Lenawee County seat. Since tecumseh was larger and had access to
the new military road joining detroit and Chicago, it seemed to be the logical
choice. to counteract tecumseh’s advantages, Adrian residents decided to
demonstrate their faith in industrial progress by supporting construction of a
thirty-three-mile railroad line between their city and Port Lawrence (toledo),
ohio, through the dismal, previously inaccessible region known as the Black
Swamp. this was a bold proposal since the first successful railroad line in the
United States—the Baltimore and ohio—had begun operation only three years
earlier in 1830. Advocates of the plan claimed that passengers and freight could
go by rail to Port Lawrence and then by ship either east or west. Using horse-
drawn cars, the line opened in 1836 and was successful enough to earn Adrian
the designation as county seat. the following year the line added the Adrian,
the third locomotive west of the Allegheny Mountains, and thereby reduced
travel time to Chicago by two days. Unfortunately, the Erie and Kalamazoo line
went bankrupt in 1840 as a result of the nationwide depression. After being in
receivership for nine years, it was leased in perpetuity to the Michigan Southern
Railroad Company which later was purchased by the Penn Central Company.
thus, even though the name is changed, the Erie and Kalamazoo line still is in

Businessmen generally favored rail transportation for freight because it
offered low cost, speed, and seasonal flexibility; no longer would cargo be una-
ble to be delivered because of frozen rivers in winter or flooded roads in spring.
Attempts to entice passengers met widespread resistance, however, because
early railways were neither comfortable nor safe. Passenger cars were initially
flatbeds with wooden benches attached. Each car was fastened to the next by
three-foot lengths of chain. When the engine moved, the chains tightened, one
by one, with a sudden force that hurled the riders backward. once under way,
sparks from the engine rained upon the unprotected passengers. to cover
themselves, many raised umbrellas that soon caught fire. Since early locomo-
tives could travel only a few miles, at most, without stopping for wood and
water, riders were still righting themselves and brushing their smoldering
clothing when the train came to a halt. As each chain slackened, the cars crashed
into one another pitching the people forward. Fortunately, the trains averaged
only ten miles per hour, which spared many of the less hearty riders from seri-
ous injury.

the question of rapid mobility was both an asset and a liability to early rail-
road companies in their attempt to gain passengers. Riders were impressed
with the opportunity to fly across the countryside at ten miles per hour for the
modest fare of 4½¢ per mile. Likewise, they were supportive of company rules
to assure safety by maintaining the ten mile per hour maximum speed and

Wood and Rails 187

removal of all engineers who exceeded the legal limit. in truth, this limit was
not imposed to protect passengers but rather to assist brakemen. Until 1869,
with the invention of the Westinghouse air brake, brakemen stopped trains
with a manual lever, and any speed over ten miles per hour made their task
virtually impossible. in fact, by 1869, the average speed had increased to eight-
een miles per hour and rolling stops had become the rule at every station.
ironically, the ten mile per hour speed limit was also a source of concern for
passengers. While that speed seemed to be as fast as man should ever travel on
earth, it was not sufficiently fast to propel the train up steep hills. thus, it was
common for riders to have to leave the train, push it up the grade, and then leap
aboard as it began its descent.

in the early years of railroad travel, passengers and crewmen risked physical
danger as well as inconvenience and discomfort. tracks were poorly con-
structed, usually with a wooden rail being covered by a thin strip of iron. After
a short period of usage, the strip would work loose and shoot through the floor
of the cars like a snake striking at a victim. these iron spears, or “snake heads,”
seriously injured, and occasionally killed, riders. Crewmen had to couple all
cars by hand until the advent of the automatic coupler in 1893 and consequently
missing fingers were considered the badge of railroad employees. Excitement
and danger were the bywords of early rail travel.

Many Michigan residents objected to the spread of railroads for reasons
other than danger and inconvenience. Some used moral arguments, claiming
that God never intended man to move so quickly propelled by an engine spew-
ing the fire of hell. Religious opposition was so widespread that several compa-
nies were compelled to compromise with the moralists and promise never to
operate trains on the Sabbath. Strongest opposition came from farmers who
said that engines scared their animals and killed livestock that happened to be
asleep on the tracks. to placate angry agriculturalists, state-owned railways
reimbursed farmers for all livestock slain by their trains. this policy led many
farmers to carry their old, feeble, and/or dying cattle to the tracks where their
death under the wheels of a train would prove profitable. other farmers, who
grew oats, expressed fear that railroads would drive them out of business by
making horses obsolete.

The Great Railroad Conspiracy

Farmer hostility to railroads reached a peak during the years 1849–51. in 1846,
the state legislature had voted to remove the state from the railroad business.
this decision was prompted by purely economic considerations. the state had


not yet fully recovered from the effects of the depression, and railroad profits
were insufficient to meet the costs of operation, maintenance, and interest due
on state-issued construction bonds. By 1846, Michigan’s indebtedness resulting
from railroad ownership had reached $4 million and consequently it eagerly
sold its holdings in the Michigan Central and Michigan Southern Railway com-
panies to new England stock corporations for $2 million and $500,000, respec-
tively. Although some citizens feared that private ownership might bring about
ruthless price fixing on freight rates, the sale met little resistance either from
legislators or the general public.

once in private control, railroad companies announced that they could
not afford to continue the policy of reimbursing farmers for slain livestock.
Moreover, the new owners said that the policy had been ill conceived because
trains moved so slowly that any “reasonably agile” cow could avoid being struck
and that, in any case, it was the obligation of the farmer to keep his animals
away from railroad property. Enraged at this new proposal, farmers began what
was known as “the great railroad conspiracy.”

throughout the southern tier of counties, farmers sabotaged rail lines. Shots
were fired at passing trains, switches were opened to cause derailments, fuel
piles were burned, water towers tipped, and large logs and rocks were placed on
tracks. the ultimate deviltry, however, was greasing tracks on a hill so that the
engine could never reach the crest and would have to return to the previous
station in reverse. Miraculously no one was killed by these actions.

the worst violence occurred between Grass Lake and Jackson at the insti-
gation of Abel F. Fitch, of Michigan Centre. Fitch, a wealthy farmer and
community leader, ordered all types of violence against railroads, culminat-
ing with the burning of the new Michigan Central depot in detroit on
november 18, 1850. Furious over the arson, railroad owners hired a detec-
tive to uncover the perpetrators of the crime. As a result of the detective’s
findings, Fitch and forty-two others were arrested and brought to detroit for
trial in April 1851. Claiming that they were “violent conspirators,” the judge
set bail so high that it could not be raised. Fitch hired William h. Seward,
the noted abolitionist from new York, to defend the accused farmers. the
trial lingered on for five months, and Fitch died before its conclusion. his
death, along with Seward’s brilliant defense, turned public opinion away
from the railroad owners and to the farmers. the court verdict freed all but
ten of the defendants, but the public sought freedom for them as well. in an
effort to stem rising criticism, railroad owners not only requested pardons
for the guilty men but also pledged to pay farmers half the value of slain
livestock. Farmers accepted this offer, but bitterness between them and the
railroads continued for years.

Wood and Rails 189

the issues raised by this trial revealed that social and legal institutions had
failed to keep pace with technological advances. Perplexing questions arose,
such as: Should railroad companies be responsible for fencing their tracks?
What were the limits of railroad liability for damages and injuries incurred
through rail operations? What was the role of the state in assuring that justice
would be meted out to its citizens? Unfortunately, no immediate answers were

despite these obstacles Michigan’s railroads steadily expanded, and, by
1860, three major rail systems—the Michigan Central, Michigan Southern,
and detroit and Milwaukee—spanned the lower peninsula with 799 miles of
track. these three lines carried over 1 million passengers and averaged nearly
$3 million in freight traffic annually.

The Golden Age of Railroads

during the last four decades of the nineteenth century nearly every community
sought access to a rail line since commerce and settlement seemed to follow the
tracks. occasionally, entire towns would purchase railroad stock in return for a
pledge that a “spur line” would be built from the main route to the town. Cities
grew where railroads afforded opportunities for economic expansion by mer-
chants and farmers. Many towns existed solely because of the railroads. durand,
for example, survived simply because it was the junction of all the state’s rail
traffic. By 1900, over 6,900 miles of track crossed the state, and railroads had
become not only the major method for freight transportation but also the chief
means of mass transit.

Many new railways were extremely small, poorly financed, and intended to
serve only local freight traffic. typical of these limited roads, or “little fellows,”
as they were affectionately called, was the Mason and oceana Line, which in
1900 owned twenty-seven miles of track, five locomotives, one passenger car,
one baggage car, and two hundred thirty-two freight cars. it employed forty-
one men and earned an average of $22,300 per year. Several of these short-line
railroads were so lacking in funds that they did not even have a turntable and,
as a result, had to make half their trips in reverse. often fuel and water would
be obtained from any available source. Fallen trees and farmers’ fences served
as fuel, and water would be acquired by dropping a bucket from the moving
engine into a nearby stream. the latter earned these lines another nickname—
“jerkwater railroads.” Many of these lines were ultimately purchased by larger
railroads and several, especially along Lake Michigan, continued to serve for
many years as excursion trains for tourists.


the “golden age” of railroads affected several aspects of life for Michigan
residents. Large cities, with their accompanying sprawl and filthy tenements,
developed around railroads. Urban life became increasingly difficult for the
lower and middle classes, as the wealthy sought refuge from the dirt and noise
of the city by moving to homes farther away. As the phenomena of suburban
life expanded, people who remained in the undesirable inner-city neighbor-
hoods were said to live “on the wrong side of the tracks,” which really meant
“near the tracks.” Even architecture was affected by the growth of rail systems.
Businessmen desired to be near rail depots, and, in order to accommodate as
many as possible, multilevel “skyscraper” office buildings were erected. in
addition, depots were, in many instances, architectural masterworks which
reflected a town’s self-esteem. Like European cathedrals in the Middle Ages, in
nineteenth-century America the depot was the symbol of community pride
and prosperity. While time and disuse have taken their toll on many of the
magnificent Victorian columned, towered, and marbled structures, a few
remain. durand, the rail capital of Michigan, has remodeled its classic station
so once again rail passengers will be able to thrill to its beauty.

Railroads also provided status for travelers, as often only the wealthy and
socially prominent rode trains. Railroad companies prided themselves on their
service, especially in the dining cars. Every table was graced with irish linen

Figure 12.4 durand, with its architecturally striking Union Station, has been the
center of Michigan’s railroad activity for more than a century. durand Union Station
and Museum.

Wood and Rails 191

cloths, polished silver utensils, and fresh flowers. Six-course meals, which usu-
ally included a choice of lobster, pheasant, oysters, filet mignon, and fresh fruit
for dessert, were available for less than a dollar. dignity and proper behavior
were expected from all passengers, and conductors had the authority to remove
from the train anyone who was unruly or profane.

Between the years 1880 and 1910, laws were passed by the state legislature to
regulate fares and to assure publication of schedules. the most significant
change, however, was instituted by the railroad companies themselves. As late
as 1883, Michigan had at least twenty-seven different time zones, which made
scheduled arrival of freight nearly impossible to determine. to facilitate busi-
ness transactions, the railroad lines agreed in 1884 to synchronize all their
clocks by a telegraphic signal each morning at exactly nine o’clock. By thus
creating a standard time zone, merchants could be promised with reasonable
certainty when their merchandise would arrive. this led to businessmen like-
wise drawing up their hours according to the train schedules, and, as a result,
Michigan had a single time zone.

A significant advance in railroad technology came from a Michigan African-
American engineer, Elijah McCoy. Born in Canada and educated in Scotland,
McCoy arrived in Michigan after the Civil War. he invented a steam-engine
system that replaced manual lubrication with an applicator mechanism housed
in the locomotive cab. thus, the engineer could precisely allocate lubricat-
ing  oil distribution with both speed and safety. McCoy founded the detroit
Lubricator Company and ultimately patented seventy-eight inventions. When
other lubricating devices came on the market, discerning engineers rejected
them and demanded “the real McCoy.”

Another advance in rail travel occurred in 1886 when the first electric train
in Michigan, and only the third in the United States, began operation in Port
huron. Such trains, known as interurbans, went between cities and initially
were an extension of electric streetcar lines. the advantages of interurban travel
were speed and convenience. By adding a third rail, interurbans were able to
negotiate curves more smoothly and accelerate more quickly than ordinary
trains. Express runs, known as “limiteds,” reached speeds of sixty miles per
hour. By 1918, Michigan had nearly one thousand miles of interurban and
streetcar track, which carried nearly 380 million passengers a year for fares
averaging slightly over 6¢.

it was not by coincidence that electric trolley cars were founded in Port
huron, as that city was the boyhood home of thomas Alva Edison and the
Michigan home of the Edison Electric Company. As a youth, Edison worked on
the Grand trunk Railroad selling candy, peanuts, and popcorn to passengers
traveling from Port huron to detroit. on the return run, he sold detroit news-
papers to passengers and to those waiting for trains at depots along the route.


he later set up the Grand Trunk Weekly Herald, which he printed in a baggage
car until his employment with the railroad was terminated after he set the car
on fire when some of his printing chemicals exploded. to celebrate its most
famous son, in 2001 Port huron dedicated the thomas Edison depot Museum
as a tribute to the inventor’s formative career.

Port huron has another first in Michigan railroading, as it was the site of the
first international railroad tunnel, linking it to Sarnia, ontario, in 1891. in
1909, a second underwater tunnel was completed, which permitted trains to
cross from detroit into Windsor, ontario.

As the number of automobiles, buses, and trucks increased in the 1920s, use
of interurbans declined, and, by 1935, all had gone out of business. As Willis
dunbar, the foremost authority on Michigan railroads, noted, interurbans
reflected “a passing phase in the history of Michigan transportation.” A response
to urbanization and the need for immediate rapid mass transit, interurbans
filled the gap between the passing of horse-drawn trolleys and the coming of
internal combustion vehicles.

Upper Peninsula Railroads

Most of Michigan’s rail lines were built in the lower peninsula, but a few small
lines, nearly all financed by mining and lumber companies, were constructed in

Figure 12.5 the Port huron Electric Railway Company operated the first interurban
system in Michigan. Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative #00424.

Wood and Rails 193

the upper peninsula. these lines, typified by the Lake Superior and ishpeming
Railroad which was only two miles in length, ran from lumber camps and
mines to the nearest harbor. By 1915, the upper peninsula had nineteen rail
lines, carrying $8 million of annual freight traffic, which represented 16 percent
of the state’s total freight revenue.

the major difficulty that beset upper peninsula railroads was that their only
land link to the nation’s markets was through Wisconsin. this, coupled with
the lack of sufficient population to provide profitable passenger service,
precluded sizable funding by Michigan investors. A partial solution to this
problem was offered in 1883 when two wooden railroad car ferries began
transporting freight cars across the Straits of Mackinac. these ferries were less
than successful in their initial efforts as they ran aground three times and
severely damaged both themselves and their cargo. it was soon discovered that
the ferries also were not structurally sound and had a tendency to break apart
in storms and rough harbor water. to try to avoid losing the ships in port, one
company ordered oil to be poured into its harbor in an effort to calm the
churning sea. it was not until 1896 that the first steel railcar ferry, the Pere
Marquette, was put into service. While it was an immediate success and was
followed by the addition of four more ferries, the ships sailed between
Ludington and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and thus were of no benefit to the
upper peninsula. As the lumber and mining industries declined and regular
steamship service reached the upper peninsula, rail traffic became nearly

Decline of the Railroads

Railroads began to suffer a rapid loss of popularity as both businesses and pas-
sengers turned to automobiles, trucks, buses, and airplanes for rapid transit.
Many small lines were either abandoned or merged into larger ones, but even
major roads were nearly all forced into receivership by the Great depression.
during the decade of the 1930s, freight revenue dipped 10 percent and passen-
ger ticket sales plummeted 60 percent. Railroads enjoyed a brief revival during
World War ii because of gas rationing, tire shortages, and the unavailability of
automobiles for purchase, but following the war, another decline took place,
and by the 1960s nearly all passenger trains in Michigan had been discontin-
ued. As fuel costs rise and a demand for mass transit is again raised, perhaps
Michigan’s railroad industry will once again grow, but it will never reach its
former heights of the turn of the twentieth century.


For Further Reading

Michigan’s lumber industry is vividly portrayed in Rolland h. Maybee, Michigan’s White
Pine Era, 1840–1900 (Lansing: Michigan historical Commission, 1964) and Lewis C.
Reiman, When Pine Was King (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1952). timber
frauds against the indians are fully described in Anita S. Goodstein, Biography of a
Businessman: Henry W. Sage, 1814–1897 (ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1962) and
Bruce A. Rubenstein, “Justice denied: indian Land Frauds in Michigan, 1855–1900,”
The Old Northwest, ii (June 1976). other informative articles, all in Michigan History,
are: Leo Alilunas, “Michigan’s Cut-over Canaan,” XXVi (1942); herbert Brinks, “the
Effect of the Civil War in 1861 on Michigan’s Lumber and Mining industries,” XLiV
(1960); and William G. Rector, “Railroad Logging in the Lake States;” XXXVi (1952).
three excellent recent additions to the history of Michigan’s lumbering past are Jeremy
W. Kilar, Michigan’s Lumbertowns: Lumbermen and Laborers in Saginaw, Bay City, and
Muskegon, 1870–1905 (detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990); Barbara E. Benson,
Logs and Lumber: The Development of the Lumber Industry in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula,
1837–1870 (Mt. Pleasant: Clarke historical Library, Central Michigan University Press,
1989); and Betty Sodders, Michigan on Fire (holt: thunder Bay Press, 1997).

the standard work on Michigan’s railroads is Willis dunbar, All Aboard: A History of
Railroads in Michigan (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1969). A briefer,
but equally interesting, work is Frank Elliott, When the Railroad Was King (Lansing:
Michigan historical Commission, 1966). the farm revolt against railroads is superbly
told in Charles hirschfeld, “the Great Railroad Conspiracy,” Michigan History, XXXVi
(1952). interurban development is recounted in Junius E. Beal, “the Beginnings of
interurbans,” Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, XXXV (1907). two excellent
recent publications dealing with specific aspects of railroading are t. J. Gaffney, Rails
Around the Thumb (Chicago: Arcadia, 2012) and Michael hodge, Michigan’s Historic
Railroad Stations (detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2012).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

the World of Wheels

Gasoline-powered internal combustion motorcars, or “road wagons,” had
been developed in Belgium and Germany as early as 1860, but they were
thought of primarily as mere toys and not as possible replacements for horse-
drawn carriages. Americans shared this view and even after Charles and Frank
duryea, of Massachusetts, established the nation’s first automobile company
in 1893 the general public remained unconvinced that “horseless buggies”
were more than dangerous, expensive playthings for the idle rich. this belief
was put in verse on an anti-automobile postcard near the turn of the twentieth

he owned a handsome touring car, to ride in it was heaven
he ran across a piece of glass . . . the bill, $14.97.
he started on a little tour, the finest sort of fun,
he stopped too quick and stripped the gears . . . the bill, $99.41.
he took his wife down to shop, to save the horses was great,
he crashed into a grocery store . . . the bill, $444.88.
he spent his pile of cash, and then in anguish cried,
i’ll put a mortgage on the house, and have just one more ride.

it was not until Ransom E. olds, of Lansing, entered the scene that automobiles
became popular in the mass market.



Olds’ “Mobile”

in 1886, at the age of twenty-two, olds developed a steam-powered automo-
bile, but he quickly turned his attention to perfecting a gasoline power-
source because he believed that the inevitable boiler problems would prevent
“steamers” from becoming popular. his goal was to construct a small, light-
weight vehicle that would cost approximately the same as a good buggy and
team of horses. By 1896 he had made his first car, but it fell short of his
expectations as it was heavy, weighing 1,000 pounds, and large, having two
seats and a five-horsepower engine. Following a successful test run of his
invention, olds, with financial backing from Lansing businessmen, founded
the olds Motor Vehicle Company. Even though the company manufactured
only six cars in 1897, olds wanted to expand his operation and unsuccess-
fully sought funds from new York bankers. however, a wealthy detroit lum-
ber baron, Samuel L. Smith, pledged $350,000 to olds if he would relocate
his body plant to detroit. olds agreed and in 1899 mass production of his
cars, which sold for $1,200, began. Sales were disappointing, and olds
decided to redesign his product.

in 1900 olds marketed his “dream car,” an open, single-seat, curved-dash
sportster, that weighed 700 pounds, cost $300 to manufacture, and sold for
$650. this car intrigued the public, and 425 new “oldsmobiles” were sold.
Unfortunately, despite olds’ claim that his automobile was “built to run and it
does!” mechanical failures plagued owners. Breakdowns were so common that
cynics responded to olds’ slogan that his car was so well made that drivers had
“nothing to watch but the road” by saying “yes, but you can get damned tired of
watching the same piece of road all the time.” to silence critics, in 1901 olds
hired Roy d. Chapin to drive an oldsmobile from detroit to an automobile
show in new York City to prove his car’s durability. Chapin made the 820-mile
journey in 7½ days; his vehicle reached an average speed of 30–35 miles per
hour, while consuming 30 gallons of gasoline and an unexpectedly high 80 gal-
lons of water. After the successful completion of Chapin’s trip, which the Detroit
Times enthusiastically likened to the journey of Paul Revere, oldsmobile sales
steadily rose, reaching 4,000 in 1903.

to promote sales further, olds turned to mass marketing. his product was
regularly advertised in national magazines, including the Ladies’ Home Journal.
olds sought to curry favor with women drivers by suggesting that his car would
be convenient for shopping, visiting, or merely touring the countryside. Safety
was also emphasized as olds noted that his car, controlled by a single depend-
able lever, was a much superior vehicle for a woman than a buggy directed by
the reins of a potentially unruly team of horses. in fact, superiority over horses

The World of Wheels 197

was a major element of early automobile sales promotions. typical of this
technique is this pro-horseless carriage poem:

it doesn’t shy at papers as they blow along the street;
it cuts no silly capers on the dashboard with its feet;
it doesn’t paw the sod up all around the hitching post;
it doesn’t scare at shadows as a man would at a ghost;
it doesn’t gnaw the manger and it doesn’t waste the hay,
nor put you into danger when the brass bands play.

Even olds, on his eightieth birthday, joked that he began working on the
automobile because he “didn’t like the smell of horses on the farm.” olds also
sent agents to Europe to create a market, and shortly before her death in 1901,
Queen Victoria purchased an oldsmobile. Moreover, oldsmobile was the first
car to be immortalized in song as one of the nation’s best-known melodies
became “in My Merry oldsmobile.”

Figure 13.1 A lineup of gasoline and electrical vehicles marketed by the olds Motor
works in 1900. the next year saw the first large-volume production of cars in America.
Courtesy: the detroit historical Society.


oldsmobile was also the first company to issue sales manuals to dealers and
instruction booklets to buyers. included in oldsmobile’s famous “don’t list” to
owners were:

don’t take anybody’s word for it that your tanks have plenty of gasoline and water
and your oil cup plenty of oil. they may be guessing.
don’t do anything to your motor without a good reason or without knowing just
what you are doing.
don’t imagine that your motor runs well on equal parts of water and gasoline. it’s
a mistake.
don’t make “improvements” without writing the factory. We know all about
many of those improvements and can advise you.
don’t drive your oldsmobile 100 miles the first day. You wouldn’t drive a green
horse 10 miles till you were acquainted with him. do you know more about a
gasoline motor than you do about a horse?
don’t delude yourself into thinking we are building these motors like a barber’s
razor—“just to sell.” We couldn’t have sold one in a thousand years, and much less
5,000 in one year, if it hadn’t been demonstrated to be a practical success.
don’t confess you are less intelligent than thousands of people who are driving
oldsmobiles. We make the only motor that “motes.”

in this fashion olds initiated the concept of “factory authorized service” as the
best means to protect the purchaser’s investment.

in 1902, following the destruction of his detroit plant by fire, olds returned
his operation to Lansing. two years later, as a result of a feud with the Smith
family over management policies, olds sold his stock in the company and
founded the Reo Motor Car Company. in 1905 he produced a car that he
believed was so perfect he did not think that it could be improved upon in the
future. this car, REo the Fifth, had thirty-five horsepower, could reach forty-
five miles per hour, seated five comfortably, and cost only $1,055. REo sales
quickly surpassed those of oldsmobile, but by 1908 the latter had regained sales
supremacy primarily because olds lost his enthusiasm for running his new
company. olds continued as chairman of the board at Reo until 1936, but he
never was the driving force in the industry that he had been before he became
an extremely wealthy investor and philanthropist who did not have enough
time to devote to his work. however, olds’ place in history was assured by his
popularization of the automobile.

oldsmobile’s history was one of popularity and innovation. in 1977 it
became the first General Motors’ product outside of Chevrolet to sell more
than 1 million cars. it was among the pioneers in developing chrome-plated
trim, mass production of automatic transmissions, and front-wheel drive
automobiles, and in 1996 it reentered competitive racing, winning the World
Sports Car and GtS-1 classes at daytona international Speedway. however,

The World of Wheels 199

despite its history and attempt to revitalize its image, oldsmobiles were associ-
ated by a younger generation of car buyers as stodgy relics of their parents’ past.
Unfortunately for oldsmobile, nostalgia has no part in business decisions, and,
as a result of steadily declining sales, in december 2000, General Motors
announced that after 103 years of operation, the oldest automotive brand name
in the nation would be phased out and become another part of history.

Henry and His “Lizzie”

As a result of olds’ success, thousands of individuals seeking quick profits
entered the automobile industry and by 1907 there were 270 car-manufactur-
ing companies in Michigan. Few survived, but those that did made fortunes for
their owners and stockholders. one of these men who profited from olds’
efforts was henry Ford, the dearborn inventor whose feats in the automotive
industry became legendary.

With financial support from James Couzens, horace Rackham, and John
and horace dodge, among others, in June 1903, the Ford Motor Car Company
was created. Ford sought to “democratize the car, so that everyone could afford
one.” he intended to build an automobile more powerful than the oldsmobile
and also light enough to travel muddy roads without getting stuck, large enough
to hold an entire family, easy to operate, simple to repair, and inexpensive.

despite his hopes, the 1903 “Fordmobile,” which was quickly renamed the
Model A, was not a serious threat to oldsmobile. While the Model A was
the most powerful car built in 1903, it was also 400 pounds heavier than the
oldsmobile and cost nearly $200 more. having sold only 658 units, the follow-
ing year Ford introduced three new automobiles: the Model C, a lightweight
runabout costing either $800 or $900 depending on engine size; the Model F, a
small touring car that cost $1,000; and the Model B, a five passenger, four-
cylinder touring car that sold for an unbelievable $2,000. during the next three
years Ford continued his journey through the alphabet and produced Models
K, R, S, and n. of these, only the last was successful. the Model n, even though
heavier than both the oldsmobile and newly popular Buick, was powerful
enough to reach forty-five miles per hour, fuel efficient at twenty miles per gal-
lon, and cost only $600. Ford had finally developed a competitive car.

in 1908 Ford unveiled the automobile which made him famous—the
Model t. the “tin Lizzie,” as it was affectionately dubbed, was an instant
success, with 25,000 sold the first year. its popularity was ironic, however, since
at 1,200 pounds and $850 dollars, it was neither light nor inexpensive.

Ford promoted the Model t as the “farmers’ car” and ran advertisements
stating that “your harvest is incomplete without a Ford.” Sales soared as


contented owners told their friends about their functional, dependable, dura-
ble, and versatile car. one elated farmer wrote Ford that his Model t could do
everything except “rock the baby to sleep and make love to the hired girl.” this
success led to a slogan warning farmers: “don’t Experiment, Just Buy a Ford.”

Ford constantly stressed dependability and durability rather than luxury in
his cars. not until 1926 was the Model t marketed in any color except black
because Ford claimed that offering a selection of colors would delay production
and increase costs—both things which Ford refused to do. By perfecting olds’
assembly-line technique Ford managed to increase production while reducing
costs. to stimulate sales, he passed on savings to the consumer by cutting the
price of his cars. in 1912 the Model t sold for $600; in 1916 only $360; and in
1924 the price was down to an amazing $290. Moreover, despite price reduc-
tions, increased sales volume resulted in even higher profits. From 1917 to 1924
Ford controlled over half of the automobile sales market and in 1923 sold
1,817,891 cars. the Detroit News informed its readers that in 1923 Ford not
only had become a billionaire but also that his daily income was $264,026.41.
Sales continued to grow and, at its peak in 1924, Ford sold cars at a rate of
250 per hour every 24 hours for 300 days.

Figure 13.2 Early automobiles often fell victim to the state’s poor roads. Library of
Congress, Prints and Photographs division, detroit Publishing Company Collection,

The World of Wheels 201

the Model t became so popular that, like the oldsmobile, it was glorified in
songs such as “henry Made a Lady out of Lizzie” and “the Little Ford Rambled
Right Along.” the latter is worth noting because it contained a not-so-subtle
attack on the quality of products made by Ford’s competitors:

now henry Jones and a pretty little queen
took a ride one day in his big limousine,
the car kicked up and the engine wouldn’t crank
there wasn’t any gas in the gasoline tank.
About that time along came nord
And he rattled right along in his little old Ford
And he stole that queen as his engine sang a song
And his little Ford rambled right along.

ironically, the success of the Model t helped bring about its demise. it was so
durable that it never wore out, thus eliminating a market for return customers.
As roads improved, the Model t’s sturdy construction was less important and
purchasers began to look for luxury and style rather than quality. in 1925 sales
declined, and two years later, Edsel Ford, who had become president of the
company in 1918, convinced his father, who retained the ultimate power in the
firm, to discontinue production of the Model t. that May, following the pro-
duction of the 15,000,000th “tin Lizzie,” the company began to manufacture a
new Model A. When the new car was introduced in new York City, a mob of

Figure 13.3 henry Ford and his son Edsel with the original quadricycle and a Model t,
circa 1920. From the collections of the henry Ford Motor Company.


over 1 million people crushed into showrooms to view it. the Model t was
gone, but the Ford Motor Company was destined to maintain a prominent
place in the production of automobiles.

Ford and Society

A major reason for the success of the Ford Motor Company was public
adoration of its founder. Always the champion of farmers, Ford became the
“workingman’s friend” in 1914 when he raised the salaries of his employees
from $2.30 to a maximum of $5.00 a day, saying that he did so because it
seemed unfair that the only people in America who could not afford to buy a
car were the men who made them. in 1914 workers throughout the nation
praised Ford as the only automobile manufacturer with a heart, and they
became fiercely loyal to his product. Ford became the working-class car, and
henry became a national figure.

Unlike other wealthy industrialists, Ford was never seen by the public as a
“robber baron.” despite his fortune, which exceeded $700 million at the time of
his death in 1947, Ford retained his love of simple things and his middle-class
values. the creation of Greenfield Village was intended as a monument to
middle America. As Will Rogers said: “Ford is rich but he understands our
problems. he is one of us.”

Even Ford’s well-known anti-Semitism was popular with many Americans.
in 1920 his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, instituted a series of ninety-
one articles on “the international Jew: the World’s Problem.” Jews were blamed
for controlling gambling casinos, operating houses of prostitution, running
Wall Street, and undermining American morals by monopolizing the
hollywood motion picture industry and producing explicit films. Public reac-
tion to Ford’s stand was overwhelmingly favorable. Ford’s anti-Semitism grew
so intense that he not only ran articles in his newspaper claiming that Jews were
nonwhite and Jesus was not a Jew, but also he financed a new York detective
agency whose sole duty was to uncover scandalous behavior on the part of
Jewish businessmen. in 1939 the well-known anti-Semite, Adolf hitler, praised
Ford as “the one great man in America” because of his attacks on Jewish

Strict rules placed on his employees further strengthened Ford’s hold on
middle America. his policy of firing workers who smoked or chewed tobacco,
drank alcoholic beverages, used profanity, or expressed approval of dancing
and jazz music was welcomed by people fearful that America’s morality was
disintegrating during the “Roaring twenties.”

The World of Wheels 203

Ford continued to run the company, through Edsel, until his son’s death in
1943. Although nearly eighty and somewhat senile, Ford then assumed active
control of the firm. As sales declined and Ford demonstrated his failing mind
by asking to see employees who had not been with the company for twenty
years, Edsel’s wife threatened to sell her stock in the business to the public
unless her son henry was elevated to the presidency. the elder Ford reluctantly

Under henry Ford ii the company expanded and remained an industry
leader. Using his grandfather’s credo that cars should be easy to repair and
inexpensive, Ford introduced the popular Maverick, Mustang, and Pinto
models. Continuing to try to live up to its motto, “Ford has a better idea,” the
Focus and Mustang convertible kept Ford competitive in the world market
until the early twenty-first century. Primarily because of foreign competition
and Ford’s emphasis on marketing fuel-inefficient SUVs, the company’s domes-
tic market share plummeted from 25.6 percent in the mid-1990s to 17.4 percent
in 2005. As a consequence of the sales slump and a desire to limit its market
share loss annually to a more modest 14–15 percent by 2008, in 2006 the Ford
Motor Company announced a restructuring plan by which it cut its salaried
employees by 14,000 and eliminated jobs for 25,000–30,000 hourly workers.
Whether newly designed automobiles, based on alternative fuel usage, can
restore the former industry giant to its former prominence remains to be seen,
but Michigan’s economic stability depends upon it to a great extent.

Growth of an Industrial Giant

olds’ chief competitor at the turn of the century was not henry Ford, however,
but david d. Buick, a Scottish immigrant who had settled in detroit and
entered the plumbing business. As a plumber, Buick invented the lawn sprin-
kler and a process for bonding porcelain to metal bathtubs, both of which
would have made him a millionaire had he decided to manufacture them.
Buick’s dream, however, was not to become a famous plumber, but rather to
perfect an internal combustion engine for automobiles. While working toward
his goal, he developed a small, lightweight gasoline engine suitable for propel-
ling farm implements and rowboats. Like his other inventions, this engine
could have made a fortune for Buick, but he discarded it in favor of a larger
power source for horseless carriages.

in 1901, he founded the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company, but it was
beset by financial problems and in 1903 was sold to James h. Whiting, man-
ager of the Flint Wagon Works, who moved the plant from detroit to Flint.


the following year the Buick Motor Company, as it was renamed, manufac-
tured thirty-seven cars and the next year only 750. Production and sales were
minimal primarily because people were not convinced that the Buick was
worth its $850 price. to stimulate sales, Buick and other company officials
drove the automobiles through Flint and nearby cities to prove their depend-
ability. these test drives did not have their intended results as the cars
malfunctioned so often that critics said: “Buicks will get you wherever you
want to go but they won’t get you back.” Because the firm continued to lose
money, Whiting removed Buick as company head in 1904 and replaced him
with William Crapo durant. Buick remained with the company long enough
to repay his many debtors in detroit and Flint, but he died a pauper in 1929.
Buick’s life was a tragic reminder that not all brilliant inventors were fated to
succeed in the automobile industry.

“Billy” durant, grandson of former Governor henry h. Crapo, was forty-
two years old when he took control of Buick. A successful wagon and carriage
maker with a deserved reputation as a “planning wizard” and “marketing
genius,” durant reversed the company’s downward slide. he wanted Buick to be
“the people’s car” and accordingly he visited farmers to determine what they
sought in an automobile; he convinced blacksmiths that they should engage in
automobile repairs so that rural residents could have mechanical work done
conveniently; and he pressured his Flint friends into purchasing large blocks
of Buick stock. to demonstrate their durability, speed, and handling, durant
entered Buicks in road races, and by 1908 they were constant victors. hill-
climbing events became Buick specialties, and consequently Michigan resi-
dents referred to steep inclines as “Buick hills.” By 1906 production had soared
to 750 units, and in 1910 Buick had become so popular that one of every six
cars sold in the United States was a Buick.

having made Buick a financial success, durant turned his attention to
increased production of his cars. to accomplish this, he lured Albert Champion,
Charles Stewart Mott, and the Fisher Brothers into moving their ignition, axle,
and body plants from Boston, Utica, new York, and detroit to Flint. As Buick
grew so did Flint; its population rose from 13,000 in 1900 to 91,000 in 1920,
making “the Vehicle City” one of the wealthiest and fastest-growing commu-
nities in the country.

durant’s major dream, however, was to merge several automobile companies
into a corporation that would compete for sales but have a single financial base.
it would not be a monopoly because it would encourage competition and have
separate management for each division. Large investors would be attracted to
such a corporation because of the low risk involved, for durant believed that if
the corporation was large enough to manufacture several styles and models it

The World of Wheels 205

could meet every public demand. thus, in 1908, durant set out to gain control
of “every car in sight.” throughout the year he purchased over thirty automo-
bile companies, including oldsmobile, oakland (Pontiac), and Cadillac. on
September 16, 1908, General Motors was created. its incorporation was not
met with fanfare, however, as only The Flint Journal considered the story
newsworthy enough to print.

in 1908 durant tried unsuccessfully to purchase the Reo and Ford Motor
Companies. Both olds and Ford were willing to sell, but the deal collapsed
when Ford demanded $8 million in cash, which was excessive even for durant.
Later, in 1910, a slump in car sales drove General Motors revenue down, and
durant was forced to borrow $12.5 million to avoid bankruptcy. Conservative
Eastern bankers, who had financed durant’s expansion program, demanded
as a condition of the loan that he resign as president lest he further deplete
company resources by more consolidations.

After losing General Motors to the bankers, durant decided to build a small,
inexpensive car to compete with the Model t. he entered into partnership with
Louis Chevrolet, his former racing driver, and began manufacturing automo-
biles bearing the famous driver’s name. Subsequently he bought out his partner,
instituted his legendary marketing techniques, and made enough money so
that by 1915, with backing from the duPont family, he owned the majority of
General Motors stock. to the amazement of the business community, not only
had durant regained control of General Motors, but his new company actually
owned it.

As president of General Motors, durant again set upon expanding the
corporation. his energy was boundless, and one of his plant managers recalled

When Mr. durant visited one of his plants it was like the visitation of a cyclone.
he would lead his staff in, take off his coat, begin issuing orders, dictating letters,
and calling the ends of the continent on the telephone, talking in his rapid easy
way to new York, Chicago, San Francisco. . . . only the most phenomenal mem-
ory could keep his deals straight; he worked so fast that the records were always

his major addition to the corporation was the Frigerator Company, which
later manufactured “Frigidaire” appliances. When the nation plunged into a
postwar recession in 1920, durant attempted to prop up General Motors stock
by purchasing it himself. having exhausted his personal resources and a
$23 million loan, durant was once again forced to relinquish his control of the
corporation by nervous banking concerns. on november 30, 1920, durant,


having agreed to leave office in return for payment of all his debts, was
succeeded by Pierre S. duPont. durant took his removal philosophically,
saying: “Well, they took it away from me, but they cannot take away the credit
for having done it.”

in 1923 Alfred M. Sloan became president of General Motors and immedi-
ately embarked upon a reorganization program. in the future, General Motors
divisions would compete for sales with other companies rather than against
themselves. Furthermore, a “status ladder” was created by which consumers
could demonstrate their increasing affluence through the purchase of General
Motors products. Beginning with the inexpensive Chevrolet, purchasers worked
their way through Pontiac, oldsmobile, and Buick before reaching the luxurious
Cadillac. Sloan’s idea of appealing to the buyers’ superficial desires and ego,
rather than emphasizing the quality of the car, gave General Motors a wide lead
over Ford in sales. Ford angrily charged that the only reason Chevrolet outsold
the Model t in 1926 was that it came out in a new style every year. this allegation

Figure 13.4 Cadillac Sales and Service Building, detroit, 1910s. As Americans bought
millions of cars, dealerships grew and many installed elegant showrooms. Courtesy:
the detroit historical Society.

The World of Wheels 207

was undoubtedly correct as the Model t was superior in design and construc-
tion, but quality was not important to the status-conscious nouveau riche of
the 1920s. General Motors had become the giant of the automotive industry—a
position it retained until the present. in 2005, General Motors’ $8.6 billion dollar
loss enabled Japan’s toyota Motor Corporation by mid-2007 to threaten ousting
General Motors as the global leader in automobile manufacture and sales.

Chrysler and American Motors

Another leader in the automobile industry was Walter P. Chrysler. in 1922
Chrysler resigned his position as vice-president of General Motors to assume
the presidency of the nearly bankrupt Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Company. three
years later, after restoring a sound fiscal structure to the firm, it was reorganized
as the Chrysler Corporation. two new models, the Plymouth and deSoto, were
introduced to compete with Ford and General Motors in the low- and middle-
price markets. in 1928 Chrysler purchased the dodge Motor Company. Chrysler
stressed speed, engineering excellence, and luxury in his cars and some of his
models sold for over $5,000. When the Great depression set in, Ford and
General Motors, which catered primarily to the middle and laboring classes, lost
much of their market, but Chrysler’s sales of expensive models remained stable.
thus, the depression helped make Chrysler a serious competitor with the “Big
two” of the automobile industry during the latter half of the twentieth century.

Chrysler slipped out of the third position in the automotive hierarchy in the
1990s as toyota began its march to unseat General Motors in the domination of
international sales. in 1998, the German based daimlerBenz AG sought to
enter the United States domestic market in a major way when it purchased the
Chrysler Corporation for $36 billion dollars, renaming the merged companies
daimlerChrysler AG. the new ownership group closed six plants and laid off
more than 40,000 workers, mostly in Michigan, in an effort to restructure the
company into a more cost-effective competitor in the domestic and global
marketplace. Unfortunately for the corporation, Chrysler’s staggering health-
care contractual obligations for its UAW employees ($2.2 billion in 2005, up
12 percent from the previous year) continued to drag the company’s profitabil-
ity down, although the company earned $1.8 billion in 2005. Wishing to divest
itself of what had proven to be a bad investment in the opinion of the German
ownership group, in August 2007, daimlerChrysler officials finalized the sale
of Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management, one of the largest private-equity
firms in the United States, for $7.4 billion. Chrysler’s future now rested as a
privately owned corporation.


American Motors Corporation, the youngest of the major automobile manu-
facturers, developed from the mergers of several old, established firms. the
hudson Motor Company, founded in 1909 by detroit merchant Joseph L.
hudson, Roy d. Chapin, and several former oldsmobile employees, produced
the popular Essex, the nation’s first fully enclosed car. Charles W. nash, a for-
mer president of General Motors, founded the nash Motor Company in 1916
at Kenosha, Wisconsin. in 1954 nash and hudson merged to become American
Motors. Later the corporation purchased the Kaiser-Willys-overland-Jeep
Company and agreed to buy engines from the financially troubled Studebaker-
Packard Company. American Motors struggled for several years until its new
president, George W. Romney, introduced the nash Rambler, the first modern
compact car, which brought temporary fiscal stability to the company.

The Automobile Industry’s Effect on Society

Michigan developed as the center of the automobile industry because of its
abundance of available capital to invest in new enterprises, its leadership in the
carriage manufacturing business, and the extraordinary number of skilled
craftsmen and inventors who resided in the state. not only did the automobile
alter the economic growth of Michigan and the nation, but also it revolutionized
American society.

no other invention affected every aspect of American life to the extent of the
automobile. According to some social historians, the coming of the car marked
the beginning of a widespread decline in respect for law and order, as speed limits
were exceeded, illegal turns made, and parking rules flaunted. Smoking habits
changed as men began to utilize cigarettes and cigars more than a pipe because
the latter was difficult to relight while driving. Morals were dramatically affected
as young lovers left the front porch and mother’s watchful eye to whisper sweet
nothings to each other in the back seats of cars. houses became smaller, with
fewer bedrooms, because guests no longer had to remain overnight. Women’s
skirts rose so that they would not become enmeshed with the accelerator, brake,
and clutch pedals. tourism thrived, and in 1915 automobile dealers promoted the
initial “See America First” campaign. in 1920 over 10 million people were housed
at auto courts, and five years later, the first motor hotel, or motel, was built. As
mobility increased and people visited new areas of the country, job transfers
became common. Family ties were weakened as cars made it easier for young
adults to leave home. Also, automobile companies helped to create factory towns,
replete with substandard housing, tent cities, and poor sanitation. Michigan put
the nation on wheels, and it was never the same again.

The World of Wheels 209

For Further Reading

As might be expected, numerous accounts of Michigan’s role in the automobile industry
exist. the most recent, and by far the most complete, general history is George S. May,
A Most Unique Machine (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1975). Richard
Crabb, Birth of a Giant (Philadelphia: Chilton Book Club, 1969) is interesting but not as
readable as May.

Stories of General Motors abound. Arthur Pound, The Turning Wheel (new York:
doubleday, 1934) is a company-authorized history of General Motors’ first twenty-five
years and offers a wealth of information on that company’s founders. George S. May,
R. E. Olds (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1978) is a thorough
treatment of the Lansing inventor based on olds’ papers. Another excellent account
based on primary source material is Lawrence Gustin, Billy Durant: Creator of General
Motors (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1973). durant’s life is also
recounted in John B. Rae, “the Fabulous Billy durant,” Business History Review
(Autumn, 1958). Alfred Sloan’s term as president is detailed by him in My Years with
General Motors (Garden City, nY: doubleday, 1964). the growth of Buick and Chevrolet
are described in George dammann, Seventy Years of Buick and Sixty Years of Chevrolet
(Glen Ellyn, iL: Crestline Pub., 1973 and 1972). duPont’s role at General Motors is
recorded in Alfred Chandler and Stephen Salsbury, Pierre DuPont and the Making of the
Modern Corporation (new York: harper & Rowe, 1972). Chandler also gives a vivid
account of early automobile development in Ford, General Motors, and the Automobile
Industry (new York: harcourt, Brace and World, 1964).

Ford’s impact on industry and society is portrayed in countless volumes, the best of
which are: Reynold Wik, Henry Ford and Grassroots America (Ann Arbor: University of
Michigan Press, 1972); Booton herndon, Ford (new York: Weybright and talley, 1969);
Keith Sward, The Legend of Henry Ford (new York: Russell and Russell, 1948); and Allan
nevins and Frank hill, Ford: Expansion and Challenge and Ford: Decline and Rebirth
(new York: Scribner, 1957 and 1962).

no works deal specifically with the early years of the Chrysler Corporation, but its
rebirth of popularity is recounted in doran P. Levin, Behind the Wheel at Chrysler: The
Iacocca Legacy (new York: harcourt Brace, 1995). the daimler-Benz debacle with
Chrysler is well described in Bill Vlasic and Bradley A. Stertz, Taken For a Ride: How
Daimler-Benz Drove Off With Chrysler (new York: William Morrow & Co., 2000).
American Motors is treated briefly in Clark Mollenhoff, George Romney: Mormon in
Politics (new York: Meredith Press, 1968).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

From Bull Moose to Bull Market

near the turn of the twentieth century the great reform movement known as
progressivism took root. this movement was unusual in that it originated dur-
ing a period of economic prosperity, whereas most other American reform
impulses began during economic distress. Progressivism was never an organ-
ized, monolithic movement but rather a spontaneous, sporadic response by
various groups to what they perceived to be threats to both their way of life and
the nation’s traditional values. three major factors were responsible for the rise
of progressivism: industrialization, immigration, and urbanization.

industrialization had brought rapid change, especially in the development of
large corporations which seemed to be able to manipulate economic and politi-
cal power to the detriment of the general public. As a result of this corporate
growth, a maldistribution of wealth became evident. An average laborer was
fortunate to earn $1,000 per year, while the president of Standard oil, John d.
Rockefeller, received an annual income of over $50 million. to many, this was
paradoxical and contradictory in a nation that stressed egalitarianism and
equal opportunity.

Growth of cities caused new societal problems as well. decreasing agricul-
tural prices coupled with a declining rural population meant that the
Jeffersonian ideal of the yeoman farmer being the cornerstone of the Republic
was rapidly becoming a fading memory. in the cities, unprecedented demands,
caused by thousands of persons crowded into areas that had not expanded as
quickly as the population, forced municipal officials to try to provide mass


From Bull Moose to Bull Market 211

transit, sanitation, police and fire protection, and urban renewal necessitated
by the urban explosion. Even the simplest tasks seemed overwhelming. in
urban areas, for example, the question of availability of public rest rooms raised
the enormous economic and political issue of who was to pay for sewage
disposal and operate the sanitation department.

hordes of immigrants, particularly from southeastern Europe, who often
possessed what appeared to be strange cultural and religious customs, thronged
to large industrial centers. these “huddled masses” lived in ghettoes, retained
their native language and culture, and generally were despised by native-born
Americans and earlier immigrants who claimed that the newcomers took jobs
from them, served as unwitting tools for corrupt urban political bosses and
their machines, and spread “un-American” ideas such as socialism.

Amid this atmosphere of social and economic upheaval ida tarbell, Lincoln
Steffens, and other writers known as “muckrakers” were hired by magazines
such as McClure’s and Cosmopolitan to report on problems facing American
society. in a series of exposés they revealed the extent of corporate malpractice
in the oil and meat-packing industries, as well as corruption in large city gov-
ernments. As a result of these articles, many people began to call for increased
regulation of business, better protection for workers, and popular control over
all phases of government. it was a last attempt at preserving individualism in an
increasingly impersonal society.

Early Michigan Progressives

Progressivism operated at the local, state, and national levels. At the state
level, the most completely progressive program was in Wisconsin where,
under the auspices of Governor Robert “Fighting Bob” LaFollette, policies of
clean government and responsibility to the electorate were promoted. the
“Wisconsin idea,” as it became known, soon spread to various states, including

Many scholars have debated the nature and support for the progressive
movement. Recent studies indicate that it was so varied, diverse, and dependent
upon local issues, geography, and other factors that responsibility for its devel-
opment cannot be ascribed to any particular social group or class. Examples of
this diversity can be seen by comparing reform efforts in two of Michigan’s
major cities, Grand Rapids and detroit.

in Grand Rapids, George E. Ellis, mayor from 1906 to 1916, represented both
progressive reform and old-fashioned bossism. he relied on a political coali-
tion of ethnic voters, traditional Republicans, and blue-collar workers to keep


him in office. he was not averse to visiting saloons, especially in German
sectors of the city, and assuring his constituents that on the crucial liquor ques-
tion he stood for regulation, not prohibition. Under his administration, flood
control, creation of parks, extension of water service, and hospital construction
were promoted. Ellis also spearheaded a successful drive for improved city
government by the use of initiative, referendum, recall, nonpartisan elections,
and a merit system for city employees. Under Ellis, Grand Rapids steadily
transformed into a progressive urban center.

in detroit, progressive reform reflected the more traditional upper-class
leadership. the banner of reform was first raised by the detroit Municipal
League, which emphasized such programs as municipal ownership of utilities.
in 1912, the league dissolved following a bitter dispute between its president,
Joseph L. hudson, and its secretary, Anthony Pratt. the vacuum left by its col-
lapse was soon filled by the creation of the detroit Citizens League, headed by
henry Leland, president of the Cadillac Motor Company. this organization
stressed morality and the “responsibility of the better classes” to “free detroit
from the tyranny of corrupt politicians and evil saloon keepers.” it was closely
associated with Protestantism, and, unlike Mayor Ellis of Grand Rapids, actively
supported prohibition and opposed labor unions—positions that prevented
the league from obtaining wide ethnic minority membership. Leland and the
league perceived immigrants as “a potentially dangerous political and social
force” that had to be controlled. thus, Grand Rapids and detroit represented
reform movement organizations of distinctly different types, yet both had the
similar goal of urban improvement.

one incident of reform in detroit deserves special attention because of its
rather bizarre nature and because it resulted in the detroit Citizens League suc-
ceeding in its campaign for adoption of a new city charter. in 1912, reform
democratic Mayor William B. thompson, who advocated municipal owner-
ship of utilities, suspected corruption in the city council and hired the Burns
detective Agency to have one of its men pose as an officer of the Wabash
Railroad Company. the agent was to contact city councilmen concerning a
petition to close a street in order to construct a railway terminal. the council
subsequently passed the petition, and shortly thereafter nine councilmen were
arrested and charged with accepting bribes of up to $1,000 to support the
company request. only one was brought to trial, but conflicting testimony of
witnesses resulted in his acquittal. the trial and resulting publicity did, how-
ever, prove advantageous to the league and other reform groups urging the
elimination of corruption in city government. in 1918, a new charter, providing
for nonpartisan city elections and creation of a nine-member council to be
elected at large, was approved by the voters of detroit. Reformers rejoiced that

From Bull Moose to Bull Market 213

the “vote buyers” and “vote swappers” would lose much of their influence,
but, in practice, interest groups continued to play a major role in the city

Chase S. Osborn—“Mr. Progressive”

Although George Ellis and henry Leland reflected progressive ideals, it was
Chase S. osborn who deserves the title of Michigan’s “Mr. Progressive.”
originally a journalist, osborn owned the Sault Evening News in the upper
peninsula and developed it into a thriving and influential enterprise. A lover of
the wilderness, on one of his journeys he discovered Moose Mountain, a rich
iron range in ontario, Canada. With his economic security thereby assured, he
turned to travel and politics as outlets for his energies. After having published
a two-volume work on his trek through South America, he served his state as
game and fish warden, railroad commissioner, and regent of the University of
Michigan. in 1900 he waged an unsuccessful campaign for the Republican
gubernatorial nomination and then retired from politics until 1910, when he
once again sought the nomination for governor.

osborn pledged that if nominated and elected he would fight for stricter
child and female labor laws, conservation, increased state regulation of busi-
ness, honest and efficient state government, primary election laws, and
workmen’s compensation. A vocal critic of the conservative policies of both
President William howard taft and Governor Fred Warner, osborn waged an
active, vigorous campaign. Using an automobile extensively, he traversed the
state and gave over 700 speeches. his zeal was rewarded as he captured the
Republican nomination and then defeated democratic nominee Lawton t.
hemans, who was supported by conservative Republicans.

Under osborn’s leadership, the legislature passed a number of reform
measures, including regulation of railroads, express companies, and saloons;
expansion of state authority over business; revision of the state tax
structure; ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution; enactment of a state primary law; and reorganization of the
national Guard. the governor’s most outstanding achievement, however, was
passage of the state’s first workmen’s compensation law. osborn had become
acquainted with this idea in 1898 when, during his European travels, he met
Professor Paul hensel of heidelberg University, who provided him with exten-
sive details on Germany’s system of workmen’s compensation. he also battled
unsuccessfully for such traditional progressive reforms as initiative, referendum,
and recall, but his efforts undoubtedly paved the way for their eventual passage.


The Campaign of 1912

the political campaign of 1912 was confusing on both the state and national
level. initially, Governor osborn, despite his liberalism, declared his sup-
port  for the incumbent, conservative President taft. When it appeared
that Robert LaFollette might receive the Republican nomination, osborn
attacked the Wisconsin Progressive in a speech that received national
coverage. Along with six other Republican governors, he then called for
theodore Roosevelt to enter the race. the former president agreed, but, fol-
lowing a bitter contest filled with personal slanders, he was defeated by taft.
When Roosevelt later ran under the Progressive, or “Bull Moose,” banner,
osborn chose not to desert the Republicans and follow him. instead, he
shocked political experts by urging progressives to vote for the democratic
nominee, Woodrow Wilson. Before the campaign ended, however, the quix-
otic osborn was touring the Midwest speaking for Roosevelt—but he
avoided making any campaign speeches in Michigan, which certainly aided
democratic candidates.

the split between taft and Roosevelt forces caused severe rifts in the
Michigan Republican Party. At conventions in Wayne and Calhoun counties,
fistfights erupted over selection of delegates to the state convention in Bay City.
Ultimately, two separate delegations of taft and Roosevelt backers were elected
and each attempted to have their credentials declared valid.

At the state convention the major concern of both factions was to capture
the six at-large delegate seats to the national convention. Frank Knox, a
Roosevelt supporter, was chairman of the Republican State Central Com-
mittee, and truman h. newberry, another Roosevelt backer, was the conven-
tion chairman, but the remainder of the convention committee was for taft.
on the eve of the convention a meeting of the State Central Committee was
called by its secretary, but Knox refused to attend, claiming that it was illegal.
At this meeting permanent and temporary chairmen were selected as was a
sergeant-at-arms who was instructed to admit only taft delegates. the
sergeant-at-arms, along with fifty men, attempted to seize the convention hall
in the evening but was stopped by national Guardsmen who had been sent by
Governor osborn to maintain order. in the morning the sergeant was permit-
ted to take charge, which infuriated Roosevelt’s followers. during the session,
some Roosevelt men, who had managed to enter the hall by either sneaking
through the basement or climbing through transoms, tried to make their way
to the speaker’s platform. Fistfights broke out, and Senator Albert Beveridge of
indiana, the featured speaker, had to be ushered out a side door without giving
his speech.

From Bull Moose to Bull Market 215

Eventually troops quelled the disorder and, as in the county conventions,
two slates of delegates were selected. At the national convention, however, only
taft delegates were recognized, which drove many Roosevelt delegates to follow
their defeated hero into the Progressive Party. the uncivilized behavior of the
Republican delegates at Bay City caused the Detroit News to make the solemn
commentary that “the Republican party of Michigan cannot but feel ashamed
of its action at the state convention” and that such activity dispelled any doubt
as to the need for a state presidential primary.

in november, Roosevelt carried Michigan’s electoral votes for President,
while the democratic candidate for governor, Woodbridge n. Ferris, founder
of Ferris institute, also triumphed. Under Ferris more progressive legislation
was passed, including the addition of initiative, referendum, and recall to the
state constitution.

in 1914, former governor osborn won the Republican nomination for
governor but was defeated by Ferris largely because conservative Republicans,
remembering the 1912 contest, backed the democratic incumbent in an effort
to repay osborn for his defection from taft. two years later, Republicans united

Figure 14.1 during his 1912 campaign for the presidency, theodore Roosevelt, the
Progressive Party candidate, made a tour of the upper peninsula and spoke at several
rallies, including this one at Marquette. Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative


to elect Albert Sleeper, a staunch conservative, and progressivism in Michigan
came to a temporary halt.

Crisis in Calumet

the upper peninsula continued to attract attention even after its favorite son,
Governor osborn, left office. in July 1913, copper miners in the Keweenaw
Peninsula went on strike seeking an eight-hour work day, a minimum $3 daily
wage, and recognition of the Western Federation of Miners as their bargaining
agent. Mining company officials refused to recognize the union and stated that
no striking workers associated with the union would be rehired. the company
position was strengthened because Cornish miners refused to join the walkout
and, as a result, production continued, although at a lower level.

As the strike progressed, both sides became more inflexible. Clarence
darrow, the noted criminal lawyer, went to the area and agreed to present the
miners’ position to Governor Ferris. the governor, however, refused to inter-
vene, saying that the problem was local and not subject to interference from
Lansing. By the end of July, new workers and strikebreakers had been imported
by the companies. in response, strikers organized marches and parades, while
miners throughout the nation sent money and supplies to sustain their breth-
ren. on August 14, violence erupted as strikebreakers attacked a group of
unarmed miners. Before the recently dispatched state militia reached the scene,
two miners had been killed.

President Wilson sent an investigator to Calumet to report on the crisis. the
agent recommended compulsory arbitration, which was acceptable to the
miners but not the companies. Because Governor Ferris refused to force
mediation on private business, no early settlement was possible.

By September, stratification among striking miners was evident. All English-
speaking workers, except the irish, were talking about resuming their jobs, but
the foreign miners and irish were growing increasingly militant. hostility
heightened in late november when Charles Vernetti, head of the italian miners,
told the strikers: “We will stand together till we plant the flag of liberty at all the
mines, not the dirty Stars and Stripes, but the red flag of our redemption.”

on december 8, a new crisis arose when three native-born, procompany
workers were murdered in their sleep. Antiforeign sentiment soared, and vigi-
lante groups were formed to drive away “un-American agitators.” to ease ten-
sion and reopen the mines, company officials agreed to accept all worker
demands except Federation recognition. this pleased most workers, and it
appeared that the strike was nearly over.

From Bull Moose to Bull Market 217

this expectation was dashed, however, when, at a Christmas Eve party for
strikers’ families at the italian hall in Calumet, someone yelled “Fire!” At least
seventy-two men, women, and children were killed in the ensuing panic.
When rumors spread that the culprit was a strikebreaker and that other strike-
breakers had barred the doors of the hall to prevent escape, hatred reached
new heights.

in the early spring of 1914, the strike finally ended. Many disgusted miners
had left the region and gone to detroit and Flint to seek jobs in the rapidly
expanding automobile industry. on April 13, the remaining miners voted by a
2–1 margin to return to work. Reform in the mines, like so many other social
and political dreams, never reached fruition.

The End of “Demon Rum”

one of the key reforms sought during the progressive era was temperance.
While popular in the pre–Civil War period, the call for limitation of liquor had
not gained support during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
primarily because saloons were popular, especially among the new immigrants
from southeastern Europe, and neither major political party dared to alienate
such a large segment of potential voters. in addition, saloons not only provided
refreshment after long days of toil, but also furnished newspapers, magazines,
meeting rooms, billiards, free lunches, and public restrooms. For many
Americans the saloon was the social center of their town.

temperance received new impetus with the founding of the Anti-Saloon
League in 1905. Under its leadership, prohibition forces began to muster a
campaign which would ultimately achieve its goal of statewide prohibition.
Beginning in 1907, local option elections by county began, and within three
years thirty-six Michigan counties had voted to become dry.

the campaign for prohibition reached its peak in 1916 when the famous
evangelist Billy Sunday, sponsored by 120 detroit-area churches, swept through
the city. Sunday, an enthusiastic, stirring preacher, told his audience that
smoking, dancing, and drinking were cardinal sins. his impact on his listeners
was so great that one described him as “the democratic convention, the circus,
the World Series, Chautauqua, and a declaration of war all rolled into one.”
Girls pledged that “lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine,” and henry
Ford was so moved that he declared that if Michigan went dry, he would turn
every brewery into a refinery to produce fuel for automobiles. Sunday’s
campaign, along with that of other earnest prohibitionists, had an effect on
Michigan, and in 1916 state voters approved a prohibition amendment by over


80,000 votes. once again Michigan set the pace for the rest of the nation as its
act went into effect a year before the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution
made prohibition a national law.

Women’s Suffrage

Even though Michigan women did not have total suffrage by 1919, many pieces
of legislation had been passed to aid the lot of the working woman. State laws
provided for a ten-hour work day, no Sunday labor, and prohibition of women
under twenty-one years of age from working in jobs that endangered their life,
health, or morals. in 1911 the legislature removed the power of a husband to
retain his wife’s earnings, and two years later a commission was established to
set minimum wage laws for women.

in regard to voting rights, an attempt to grant suffrage was defeated in the
1908 Constitutional Convention. in 1912 Governor osborn, an avowed backer
of women’s suffrage, promoted a suffrage amendment, but it was defeated by a
margin of less than 800 votes in a statewide referendum. the following year, the
same proposal lost by nearly 100,000 votes as some opponents of the measure
claimed that the government would be in danger from votes of a “certain class
of women” and the “unstable proletariat vote.” opponents also argued that suf-
frage might create a “new strain” on family relations if husband and wife were
of differing political sentiment. it was not until the adoption of the nineteenth
Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920 that Michigan was
forced to amend its state constitution and provide women the right to vote.

Figure 14.2 Billy Sunday brought his animated and energetic preaching style to
detroit in 1916 at the height of his fame and conducted his assault on “demon rum”
and the need for Prohibition. Library of Congress, LC-diG-ggbain-15638, LC-diG-
ggbain-15639, LC-diG-ggbain-15640, LC-diG-ggbain-18810.

From Bull Moose to Bull Market 219

World War I

Although most Michiganians, like the majority of Americans, did not really
believe that the war in Europe would directly affect them, one prominent
Michigan resident had been studying the military events and expressed grave
concern. henry Ford, the dearborn industrialist and pacifist, opposed putting
the United States on a war footing. he said that preparedness made the country
like a “man carrying a gun” looking for trouble. he even was reported as saying
that every soldier and sailor ought to have the word “murderer” embroidered
on his breast. Convinced that “men sitting around a table, not men dying in a
trench” would settle the dispute, Ford decided to send a “Peace Ship” to try to
bring the warring factions to their senses. he chartered a Scandinavian liner,
the Oscar II, and set sail with a group of peace advocates on december 4, 1915.
the assemblage was not representative, as it contained many reporters and
teachers, but no businessmen, farmers, scientists, labor officials, or industrial
leaders, except Ford. one cynic remarked that it was “the strangest assortment
of living creatures since the voyage of noah’s Ark.”

Because of ill-health, Ford left the ship when it landed at norway, but the
voyage continued to Sweden, denmark, and holland, where the pilgrimage
ended and most of the travelers returned home. As a result of the voyage, a
peace conference was arranged. Kaiser Wilhelm even presented an offer of
negotiation, but his attitude was so hostile and belligerent that it failed to elicit
any positive response from the Allies. With intensified German submarine
warfare, the conference ceased operations. Although Ford’s efforts failed, he
was sincere in his desire for peace and to bring about an end to the killing
in Europe.

on April 6, 1917, Congress declared war on Germany and the nation began
mobilization. Michigan, however, had begun its preparations three days prior
to the actual declaration as Governor Sleeper and Attorney General Alex
Groesbeck developed legislation to put Michigan in a state of readiness. the
legislature immediately acted upon the recommendations that included crea-
tion of a War Preparedness Board whose members would consist of the gover-
nor, attorney general, state treasurer, secretary of state, and superintendent of
public instruction. this board was endowed with broad authority and was
empowered to disburse monies from a $5 million fund that had been estab-
lished by the legislature for preparedness purposes.

the war preparedness fund was used for a variety of programs. Soldiers were
given equipment that the federal government was unable to supply adequately.
the fund also made $400 loans to enable officers to purchase their own


Army training facilities were developed at Camp Custer near Battle Creek,
and an air force base, Selfridge Field, was built near Mt. Clemens. to facilitate
transportation near the military bases and to improve supply distribution
between detroit and toledo, money was allocated from the war preparedness
fund to improve roads. Money was also provided so that the State Board of
health could set up offices to detect and contain venereal diseases at military

Because food production was a very important part of the war effort,
Michigan created a Food Preparedness Committee. once again the war prepar-
edness fund was tapped to provide over a thousand tractors and plows for
resale to state farmers and to purchase scarce seed. thirty-six additional county
agricultural agents were hired to help farmers improve production. over 29,000
war gardens were started under the direction of students from Michigan
Agricultural College and over 30,000 boys and girls were recruited to do farm
work and help with harvests. Michigan’s agricultural war effort was so effective
that farm acreage increased by 30 percent in two years.

State security was also deemed very important. An American Protective
League was established to make sure that there were no “war slackers.”
Unfortunately, this often led to abuses against innocent people whose only
“crime” was having a Germanic name or not raising a war garden. Sometimes
abuse was verbal, but at other times homes were covered by yellow paint and
physical violence occurred. As fear seized Michigan residents, anything even
remotely connected with Germany was considered evil. German proper names
were Americanized, German foods such as sauerkraut and frankfurters were
renamed “liberty cabbage” and “hot dogs,” dachshunds became “liberty-pups”
and Berlin, Michigan, changed its name to Marne.

to provide further for the safety of the state, a “home Guard,” consisting of
6,000 men and boys, was raised to replace the federalized national Guard. A
second unit, the 300-man Michigan State Constabulary, the forerunner of the
state police, was created to patrol railroad tunnels, docks, defense installations,
and munitions plants. the constabulary also put an end to the international
Workers of the World strikes in the iron mines of the upper peninsula. the
commander of the unit later reported that he was convinced that the strikes had
been formulated by “paid organizers” who had been furnished with “a supply of
German money.” no solid evidence to prove this allegation was offered, but it
did further convince Michiganians that the enemy was close at hand.

Units from Michigan served gallantly in combat. Guardsmen from
Michigan and Wisconsin were joined to form the 32nd, or “Red Arrow,”
division, so designated because of its distinctive shoulder patches. the 32nd
participated in a number of major engagements, including the oise-Aisne,

From Bull Moose to Bull Market 221

in  which it bore the brunt of the German attack, and the Meuse-Argonne
offensive. over 800 of its officers received decorations, but its heroism came
at a high price as its losses were 2,898 killed and 10,986 wounded. one unit of
the national Guard, the First Ambulance Company, distinguished itself with
the famed 42nd, or “Rainbow,” division, so named because it was comprised
of Guard units from twenty-six states. the 85th division, consisting mostly
of Michigan soldiers, was in France as an occupation force in 1918. Later ele-
ments of this division were assigned to Archangel, Russia, to assist the anti-
Communist forces there. Known as the “Polar Bears,” they served in Russia
until July 1919.

As might be expected, Michigan industries played a significant role in the
war effort. Ford factories manufactured submarine chasers, and both the
Lincoln and Packard Motor Companies produced aircraft engines. Although
the automobile industry was not requested to abandon completely its normal
production, by the end of the war most output was militarily oriented.

Michigan furnished 133,485 men, or 3.6 percent of the personnel who served
in the American armed forces during the war. of these, 45,917 were volunteers.
nearly 5,000 Michiganians died during the conflict and another 15,000 were
wounded. the state did not forget its returning heroes who had fought to
“make the world safe for democracy.” When the war concluded, Michigan
established a board in new York to meet the returning soldiers and assist them
in any way possible. Like every other state, Michigan was proud of its contribu-
tion to what President Wilson pledged was “a war to end all wars.”

The Newberry‒Ford Senatorial Struggle

in 1918 the Sleeper Republican regime was routinely returned to office, but
“political fireworks” occurred in the senatorial campaign. in the Republican
primary were truman h. newberry, former assistant secretary of the navy
under theodore Roosevelt and long a power in state Republican politics, for-
mer Governor Chase osborn, and industrialist henry Ford. the latter had the
distinction of also running for the democratic nomination at the personal
urging of President Wilson, who wanted another supporter for the League of
nations in the Senate. newberry ran a lavish campaign, spending over $176,000,
which was considerably in excess of the federal campaign limit of $10,000. Ford
made little effort at campaigning and uttered only two statements before the
election, one in support of women’s suffrage and the other in defense of his son
Edsel’s draft deferment. newberry carried the Republican primary easily, and
Ford won the democratic nomination.


in the general election Ford ran a surprisingly strong race, losing by slightly
less than 8,000 votes. his strength came from the working class, especially
in Wayne County where he captured 65 percent of the vote. Embittered by
his defeat, Ford petitioned the Senate to examine newberry’s campaign
expenditures. As a consequence of the inquiry, newberry, along with sixteen
codefendants, was prosecuted by the Justice department for violating the
Federal Corrupt Practices Act. he was found guilty, fined $10,000, and sen-
tenced to two years in prison. the senator appealed his sentence to the Supreme
Court, which overruled his conviction by a 5–4 vote.

the United States Senate also debated whether or not to expel newberry,
and despite eloquent pleas for removal by progressives Robert LaFollette
and George norris, the Michigan senator was allowed to retain his seat. on
november 19, 1922, Senator newberry resigned, still claiming innocence of
any wrongdoing. his replacement was James Couzens, a close friend of henry
Ford and a liberal former mayor of detroit. Soon the rift in the state’s political
scene was healed.

The Red Scare of 1919–1920

one of the most distressing results of the war was the “Red Scare” of 1919–20.
Americans viewed the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia with horror. Stories
spread that the new Communist regime was breaking families, crushing labor
unions, destroying churches, and confiscating private property. to many, the
potential dissemination of Communist ideas to our shores represented a threat to
the cornerstones of American society. Fears heightened in 1919 when a rash of
strikes against major industries occurred, which were followed by a series of mys-
terious mail-bombs being sent to prominent opponents of the strikes. A. Mitchell
Palmer, attorney general of the United States and himself a target of a bombing,
asserted that subversive foreign elements trying to destroy America were respon-
sible for the acts of terrorism. to prevent further unrest, Palmer ordered J. Edgar
hoover, a young detective in the Justice department, to put an end to the “Red
threat.” Under hoover’s vigorous leadership thousands of suspected “bomb
factories” were raided without warrants. their occupants were held without bail
and found guilty of committing felonies without benefit of a trial.

on January 2, 1920, local, state, and federal authorities conducted a
nationwide “Red raid,” which resulted in the arrest of 5,483 aliens, nearly all of
whom were innocent of any crime except that of being a “foreigner.” Several
Michigan cities were involved in this event. in detroit, the Communist Party
headquarters, the house of Masses, was stripped bare and over 800 persons

From Bull Moose to Bull Market 223

were arrested throughout the city. thirty-six persons were taken into custody
in Grand Rapids and another fifty-six in Flint. Federal authorities lavishly
praised Michigan law enforcement agencies for their cooperation in ending the
Red menace in the state.

in planning this raid, federal authorities neglected to prepare suitable
accommodations for those arrested. Many were held in county jails, but in
major metropolitan areas, where seizures were numerous, temporary detention
centers had to be created. in detroit, conditions were deplorable. The Nation
magazine reported that

. . . eight hundred men were imprisoned for from three to six days in a dark, win-
dowless, narrow corridor running around the big central areaway of the city’s
antiquated Federal building; they slept on the bare stone floor at night, in the
heavy heat that welled sickeningly up to the low roof, just over their heads; they
were shoved and jostled by heavy-handed policemen; they were forbidden even
the chance to perform even a makeshift shave; they were compelled to stand in
long lines for access to the solitary drinking fountain and one toilet; they were
denied all food for twenty hours, and after that they were fed on what their fami-
lies brought in; and they were refused all communications with relatives or

the detroit raid was even more tragic because nearly all those arrested were
innocent. included among those taken at the house of Masses were a
seventeen-year-old boy who was looking for a job, several men at the first-floor
cafe who had stopped for a glass of “near-beer,” and a curious visitor who
wanted to view the hall. the raid also netted twenty-two men in the nearby
Workingmen’s Sick Benefit and Educational Society hall, which had been incor-
rectly identified as the international Workers of the World headquarters. nor
were those arrested the only ones to suffer. Families went without food as
husbands being held incommunicado could not sign orders allowing their
wives to withdraw funds from their bank accounts.

officials of the Justice department finally admitted that they had arrested
innocent citizens, but asked reporters not to mention it in their stories.
these illegally detained, dirty, unshaven men, who had not even had a
change of clothes for six days, looked the part of “Bolshevik terrorists” when
they were paraded through the streets of detroit on their way to another jail.
Eager newsmen fanned the flames of the “Red menace” by placing guns
near a pile of books and pictures of Marx and Lenin taken from the house
of Masses.

Mayor Couzens finally demanded that the prisoners receive humane
treatment and that the detroit police no longer cooperate with federal


authorities. the general public, however, praised Palmer and urged him on in
his crusade to save America.

Hooch, Hoodlums, and Hoods

the 1920s have been popularly depicted as a time when prosperity reigned and
Americans yearned for the prewar stability which President Warren harding
called “normalcy.” however, the 1920s could not be “normal” in terms of earlier
decades because the country had been revolutionized by another of Michigan’s
contributions—the automobile. in 1900 barely 4,000 automobiles were pro-
duced, but by 1929 the number had risen to 5,620,000, and the industry
employed over 370,000 persons. Job opportunities provided by automobile
factories lured thousands of immigrants to Michigan, especially detroit.
the state’s population soared from 3,668,412 in 1920 to 4,842,325 in 1930,
and detroit’s total residency passed 1.5 million making it the nation’s fourth
largest city.

Much of this population increase was a result of foreign immigration, as by
1930 Michigan claimed 849,297 foreign-born residents. Black migration from
Southern states also increased the population. in 1920 there were only 60,082
blacks in Michigan, but a mere ten years later the total neared 170,000.

detroit rapidly became the focal point of American industrialism and foreign
visitors flocked to the automobile capital of the world to pay homage to the
“Great industrial Prophet.” one British traveler related that “as in Rome one
goes to the Vatican and endeavors to get an audience with the Pope, so in
detroit one goes to the Ford works and endeavors to see henry Ford.” Another
European visitor recalled that when he first saw detroit he felt like a “seven-
teenth century traveler must have felt when he approached Versailles.” So pow-
erful was Ford’s impact on the popular mind that college students selected him
as the third greatest figure in the history of mankind, and, in 1928, over 500,000
people ordered a new Model A even though Ford had announced neither its
style nor price.

Some critics expressed the opinion that the emphasis on obtaining a better
life through material benefits developed by science and industry was excessive
and misplaced. in particular these critics were disturbed by the detroit auto-
motive leadership in promoting this materialistic spirit. Arthur h. Vandenberg,
conservative editor of the Grand Rapids Herald, declared: “Save us Babbitt at his
best, interested in his own home—living with his own wife—striving to educate
his own children—helping along his church—still believing in a just God—
loving his country and his flag—preserving a few ideals—a good citizen and

From Bull Moose to Bull Market 225

Samaritan.” Unfortunately, few observers found this ideal in detroit. A writer
for the New Republic stated that “detroit was the sum of the age,” a city that was
“prosperous, brittle, effective, hard, and the slave of the mechanistic monster.”
he added that it was “the market of personality embodied in the god produc-
tion,” and that it “must go on, it cannot stand still and cannot go to bed.” detroit
typified America’s frenzied style of living. A writer for The Nation bemoaned
what he called the “Fordizing of a pleasant peninsula,” and complained that
Michigan’s pastoral image was being replaced by “factories and help-wanted
billboards”; it had become a state where the term “sublime” meant a Ford
factory and where people “would do anything for a sale.”

Critics also were disturbed at the flaunting of prohibition laws in detroit.
Liquor from Canada, particularly from a large distillery in Walkerville, ontario,
flowed freely across the detroit River, making detroit “a flagrant example of a
wide open booze town.” As many as 25,000 illicit saloons, or “blind pigs,” oper-
ated in detroit and did a $215 million business. the New York Times accurately
proclaimed that detroit was the “Rum Capital of the nation” and that liquor
trafficking was Michigan’s second leading industry.

there was scarcely a place along the St. Clair and detroit rivers where
smuggling did not occur, and it is estimated that as many as 500,000 cases of
illegal liquor entered the state every month. the amount of ardent spirits enter-
ing Michigan increased dramatically with the completion of the Ambassador
Bridge in 1929 and the detroit-Windsor tunnel the following year. Quantities
of liquor smuggled into the country by way of the tunnel were so great that it
became jokingly referred to as the detroit-Windsor Funnel. By 1931 detroit
had earned the dubious distinction of being cited by the federal government as
leading the nation in prohibition violations.

Much of the illicit liquor business was controlled by criminals. in detroit,
the notorious Purple Gang vied with the Licavoli family for underworld
supremacy. Accounts of murders among gangsters were regular items in
detroit newspapers, but fortunately it was rare for any nonmobster to be
victimized. in addition to bootlegging, criminal activity included kidnapping,
bombing, bookmaking, drugs, and prostitution. during the first six months of
1926, the latter vice was so widespread that 3,213 women were brought before
detroit Recorders Court on charges of prostitution, and over 700 brothels
operated in downtown detroit.

in 1932 Michigan repealed its prohibition statutes, and the following year it
became the first state to ratify the twenty-first Amendment to the United States
Constitution, which repealed national prohibition. A State Liquor Commission
was created and on April 7, 1933, consumption of alcoholic beverages once
again became legal.


Lawlessness was fostered further by the growth of the Ku Klux Klan.
Preaching that foreigners, blacks, Jews, and Catholics were undermining
Protestant morality and taking jobs from “white, real Americans,” the Klan
made sizable inroads in Michigan’s urban centers. Flint, Saginaw, Bay City,
Lansing, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, and the conservative dutch communities
along Lake Michigan were fertile recruiting grounds for the Klan, but detroit
was its main target. in 1920 that city’s population was 25 percent foreign-born,
and it had the fastest rate of black immigration in the nation. By the mid-1920s,
Michigan’s Klan claimed 80,000 members, half of whom resided in the
detroit area.

Politically the Klan was quite strong, electing mayors in Flint in 1924 and
detroit in 1929, as well as many state legislators. in detroit one of the reasons
for the success of Klan candidates was that Jewish voters stayed home rather
than choose between a Klan candidate and a candidate backed by henry Ford,

Figure 14.3 Authorities seize the armored car of the Purple Gang, 1936. Known as
“the Safe,” it was well equipped for vice activity: a short-wave radio, bullet-proof glass,
and metal plates on the tires. the Graham-Paige sedan was as infamous as its passen-
gers. Photo courtesy of Custer Carland and Polly S. Moore of Albion.

From Bull Moose to Bull Market 227

one of the country’s leading anti-Semites. Ford openly blamed Jews for making
obscene movies, bootlegging, and spreading immorality through their music,
especially songs written by irving Berlin.

Michigan’s Klan was so well organized that it published its own newspaper,
The Fiery Cross, held Christmas ceremonies led by a masked, hooded Santa
Claus, and founded its own music business, the Cross Music and Record
Company of detroit. Even passage of the Burns Anti-Mask Law of 1923, which
was intended to drive prominent men out of the Klan by forcing them to show
their faces during public gatherings, did not diminish Klan strength in
Michigan because many law enforcement officials were Klan members and
refused to enforce the law. thus, throughout the decade of the 1920s Michigan’s
Klan burned crosses with regularity.

The Bath School Massacre

the worst loss of life in an American school up to that time occurred in the
small rural community of Bath, Michigan, located approximately six miles north
of East Lansing. on May 18, 1927, shortly after classes had begun, an explosion
destroyed the new consolidated school, killing 38 students and six adults, while
injuring nearly another one hundred. the entire north wing of the school, which
housed the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grades, was demolished in the blast.

the perpetrator of this slaughter was 55-year-old Andrew Kehoe, a local
farmer, who also served as treasurer for the School Board, as well as the school
custodian. Kehoe had become enraged when local voters passed a millage to
increase property taxes to finance construction of a new school for the recently
consolidated school district—an expenditure which Kehoe deemed unneces-
sary. When the mortgage on his farm was foreclosed in early May, 1927, Kehoe
blamed the higher property taxes for his inability to pay his mortgage, and he
became insane in his desire to seek revenge against those whom he blamed for
his plight.

the loss of his farm merely was the trigger for Kehoe’s demented, but
well-devised, plan, as during the months prior to the explosion he had secretly
planted hundreds of pounds of dynamite throughout the school’s basement
and rigged the wired explosives with a timing device for detonation. on
Wednesday May 18, 1927 Kehoe put his murderous scheme into action. First,
he beat to death his invalid wife and then set his house on fire to bring the
local fire fighters to the scene of the blaze. he then placed dynamite in his car
and drove to the school, where he watched with satisfaction his twisted dream
become reality. Amid the screams of children, school officials, and teachers,


Kehoe calmly committed suicide by detonating the explosives in his

in the aftermath of the horrific event, Michigan’s Republican United States
Senator James Couzens personally financed the rebuilding of the school to
erase, in a small degree, the pain brought about by Andrew Kehoe, who earned
the title “the most evil man in Michigan’s history.”

The Politics of Normalcy

Alex J. Groesbeck, Michigan’s attorney general under Sleeper, was elected
governor in 1920 and reelected in 1922 and 1924. Groesbeck was a highly effec-
tive administrator and innovative executive, who reorganized Michigan’s gov-
ernment so that the unwieldy bureaucracy became more accountable and
efficient. Under his guidance the legislature passed a bill creating a State
Administrative Board, composed of all elected executive officers except the
lieutenant governor, which was given broad powers, with the governor retain-
ing a veto over all its decisions. Also, five departments—agriculture, conserva-
tion, labor, public safety, and welfare—were formed, consolidating the duties of
over thirty separate bureaus. to bring Michigan out of debt, Groesbeck con-
vinced the legislature to pass a corporate franchise tax, which proved so
successful that there was a substantial budget surplus by the time he left office.

the governor was interested in the state’s educational and penal institutions
as well. Both the University of Michigan and Michigan Agricultural College
were given funds for campus improvements and building construction.
Renovations were made at the Boys Vocational School at Lansing and the Girls
training School at Adrian. in december 1924, the first concrete was poured for
new prison buildings at Jackson, which ultimately would become the largest
walled prison in the nation.

Groesbeck’s greatest contribution as governor was his support for a modern
highway program which, he proudly claimed, took “Michigan out of the mud.”
Although thousands of miles of roads had been built prior to Groesbeck’s tak-
ing office, most of them were gravel and dirt that became virtually impassable
during spring rains. A highway Loan Board was established to market a
$50 million bond issue, the proceeds of which were to be used solely for road
construction. the state was aided further by a $31 million allocation from the
federal government under a 1916 act which granted road-building funds
to states on a matching dollar basis. When the money from the bond sale
was depleted, the legislature passed a 2¢ gasoline tax to finance highway
improvements. By the end of Groesbeck’s three terms as governor, over

From Bull Moose to Bull Market 229

6,500 miles of state roads had been improved and over 2,000 miles of concrete
highway had been laid.

despite his admirable record, Groesbeck was opposed for renomination in
1926 by conservatives, led by Vandenberg, who believed that the governor was
too liberal and detroit oriented. Conservatives united behind Fred Green,
longtime mayor of ionia, and he handily defeated both Groesbeck in the
primary and his democratic opponent William A. Comstock in november.
Green’s administration enjoyed the final years of the decade of prosperity.
Reelected in 1928, Green was the first of many governors who would be forced
to deal with the awesome impact of the Great depression.

For Further Reading

no single volume exists that adequately covers the Progressive era and the 1920s in
Michigan. Frank B. Woodford’s Alex J. Groesbeck: Portrait of a Public Man (detroit:
Wayne State Press, 1962) is the best secondary source for the period. Sidney Fine,
Frank Murphy: The Detroit Years (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1975);
harry Barnard, Independent Man: The Life of Senator James Couzens (new York:
Scribner, 1958); C. david tompkins, Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg: The Evolution of a
Modern Republican, 1884–1945 (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1970);
Robert M. Warner, Chase Salmon Osborn, 1860–1949 (Ann Arbor: University of
Michigan Press, 1960); and Jean M. Fox, Fred M. Warner: Progressive Governor
(Farmington hills: Farmington hills historical Commission, 1988) deal with the lives
of important political figures of the period. Allen nevins and Frank E. hill, Ford:
Expansion and Challenge, 1915–1933 (new York: Scribner, 1957) offers coverage of
Ford’s political ventures. Robert Murray, The Red Scare (Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press, 1955) is the standard work on the wave of anticommunism that swept
the country. david Chalmers, Hooded Americanism (Garden City, nY: doubleday,
1965) details Ku Klux Klan activities in every state. Useful also are the following articles
from Michigan History: Larry d. Engelman, “dry Renaissance: the Local option
Years,” (Spring 1971); “Billy Sunday: ‘God, You’ve Got a Job on Your hands in detroit,’”
(Spring 1971); “old Saloon days in Michigan,” (Summer 1977); Jack Elenbaas, “the
Excesses of Reform: the day the detroit Mayor Arrested the City Council” (Spring
1970), and “the Boss of the Better Class: henry Leland and the detroit Citizens
League, 1912–1924,” (Summer 1974); and Anthony R. travis, “Mayor George Ellis:
Grand Rapids Political Boss and Progressive Reformer,” (Summer 1974). Philip t.
Mason, Rum Running and the Roaring Twenties (detroit: Wayne State University Press,
1995) is the best source for Michigan’s prohibition activities. the Calumet Copper
Strike of 1913 is detailed in William Beck, “Someone Yelled ‘Fire,”’ Detroit Magazine,
April 8, 1979; Jerry Stanley, Big Annie of Calumet: A True Story of the Industrial
Revolution (new York: Crown Publishers, 1996); and diane P. Engle, “Standing


tall: Big Annie,” Michigan History (July–August 1999). An interesting aspect of
Michigan’s role in World War i is Godfrey Anderson, A Michigan Polar Bear Confronts
the Bolsheviks: A War Memoir (Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s, 2010). Crime in Michigan
during the 1920s is well documented in two books by Paul R. Kavieff, The Violent Years:
Prohibition and the Detroit Mobs (Fort Lee, new Jersey: Barricade, 2001) and The
Purple Gang (Fort Lee, new Jersey: Barricade, 2005).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

depression Life in an industrial State

Because Michigan’s leading industry was production of automobiles, which in
the 1920s were still considered by many people to be luxury items rather than
necessities, the state was quickly ravaged by the depression. in 1929, 5,337,087
vehicles were manufactured, but two years later the figure had plummeted to
1,331,860. the nonmanufacturing sector was affected as well, and farm prices
drastically declined. By 1933, farmers were so desperate that they threatened to
use violence to prevent judges and sheriffs from seizing their land and homes
as payment for delinquent taxes or unpaid mortgages. Fearing a riot, the legis-
lature in 1933 postponed repayment of delinquent taxes and land-tax sales for
a minimum of five years. Unfortunately, faced with an immediate, dire crisis,
much of Michigan’s political leadership acted to compound, rather than allevi-
ate, the suffering of their constituents.

The Stigma of Poverty

to understand why both the Republican and democratic parties shared the
belief that the people had a duty to support their government, but the govern-
ment had no obligation to support its people, it is necessary to examine the tra-
ditional American view of unemployment and poverty. in America, the poor
have always been scorned because most people consider poverty an unnecessary
disgrace in this “land of plenty.” this belief is rooted in the English Poor Law of



1601 which stated that people were poor because of laziness. to give the impov-
erished any assistance would merely reward and perpetuate their laziness, and
therefore relief should be meted out only to prevent starvation. this concept
became Americanized in the “work ethic,” which professed that happiness and
self-fulfillment could be realized only from a life of diligent labor.

When the depression struck, workers raised by this code believed that their
unemployment was a result of a personal, rather than societal or economic flaw,
and they were humiliated by their plight. Men would accept any form of work
before seeking public assistance. only when their families grew hungry would
they, with tears of shame in their eyes, stand in breadlines. the greatest tragedy,
however, was that state and local governments fostered this unwarranted
shame by keeping alive the myth that unemployment was caused by men too
lazy to earn a living. during the depression, fourteen states forbade relief
recipients from voting, nearly all required “reliefers” to sign paupers’ oaths,
and, in Michigan, the Genesee County Board of Supervisors went so far as to
propose that all second-generation relief recipients be sterilized.

The New Boy Governor

Michigan’s governor during the years 1931–33 was Wilber M. Brucker, a thirty-
six-year-old conservative supporter of Republican President herbert hoover’s
policies of “rugged individualism” and combating the depression through local
and private relief agencies. When he took office in January 1931, Michigan’s
unemployment level was 18 percent; in 1932 it rose to 43 percent; and the
following year it reached 46 percent, compared with the national level of
24 percent. the governor’s response was to state repeatedly that employment
opportunities existed for everyone willing to work. this, however, was not true.
in late 1930 an advertisement in a detroit newspaper called for 500 men willing
to do heavy construction to apply for jobs the following morning. over 20,000
applicants came, only to be informed that the advertisement had been unau-
thorized and no hiring was to be done. on another occasion, in 1931, over 1,000
men responded to a call for sixty cement carrier positions. despite the gover-
nor’s proclamations, the unemployed of Michigan wanted jobs, but none existed.

Local relief programs soon could no longer meet the soaring needs of the
unemployed. Charitable organizations were on the verge of collapse by 1932,
mainly because large contributors of previous years either had lost everything
in the stock-market crash or were hoarding their money. in 1931 the detroit
Community Chest fell over $500,000 short of its goal. in an effort to raise funds,
Michigan’s liberal Republican Senator James Couzens pledged a personal

Depression Life in an Industrial State 233

donation of $1 million to relief agencies if other wealthy detroiters would
pledge another $9 million. For suggesting that the rich should sacrifice to assist
the less fortunate, Couzens’ friends not only criticized him, but also ostracized
him from their social groups. Consequently, by 1932 Michigan’s relief agencies,
which had spent over $55 million the previous year, were nearly bankrupt.

Governor Brucker, however, was unmoved and in late 1931 refused an offer
of federal assistance, wiring President hoover that “the people of Michigan
will take care of their own problem.” he established a State Unemployment
Commission, consisting of 105 prominent citizens, to study the problems of
unemployment and make suggestions on how to remedy the situation. the
governor also made speaking tours to other states urging them to purchase
more goods from Michigan, which seemed to ignore the fact that Michigan was
not alone in its financial woes. in 1931 the governor announced his opposition
to a proposed old-age pension law because it was financed by a property, rather
than a head, tax. he further threatened to veto any unemployment compensa-
tion bills passed by the legislature, saying that the industrial instability that
caused unemployment was a national, not a state, problem, and if Michigan
passed an unemployment compensation bill it would draw attention to the
state’s problems and overemphasize them in people’s minds. Moreover, he
argued that such a bill would force industry out of Michigan and into states
which did not compel an employer to pay laid-off workers. “Rugged
individualism” was alive, but not doing well, in Michigan.

The Plight of Detroit

of all Michigan cities, detroit was hardest hit by the depression. Much of
detroit’s problem was that while most automobile workers lived in the city,
many of the largest automobile companies, especially Ford, were located out-
side the city limits and therefore were exempt from city taxes. Because of the
unemployed automobile workers, detroit quickly claimed the largest relief pro-
gram in the state, and conservative critics began to complain that drifters were
coming to the city merely to get a “handout.” While it is true that many people
arrived in detroit in the early 1930s, few, if any, came for a “handout.” Most
were lured to the city by Governor Brucker who announced in early 1931 that
he knew that automobile production was to increase and hiring would begin,
and by henry Ford, who, having slashed his payroll by 75 percent in August
1931, was promising in February 1932 that his new V-8 engine plant would hire
thousands of workers. When these promises failed to become reality, the poor
could not afford to leave and try to find work elsewhere.


in 1931, Frank Murphy, a liberal democrat with strong ties to organized
labor, was elected mayor of detroit and pledged to wage war on unemploy-
ment. First, he tried to register the city’s 48,000 families on relief to determine
the exact magnitude of the problem. next, he established job referral services to
assist the unemployed in finding work. third, following the example of Pingree,
he encouraged people to plant “thrift gardens” and offered vacant city lots to be
used as farms. Finally, he induced owners of abandoned factories to lease them
to the city for the purpose of being converted into temporary housing for the
unemployed. to Murphy, the first duty of his administration was to feed, clothe,
and house the needy.

this approach greatly disturbed conservatives throughout the state, and
many of them, especially bankers, threatened not to purchase any more detroit
bonds unless Murphy reduced the welfare rolls by at least 15,000. Murphy
refused, but the Common Council overruled him. opposition to Murphy’s
relief program intensified when it was discovered that one of the mayor’s aides
had embezzled $200,000 in welfare funds. the fact that he was caught and all
but $20,000 was returned did little to curtail criticisms that the relief organiza-
tion was mismanaged. this belief was further strengthened when henry Ford
attacked all welfare recipients as “freeloaders” and Murphy as a “Santa Claus”
wasting detroit’s money.

Brucker echoed these sentiments, saying that detroit “suffered mostly
through its own generosity in establishing the dole” and that “one of the chief
factors contributing to local inability to meet the present needs” was “the hope-
lessly inefficient and wasteful organization of relief work” in that city. he said
that the city had been on a spending orgy and that the state should not have to
assist it out of debt. Ultimately he authorized a $1.8 million loan to detroit, but
even that was not enough to meet the city’s needs.

Riot at the Rouge

Conservative reluctance to support massive relief programs was partly rooted
in a fear that liberals and unemployed workers were in league with Communists
plotting the overthrow of the existing economic and political structures. this
fear seemed to be substantiated on March 7, 1932, when 3,000 Communist-
inspired demonstrators gathered in detroit preparatory to going to dearborn
to present henry Ford with demands for union recognition, improved working
conditions, and relief for laid-off company employees.

At the dearborn city limits the protestors, carrying banners saying “tax the
Rich and Feed the Poor” and “We Want Bread, not Crumbs,” were met by forty

Depression Life in an Industrial State 235

dearborn policemen, who refused them entry because they had failed to obtain
a parade permit. Angry marchers pushed the police aside, which resulted in the
police hurling tear gas into the throng. A riot ensued and marchers flung rocks
and pieces of concrete at the retreating police. the dearborn Fire department
arrived, but by the time they connected their hoses to force streams of icy water
on the mob, the fighting had reached the gates of the Rouge Assembly Plant.
Police, assisted by Ford’s security forces, fired into the crowd, killing four and
seriously wounding nineteen others. After two hours the marchers withdrew
and the battle was over.

Four days later an estimated 15,000 mourners, many of whom belonged to
detroit’s 2,000-member Communist Party, attended the funeral of the slain
marchers. Speeches were made before the coffins, which rested under a huge
red banner bearing a picture of Lenin. Mayor Murphy, despite a popular outcry,
permitted this overt propaganda to occur, saying that the Constitution granted
the rights of free assembly and free speech even to radicals. ironically, the
Communists repaid the mayor by unsuccessfully attempting to link him with
Ford as a “tool of Wall Street” and enemy of the people.

Figure 15.1 the Ford Rouge Plant. the Rouge complex is comprised of more than
two dozen Albert Kahn‒designed buildings. Courtesy of the detroit historical Society.


Although this so-called “hunger March” was undeniably planned and led by
Communists, nearly all the participants were not party members, but rather
former Ford workers who sought aid or a promise of possible future rehiring
from the company. After refusing comment for several days, Ford issued
a statement denouncing all the marchers as Communists who intended to
destroy his plant to symbolize the overthrow of capitalism. Public opinion did
not support Ford’s position, and his popularity reached a new low. Latent
worker hostility, which had been fueled for years by Ford’s policies of increased
employee productivity, decreased wages, arbitrary firings, and uncertainty of
hours, now burst into the open, and the stage was set for further unrest among
automotive workers.

Closing the Banks

the democratic landslide of 1932 swept Republicans from power in
Michigan. the new governor, William A. Comstock, was faced with an imme-
diate crisis upon taking office in January 1933. From december 1929 to
december 1932, nearly 200 banks in the state had closed, leaving depositors
in financial ruin. in detroit, where the situation was most critical, only six
banks were still functioning in 1933. of these, four were independent and
relatively solvent, but the two largest, the Guardian Union Company and
the detroit Bankers’ Company, were extremely unstable, and since they
controlled other smaller banks throughout the state their survival was

these major banks had a large percentage of their assets in mortgages and
bonds that had become virtually worthless as the depression worsened. of the
two detroit banks, the Guardian group was in a greater danger of collapse, and
in 1932 it had had to borrow $15 million from the federal Reconstruction
Finance Corporation. desperate for more operating capital, the following
January it requested an additional $50 million. Federal examiners, finding
insufficient collateral to guarantee the entire loan, promised to provide part of
the funding if large depositors, such as General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford,
would supply the balance. General Motors and Chrysler agreed, realizing that
if the large detroit banks failed many smaller ones throughout the state would
follow suit, but henry Ford, a lifelong critic of banks, refused. Even a personal
plea from President hoover could not budge Ford from his belief that a private
citizen should not have to help underwrite the United States Government and
the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which had been created to manage
situations such as that in detroit.

Depression Life in an Industrial State 237

on February 12, 1933, bankers from new York and Chicago met in detroit
with government officials, local bankers, and leading industrialists. the fol-
lowing evening, having failed to find a solution to the Guardian crisis, they
agreed that the bank should not reopen for business. Governor Comstock, in
order to prevent panic withdrawals from other banks when the news of
Guardian’s closing became public, on February 14 ordered that all banks in the
state be closed until February 23.

Comstock’s action threw citizens into a frenzy. People with money in
checking and savings accounts suddenly were temporarily destitute, and busi-
nesses were paralyzed. on February 21, Comstock extended the “Bank holiday,”
but allowed banks to make limited withdrawals to depositors and to accept
funds for safekeeping. other states followed Michigan’s lead and on March 6,
only two days after his inauguration, President Franklin d. Roosevelt declared
a national “Bank holiday.”

on March 21, the Michigan legislature passed a bill enabling solvent banks
to reopen under strict supervision. the two large detroit institutions, however,
were liquidated. in an uncommon act of generosity, big depositors waived all
claims to funds in order that depositors with amounts under $1,000 in the
Guardian group and $300 in the detroit Bankers’ Company could be repaid in
full. By the summer of 1933 the crisis had passed, and the creation of the
Federal deposit insurance Corporation to insure savings up to $5,000 did
much to restore popular confidence in banks. Governor Comstock received
widespread criticism for “illegally” closing the banks, but his quick action not
only preserved Michigan’s financial integrity but also served as a model for the
rest of the nation.

the governor was also attacked for supporting a 3¢ on a dollar sales tax.
Rumors spread that the money collected was to be used to build the governor
a mansion, and these stories were not quelled until Comstock offered a reward
to anyone who could prove their truth. Even his support of a workmen’s
compensation law could not alter negative opinion of Comstock, and in 1934,
Republicans were restored to power and Frank Fitzgerald was elected

The Voice from the Pulpit

in the midst of the bank crisis many voices stirred the masses, but none had the
impact of Father Charles E. Coughlin, a Catholic priest who had a weekly radio
broadcast from the Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal oak. An ardent
Roosevelt advocate in 1932, Coughlin blamed the depression on big business


and bankers, who, he claimed, existed only by robbing the poor and helpless.
he warned that “banking was a crap game played by the unscrupulous expert
with other people’s money,” and spread the false story that directors of major
detroit banks had urged their wealthy friends to withdraw their funds shortly
before the “Bank holiday.” his attacks on banks and investment companies
temporarily diminished after Roosevelt’s election, creation of the Federal
deposit insurance Corporation and Securities and Exchange Commission, and
publication of a New York Times exposé on how he had lost nearly $14,000 of
his “contributions for charity” in a bad stock-market investment and was
heavily in debt to several detroit banks.

in december 1934, Coughlin established the national Union for Social
Justice, with its stated goals being “to uphold and defend the right of private
ownership of property and to promote the welfare of all Americans, regardless
of race, creed, or social situation.” he urged his followers to support passage of
a minimum wage law, profit-sharing plans, and increased unionization of labor.

in 1936, Coughlin’s career began to decline. Calling Roosevelt a “liar” and
“double crosser” because of the administration’s farm and economic policies,
Coughlin urged the election of William Lemke as President. he went so far as
to denounce Roosevelt as “the dumbest man ever to sit in the White house”
and accused him of being both sympathetic to communism and a tool of an
“international conspiracy of Jewish bankers” who wished to rule the world
economy. By 1937 his broadcasts were little more than anti-Semitic, anti-
Roosevelt diatribes, and he was ordered by the church hierarchy to cancel his
radio program. in 1942, the government had to ban mailing of his magazine,
Social Justice, because of its opposition to America’s making war against anti-
Communist, anti-Jewish nazis. Father Coughlin’s days of glory were over, but
his legacy of extremism continued.

Black Legion

While Father Coughlin’s sermons offended many people’s sensibilities, a far
greater threat to civil liberties arose when the United Brotherhood of America,
or the Black Legion, came to Michigan. Founded in ohio in 1931 as an out-
growth of the Ku Klux Klan, the legion reached Michigan that same year and
found eager acceptance among former southerners living in detroit, Flint,
Lansing, Saginaw, and other industrial centers. Like the Klan, the legion was a
secret, ritualistic society which was opposed to Jews, blacks, Catholics, and eve-
rything and everybody perceived as a threat to “white, native-born Protestant,
100% Americanism.”

Depression Life in an Industrial State 239

in Michigan the legion was headed by Arthur Lupp, a state milk-inspector,
who was appalled that “real Americans” were unemployed while “Communists”
had jobs. his followers were mostly poor ex-southerners in their early thirties,
who had little or no education and worked as unskilled laborers. By contrast,
Lupp and the legion hierarchy were well-educated and native-born
Michiganians, who, in many instances, held state or municipal government
positions and were able to hire scores of their untrained members and put them
on the public payroll. At its height, the legion claimed 200,000 Michigan mem-
bers, but its power centered around a cadre of vicious thugs who were responsi-
ble for at least fifty-seven killings in detroit alone during the years 1931–36.

Prospective members underwent an elaborate initiation ceremony during
which they swore, at the point of a pistol, to “exert every possible means” to
bring about the “extermination of the anarchists, Communists, and the Roman
hierarchy and their abettors.” After the oath-taking, each new legionnaire
received a membership card stating that the brotherhood was strictly for
Protestants, with its goal the protection of Protestant social and economic

Figure 15.2 A Black Legionnaire in ceremonial garb presented both a ludicrous and
terrifying image. Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative #02327.


interests, and a bullet, which was accompanied by a warning that its mate
would kill him if the secret oath was ever violated. Members were then assigned
to one of several legal front organizations, many of which had such highly
suspicious names as the Bullet Club, night Riders, or Black Knights, and told
to await instructions from their leaders.

often the leadership issued orders simply to satisfy a personal lust for cruelty
or vengeance. As Frank Woodford, a leading historian of detroit, aptly stated,
“anyone . . . who incurred displeasure was liable to a midnight ride to a secluded
spot where he might be shot, horsewhipped or otherwise abused by a pack of
vicious self-righteous imbeciles who had convinced themselves they were only
meting out justice.”

typical of such senseless brutality was the May 1935 murder of Silas
Coleman, a black detroit concrete worker. Five of his white coworkers, all
legion members, visited Coleman at his home and told him that they had been
instructed by their foreman to bring Coleman to him for payment of $18 in
back wages. Before going to the plant, the six men stopped at a tavern to cele-
brate Coleman’s good fortune. the legionnaires then drove Coleman to a field
and shot over thirty rounds of pistol fire into him. When the assassins were
arrested and questioned, they professed a friendship for their victim and con-
fessed that they had shot him simply because they “wanted to see what it was
like to kill a negro.”

the Michigan Legion’s power came to an abrupt end after its members killed
a twenty-two-year-old detroit WPA worker who had allegedly beaten his preg-
nant Protestant wife. on May 22, 1936, the victim was kidnapped, shot ten
times, and his body left lying on a road. Federal investigators quickly gathered
evidence, made arrests, and induced one of the suspects to confess. his testi-
mony implicated not only his co-assassins, but also his immediate legion
superiors. Arrests of these lower echelon leaders started a chain reaction of
confessions that ultimately led to Lupp. By the end of 1936, public indignation
over revelations of legion terrorist activities had caused the remaining members
of the group to disband, never to plague the state again.

Sit-Down Strikes

the elections of 1936 saw a slight democratic resurgence in Michigan.
Roosevelt, supported by Senator Couzens, who had been defeated for renomi-
nation by ex-governor Brucker, carried the state by 500,000 votes. his coattails
were long enough to cause narrow victories for Prentiss M. Brown for the
United States Senate and Frank Murphy for governor.

Depression Life in an Industrial State 241

Murphy’s immediate problem as governor was how to deal with workers
going on “sit-down strikes.” the “sit-down” was a new device, first used in 1936
by rubber workers in Akron, ohio, to force management to bargain collectively.
in Michigan, automotive workers found the technique especially suited to their
purposes for several reasons. First, because they were unskilled, a regular strike
was useless. Management merely called in strikebreakers, often members of the
Black Legion, to drive off the “Communist” strikers and then hired new men to
replace them. Second, because of their unskilled condition, the American
Federation of Labor, a craft union, refused to accept automobile workers as
members. this meant that the only union available for automobile workers was
that run by the company. in 1935 this was partly remedied by creation of the
Committee for industrial organization, which included the United Automotive
Workers (UAW). Management, however, still refused to bargain with this new,
weak union. third, by locking themselves in the plants, workers believed
that management would be reluctant to take any action that might result in
destruction of machinery and thus would be forced to negotiate peacefully.

Figure 15.3 Flint sit-down strike of 1935. Strikers of Fisher Body Plant number 3
guard a window entrance to keep out management and any others who may attempt to
break the strike. Library of Congress, Washington, d.C., LC-USZ62-131616.


on december 30, 1936, the question was put to the test as workers at the
General Motors Chevrolet and Fisher Body plants in Flint instituted a

Flint, in 1936, was a natural setting for worker unrest. the mayor, city
manager, police chief, judges, school-board members, welfare officials, and the
local newspaper were all controlled by General Motors. over 80 percent of the
city’s 150,000 residents depended, either directly or indirectly, on General
Motors for their livelihood. in a year when the average factory worker earned a
maximum of $900, General Motors reported record net earnings of $238.5 mil-
lion, and its 1,678 salaried employees, including officers and directors, received
$10,408,000. in 1936 a General Motors worker could be fired at the whim of his
foreman, would endure unpaid layoffs between model changes that lasted for
three to five months, would have no unemployment insurance or control over
the amount of hours to be worked, and would be subjected to “speedups” in
production caused by firings of other workers. More than any other factor, the
“speedup” demands brought about the strike. Forced to work at an incredible
pace, with the fear of layoffs always in their minds and an army of unemployed
outside, and company spies inside to harass them, Flint auto workers seethed
with discontent.

once in control of the plants, workers issued a list of grievances that included
demands for reinstatement of men fired for union activities, company agree-
ment to recognize the UAW as the sole bargaining agent for the workers, mini-
mum wages and maximum hours, and an ending of “speedup” production.
Corporation officials, however, refused to negotiate until the workers vacated
the plants, and they called upon Governor Murphy to dispatch troops immedi-
ately to evict the strikers. on January 5, 1937, Murphy announced that his
policy was to remain “absolutely neutral” in the dispute. the company then
organized a letter-writing campaign to attack the governor for failing to protect
the right of private ownership of property even if so doing meant the death of a
few “labor dictators” and “Communists.” the Flint Alliance, made up of
General Motors employees and local businessmen, was formed allegedly to
speak for the majority of workers by denouncing the strike and expressing a
desire to return to their jobs. A court injunction against the strike was sought,
but it proved useless when it was discovered that the judge who had issued it
owned 3,665 shares of General Motors stock. in desperation, on January 11,
General Motors ordered the Flint police to storm Fisher Body Plant number 2.
Before Murphy could send in the national Guard to restore order, the police
had been driven back by a barrage of icy water and bolts. the “Battle of the
Running Bulls,” as it became known, resulted in fourteen workers and twelve
policemen suffering wounds. Flint was in a state of civil war.

Depression Life in an Industrial State 243

on January 13, Murphy met with General Motors officials and persuaded
them to agree to negotiate once the workers left the plants, but the workers
refused to leave and even ignored another court injunction. informal negotia-
tions did occur, however, and by February 4, the only worker demand was that
the UAW be recognized as sole bargaining agent. For the next week Flint was
like an armed camp as 4,000 national Guardsmen, 1,000 deputized vigilantes,
and the Flint police surrounded the 5,000 sit-downers, who had been without
heat and lights for several weeks because General Motors shut off all power in
the plants. despite pleas from the mayor that the police attack, on February 11,
General Motors gave in and the strike was over.

to avoid a similar occurrence, Chrysler accepted UAW representation of
its workers, but henry Ford steadfastly refused to recognize the UAW or any
other union, and he turned his Rouge plant into an armed fortress to repel the
anticipated onslaught. Public opinion initially was with Ford because UAW
militancy and willingness to work with Communists was viewed by many
people as a threat to property rights. on the other hand, the UAW had to
organize Ford workers or risk losing everything it had gained at General
Motors and Chrysler.

on May 26, 1937, several UAW officers, including Walter Reuther, director
of the union’s General Motors division, went to the Rouge plant to distribute
leaflets. they were met at an overpass by members of Ford’s security police and
were brutally beaten. Unfortunately for Ford, newspaper reporters and photog-
raphers witnessed the entire bloody melee, and the following day, the whole
country knew of the gory “Battle of the overpass.” From that day forward,
public opinion steadily shifted toward the UAW.

Ford continued to resist and scored a temporary victory in February 1939
when the United States Supreme Court ruled sit-down strikes illegal. in 1940,
however, the courts ordered Ford to stop interfering with union organizing
efforts, and in February 1941, he was forced by the courts to pay thousands of
dollars in back wages to workers he had fired for being union sympathizers. he
continued to release employees favoring unionization and refused to permit a
referendum on the issue. Finally, on April 4, 1941, the UAW struck and pick-
eted the Rouge plant. Ford appealed to Governor Murray d. VanWagoner and
President Roosevelt for troops to break the strike, but both refused. A week
later Ford agreed to hold an election on May 21 to determine whether or not his
workers favored union representation. When the results showed 70 percent in
favor, Ford met with UAW officials and signed the most generous contract ever
given the union to that time. he agreed to a closed (all union) shop, increased
wages, seniority benefits, and replacement of his security force with uniformed
guards. the UAW was now a permanent force in American labor.


Sit-downs spread to nonautomotive businesses as well, and by March 3,
1937, detroit was experiencing over thirty work stoppages. Laundries, cigar
factories, warehouses, department stores, meatpacking houses, and even
Woolworth’s dime stores were affected. Amid these strikes the Labor News joy-
fully printed the banner headline, “We’ve got ‘em on the run, Brothers, we’ve
got ‘em on the run.”

Much to the chagrin of management, Murphy refused to summon troops to
end the sit-ins, choosing instead to urge the opposing sides to bargain
collectively. he told Michigan citizens that he would never use bullets to end a
strike. Workers appreciated this attitude, but the general public grew to resent
the governor’s “softness toward labor” when the strikes began to affect their
normal activities. While nearly all the strikes were settled to labor’s advantage,
Governor Murphy paid the price for his enlightened stance as he was defeated
for reelection in 1938 by Frank Fitzgerald, who pledged that “there would be no
mob rule.”

Figure 15.4 President Franklin d. Roosevelt and democratic gubernatorial candidate
Frank Murphy, 1936. Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative #03723.

Depression Life in an Industrial State 245

Growth from Troubled Times

Even though the depression years were dominated by countless tales of personal
tragedy, racism, and brutality, these years also brought tremendous advances in
the physical development of the state. new deal relief and recovery measures
poured federal money into Michigan and gave jobs to thousands. Civilian
Conservation Corps camps recruited unemployed youths to work at reforestation
projects, cleaning rivers and streams, building parks and recreational areas, and
constructing roads in rural areas. Many of the spots that are today enjoyed by
campers, vacationers, and tourists are a result of work done during the depression.
the Works Progress Administration hired men to do civic improvement labor in
urban areas. WPA jobs included leaf raking, sewer cleaning, tree trimming, and

Figure 15.5 this picture, taken by a Detroit News photographer, shows (l-r) Robert
Kanter, a UAW organizer, Walter Reuther, the president of West Side Local, UAW,
Richard Frankensteen, the organization director of the UAW, and J. J. Kennedy, an
assistant to Frankensteen, being approached by three of henry Ford’s security police at
River Rouge. Minutes later violence erupted and the bloody “Battle of the overpass”
took place. Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative #05070.


road repair. it also funded creation of playgrounds and hiring of recreational
directors. in Flint in 1935, for example, sixteen new playgrounds were built and an
estimated 54,000 children used them each week; in addition, lifeguards were hired
to watch every local “swimming hole.” As a result of these programs, both juvenile
delinquency and child traffic fatalities drastically declined, and not a single
drowning occurred while a lifeguard was on duty. Cultural life was uplifted as
well by the WPA because it hired unemployed actors, actresses, entertainers, and
artists to perform at government expense. the Public Works Administration pro-
vided funds for heavy construction, and many schools, auditoriums, theaters,
libraries, campus buildings, and airports, were either erected or improved with
federal money. on a more personal level, the federal government built several
housing projects and instituted medical programs that enabled hundreds of
Michigan residents to visit a doctor for the first time. in terms of physical and
human development, it is estimated that it would have taken twenty years for
private funding to accomplish what the federal government did in three.

By 1936 times were improving, the federal government was turning over
relief programs to local and state agencies, and the automobile industry

Figure 15.6 during the Great depression, many unemployed persons were hired by
the federal Works Progress Administration to do jobs in light industry. these WPA
workers are shoveling snow along Gratiot Avenue in detroit. Courtesy of the Archives
of Michigan, negative #05311.

Depression Life in an Industrial State 247

produced nearly 5 million cars and trucks. Even a recession the following year
could not dim state pride in having detroit being known as sport’s “City of
Champions,” with the tigers winning the pennant in 1934 and 1935, the Lions
capturing the national Football League crown in 1935, the Red Wings taking
the Stanley Cup the same year, and the “Brown Bomber” Joe Louis pounding
his way to the World heavyweight Boxing championship in 1937.

As Michiganians’ self-respect and pride increased, so did the threat of war in
Europe. ironically, the economic effects of the depression lingered on until
American entry into World War ii brought massive government contracts to
industry, put men into the armed forces, and introduced large numbers of
women to factory labor. the “City of Champions” was, by 1939, without
knowing it, on the road to becoming the “Arsenal of democracy.”

For Further Reading

two excellent volumes deal with general events in detroit during the depression.
Malcolm W. Bingay, Detroit Is My Own Home Town (new York: Bobbs-Merrill Co.,
1946) offers personal insights from a leading newspaper columnist, while Frank B. and
Arthur W. Woodford, All Our Yesterdays (detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1969)
is a lively account of the history of the Motor City.

Sidney Fine, Frank Murphy: The Detroit Years (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan
Press, 1976) is a scholarly recital of Murphy’s rise to power. the Murphy-Brucker strug-
gle is recounted very well in Richard t. ortquist, “Unemployment and Relief: Michigan’s
Response to the depression during the hoover Years,” Michigan History, LVii (1973).
the banking crisis is detailed in Gordon thomas and Max Morgan-Witts, The Day the
Bubble Burst (new York: doubleday, 1979).

henry Ford has always fascinated biographers, and among the best works on his life
and personal beliefs are Anne Jardim, The First Henry Ford (Cambridge: Mit Press,
1970); Keith Sward, The Legend of Henry Ford (new York: Russell and Russell, 1948);
and Alex Baskin, “the Ford hunger March,” Labor History, Xiii (1972).

the Flint sit-down strike and its effects are portrayed vividly in Sidney Fine, Sit Down
(Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1970); Walter Linder, How Industrial
Unionism Was Won: The Great Flint Sit Down Against General Motors (Bromley:
Solidarity, 1969); and thomas A. Karman, “Flint Sit down Strike,” Michigan History,
XLVi (1962). the company position was put forth by General Motors’ President Alfred
M. Sloan in Story of the General Motors Strike (detroit: General Motors Corporation,
1967). the rise of the UAW is told in James R. Prickett, “Communists and the
Automobile industry in detroit Before 1935,” Michigan History, LVii (1973); irving
howe and B. J. Widick, The U.A.W. and Walter Reuther (new York: Random house,
1949); and William h. Chafe, “Flint and the Great depression, Michigan History,
Liii (1969).


Father Coughlin has been the subject of three biographies, Charles J. tull, Father
Coughlin and the New Deal (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1965); Sheldon Marcus,
Father Coughlin: The Tumultuous Life of the Priest of the Little Flower (Boston: Little,
Brown, 1973); and donald Warren, Radio Priest Charles Coughlin: The Father of Hate
Radio (new York: the Free Press, 1995). Coughlin also was examined in Mary A.
dempsey, “the Many Faces of Father Coughlin,” Michigan History (July–August 1999).

other worthwhile readings include Susan Stein-Roggenbuck, “A Contest for Local
Control: Emergency Relief in depression Era Michigan,” The Michigan Historical Review
(Fall 2000), Philip A. Grant, Jr., “the Presidential Election of 1932 in Michigan,” The
Michigan Historical Review (Spring 1986), and Kenneth B. West, “on the Line: Rank and
File Reminiscences of Working Conditions and the General Motors Sit down Strike of
1936–1937,” The Michigan Historical Review (Spring 1986).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

inequality in the Arsenal of

Michigan residents, like those throughout the entire nation, were shocked and
angered by the Japanese attack on the United States naval base at Pearl harbor
on december 7, 1941. Because of its seemingly limitless industrial capacity,
Michigan immediately became a critical resource in the struggle to prevent the
Axis powers—Germany, italy, and Japan—from gaining world domination.
Within hours after the news of Pearl harbor reached Washington, the Federal
Bureau of investigation and United States Army were dispatched to detroit.
Four truckloads of soldiers were assigned to guard the Ambassador Bridge and
Windsor tunnel. Police patrolled every radio station and transmitter in the
city. Plans were formulated to prevent sabotage and, if necessary, to seize all
foreign-born Japanese in the state. With speed and efficiency, the automobile
capital of the world was transformed into the “armorer for the Allies”—the
“Arsenal of democracy.”

Michigan in the War

Michigan’s contributions to the war effort are legendary and began even before
active American involvement in the conflict commenced. in 1940, the United
States national defense Council, headed by General Motors President William
S. Knudsen, was created to coordinate industrial preparedness. Knudsen toured
industrial centers across the country and devised a blueprint to convert



automobile plants and their suppliers, into producers of war materiel. in August
1941, the government decreed that domestic automobile production had to be
curtailed, and the following February it ordered that all automobile manufac-
turing was to cease until the conclusion of the war. General Motors symbolized
the unity of the automobile industry in the war effort with its slogan “Victory is
our Business.”

over $200 billion in federal war contracts were issued, of which Michigan
received better than 10 percent, second only to those granted to new York. of
the state’s total war contracts, over $13 billion in business was given to detroit-
based firms. Among automobile companies, General Motors manufactured
engines and munitions at several plants. the hudson Motor Company built
naval artillery. Ford produced more than 8,500 B-24 Liberator bombers at its
specially constructed Willow Run plant and joined with Willys-overland in
assembling Jeeps and jet-propelled “buzz bombs.” Packard built Rolls-Royce air-
plane engines. the Chrysler Corporation put 25,000 Grant, Sherman, and Patton
tanks into combat areas from its Warren assembly operations, which, at one
time, produced 1,000 units per month. Chrysler and Wolverine tube also manu-
factured several components used in the first atomic bombs. in September 1942,
President Roosevelt toured detroit, praised the city’s labor force, and urged even
greater output. the president’s plea was heeded as in 1943 detroit’s industries
delivered a record $12 billion in armaments. By war’s end, detroit, with 2 percent
of the nation’s population, was producing 10 percent of its war materiel.

Areas outside detroit also contributed mightily to the war effort. Genesee
and ingham counties each received more than $1 billion in war contracts, while
nine other counties each received armament orders worth at least $100 million.
the Buick plant in Grand Blanc constructed the famous “hellcat” tank. Gliders
were made at iron Mountain and helicopter parts at Grand Rapids. Kalamazoo
manufactured amphibious tanks, while Bay City produced submarine chasers,
destroyer escorts, and landing craft. dow Chemical created synthetic-based
war products at its plants in Ludington, Marysville, and Midland. the Kellogg
Company of Battle Creek processed K Rations to feed combat soldiers. By war’s
end, Michigan had sent more than 4 million engines and 200,000 mobile units,
as well as 613,542 of its men and women, to the armed forces. of these, 10,263
lost their lives, and 29,321 suffered wounds. often overlooked in such compos-
ite tabulations is the significant contribution made by the upper peninsula,
which sent approximately 40,000 of its residents to the armed forces—⅛ of the
region’s population. of this number 1,466 died in the service of their nation.

Michigan’s war production was all the more remarkable considering the
number of work hours lost because of strikes. Labor unrest stemmed from
fatigue, unsympathetic management, government restrictions on wage

Inequality in the Arsenal of Democracy 251

increases, union rivalries, and worker suspicion toward union leadership. in
1944, Michigan accounted for more than 10 percent of all the nation’s strikes,
more than 25 percent of its idled workers, and more than 20 percent of the total
production time lost because of work stoppages. during 1944, the year of the
greatest labor unrest, as many as 65 percent of Michigan’s UAW members went
on strike. other workers, who refused to strike, often participated in produc-
tion slowdowns. nearly all the strikes were in detroit, where, as Alan Clive
noted in his book State of War, “militants believed that they were fighting a war
against management autocracy at home that was at least as important as the
battle against fascism being waged abroad.” Even though strikes were short,
usually lasting only three or four days, they undermined the government’s
attempt to maintain unbroken production of war materiel.

Michigan’s agricultural communities also served the nation by increasing
cultivated acreage. Crop yields reached a record level in 1942, but several

Figure 16.1 the first M-3 medium 28-ton tank rumbled out of the Chrysler tank
Arsenal on April 12, 1941, and was presented by the Chrysler Corporation as a gift to
the United States Army. the Army claimed that this tank was the most powerful weapon
of its type in the world and was a rolling fortress. Library of Congress, Washington, d.C.,


factors prohibited production from going higher. First, the federal government
rationed the amount of farm machinery that could be manufactured;
consequently, farmers often had to use badly outmoded equipment. Second,
weather conditions played havoc with crops. in 1942 and 1943, the state
received too much precipitation, in 1944 not enough, and in 1945 there was a
late-spring killing frost. third, rural electrification projects begun during the
depression either were canceled or delayed. Finally, until Congress passed the
Agricultural deferment Act (1942) for youths engaged in farming, there was an
immense labor shortage.

Labor shortages, which initially plagued war production efforts, were alleviated
somewhat by the use of women, dubbed “Rosie the Riveters,” in manufacturing
plants. however, the addition of women to the work force occurred only after
federal intervention. in the summer of 1942 the War Production Commission
determined that because of shortages in both housing and medical facilities,
detroit could no longer accept emigrants from southern states to work in its
factories. the Commission warned the Michigan Manufacturers’ Association
that it would cancel the state’s defense contracts unless it began “recruiting large
numbers of women who do not consider themselves a part of the industrial labor
supply.” Consequently, the Michigan director of the War Manpower Commission
distributed 650,000 postcards requesting the state’s women “to take their places

Figure 16.2 German prisoners-of-war were detained at Camp Custer in Battle Creek.
Many of these prisoners would be sent to work on farms and factories. Courtesy of the
Archives of Michigan.

Inequality in the Arsenal of Democracy 253

on the production lines.” Before the struggle concluded, women worked in hun-
dreds of war-related occupations, and without their contribution the “Arsenal of
democracy” would not have flourished as it did.

Labor shortages were eased further in 1943 with the arrival of the first of
nearly 5,000 German and italian prisoners of war assigned to work in Michigan’s
fields and food processing centers. Approximately twenty prisoner-of-war
camps operated in Michigan during the years 1943–46. in the upper peninsula,
five camps, Port, Sawyer, Autrain, Raco, and Evelyn, housed nearly 1,000 pris-
oners. Camps in the lower peninsula were located at Fort Custer in Battle
Creek, which served as the state’s central induction and prisoner-of-war base,
hart, Fremont, Grant, Allegan, odessa, Coloma, Waterloo, Blissfield, dundee,
Grosse ile, owosso, Freeland, and Romulus. Prisoner-of-war camps were
minimum-security facilities, usually consisting of tents surrounded by wooden
fences. Additional security was unnecessary because, as one prisoner said: “it’s
not the guards or snow fence that keeps us in—it’s the Atlantic ocean.”

Federal guidelines were published and distributed encouraging farmers to
contact county agricultural agents to receive details on how to avail themselves
of the services of the prisoners. Prisoners, usually in groups of ten and guarded
by a single soldier, were engaged to labor for six-day, forty-eight-hour work
weeks. Farmers paid the government the prevailing wage for local farm labor
and, in turn, the government gave each prisoner 80¢ per day in the form of
coupons redeemable in the camp commissary.

Prisoners proved to be excellent laborers. the manager of an owosso
canning plant recalled:

At first we experienced a little difficulty with them because we didn’t know how
to handle them, and because we spoke different languages. But after we got things
straightened out, everything worked out fine. We couldn’t have operated this
season if it had not been for the services of these prisoners. At the peak of our
operations, 95% of our male help were prisoners. We were very well satisfied.

this source of reliable, efficient workers ended in late 1946 when all the
prisoners of war in Michigan were repatriated.

The War Within Michigan

not all of Michigan’s contributions to the war effort were positive, however, as
the detroit race riot of 1943 provided grist for the Axis propaganda mills.
Racial unrest was not new to detroit. on March 6, 1863, a mob of whites


opposed to President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and conscription
laws marched into the city’s black sector shouting that they refused to be sent to
the front lines to die so that blacks could take their jobs. Violence erupted, and
blacks were brutally beaten and kicked to death. houses were torched, and
when the fire department arrived, howling rioters slashed the water hoses.
Since detroit had not yet established a police force, fighting and arson contin-
ued unabated throughout the day. troops from the local Fort Wayne arsenal
finally restored order that evening, but by then hundreds of blacks had fled to
find shelter in either neighboring communities or Canada.

detroit’s black population continued to increase, and by 1920, the pace of
new arrivals was so rapid that the number of black residents was doubling every
five years. during this period white resentment festered, and the Ku Klux Klan
found fertile recruiting ground in automobile plants filled with workers who
had recently relocated from the South.

in 1925, racial hatreds broke into violence and once again the nation’s eyes
turned upon detroit. dr. ossian Sweet, a black physician, purchased a house in
a predominantly white neighborhood. Residents warned him not to enter their
community, and when he ignored their threats, an angry throng congregated
outside his new home. Police arrived to protect Sweet and his family, but a fight
broke out in the street when relatives of the doctor arrived. Suddenly a shot was
fired from within the house, killing a white bystander sitting on his porch
across the street. Sweet and all nine people in his house were arrested and
charged with murder. Clarence darrow, retained as Sweet’s defense attorney by
the national Association for the Advancement of Colored People, argued that
the fatal shot had been fired by an excited policeman, not his client. After
deliberating several days, the jury declared itself hopelessly deadlocked and
Presiding Recorder’s Court Judge Frank Murphy decreed that a new trial would
be held. At the second hearing darrow based his defense on civil liberties and
cited legal abuses suffered by blacks throughout American history. Moved by
darrow’s eloquence, and an admission by Sweet’s brother that he, not the doc-
tor, fired the shot to protect the property, the all-white jury acquitted Sweet.

during the 1930s blacks made painfully slow advances in civil rights, and
many black leaders expressed hope that the pace of the gains would be quick-
ened by the outbreak of World War ii. Because government officials claimed
that the war was a crusade to preserve democracy and assure personal freedoms,
blacks joined the armed forces in an effort to end fascism and racism not only
in Europe, but also at home. Quickly they realized that their goal for America
was a dream, and black servicemen bitterly complained that they fought and
died in a segregated military merely to preserve their right to remain
second-class citizens.

Inequality in the Arsenal of Democracy 255

national nAACP leaders warned of unrest among their people and urged
President Roosevelt to speak out against discrimination. The New Republic
magazine editorialized that Roosevelt confronted “a race problem as grave as
the one Lincoln faced,” but refused to admit it. in fairness to Roosevelt, he
deliberately chose to ignore the potentially explosive race issue for two reasons:
(1) he believed that the domestic war effort would be irreparably damaged by a
federal initiative for black rights; and (2) he could not afford to lose the political
support of Southern senators and congressmen that would result from his pro-
motion of civil-rights legislation. Consequently, racial strife in urban centers
became common. in June 1943, a series of nationwide race riots erupted in
Western and northern cities, the worst of which was in detroit.

Violence had been expected in detroit for years. Between the years 1940 and
1943, more than 500,000 Southern whites and 50,000 blacks poured into the
city seeking jobs. As the war progressed, tempers of the overcrowded residents
grew short. Rationing, rising prices, shortages of vital commodities, fatigue
from working overtime, the limited availability of recreation facilities, worry
over loved ones in the military, and a desire among noncombatants to prove

Figure 16.3 Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative #03808.


their masculinity combined to make detroit an explosive city. Life magazine
called detroit “dynamite” that was capable of either destroying hitler or the
United States. to make matters worse, as more white workers arrived, trailer
camps sprang up housing large numbers of illiterate, shiftless men who were
described by city officials as “cruel, pitiable, negative young savages.”

detroit was a model of racial segregation. Blacks were herded into a thirty-
block ghetto called Paradise Valley, and the detroit housing Commission and
fifty “neighborhood improvement associations,” aided by the Ku Klux Klan, kept
them there. outside observers commented that detroit was not only racially
divided, but also infested with fascism. the Ku Klux Klan and similar organiza-
tions claimed over 20,000 members, while racist ministers such as Father Charles
Coughlin and Gerald L. K. Smith made detroit their spiritual home. The New
Republic, commenting on the influence of these churchmen, said,

the Sunday broadcasts over detroit’s radio stations were a babble of racism,
fundamentalism, ignorance, and guile. they stank of an undemocratic ferment
going on below the city’s surface. no city, north or South, could match this hellish
symphony of the detroit radio stations.

this sentiment was echoed by the acting British consul general at detroit who
wrote to his superiors in London that “lunatic organizations have their largest

Figure 16.4 the pride and jubilation over the end of World War ii is evident in the
faces of detroit’s Cadillac Square and the headlines of the Detroit Times. Courtesy of the
Archives of Michigan.

Inequality in the Arsenal of Democracy 257

audiences here” and that the majority of the city’s populace were apathetic toward
the outcome of the war.

hostility began in early 1942 when 200 black families tried to enter a new
low-cost housing project named after Sojourner truth, a black woman who
had been a leader in the Underground Railroad. the development foolishly
had been placed in a white neighborhood, and when the blacks arrived, over
1,000 whites, coming from as far as twenty-five miles away, armed with clubs,
rifles, and knives, forced them to leave. one thousand state troopers then
escorted the blacks into the project, but white hatred soon drove them out
again. throughout the remainder of 1942, blacks and whites clashed in high
schools, factories, and on streetcars. Conditions deteriorated to such an extent
that the federal office of Facts and Figures predicted that unless the President
acted quickly “hell would be let loose” in detroit, but no action was taken.

in April 1943, over 100 teenagers brawled in a local playground, and in early
June nearly 25,000 Packard Motor Company workers went on strike to protest
the promotion of three black employees. Leaders of this walkout, which was the
most serious of a dozen similar “hate strikes” that occurred during the first half of
the year, told reporters that it might be better to allow hitler and hirohito to win
the war than to have to continue working next to negroes. the walkout ended
peacefully, but by then many detroiters expected a riot to begin at any time.

on June 20 the city exploded. over 100,000 detroiters, black and white,
thronged to Belle isle seeking relief from a prolonged heat wave. A black youth
organized a gang of teenagers to harass white picnickers and provoke violence.
Fighting spread to the bridge linking Belle isle to the city. Sailors from the
nearby Broadhead naval Arsenal entered the fray to avenge a beating given two
white sailors by blacks the previous day. By eleven o’clock that night over 5,000
people were fighting on the bridge, but within three hours police had restored
order without firing a shot.

Early on the morning of June 21, a hysterical black man rushed into a
Paradise Valley nightclub and told the patrons that whites had killed a black
woman and her baby by throwing them over the Belle isle bridge. Enraged by
this entirely false story, blacks marched to the bridge. Finding it blocked by
police, the mob turned their fury on the white-owned stores and houses in
Paradise Valley. Burning and looting began, with liquor and guns being
distributed freely, and police were summoned to restore order.

While this was occurring, white gangs were formed in response to a false
rumor that blacks were attacking white women on Belle isle. Burning, looting,
and distribution of guns and liquor began, and for several hours all along
Woodward Avenue blacks were indiscriminately seized and beaten.


At nine o’clock in the morning, nAACP leaders met with Mayor Edward
Jeffries and requested that federal troops enter the city to quell the insanity in
the streets. the mayor ignored their plea and had them removed from his
office. Within the hour, however, he changed his mind and made the request to
Governor harry Kelly, but no soldiers arrived for nearly twelve hours.

After twenty hours of fighting, a state of emergency was declared. By eight
o’clock on the evening of June 21, over 75 percent of detroit had been affected
by the rioting; over 100 fires raged throughout the city; and detroit Receiving
hospital recorded wounded residents entering at the rate of one every two
minutes. Finally, troops using rifle butts and tear gas cleared the streets, and by
midnight the riot was over.

the fighting resulted in thirty-four deaths, over 700 reported injuries, more
than $2 million in property damage, and at least 1 million man-hours lost in
war production. Axis propagandists used the riot as an example of American
democracy; the Ethiopian Pacific League urged blacks to support the Japanese
as the only true champion of nonwhite races; and American journalists wrote
that a succession of detroit could mean the loss of the war and would certainly
mean the loss of the peace. Analysis of the riot participants revealed shocking
facts: nearly 70 percent were under twenty-one years of age, 25 percent were
female, and 25 percent were illiterate. one study concluded that part of detroit’s
problem was simply that, with men in the military and women in the factories,
no parental influence over youngsters existed.

Unbelievably, city officials seemed oblivious to their problems. All blame for
the riot was placed unjustly upon blacks and no attempt was made to alleviate
even part of the difficulties by attempting to acquire more federal housing pro-
jects for blacks. Factory workers armed themselves and awaited the next riot.
Mayor Jeffries expressed the only lesson he learned by saying “We’ll know what
to do next time.” Unfortunately, there was a “next time,” but in 1967 the city still
did not “know what to do.” While Michigan has much of which to be proud
concerning its role in crushing tyranny in Europe and Asia, the “Arsenal of
democracy” also has much of which to be ashamed by its failure to work
equally hard to crush oppression at home.

Corruption and Murder

Another blemish on the state during the war years was that while American
troops were dying for the cause of freedom many of Michigan’s lawmakers were
safe at home in the “Arsenal of democracy” lining their pockets with graft.
during the 1920s and 1930s Michigan had earned national recognition as

Inequality in the Arsenal of Democracy 259

being second only to Louisiana in legislative corruption. this scandalous
behavior peaked in 1943 and resulted in a long-overdue grand jury investiga-
tion into charges of corruption in state government. this probe, headed by
ingham County Circuit Judge Leland W. Carr, culminated with nearly fifty sit-
ting or former legislators, a former lieutenant governor, police officials, bank-
ers, businessmen, and attorneys either being sentenced to, or actually serving,
prison terms, while scores of others had their reputations so sullied during the
trials that even if acquitted their political careers had ended.

the grand jury probe indirectly brought about a murder. on January 11,
1945, State Senator Warren G. hooper of Albion was brutally slain, gangland
fashion, as he drove home from the State Capitol. three days before he was to
testify before Judge Carr regarding bribery involving banking legislation, the
senator was found in his smoldering automobile with three bullet wounds in
his head. ironically, the sensational coverage of hooper’s death diminished
public interest in the story of the corruption that had brought about his assas-
sination, as Michigan residents became more concerned with discovering the
perpetrators of the crime than examining the specific motivation behind it. For
more than forty years the answer to the question of who slayed Senator hooper
remained a mystery, but in 1987 the identities of the assassins and their abettors
were revealed in Three Bullets Sealed His Lips.

Utilizing files of the Michigan State Police and detroit Police department, as
well as long-thought-to-have-been-destroyed records of the ingham County
Grand Jury, evidence indicated to the authors that a conspiracy to murder
Senator hooper was financed by Grand Rapids businessman and Republican
Party kingpin Frank d. McKay, who was also a vice-president of Michigan
national Bank, the primary target of the proposed banking legislation.
imprisoned Purple Gang leaders Ray Bernstein and harry Keywell were paid to
have Purple Gang members in detroit kill hooper before he could testify on
the banking bill. After two abortive attempts to murder the senator, Bernstein
and Keywell decided to do the job themselves. they bribed the deputy warden
of Jackson State Prison to lend them his car and two pistols and keep them
officially “on count” as in their cells, while they drove to M99, not far from the
prison, waylaid the senator, forced his car onto the shoulder of the highway,
killed their victim, and then drove back to prison, returned the car, destroyed
the murder weapon, and returned to their cells.

State Police detectives believed they had identified the assassins within days
of the crime, but no arrests were made because of jurisdictional disputes. to
further their political ambitions, Michigan’s Attorney General John dethmers,
detroit Police Commissioner harry S. toy, and ingham County Grand Jury
Special Prosecutor Kim Sigler each wanted complete credit for solving the


crime, and therefore each refused to share their investigative evidence with the
others. thus, no one was ever accused of the murder, although there was a
conspiracy to murder trial involving the detroit Purple Gangsters who had
failed to carry out the slaying. therefore, the hooper murder remained
Michigan’s most famous officially unsolved crime until the disappearance of
James R. hoffa.

For Further Reading

Michigan’s role as the “Arsenal of democracy” is well recounted in Carl Crow, The City
of Flint Grows Up (new York: harper & Brothers, 1945); Frank and Arthur Woodford,
All Our Yesterdays (detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1969); and Marion Wilson,
The Story of Willow Run (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1956). Alan Clive,
State of War: Michigan in WW II (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1979) is the
most recent, and complete, analysis of Michigan’s contributions to the war effort. the
contributions of the upper peninsula are recounted in Larry Chabot, The U.P. Goes to
War (Marquette: north harbor Publishing, 2006). Agricultural contributions are
detailed in Alan Clive, “the Michigan Farmer in World War ii,” Michigan History
(Winter 1976). Racial unrest in detroit is brilliantly related in Robert Conot, American
Odyssey (new York: Morrow, 1974) and August Meier and Elliott Rudwick, Black Detroit
and the Rise of the U.A.W. (new York: oxford University Press, 1979). the riot of 1863
is explained, albeit inadequately, in John C. Schneider, “detroit and the Problem of
disorder: the Riot of 1863,” Michigan History (Spring 1974). An insightful look into the
Sweet case is offered in Sidney Fine, Frank Murphy: The Detroit Years (Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan Press, 1975). the race riot of 1943 is masterfully analyzed in
harvard Sitkoff, “the detroit Race Riot of 1943,” Michigan History (Fall 1969). other
accounts of the events that rocked detroit are Robert Shogan and thomas Craig, The
Detroit Race Riot (Philadelphia: Chilton Books, 1964); dominic J. Capecci, Jr. and
Martha Wilkerson, “the detroit Rioters, 1943: A Reinterpretation,” The Michigan
Historical Review (Spring 1990). the ossian Sweet case is detailed in Phyllis Vine, One
Man’s Castle: Clarence Darrow in Defense of the American Dream (new York:
harperCollins, 2005). Corruption in the Michigan legislature and the political
assassination of State Senator Warren G. hooper are examined in two books by Bruce A.
Rubenstein and Lawrence E. Ziewacz, Three Bullets Sealed His Lips (East Lansing:
Michigan State University Press, 1987) and Payoffs in the Cloakroom: The Greening of the
Michigan Legislature (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1995). An excellent
work on blacks in detroit in the nineteenth century is david M. Katzman, Before the
Ghetto (Urbana: University of illinois Press, 1973).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Fears and Frustration
in the Cold War Era

Following World War ii, the nation underwent its usual period of unstable
postwar economic conditions. Businessmen clamored for higher prices, labor
demanded increased wages, and consumers, whose bank accounts had swollen
through wartime savings, eagerly awaited an opportunity to purchase durable
goods such as automobiles which had been unavailable during the war. Since
money was plentiful and merchandise scarce, inflation threatened to ravage the
country unless the federal government effectively controlled the economy. the
office of Price Administration was charged with stabilizing the marketplace.
despite strikes for higher pay by workers in the automobile, meatpacking, coal,
steel, railroad, and electrical industries, and consumer indifference over infla-
tion, the agency did a remarkable job. during the ten months following the
conclusion of hostilities, prices rose only 7 percent, although this still left them
33 percent higher than in January 1942. After the original Price Administration
charter expired on June 30, 1946, and a new, weaker version was instituted,
prices soared 25 percent within a month.

Shortages continued and blackmarket sales were common. demand was
especially high for automobiles since, according to Fortune magazine, there
were at least 9 million units ready to be traded for new models. Because demand
greatly outstripped production, it was estimated in 1946 that 75 percent of all
new car deliveries were to customers who had bribed salesmen to place their
orders. Meat was also in short supply and distributors sold only to their regular
patrons. in detroit, a neighborhood butcher refused to sell to a stranger who



entered his shop, saying only, “Let her starve!” Using shortages and rising prices
as campaign issues, Republicans swept to a nationwide victory in 1946 and
gained control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1930.

The Father of Bipartisan Foreign Policy

the return of Republicanism occurred much earlier in Michigan, as the GoP
had regained control of the legislature in 1934 and had held the governorship
since 1942 when harry F. Kelly defeated incumbent democrat Murray d.
VanWagoner. the most influential Republican officeholder was United States
Senator Arthur h. Vandenberg, a former Grand Rapids newspaper editor, who
had been appointed to the Senate in 1928 to fill the vacancy caused by the death
of Woodbridge n. Ferris. his initial years in Washington saw Vandenberg
become known for his backing of President hoover’s “rugged individualism”
and then for his grudging support of several new deal recovery measures,
most notably the Federal deposit insurance Corporation. his foremost domes-
tic achievement was sponsoring a bill that called for automatic reapportion-
ment of the house of Representatives after each ten-year census. in 1936 he was
offered, but refused, his party’s vice-presidential nomination.

Vandenberg’s fame, however, rested with his role in shaping American for-
eign policy. Like so many other Americans, following the First World War
Vandenberg became disillusioned with Europe and turned toward isolation-
ism as a means of preventing the United States from being drawn into another
foreign misadventure. throughout the 1930s he reigned as a leading Senate
spokesman for nonintervention and urged complete American neutrality in all
European and Asian conflicts. in 1940, he suggested that the United States
abandon the Philippines if their retention might lead to a war with Japan. that
same year Vandenberg led the opposition to a Conscription Act, saying that a
peacetime draft would foster war hysteria. the following year, he vigorously
argued against passage of a lend-lease act on the grounds that it would give
Roosevelt a “blank check” to involve the United States in World War ii. Even
after the Japanese attack on Pearl harbor made isolation impossible,
Vandenberg lamented that the United States “might have driven her [Japan]
needlessly into hostility through its dogmatic diplomatic attitudes.”

As the struggle progressed, Vandenberg complained that Roosevelt was con-
ducting a “private war” by keeping decisions made at wartime conferences
secret from both Congress and the State department. he did reluctantly move
toward internationalism because he believed that “enlightened selfishness”
would require the United States “to accept international responsibilities in the

Fears and Frustration in the Cold War Era 263

postwar world far beyond anything heretofore done in peacetime.” in 1943 he
joined with democratic leaders to urge Senate passage of a resolution calling
for American adherence to an international peace organization after the war.
he insisted, however, that no action be taken on implementing the resolution
until the actual fighting had ceased.

on January 19, 1945, Vandenberg made one of the most important speeches
in the history of the United States Senate. he emphasized that the nation had to
remain self-reliant, but that modern aircraft and missiles had made an isolated
“Fortress America,” protected by the vastness of the oceans, both impractical
and impossible. in an impassioned plea for sanity in the postwar world he told
his colleagues:

Flesh and blood now compete unequally with winged steel. . . . if World War iii
ever unhappily arrives, it will open new laboratories of death too horrible to con-
template. i propose to do everything within my power to keep those laboratories
closed for keeps. i want maximum American cooperation consistent with legiti-
mate American self interest . . . to make the basic idea of dumbarton oaks [the
conference held to create the United nations] succeed.

three weeks later, Roosevelt requested that Vandenberg serve as a delegate to
the conference drafting the United nations Charter. he agreed and thereby
became the most important Republican advocate of the new world peace

From 1945 until his death in 1951, Vandenberg used his influence to win
Republican support for the truman doctrine, Marshall Plan, north Atlantic
treaty organization, and United States participation in the organization of
American States. despite failing to win his party’s presidential nomination in
1940, 1944, and 1948, the Michigan statesman emerged as one of the most pow-
erful and influential spokesmen in the nation for creating mechanisms that
would allow antagonists to settle disputes through negotiation rather than war.
When he entered the Senate, he said that he was idealistic enough to believe
that reasonable men, even with marked philosophical and political differences,
could work together for the common good. Constant application of that tenet
made Vandenberg one of the great Americans of the twentieth century.

The Green and White Polka Dot Bow Tie

in 1946 “Cowboy Kim” Sigler, a former democrat who had gained statewide
fame as a crime fighter while serving as special prosecutor for a one-man grand
jury investigating large-scale bribery of state legislators, was elected governor.


during his administration, Sigler angered conservative Republicans with his
personal flamboyance and political liberalism. nevertheless, democratic weak-
ness made him seem unbeatable for reelection in 1948. Sigler’s democratic
challenger was G. Mennen Williams, a thirty-seven-year-old Grosse Pointe
socialite and heir to the Mennen toiletries fortune. Williams toured the state
promising voters that he would work for better schools, improved unemploy-
ment and workmen’s compensation benefits, civil liberties laws, higher pay for
teachers, low-income housing projects, aid to the elderly, modernization of
prisons, and construction of a bridge across the Straits of Mackinac.

Leaders of the anti-Sigler forces within the Republican Party contrived a
scheme that ultimately affected their party and the state beyond all expectations.
they urged their followers not to vote for Sigler and permit Williams to win.
then, they planned to reorganize the party around a conservative candidate who
would recapture the governorship for the Republicans in 1950. the sacrifice of
Sigler was made, but the cost of removing the governor proved to be excessive,
as no one was able to topple the new democratic governor. in five successive
elections, “Soapy,” always cheerful, vigorous, and sporting his famous
trademark—a green and white polka dot bow tie—won reelection over popular
Republicans harry Kelly, Secretary of State Fred Alger, Jr., State Police
Commissioner donald S. Leonard, detroit Mayor Albert E. Cobo, and Michigan
State University Professor Paul d. Bagwell. When Williams stepped aside in
1961 to become President John F. Kennedy’s Undersecretary of State for African
Affairs, he had governed Michigan longer than anyone else in the state’s history.

Aided by his law partner hicks Griffiths, Ann Arbor businessman neil
Staebler, United Automobile Workers President Walter Reuther, and Congress
of industrial organizations President August Scholle, Williams assembled a
liberal‒labor coalition to advise him on political issues. their chief concern was
Michigan’s overreliance on the automobile industry to provide revenue and
employment. Consequently, the new governor pledged to promote economic
diversification through tourism, agriculture, and light industry. his motto
became: “We must make Michigan a more pleasant place in which to live and
we must make it a more profitable place.” to help fund his new proposals in
1949, Williams requested a 4 percent corporate income tax. the conservative,
pro-business Republican majority, which controlled both houses of the legisla-
ture throughout Williams’ twelve years in office, refused to implement the levy
not only in 1949, but also in every subsequent year when the governor reintro-
duced it. despite monetary difficulties, before he left office Williams had ful-
filled every promise made during his 1948 campaign.

one of the governor’s primary concerns was quality education. When he
assumed office, 40 percent of the state’s school buildings had been constructed

Fears and Frustration in the Cold War Era 265

before 1900 and 65 percent before 1920. not only were most schools outmoded
and in need of modernization, but also they were overcrowded and under-
staffed. the postwar “baby boom” increased the state’s school-age population
54 percent during the years 1950–58. to cope with this crisis, Williams urged a
state-supported consolidation program which resulted in the reduction of the
number of school districts from 5,200 to 2,100, construction of more than
30,000 new classrooms, and the hiring of an additional 20,000 teachers.

Colleges, universities, and community colleges also benefited from the gov-
ernor’s programs. during his administration, enrollment in four-year colleges
and universities increased from 90,000 to 165,000 and the number of students
attending community colleges rose an astounding 227 percent. in response to
public demands for expanded higher education facilities, the state authorized
the creation of seven new community colleges to serve regional needs. in addi-
tion, in 1956 the University of Michigan opened a branch campus at Flint in a
building furnished by philanthropist Charles Stewart Mott, and three years

Figure 17.1 Senator Patrick Mcnamara, Governor G. Mennen Williams, and demo-
cratic Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy on Mackinac Bridge, 1960. Courtesy of
the Archives of Michigan, negative #11612.


later established another branch at dearborn on land donated by the Ford
Motor Company. in 1956, Michigan State, which had been granted university
status the previous year by the legislature, established a campus at oakland,
near Rochester, on 2,100 acres given by Mr. and Mrs. Alfred G. Wilson. during
the 1950s the legislature also designated Wayne College as a state-supported
university and upgraded to university level Western Michigan, Eastern
Michigan, and Central Michigan colleges. two new colleges were proposed to
meet anticipated regional growth. Grand Valley State College near Grand
Rapids was to ease enrollment pressures at Western Michigan University and
delta College in Bay County was to serve Saginaw Valley students. By 1960,
Michigan boasted of having thirty-one four-year colleges. Unquestionably, the
educational goals of John d. Pierce and isaac Crary were carried forward dra-
matically by Governor Williams.

the governor was also interested in prison reforms. during a 1950 visit to
the correctional institution at Marquette, he was held hostage briefly by inmates
attempting an escape. After his release and the recapture of his abductors,
Williams asked for a list of inmate grievances. Based upon this information,
and documents furnished by prison officials, the governor established several
committees to investigate the operation of the state’s penal institutions. Acting
upon committee recommendations, the legislature passed the Model Correc-
tions Act, which placed all prison administration under a state director and
five-member commission. At the governor’s insistence, the legislature also
provided funds to construct ten outdoor work camps and vocational training
centers for young offenders; create a medium-security youth reformatory at
ionia; build Camp Pugsley, the nation’s first state-operated youth probation
facility near traverse City; establish a youth division in the State Corrections
department; and institute a reception-diagnostic center at the world’s largest
walled prison at Jackson to segregate mentally unstable inmates from other
prisoners. during the 1950s, Michigan’s incarceration centers became models
of economy, efficiency, and progressive penal rehabilitation techniques.

Another of Williams’ concerns was civil rights. his stated goal was the elimi-
nation of inequality in voting, housing, employment, and schools. in 1949 he
appointed an advisory committee on civil rights and urged favorable action on
his proposed Fair Employment Act. Finally, in 1955, the legislature passed the
bill, which included a provision for establishing a commission to hear com-
plaints of alleged job discrimination. the governor also appointed several
members of racial minorities to fill state offices and judicial vacancies. Because
of his constant pleas for the national democratic Party to take a strong stand
on civil liberties, Williams earned the enmity of every Southern governor,
senator, and congressman, which, in turn, ultimately cost him his party’s vice-
presidential nomination in 1960.

Fears and Frustration in the Cold War Era 267

Williams’ effort to increase tourism was rewarded, and as early as 1951, more
than 1 million fishing and 400,000 hunting licenses were issued. tourist-related
businesses flourished and throughout the country Chamber of Commerce
advertisements touted Michigan as the nation’s “water wonderland.” to foster
state unity and boost tourism in the upper peninsula, which had become a
$50 million annual bonanza for that area by 1950, Williams urged creation of a
seven-member Mackinac Bridge Authority, headed by former United States
Senator Prentiss M. Brown of St. ignace, to study the feasibility of building a
span from Mackinaw City to St. ignace. After receiving a favorable report, in
1954 the legislature authorized construction of the $100 million project. in
november 1957, the 26,444-foot, four-lane “miracle bridge,” the country’s long-
est suspension span over open water, carried traffic for the first time.

Aiding in the expansion of tourism was a phenomenal growth in the state’s
population. during the years 1950–60, Michigan’s population rose 22.8 per-
cent, making it the seventh largest state. however, 90 percent of the growth
occurred in the southern two-thirds of the state, and every upper peninsula
county, as well as thirty-three in the northern lower peninsula, lost residents.

Figure 17.2 the John C. Lodge Expressway, also known as the M-10, where it inter-
sects i-94 in detroit, is typical of the maze of interstate highways that ribbon Michigan.
Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative #05226.


Also evident was a trend of whites leaving the cities. Wayne County, for exam-
ple, lost 220,000 residents, nearly all from detroit, while neighboring oakland,
Macomb, and Washtenaw gained residents. Most of the state’s population
remained clustered near urban, industrial centers. Another discernible trend
was that nearly 95 percent of newly arriving nonwhites settled in urban centers,
which made inner cities a haven for minorities.

As the middle classes moved to the suburbs, new economic and social
demands arose. in response to complaints about lack of safety and parking
problems in downtown detroit, in 1950 J. L. hudson pioneered the concept of
large, regional shopping centers. “northland,” a $20 million shopping mall ten
miles from the center of detroit, contained seventy stores, theaters, a baby-
sitting service, and a parking lot so vast that shoppers were cautioned to remem-
ber their posted lane number to avoid losing their automobiles. Angry
employers in detroit complained that their workers who lived in suburbia
arrived late for work because of traffic conditions. to prevent businessmen
from moving their companies from the city, the detroit Common Council
authorized construction of the nation’s first sunken expressway. the city’s direc-
tor of Public Works predicted that the proposed 105-mile John C. Lodge–Edsel
Ford expressway system would not only eliminate forever traffic congestion,
but also would save gasoline by ending slow, stop-and-go driving situations.
Upon completion of the expressways in 1954, Fortune magazine praised detroit
for “meeting the critical problem created by its own prodigious output.” the
cost of this concrete network was $840 million, which included the expense of
removing 5,532 houses, 401 businesses, and thirty-nine apartment buildings.
When the city began work on the Chrysler Expressway in the late 1950s, detroit
trailed only Los Angeles in miles of freeway. tourist-related businesses clam-
ored for better roads to facilitate travel and, as a result, Michigan became the
nation’s leader in interstate highways, with work either being completed or in
progress on i-94, i-96, and i-75. Finally, motorists demanded increased safety
on the new roads, and in 1956 Michigan became the first state to require suc-
cessful completion of a driver education class as a prerequisite for obtaining an
operator’s license. not all social and economic demands were positive, as
Michiganians were gripped by irrational fears during the postwar “Red Scare”
and sought unnecessary protection through restrictions on civil liberties.

Red Baiting

Justice department officials had long considered Michigan a hotbed of
Communist activity. during the “Red Scare” of 1919–20 detroit, because of its

Fears and Frustration in the Cold War Era 269

nearly 25 percent foreign-born population, was the target of a major anti-
Communist raid. in August 1922, the American Communist Party held its first
national convention on a farm near St. Joseph. Based on information provided
by a federal agent who had infiltrated the gathering, the meeting was raided,
seventeen arrests made, and party documents confiscated. Five years later a
known Communist organizer was elected general secretary of the Auto Workers
Union and soon afterward Communist newspapers were circulated regularly
among workers. Strikes and protest marches at Flint’s Fisher Body plant in
1930, Ford’s dearborn Assembly plant in 1932, and detroit’s Briggs’
Manufacturing Company in 1933 all were either organized by or had the par-
ticipation of Communists. the United Automobile Workers union was sus-
pected of being pro-Communist because its leader, Walter Reuther, had visited
Russia, and in 1937 General Motors executives charged that the Flint sit-down
strike was Communist inspired. in 1940 the Federal Bureau of investigation
made another anti-Communist raid in detroit, this time as a result of an
unfounded rumor that a foreign army either was being, or had been, raised in
the city. Because of events such as these, not only were federal intelligence agen-
cies watching Michigan for subversive activities, but so too were concerned

in the years immediately following World War ii, the spread of communism
abroad and at home worried many Americans. our wartime ally, Russia, was
not only breaking its Yalta promise to allow free elections in its East European
satellite nations, but also was encouraging, financing, and arming Communist
rebels in an attempt to overthrow the governments of Greece and turkey.
in Asia, Communist forces under Mao tse tung were on the verge of seizing
power in China. to the north in Canada, a spy ring was uncovered that had
passed secret military information to the Soviet Union throughout the war. in
new York City the headquarters of a Communist magazine was raided and
more than 2,000 stolen State department documents were found.

Fearing further domestic subversion, the house Un-American Activities
Committee (hUAC) began a series of hearings that resulted in allegations that
Communists were employed in the federal government, labor unions, the
media, public schools, and universities. President harry S truman, in an effort
to forestall another “Red Scare,” established a Loyalty Review Board to investi-
gate the more than 3 million federal employees and recommend removal of all
bad security risks. in 1948 the Justice department prosecuted eleven leaders of
the American Communist Party. during the trial, government attorneys made
it appear that the defendants headed a large, dangerous, well-financed, well-
structured subversive organization, which was not true. that same year,
Americans were stunned when Whittaker Chambers, a senior editor of Time


magazine and self-proclaimed former Communist, accused Alger hiss, a
respected former State department official under Franklin Roosevelt, of being
a Soviet agent. during hiss’ trials, which culminated in 1951 with his convic-
tion for perjury, an anti-Communist hysteria swept the nation. Another “Red
Scare” had begun.

in 1950 Congress passed the McCarran Act, which required all Communists
and their organizations to register with the attorney general and furnish names
of their publications. this act made it a crime to participate in any activity that
might aid in creating a dictatorship in America and banned Communists from
working in defense-related industries. the Michigan legislature expanded
upon the federal law and authorized life imprisonment for anyone who either
wrote or spoke subversive sentiments.

detroit Mayor Eugene Van Antwerp and Police Commissioner harry S. toy
urged voters in early 1950 to repeal the section of the city charter that forbade
investigations into the private lives of city employees. Voters complied by a
4–1 margin and shortly thereafter full security checks into the background of
every worker were begun by a newly created Loyalty Commission. Van
Antwerp’s primary target was the United Public Workers, which he alleged had
at least 150 Communist members. Even though fewer than twenty union mem-
bers resigned to avoid scrutiny, it was enough to encourage hUAC to put all of
detroit, and especially the automobile industry, under investigation.

hUAC reported in mid-1950 that Ford Local 600, with 55,000 United
Automobile Workers members, was opposed to fighting communism. it also
claimed that twenty-seven Communist automobile workers had been placed
at Flint’s Buick plant to spread militancy among their colleagues. Using
this unsubstantiated charge as fact, General Motors officials fired six of the
reputed militants and began to purge the assembly lines of other suspected
Communists—men who also happened to be the most active supporters of the
unionization movement.

the question of communism even entered the 1950 gubernatorial race.
harry Kelly, the Republican candidate, claimed that Governor Williams was
dominated by labor bosses, especially “Red Walter” Reuther, and ultraliberal
pressure groups such as the Americans for democratic Action. the former
governor cryptically warned that it was “a short jump from the methods used
by the Americans for democratic Action to capture control of the democratic
Party to the teaching of un-American philosophies in our schools.” Williams,
a founder of the organization in question, hinted that his opponent was
a Communist dupe, saying that “everywhere when the chips are down
Communists team up with the extreme right in an effort to defeat those who
follow the middle course.” initial returns had Kelly the victor, but Williams

Fears and Frustration in the Cold War Era 271

sought a recount. Retabulation showed several errors, and after five weeks of
tension and uncertainty Williams was certified as the winner by slightly more
than 1,100 votes.

As McCarthyism covered the nation with its black cloud, the Michigan legis-
lature struck blindly at the invisible Communist enemy. in 1952 it passed both
a Communist Control Act and, despite protests from the governor, a bill giving
the State Police Commissioner broad powers to create a secret, anti-subversive
police squad. Commissioner toy not only supported the state “Red Squad,” but
also established one of his own in detroit, saying that “un-American citizens
ought either to be shot, thrown out of the country, or put in jail.” toy added that
vigilance was needed because Soviet agents were entering the country “dis-
guised as Jewish rabbis,” and were infiltrating the state’s automobile plants.
during its twenty-five-year existence the state “Red Squad,” whose primary
duty was to spy on members of the Socialist Workers Party, compiled a 5,000-
page file on thousands of Michigan residents. over the years not only Socialists,
but also civil-rights activists, liberal politicians, and antiwar demonstrators
were investigated as possible subversives. in 1975, two lawsuits were filed
charging that the squad suppressed dissent and violated the civil rights of per-
sons belonging to minority political parties. the courts agreed and ordered that
the squad be disbanded. While it was in operation, however, it had the power to
ruin the lives of those in its files by citing lies, rumors, and innuendo as fact.

in 1952, Charles E. Potter, a member of hUAC, ran for the United States
Senate against incumbent democrat Blair Moody, Sr., who had been appointed
by Williams to fill Vandenberg’s unexpired term. Potter, who had been instru-
mental in the committee’s investigations into the automobile industry, claimed
that Moody was a “tool of Moscow trained” Walter Reuther and told an audi-
ence that they had to choose between “a man who believes in fighting
Communism and destroying it, and a man who would destroy the committee
[hUAC] which is fighting Communism.” despite extensive campaigning by
Williams for Moody, Potter won. Williams also triumphed, but only after
another recount, which led a disgruntled Republican to remark: “to beat
Williams, you’ve got to beat him twice, once in the election and again at the

in october 1953, local anti-Communist fervor reached a new high when six
Michigan Communist Party leaders went on trial in detroit. After four months
of testimony, the jury found all six guilty. Presiding Judge Frank Pickard offered
the defendants free transportation to Russia as an alternative to $10,000 fines
and five years in prison, but all refused.

the following year hUAC visited Michigan in an effort to boost the reelec-
tion hopes of one of its members, Kit Clardy of Lansing. hearings were held,


and, as usual, men were accused on the basis of rumor and gossip of being
Communist sympathizers. Clardy even made the constitutional right of protec-
tion against self-incrimination seem un-American and an admission of guilt,
saying that he “didn’t know of any innocent man that has ever appeared before
this committee and invoked the Fifth Amendment.” By the conclusion of the
state hearings, those accused had been threatened and beaten by coworkers,
had their houses stoned or burned, and lost their jobs. A jubilant Clardy
exclaimed that such events were “the best kind of reaction there could have
been to our hearings.”

Fortunately, following the abortive Army-McCarthy hearings, the “Red
Scare” waned by mid-1954, and in november fear-mongers such as Clardy
were defeated in their bids for reelection. Great damage had been done, how-
ever, as thousands of innocent Michiganians had suffered the effects of irre-
sponsible emotionalism, hatred, and hysteria.

The End of an Era

in 1959 Michigan had recovered from a lingering economic recession, and
businessmen were anticipating increased revenues accruing from the long-
awaited opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which allowed direct water com-
merce between Michigan and European markets. Governor Williams, with an
eye on a presidential bid the following year, submitted a record budget to the
legislature, and for the tenth consecutive year requested passage of a corporate
income tax. Republicans responded by voting to increase the sales tax from 3¢
to 4¢ on a dollar. to dramatize that revenues from a sales tax increase would be
insufficient to balance the state budget, Williams announced that state employ-
ees would not be paid for several days’ labor. this ploy backfired, as Republicans
blamed the governor for “payless paydays” and putting “Michigan on the rocks.”
industries threatened to move to a better economic climate and the state’s bond
rating fell to its lowest level in history. Williams’ career was ruined and, to avoid
his first defeat, he announced that he would not seek a seventh term. An era in
Michigan’s political history had ended.

For Further Reading

the career of Senator Vandenberg is partially recounted in several volumes dealing with
American foreign policy, and C. david tompkins, Senator Arthur Vandenberg: The
Evolution of a Modern Republican (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1970)

Fears and Frustration in the Cold War Era 273

discusses his political career. however, the only book mentioning his entire career is
Arthur Vandenberg, Jr., The Private Papers of Senator Vandenberg (Boston: houghton
Mifflin, 1951). the first biography on Governor Williams was Frank Mcnaughton,
Mennen Williams of Michigan (new York: oceana Publications, 1960), but since it is a
campaign biography it must be read with care. Williams gave insight into his views of
how to run a state in A Governor’s Notes (Ann Arbor: institute of Public Administration,
University of Michigan, 1961). the latest biographies on Williams are helen W.
Berthelot, Win Some, Lose Some: G. Mennen Williams and the New Democrats (detroit:
Wayne State University Press, 1995) and thomas J. noer, Soapy: A Biography of G.
Mennen Williams (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005). Creation of the
Mackinac Bridge is extensively detailed by its chief engineer, david Steinman, in Miracle
Bridge at Mackinac (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957). An excellent overview of the
bridge’s political history, construction, and impact on Michigan may be found in
the fiftieth anniversary commemorative published by Michigan History, entitled, “the
Mighty Mac at 50” (July, August 2007). Michigan’s role in the “Red Scare” is recounted
in david Caute, The Great Fear (new York: Simon & Schuster, 1978); Richard M. Fried,
Men Against McCarthy (new York: Columbia University Press, 1976); Charles E. Potter,
Days of Shame (new York: Coward-McCann, 1965); James R. Prickett, “Communists
and the Automobile industry in detroit Before 1935,” Michigan History (Fall 1973); and
Edward C. Pintzuk, Reds, Racial Justice and Civil Liberties: Michigan Communists During
the Cold War (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

the turbulent 1960s

during the 1960s, Michigan’s population increased 13 percent, approximately
the same as the national average for the decade. nearly all the state’s growth
came from the suburbs, whose population swelled by 946,000, or 27 percent, to
reach a total of 4,380,000. By 1970, 77 percent of Michigan’s populace resided
in metropolitan areas compared to a national total of 69 percent. non-
metropolitan population accounted for a mere 10 percent of state growth dur-
ing the decade.

Several trends can be detected by comparing census figures from 1970 with
those compiled ten years earlier. First, the population in central cities declined
from 2,570,000 to 2,468,000. two major exceptions were Ann Arbor and the
Lansing–East Lansing area which had growth rates well in excess of 40 percent,
reflecting enrollment booms at the University of Michigan and Michigan State
University. A more typical story was that of detroit which lost 159,000 resi-
dents, or 10 percent of its population, while its neighboring suburbs grew by
596,000, or 28 percent. Second, rural counties such as Clare, Roscommon, and
oscoda had growth patterns exceeding 30 percent, which led some analysts to
conclude that many Michiganians were opting for a slower, less complicated
style of life. if that were true, it must also be concluded that the new rural popu-
lace sought solitude near urban centers, because iron and Gogebic counties, the
most remote areas in the western upper peninsula, suffered population losses
of 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively. third, white population in the state
declined from 91 percent to 88 percent. in the central cities the number of


The Turbulent 1960s 275

whites decreased by 17 percent, while nonwhite residents increased by 41 per-
cent. nonwhites comprised slightly less than 5 percent of suburban growth.
White flight from the inner cities was a problem that would cause serious eco-
nomic, political, and social unrest as the decade progressed.

Economic Growth and Stagnation

Michigan’s “boom or bust” economy is dependent upon the automobile indus-
try, whose production output and financial well-being are dependent, in turn,
upon the ever-changing whims of the buying public. the recession of 1958 had
a tremendous impact upon the automobile industry, and by the end of the
year more than 400,000 workers were unemployed. tragically, four years later
industry analysts estimated that nearly 75 percent of those laid off in 1958
had not been recalled to their jobs. to further complicate this problem, during
that four-year period over 100,000 jobs in the industry had been lost to

in 1962, the state’s economy began to soar as new car purchases reached
record levels and unemployment, which had neared 10 percent in 1960, had
fallen to 4.7 percent in 1967. Michigan’s economic rebound was so great that by
1966 its Gross Product exceeded the Gross national Product of all but ten
countries in the world. By the end of the decade, personal income for Michigan
residents totaled $29.3 billion, which meant that an average household of four
persons had an annual income of nearly $12,000.

Agriculture remained an important aspect of the state’s financial growth. in
1967, Michigan ranked nineteenth in the nation in value of farm products sold,
with $2.5 billion of the state’s produce and dairy goods being marketed. As the
1970s drew near, Michigan ranked fifth or better in twenty farm-production
categories, including first place in dry edible beans, red tart cherries, cucum-
bers for pickles, and eastern winter wheat. Slightly over half of farm income was
derived from livestock sales and nearly 30 percent came from sales of dairy

Educational Advances

Educational facilities in Michigan greatly expanded at all levels as a result of the
postwar “baby boom.” By 1969 Michigan contained more than 4,500 public
elementary and secondary schools and was expending an average of $800 per
pupil in state aid. the number of community colleges had grown to twenty-eight,


with an enrollment approaching 100,000 students, while fifty-four private col-
leges and universities served another 53,000 people in higher education.
Attendance at the state’s eleven public institutions of advanced learning neared
200,000, and, in 1967 alone, these colleges and universities granted 22,000
bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees, 11,000 master’s degrees, and
1,200 doctorates. By the end of the decade, Michigan ranked third in the output
of master’s degrees and fifth in doctorates. in fact, Michigan, by 1969, could
claim credit for putting forth 10 percent of the nation’s doctoral recipients in
engineering and science.

More state assistance did not guarantee better educational opportunities,
however, as local revenues were still the financial cornerstone of the schools.
the problems of local financing were especially apparent in detroit. A massive
white exodus from the city had left detroit with a nonwhite majority. As many
as 20 percent were unemployed. Consequently, the ability to pay for needed
additional millage for support of schools was rapidly dissolving. Vandalism,
racial incidents, assaults, and poorly educated graduates combined to drive
even more whites and affluent nonwhites from the inner city, which in turn
diminished the tax base further. Education of high quality in detroit, and other
large industrial cities such as Flint, Lansing, and Saginaw, was becoming almost
an “impossible dream” as teachers also sought more favorable surroundings.

nor did bigger always assure a better learning environment for the thou-
sands of students at the large state universities. in an attempt to bring professors
closer to their students, Wayne State University instituted Monteith College,
and Michigan State University created the residential colleges of Lyman Briggs,
Justin Morrill, and James Madison. the purpose of these colleges was to offer
highly specialized training to a limited and select group of students in a par-
ticular field of study. to counter the student complaint that no one listened to
them because they were “just a number,” in 1967 Michigan State University
became the first school in the Big ten to hire an ombudsman to hear student
views, assist in problem solving, and generally “cut the red tape” that con-
founded many students. Education made great strides during the 1960s, but it
had many new crises to face as the decade progressed.

the most perplexing question confronting university administrators during
the mid-1960s was how to control student unrest without stifling academic
freedom and free speech. Radical groups such as the Students for a democratic
Society not only spoke against the Vietnam War, conscription, and Reserve
officer training Corps programs on campus, but also began to recruit mem-
bers still in high school in order to assure a continuation of radical activism
in the future. Many angry young black students recklessly charged that the
state’s universities practiced racial discrimination and sought to perpetuate

The Turbulent 1960s 277

segregationist policies. Calls arose for affirmative action programs to force uni-
versities to recruit more minorities both as students and faculty. Women’s
organizations echoed the cry for affirmative action and demanded the hiring of
more female faculty. in 1969, amid rampant campus disorders, protest marches,
student demands, and threats by radical groups to overthrow the “establish-
ment” through violence, the Michigan legislature passed a law whereby any stu-
dent convicted of violating city or university rules while participating in campus
violence would be deemed ineligible for state scholarships and tuition grants.

Because the killing in Vietnam showed no signs of abating and overt racism
was on the rise throughout the nation, “end the war” societies flourished and
black power groups such as the Black Panthers and the Student nonviolent
Coordinating Committee attracted hundreds of new members. Even though
Michigan’s universities did not experience the student takeovers and destruc-
tion which plagued several Eastern schools, it was clear that the days of quiet
contemplation on a college campus were numbered—and it was equally evi-
dent that administrators and faculty were uncertain of the best method to meet
the challenge and change in education which loomed ahead.

Another New Constitution

in 1960, Michigan’s thirty-five-year-old lieutenant governor, John B. Swainson,
with solid support from the United Automobile Workers union, defeated popu-
lar Secretary of State James M. hare in the democratic gubernatorial primary.
Swainson then won a narrow triumph in the november general election over
his Republican challenger, Paul d. Bagwell. the new chief executive immedi-
ately angered many democratic leaders by removing all his predecessor’s advis-
ers except neil Staebler, and by his unwillingness to match Williams’ zest in
championing liberal causes and battling the Republican legislature. in fact, had
it not been for the convening of a convention to revise the state constitution,
Swainson’s term would have been remarkably uneventful.

dissatisfaction with Michigan’s constitution and the governance structure it
provided reached new heights after continuous friction between Governor
Williams and the Republican legislature culminated with the infamous
“payless paydays” of April 1959. Under the direction of the Junior Chamber of
Commerce, the League of Women Voters, and Citizens for Michigan, an organ-
ization founded in 1959 by American Motors Corporation President George W.
Romney, a drive was instituted to revise the outdated constitution. the
constitution had been last revised in 1908 but since then had been amended
sixty-nine times. ironically, the reason that the 1908 document survived for so


long was because it contained a clause that said that even though the question
of calling a constitutional convention had to come automatically before the
voters every sixteen years, in order for the question to pass it had to receive a
majority of the total votes cast in the election, not merely a majority of those
cast on the proposal itself. Because so many voters ignore ballot proposals, a
call for a constitutional convention won approval in 1948 and 1958 but was not
implemented because in each instance a majority of local votes cast was not
achieved. on november 8, 1960, Michigan voters remedied this problem by
passing the so-called “Gateway Amendment” to the constitution. this amend-
ment changed the requirements for calling a constitutional convention so that
a majority of those voting on the proposal would decide the issue. in April
1961, voters approved the convening of a convention to revise Michigan’s con-
stitution, although the margin of victory was a mere 23,481 votes. the narrow-
ness of this margin is more significant in light of the fact that seventy-nine of
the state’s eighty-three counties voted against the proposal, but proponents of
the measure in Macomb, oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties turned out
in sufficient numbers to provide the margin of victory.

there were 144 delegates to the convention, one for each state senatorial and
representative district, and, of that number, ninety-nine were Republicans and
forty-five democrats. Among the latter, forty-one came from metropolitan
detroit and the remainder from the upper peninsula. Stephen nisbet was
elected president and George Romney, Edward hutchinson, and thomas
downs were made vice-presidents. the delegates met for nearly eight months,
and the document they put forth for public approval at the polls made several
notable alterations in the state government. First, to allay criticism that under
the existing constitution terms for elected officials were too short and elections
too frequent, it was proposed that the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary
of state, attorney general, and state senators stand for election, in nonpresiden-
tial years, to four-year terms. Second, to shorten the ballot, the positions of
state treasurer, superintendent of public schools, highway commissioner, and
auditor general were to be filled by appointment of the governor. third, to
eliminate political unrest caused by having the governor and lieutenant gover-
nor run independently, which often resulted in members of different parties
being chosen to fill the positions, beginning in 1964 the governor and lieuten-
ant governor would run as a team. Fourth, a state ban was placed on graduated
income taxes and deficit spending. Fifth, the bureaucracy was streamlined with
the reduction of the number of state boards and agencies from 120 to twenty.
Sixth, the judiciary was modernized with the abolition of the position of justice
of the peace and requirements that all judges have legal training and stand for
election, rather than be appointed by the governor. Finally, the legislature was

The Turbulent 1960s 279

to be reapportioned according to district population rather than population
and area.

Governor Swainson, highway Commissioner John Mackie, August Scholle,
and other prominent democrats opposed the new constitution primarily
because of the reorganization of the bureaucratic structure and executive
branch. Most Republicans supported the new document, as did the League of
Women Voters, Junior Chamber of Commerce, citizens’ groups, educators, and
many local organizations throughout the state. on April 1, 1963, the new con-
stitution was approved by the slender margin of just over 7,000 votes.

A Citizen for Michigan

the constitutional convention gave Michigan not only a new constitution but
also its next governor. George Romney had become well known to Michigan
residents by personally rejuvenating American Motors and bringing the cor-
poration from the brink of disaster to profitability through reliance on the
compact, economical Rambler. Among automobile executives Romney was
considered a dangerous, crusading maverick because of his 1955 testimony
before a Senate subcommittee in which he attacked his industry’s insistence
on putting “dinosaurs in our driveways” and convincing the public that they
needed “cars nineteen feet long and weighing two tons . . . to run a 118-pound
housewife three blocks to the drugstore for a two-ounce package of bobby pins
and lipstick.” he further proposed that the federal government should consider
breaking monopolies such as General Motors in order to increase competition
in the automotive market.

in 1957, Romney turned his attention to securing tax reform legislation and
two years later he formed Citizens for Michigan to act as a “people’s lobby” to
further that cause. As the most prominent and vocal member of the constitu-
tional convention, Romney was accused by democrats of using that body to
foster his own political and economic beliefs. his influence on the convention
was so great that the new constitution was called by some critics “Romney’s
Charter” and its passage was viewed by political analysts as a “victory for
Romney in the face of the democrats, organized labor, and the national
Association for the Advancement of Colored People.”

in February 1962, while serving as a delegate to the constitutional conven-
tion, Romney announced his candidacy for the Republican gubernatorial nom-
ination. Using the slogan “Let’s Get Michigan on the Move,” Romney turned
the campaign into a personal crusade, ignoring other Republican candidates
and earning the enmity of party leaders who dubbed him “Lonesome George.”


handsome, athletic, silver-haired, and jut-jawed, the dynamic and indefatiga-
ble Romney captivated audiences throughout the state.

Romney’s opponent, incumbent governor Swainson, was hampered by
a deep split between the liberal‒labor and conservative elements of the
democratic Party. the governor was further weakened by his veto of a bill
which would have prohibited detroit from assessing an income tax on subur-
banites who were employed within the city. State Senator John Bowman, a
Roseville democrat who sponsored the bill, predicted that Swainson’s action
would cost the governor 80,000 votes in november. in an effort to counter the
definite swing to his adversary, Swainson agreed to meet Romney in a series of
statewide debates. the governor’s attempt was to no avail as Romney triumphed
by 80,000 votes—a cruel irony for Swainson in light of Bowman’s earlier com-
ment. Republicans had little reason for jubilation, however, because except for
Romney, the entire party slate had been defeated.

in 1964 Romney again separated himself from the Republican ticket and
refused to support conservative senator Barry M. Goldwater, the party’s presi-
dential nominee, lest he alienate his liberal and independent backers. Romney’s
opponent was neil Staebler, who was considered by many to be the most influ-
ential and astute democrat in the state. Staebler’s campaign suffered because
Michigan was in the midst of a period of economic prosperity; however, party
leaders hoped that if President Lyndon B. Johnson received a 500,000-vote
majority in the state, his “coattails” would carry Staebler to victory as well.
Johnson did better than expected, beating Goldwater by more than 1 million
votes in Michigan, but, to the surprise of political observers, Romney trounced
Staebler by almost 400,000 votes.

two years later Romney ran for a third term against Zolton Ferency, the
liberal chairman of the democratic State Central Committee. For the first time,
Romney made an effort to be a “team player” and campaigned for other
Republican candidates, especially Robert Griffin, the newly appointed United
States senator who was running for a full term against former governor
Williams. throughout the campaign, Ferency tried to exploit the governor’s
previous independence by joking that Romney had accused him of starting a
smear campaign because he had called the governor a Republican! despite
Ferency’s wit, the Republicans won a smashing victory with Romney triumph-
ing by well over 500,000 votes while Griffin amassed an unexpectedly large
220,000-vote margin over Williams. Moreover, Republicans gained eighteen
seats in the state legislature.

By 1967, Romney’s record of achievement and impressive victories at the
polls made him the forerunner in the quest for the 1968 Republican presidential
nomination. ironically, the governor’s candid honesty cost him that prize.

The Turbulent 1960s 281

in october 1965, Romney had made a four-day tour of South Vietnam and
returned convinced that Johnson’s Asian policies were correct. during the next
two years the governor came to believe that while in Vietnam he had been lied
to by high-ranking American civilian and military personnel, and that the harsh
reality was that the United States’ war effort had become a source of humiliation
abroad and demoralization at home. on September 4, 1967, the governor
appeared on a detroit television interview program and said that when he vis-
ited Vietnam he had received “the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get.”
the media seized upon this statement and portrayed Romney as being too gul-
lible and naive to be president. For all practical purposes, that single honest
remark removed Romney from serious presidential consideration. during the
campaign the governor vigorously stumped Michigan and other states on behalf
of the Republican nominee Richard M. nixon. As a reward for his service to the
party and in recognition of his remarkable record as Michigan’s chief executive,
Romney was appointed to serve in nixon’s cabinet as secretary of housing and
Urban development. on January 22, 1969, Romney resigned as governor and
was succeeded by Lieutenant Governor William G. Milliken.

during Romney’s administration Michigan’s economy rebounded, and the
governor basked in the relative ease by which state services could meet expand-
ing needs and still achieve the constitutionally mandated balanced budget. in
1963 and 1965 the governor sent a tax reform program to the legislature, but
each time it was defeated by a coalition of democrats and conservative
Republicans. the election of more liberal Republicans to the state senate in
1966 enabled Romney’s 1967 tax reform package, which imposed levies of
2.6 percent on individual income, 5.6 percent on corporate earnings, and
7 percent on financial institutions, to be enacted into law. Romney also pushed
for improved civil rights and mental health legislation, upward revision of the
minimum wage law, strengthened unemployment and workmen’s compensa-
tion benefits, reorganization of the state department of labor, and passage of the
state’s first construction safety bill. Under Romney’s leadership Michigan
escaped the economic darkness of the 1950s and moved forward with progres-
sive social legislation; only the tragedy that befell detroit in the summer of
1967 marred his years in office.

Playing Politics While a City Burned

Because of its large and growing black population, detroit was active in
the strong civil rights impulse that swept the nation during the early 1960s. in
June 1963, approximately 250,000 blacks and whites assembled outside


Cobo hall to hear speeches by former governor Swainson, detroit’s Mayor
Jerome Cavanagh, Police Commissioner George Edwards, Walter Reuther, and
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., the “Black Apostle of nonviolence.” King
told the enthusiastic throng that they represented the “largest and greatest
demonstration ever held in the United States” and that their message was ring-
ing clearly throughout the country: “We want all of our rights. We want them
here and we want them now.”

detroit had been selected for the 1963 civil-rights conclave partly because
Mayor Cavanagh, the thirty-five-year-old liberal attorney who had scored a
stunning upset victory over the incumbent mayor in 1961, had pledged to
make his city a model of harmonious race relations and to eradicate hunger,
substandard housing, and high levels of minority unemployment. By 1967,
Cavanagh had obtained for his city more than $42 million in federal antipov-
erty funds. of this sum, $10 million was used for special training and placement
programs for the unskilled and illiterate, $4 million for medical clinics, and
$3 million for summer head Start and recreational programs for children.
detroit seemed to be handling its problems so efficiently that the director of the
Congress of Racial Equality, Floyd McKissick, excluded it from a list of twelve
cities he thought likely to experience racial unrest in 1967.

despite the money spent and effort expended, detroit still simmered with
discontent. Unemployment reached 11 percent in mid-1967, and the total was
even higher among black youths. inner-city blacks demanded more jobs, better
housing, quality education, an end to alleged police harassment, and respect. in
late June 1967, Black Panther leader h. Rap Brown addressed a Black Arts
Convention in detroit and urged the black community to “Let white America
know that the name of the game is tit-for-tat, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a
tooth, and a life for a life.” his final warning proved prophetic: “Motown, if you
don’t come around, we’re going to burn you down.”

July 1967 was oppressively hot and humid, causing tempers to grow short.
on July 23, detroit police made an early morning raid on the United Community
League for Civil Action, an illegal after-hours drinking establishment in the
dilapidated, predominantly black, 12th Street area, and arrested the bartender
and eighty-two customers. Within minutes, hundreds of jeering spectators
gathered and someone heaved a bottle through the squad car’s windshield. the
crowd quickly was transformed into an uncontrollable mob engaged in looting,
vandalism, and arson.

Mayor Cavanagh had two socially and politically sound options. First, he
could remove all police from the area in hopes that the mob would disperse of
its own volition. Second, he could send in massive numbers of riot police to
prevent the unrest from spreading. Unfortunately, he did neither. he ordered

The Turbulent 1960s 283

police to the scene, but instructed them not to forcibly disperse the rioters.
When the mob realized that the police were mere spectators, looting increased,
especially against white-owned shops. over 1,600 fires were set, but the fire
department was unable to respond effectively because rioters pelted the fire-
fighters with bricks, rocks, and bottles. Even Congressman John Conyers and
City Councilman nicholas hood, two of detroit’s most popular and influential
black leaders, were stoned when they tried to calm the mob. Just as twenty-four
years earlier, “all hell had broken loose” in the Motor City.

At nine in the evening of the twenty-third, Governor Romney declared a
state of emergency in detroit, highland Park, and hamtramck, and dispatched
the first of 7,300 national Guardsmen to the riot scene. Meanwhile, reports
of violence in Flint, Saginaw, Grand Rapids, Benton harbor, Muskegon,
Kalamazoo, Mt. Clemens, and Pontiac reached the governor’s office. Shortly
after three o’clock in the morning of the twenty-fourth, Romney, with the sup-
port of such prominent democrats as Walter Reuther and black detroit
Congressman Charles diggs, telephoned United States Attorney General

Figure 18.1 Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Governor John B. Swainson.
Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative #15110.


Ramsey Clark asking for federal troops to be sent to detroit. the attorney gen-
eral asked the governor to formally “request” soldiers to quell the “insurrec-
tion.” Romney angrily refused and reminded Clark that no insurance
companies would pay for damages incurred through an insurrection. the gov-
ernor asked, “Who’s going to rebuild this place after the troops go home?” and
slammed down the receiver. By mid-morning Romney’s temper had cooled
and he made the required formal request, but omitted any reference to an
insurrection. in response, President Johnson ordered the 82nd and 101st
Airborne divisions to Selfridge Air Force Base near Mt. Clemens. the para-
troopers were instructed, however, not to enter the riot scene until the
President’s personal emissary, Cyrus Vance, had met with Romney, toured the
area, and reported to Johnson.

Romney’s fury raged anew when the President made a nationwide television
address in which he stated that he had sent soldiers into detroit “with the great-
est regret” and “only because of the clear, unmistakable, and undisputed
evidence that Governor Romney and local officials have been unable to bring
the situation under control.” the governor, a leading candidate for the 1968
Republican presidential nomination, charged that Johnson “played politics
with the riot” merely to discredit a potential challenger. Finally, twenty-four
hours after Romney’s initial request for federal assistance, paratroopers entered
the ravaged city, and the violence soon abated.

By July 28, the most costly riot in the nation’s history was over. Property
damage exceeded $50 million; forty-four people lost their lives and another
1,000 were injured seriously enough to require medical attention; 5,000 resi-
dents of detroit were left homeless; and 7,331 arrests had been made. Another
tragic aspect of the riot’s aftermath was the appearance of profiteers who sought
to take advantage of the plight of the needy by charging $1 for a 25¢ quart of
milk and equally exorbitant amounts for other necessary commodities.

the underlying causes of the riot were never pinpointed, but the blame for its
spread was placed squarely with President Johnson. the Detroit News editorial-
ized that: “the President seemed to go out of his way to blame Mr. Romney, a
Republican presidential contender, for failing to handle the detroit situation.
this newspaper does not believe that politics was played in detroit or Lansing.
But it strongly believes it was played in Washington and perhaps even pro-
longed the riot.” the New York Times said that Johnson “shilly-shallied” and
was grossly partisan in trying to “place the entire political responsibility on
Governor Romney.”

Following the disorders, many detroiters asserted that the events were not a
race riot. Richard Emrick, Episcopal bishop of Michigan and chairman of the
detroit Citizens’ Committee for Equal opportunity, noted that “this was not a

The Turbulent 1960s 285

race riot. the looting and sniping were integrated. the major part of the riot
was a criminal attack upon property. . . . But there was no racial warfare, which
means that we can assume the basic unity of the city and look forward to
rebuilding and working together.” A “new detroit Committee,” headed by
Joseph L. hudson, Jr., was established to bring together community leaders to
discuss the city’s problems and plan for its future. Working as a united, con-
cerned citizenry, it was hoped that detroit could be reborn and undergo a spir-
itual and cultural renaissance that would recapture the dream of racial harmony
and prosperity.

For Further Reading

Michigan’s political structure during the 1960s is excellently analyzed in Carolyn Stieber,
The Politics of Change in Michigan (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1970).
the making of the new constitution is recounted in Albert L. Sturm, Constitution
Making in Michigan (Ann Arbor: institute of Public Administration, University of
Michigan, 1963) and James K. Pollock, Making Michigan’s New Constitution, 1961–1962
(Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1962). Eugene Finegold (ed.), Michigan
Writes a New Constitution (detroit: Proceedings of the 1961 MCEP faculty workshop,

Figure 18.2 during the detroit riot of 1967 entire city blocks were leveled by fire.
Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative #05350.


1962) contains addresses made by prominent citizens active in the movement for calling
a constitutional convention. Former Booth newspaper political reporter Charles
harmon offers an excellent retrospective of the constitutional convention in “out of
Chaos, order,” Michigan History (november–december 1998).

Governor Romney’s career is covered in several biographies, but most are campaign
oriented and must be read as such. Among the best are dan Angel, Romney: A Political
Biography (new York: Exposition Press, 1966); Richard Fuller, George Romney and
Michigan (new York: Vantage Press, 1966); and t. George harris, Romney’s Way: A Man
and an Idea (Englewood Cliffs, nJ: Prentice-hall, 1967). the most complete biography
of Romney, covering his nonpolitical life, is tom Mahoney, The Story of George Romney:
Builder, Crusader, Salesman (new York: harper & Brothers, 1960).

Campus unrest is discussed in minute detail in the Final Staff Report, State of Michigan
Senate Committee to Investigate Campus Disorders and Student Unrest (Lansing: State of
Michigan, 1970). the detroit riot is the subject of many superb studies. the most
insightful are Robert Conot, American Odyssey (new York: Morrow, 1974); James h.
Lincoln, The Anatomy of a Riot (new York: McGraw-hill, 1968); John hershey, The
Algiers Motel Incident (new York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1969); and Sidney Fine, Violence in
the Model City (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1989).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Challenges of the 1970s

the 1970s brought challenge and change to Michigan. Effects of the “counter-
culture revolution” in which “hippies” made nonconformity a symbol of free-
dom to restless youths, Watergate, the Arab oil embargo, continued fighting in
Vietnam, and the P.B.B. crisis profoundly affected state residents, while beads,
long hair, short skirts, drug usage, increasing “crime in the streets,” and antiwar
protest marches became part of Michigan’s social scene. As the decade neared
its end, congressional insistence on stringent automobile emission standards
and improved gasoline mileage, coupled with the aggressive recruiting of
industries by Southern municipalities promising cheaper labor costs and lower
taxes, raised the haunting question of whether Michigan could maintain its
industrial economic base. Rising uncertainty concerning the future seemed to
be the only common factor among Michiganians as they faced the 1980s.

Crime and Urban Blight

Perhaps the greatest problems Michigan confronted during the 1970s were a
300 percent increase in violent crime and the erosion of urban centers, both of
which were especially evident in detroit. Michigan’s largest city lost 100,000
residents during the 1960s, and another 100,000 departed between the years
1970 and 1975. Loss of industries to the suburbs and to other states, combined
with a decline in the number of available jobs because of increased automation



in manufacturing plants, created high unemployment, ranging close to 50 per-
cent for black teenagers, in the inner city. neighborhoods deteriorated, vacant
houses and shops became common, and crime grew rampant.

Statistics for 1971 indicated that illegal narcotic activities represented a
$350 million annual operation in detroit and that “drug warfare” during the
first six months of that year had resulted in forty deaths. in 1973 Time magazine
featured an article naming detroit the “Murder City” and “Crime Capital of the
nation” because during the preceding year the city had recorded 601 homi-
cides, the highest per capita murder rate in the country.

to reduce the crime rate, a plainclothes police unit known as StRESS—Stop
the Robbers, Enjoy Safe Streets—was established. despite an admirable record
of success, the unit was forced to disband because of allegations of brutality and
racism from the black community. Crime, usually drug related, escalated dra-
matically. By 1975, detroit averaged three murders per day, and led the nation
with 44.5 homicides for every 100,000 residents. the following year detroit
received further national notoriety when black gangs attacked patrons of a rock
concert at Cobo hall. the melee which followed resulted in several shootings,
stabbings, and rapes.

in 1977 detroit began to reverse its crime statistics. A new police commis-
sioner, William hart, a black who had worked his way through the ranks, was
chosen and given authority to reorganize the department. More officers were
hired, local police substations were opened, the Detroit News instituted a “silent
witness” program by which informers could pass tips anonymously to the
authorities, a “war on narcotics” was begun, and neighborhood protective asso-
ciations were formed. Although property crimes continued to rise, by 1979,
detroit’s murder rate was down to 1.5 homicides per day and other serious
personal crimes were reduced in frequency.

decreasing crime rates were not the only signs of detroit’s revival. in 1973
state senator Coleman Young was elected as that city’s first black mayor. An
analysis of the election disclosed extreme racial polarization, with 90 percent of
blacks voting for Young and a like percentage of whites casting their ballots for
his white opponent, Police Commissioner John nichols.

Young worked hard to reduce crime and racial antagonisms in order to
improve detroit’s image. during his administration the city instituted summer
festivals to promote ethnic pride, constructed the Renaissance Center, with its
seventy-three-story detroit Plaza hotel surrounded by four thirty-nine-story
business complexes, erected the riverfront Joe Louis Sports Arena, won the
right to host the 1980 Republican national Convention, and lured many young,
middle-class people back into the inner city through a program of neighbor-
hood revitalization in which older houses were renovated and sold at low cost.

Challenges of the 1970s 289

Mayor Young’s efforts to rebuild detroit into a growing, dynamic metropolis
were so successful that in 1979 he was named by his fellow mayors as one of the
nation’s most effective urban executives.

Areas other than detroit also had been engaged in massive renewal projects.
in the early 1970s Flint embarked upon a long-range program of revitalizing its
inner city by establishing a downtown shopping mall, renovating the banks of
the Flint River, removing dilapidated structures, erecting a convention center,
and supporting construction of a new 48-acre campus along the riverfront for
the Flint branch of the University of Michigan. in 1978, Governor William G.
Milliken cited Flint as a model of successful urban renewal. Smaller communi-
ties underwent changes as well. St. Clair and Algonac, located along the
St. Clair River, completely razed and rebuilt their downtown business districts,
thereby creating entirely new, modern central cities. Regardless of size, the
desire to preserve the economic and social life of the inner city is a major goal
of every community in the state.

Automobile Economics

Another serious problem faced by Michigan was the economic devastation
caused by the effects of the october 1973 Arab oil embargo. Gasoline shortages,
combined with threats of rationing, led to a rapid reduction in new car sales.

Figure 19.1 detroit Renaissance Center (right), one of the largest privately funded
real estate projects in history. it contains multi-use spaces and is a landmark of down-
town detroit. © icholakov/dreamstime.com.


By early 1974, huge inventories of unsold automobiles filled General Motors,
Ford, and Chrysler lots. in addition, Michigan’s billion-dollar-a-year tourist
industry, which was crucial to the economic stability of the upper peninsula
and northern lower Michigan, was crippled because potential unavailability of
gasoline kept would-be travelers home.

Reduced automobile production resulted in soaring unemployment. detroit’s
unemployment rate in February 1975 reached 18 percent, and in the six-county
detroit metropolitan area it was estimated that 27 percent of the work force
was idled. the number of jobless grew to such immense proportions that the
Michigan Employment Security Commission had to hire 1,040 new employees
and open forty temporary offices to service the crush of aid applications.

By 1978, automobile production and sales had increased greatly, but soon
another crisis developed. in mid-1979, Lee iacocca, president of Chrysler
Corporation, announced that the company was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Chrysler’s continued emphasis on manufacturing large “gas guzzling” automo-
biles had driven away economy-minded consumers, and a $1 billion deficit was
projected for 1979 by company executives. to rescue the corporation, iacocca
sought a $1.5 billion guaranteed loan package from the federal government.
After lengthy deliberations, during which it was demonstrated that Chrysler’s
collapse would result in unemployment for 140,000 company workers and for
another 360,000 workers in subsidiary industries, Congress agreed to the loan.
this action reflected not only congressional belief that Chrysler should be
saved, but also that in the long term the loan would be less expensive for the
government than the cost of unemployment compensation and welfare that
would follow the company’s collapse.

the message of the 1970s was clear. if Michigan persisted in clinging to the
automobile industry for its economic well-being in a period of steadily dwin-
dling supplies of fossil fuels, an economic downswing was inevitable. in January
1980, University of Michigan researchers predicted a major financial crisis
before the year 2000 unless the state reoriented its economic base and estab-
lished an energy program based on conservation and development of solar and
nuclear power sources.

traditionally, Michigan’s economy has been based virtually entirely on auto-
mobiles, agriculture, and tourism, all of which are vulnerable to changes in
the supply or cost of fuel. during the final quarter of the twentieth century,
Michigan reluctantly began to move toward economic diversity, and one of its
earliest ventures was in the development of new wineries. Based on the success
of St. Julian’s vineyards in Paw Paw, the oldest and largest wine producer in the
state, the wine industry expanded in southwestern Lower Michigan. By 1979
Michigan had emerged as the fourth largest wine-producing state in the nation,

Challenges of the 1970s 291

leading the state commerce commission to broadcast television advertisements
throughout the United States proclaiming that “Michigan doesn’t make all of
the wine in the world, but it does make some of the best.” this was not merely
an idle boast as in 1979 the Bronte Vineyards drew attention to Michigan’s
wines when it was awarded two gold medals in an international competition, as
well as receiving national acclaim for originating “Cold duck,” one of the first
popular sparkling wines.

Seeking to emulate the accomplishments of the southwestern vineyards,
the wine industry began to expand not only in the Paw Paw, Kalamazoo, and
Grand Rapids area, but also into the Grand traverse region, the only other site
in the state climatically suited for growing winegrapes. By 2001, Michigan had
twenty-five wineries, eleven in the southwestern part of the state and fourteen
in traverse City and the Leelanau and old Mission Peninsulas. Even though
Michigan had dropped to sixth place in wine production by the turn of the
twenty-first century, trailing California, Washington, new York, oregon, and
Pennsylvania, the state’s 1,500 acres of wine grapes still accounted for $17 million
in sales in 2000. By 2005, Michigan had 14,400 acres of vineyards and fifty
commercial wineries, making it the nation’s fourth largest grape-growing state

Figure 19.2 Grape harvesting, 2002. Used with permission of James W. Smith.


and thirteenth largest wine-producing state. Moreover, in 2005 Michigan win-
eries attracted more than 800,000 visitors and contributed $790 million to the
state’s economy.

the growth of the wine industry rests upon the fact that the quality of the
state’s vineyards has steadily improved, as was demonstrated when one of the
world’s premier authorities on champagne and wine toured Michigan and rated
twenty-seven of the state’s wines and sparkling wines to be world class. in 2012
twelve new wineries were opened, bringing the state’s total to ninety-two.

The “Ghetto Governor”

during the 1970s, both major political parties vigorously fought for the
opportunity to shape the future direction of the state. With Romney out of
office, democrats anticipated recapturing the governorship in 1970. the new
governor, William G. Milliken of traverse City, had served three years as state
senator before being elected lieutenant governor in 1964. Milliken charmed
voters with his boyish appearance and pledged to keep Michigan on the move
through progressive leadership. in 1970, his democratic opponent, former
state senator Sander Levin, attacked the governor for his support of state aid to
parochial schools. As the election grew near, Levin’s opposition to parochiaid
seemed to weaken, which cost him the endorsement of the politically potent
Michigan Education Association. his apparent switch gave voters the impres-
sion that not only was Milliken’s position correct, but also that Levin had
demonstrated uncertainty in making a decision. this issue overshadowed
Levin’s call for reform of the state’s taxation and welfare structures, and it
carried the governor to a narrow 44,409-vote victory.

Four years later, in a rematch of the 1970 gubernatorial contestants, Levin
accused Milliken of causing Michigan’s high unemployment and of being a
Republican like the “band of politicians” who had been responsible for the
Watergate burglary. Even though Watergate resulted in Michigan Republicans
losing four congressional seats and control of the state senate, Milliken was
returned to office by a 114,618-vote margin.

during the governor’s second term, he established himself as a friend of
minorities and educators. his close working relationship with Mayor Young
and his support for increased state aid for detroit earned Milliken the title
“Ghetto Governor.” one of the governor’s quests was reorganization of public
school financing. Although he had not yet succeeded in achieving his goal of
state-funded public education to replace the existing system based on local
property taxes, Milliken persisted in sending his proposal to the legislature.

Challenges of the 1970s 293

in 1978 Michigan voters demonstrated their appreciation of the governor’s
efforts and gave him a 300,000-vote victory over democratic state senator
William B. Fitzgerald.


in 1973, the Michigan Chemical Corporation ran out of color-coded bags used
to differentiate between two of its products, Firemaster, the trade name for
the highly toxic chemical fire retardant polybrominated biphenyl (P.B.B.), and
nutrimaster, a food supplement for dairy cattle. Rather than stop manufacture,
the company placed each substance in plain brown bags with the appropriate
trade name stenciled on them. through human error, bags of Firemaster and
nutrimaster were stacked close together, and sacks of each were sent to the
Michigan Farm Bureau Services. At the Farm Bureau, the contents of the sacks
were combined with the bureau’s standard feed mix, repackaged, and dispersed
throughout the state.

Farmers who used the mixture noticed an almost immediate decline, often
reaching 50 percent, in their herd’s milk production. After months of testing at
various laboratories throughout the country, in April 1974, the United States
Agricultural Research Center at Beltsville, Maryland, announced that feed
samples showed traces of P.B.B. and that public safety dictated that all contami-
nated cattle be destroyed.

Following this revelation, farmers demanded assistance from the state, but
until medical reports linked P.B.B. with serious illness and a purported increase
in the incidence of cancer, little was done. in 1976, Governor Milliken, who had
come under attack from democrats who charged that he sought to cover up the
incident in order to maintain sales of the state’s dairy products, established a
P.B.B. Scientific Advisory Panel to determine the effects of the “unfortunate
error” on Michigan residents. Meanwhile, the state legislature passed a P.B.B.
Reform Bill to lower the admissible levels of the chemical in dairy products and
to provide for disposal of diseased cattle in burial pits near Kalkaska.
Reimbursement for slain livestock was also allowed, but lengthy court battles
caused delays in payment. in 1977, Congress passed a bill sponsored by
Michigan U.S. Senator Robert Griffin which allowed Michigan to receive fed-
eral reimbursement for 75 percent of the money, to a maximum of $150 million,
which the state had to pay farmers to cover livestock losses and medical
expenses incurred from P.B.B. contamination.

By 1979, the dispute over P.B.B. and its effects on humans still raged. irate
citizens protested a new burial site near Mio, in oscoda County, and claimed


that P.B.B. would be released into the soil as the carcasses decayed. no new
legislation provided assurance that another “Cattlegate” would not occur in the
future, and no new medical evidence disproved the contention that nearly all
Michiganians face higher chances for developing cancer because of ingestion of
tainted dairy products. the potentially catastrophic results of the P.B.B. inci-
dent may not be fully realized for generations.

The Disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa

on July 31, 1975, Michigan residents were shocked to learn that James R.
“Jimmy” hoffa, the sixty-two-year-old former president of the international
Brotherhood of teamsters, had been reported missing. to compound the mys-
tery, more than twenty-five years later, the public still does not know the answer
to the question: “What happened to Jimmy hoffa?”

the fiery, pugnacious hoffa, despite allegations of a connection with
organized crime, was beloved by members of his union for his willingness to
walk the picket lines with them and deal directly with management on their
behalf. in 1964, however, the charges of corruption proved true, as hoffa was
convicted on charges of jury tampering, fraud, and conspiracy in mishan-
dling of a union benefit fund. After losing several appeals, in 1967 he began
serving a thirteen-year sentence in the federal penitentiary in Lewiston,

despite being incarcerated, hoffa continued to hold the title of General
President of the teamsters, although he designated Frank Fitzsimmons, the
union’s vice-president, to serve as acting president during his absence. in June
1971, as part of a deal with the department of Justice, hoffa resigned as union
president in favor of Fitzsimmons. in return, six months later President Richard
M. nixon commuted hoffa’s prison sentence, with the provision that the for-
mer labor boss could not reenter union politics until 1980.

By 1975, amid rumors that his parole restriction was about to be lifted, hoffa
seemed poised for a fight to regain the presidency of the teamsters. it was also
whispered in union circles that hoffa was threatening to expose purported ties
between Fitzsimmons and the mob and misuse of union pension funds. it is
this threat that police believed resulted in hoffa’s disappearance.

on July 30 hoffa left his home in Lake orion to meet an undisclosed person,
whom authorities believed was a prominent local mobster, at the nearby
Machus Red Fox Restaurant. Upon his arrival, he made his last telephone call,
telling his wife that his luncheon appointment had not arrived. From that point,
no one except hoffa’s assailants know what actually occurred.

Challenges of the 1970s 295

Authorities investigated two prominent detroit underworld figures regard-
ing the disappearance, but each had an alibi. hoffa’s foster son, Charles
“Chuckie” o’Brien, was also targeted for suspicion because the backseat of the
car he had borrowed from a known member of the mob on the day of the disap-
pearance contained hair, blood, and skin samples matching hoffa’s. however,
o’Brien maintained that he was not at the restaurant, and a lie detector test
supported his contention.

in 1983, hoffa was declared legally dead, but his legend lives on through his
son, James R. hoffa, Jr., who was elected to his father’s former position as presi-
dent of the teamsters in the late 1990s.

the hoffa mystery regained national attention in 2006 when a convict, hop-
ing to get a reduction in his drug-smuggling sentence, told FBi agents that
hoffa’s remains were buried on an 89-acre horse farm in Milford township.
After a two-week search, which included dismantling a 30 by 100 foot horse
barn, under whose concrete floor hoffa’s body allegedly reposed, nothing was
found, and the search was discontinued. oakland County Prosecutor david

Figure 19.3 Jimmy hoffa photographed at his home, June 9, 1974. Walter P. Reuther
Library, Wayne State University.


Gorcyca summed up the frustration of law enforcement officials, saying that
unless Chuckie o’Brien recanted his previous protestations of innocence or has
an autobiography published posthumously, “o’Brien may take that whole mys-
tery with him to the grave.” in 2013, tony Zerilli, an eighty-five-year-old
imprisoned former leader of detroit’s criminal underworld, claimed that he
knew hoffa’s final resting place in oakland County, but again the quest proved
futile. Unlike most of the previous tipsters who merely sought a few days out of
prison to show police where hoffa’s body allegedly could be unearthed, Zerilli
had a specific motivation which he accomplished—he received national public-
ity to promote sales for his forthcoming autobiography.

A Ford in the White House

if P.B.B. and Jimmy hoffa caused Michigan residents the most concern during
the 1970s, then the selection of Gerald R. Ford to be vice-president, and his
subsequent elevation to the presidency, brought them their greatest sense of
pride. Ford, a Grand Rapids Republican who had served in the house of
Representatives for twenty-four years, including twelve as minority leader, won
the respect of a nation wearied by the corruption of Watergate through his
refreshing honesty, modesty, sincerity, and informality. Under Ford’s leadership
the nation’s sagging economy surged forward as more than 4 million new jobs
were created in the private sector, unemployment declined from 9.2 percent
to 6.8 percent, the dow Jones industrial Stock Average soared past the 1,000
mark, and inflation was pared from 12 percent to 5 percent. in foreign affairs,
during Ford’s administration the policy of détente with the Soviet Union was
continued, a basis for a lasting Middle East peace was established, and the
Soviet Union agreed on strategic arms limitation talks. Even though popular
dissatisfaction against the Republican Party deprived the President of victory in
1976, Michiganians, like all Americans, could reflect with satisfaction upon the
record achieved by Gerald Ford. in december 2006, at the age of ninety-three,
Gerald R. Ford died, and Michigan and the nation mourned the passing of the
kind and gentle man who brought decency back to the White house after the
Watergate scandal.

The Conscience of the Senate

despite the nationwide acclaim given Ford for restoring honesty to the White
house, Michigan’s best known and most beloved public figure during the 1960s

Challenges of the 1970s 297

and 1970s was Philip A. hart. A graduate of the University of Michigan Law
School, hart became the political protégé of his classmate G. Mennen Williams
and was the governor’s handpicked running mate in 1954 and 1956. in 1958
hart successfully challenged Republican incumbent Charles Potter and was
sent to Washington to begin what was to become an illustrious eighteen-year
career in the United States Senate.

As a senator, hart became nationally famous for his leadership in shaping
almost every major piece of legislation favoring civil rights, consumer protec-
tion, and regulation of big business. he was the floor manager for the Voting
Rights Act of 1965 and its extension in 1970 and for the open housing Act of
1968. hart also was the chief sponsor of the drug Safety Act (1962), the truth-
in-Packaging Act (1965), the truth-in-Lending Act (1966), the Motor Vehicle
information and Cost Saving Act (1972), and the Anti-trust Act of 1976, which
gave state attorneys general power to bring antitrust suits on behalf of individ-
ual citizens.

Always willing to risk his political career in support of an issue which he
believed was right, even when his constituents were in opposition, hart backed
busing for school desegregation, strict antipollution and safety legislation for
the automobile industry, and gun control. his dedication to the American peo-
ple and their protection was unwavering, and he was a tireless worker against
all forms of injustice. Mike Mansfield, the majority leader of the Senate, labeled
hart the most outstanding senator he had ever known and said that he was
“a man of great courage, great compassion, and great determination” who, in
the pursuit of justice, was “a man of steel.” Seriously ill and suffering from the
effects of cancer, hart summed up his Senate career in a farewell speech shortly
before his death in december 1976. he concluded by saying simply that “i leave
as i arrived, understanding clearly the complexity of the world into which we
were born and optimistic that if we give it our best shot, we will come close to
achieving the goals set for us 200 years ago.” Philip hart, a man of courage and
devotion to principles, truly deserved the title given him by his colleagues—
“the Conscience of the Senate.”

For Further Reading

Few books have been published on Michigan in the 1970s. An excellent biography of
Governor Milliken is dan Angel, William G. Milliken: A Touch of Steel (new York:
Public Affairs Press, 1974). Joyce Braithwaite and George Weeks, The Milliken Years
(traverse City: the Village Press, 1988) offers a pictorial history filled with many quota-
tions from Milliken’s speeches. the most recent biography of Milliken is dave dempsey,


William G. Milliken: Michigan’s Passionate Moderate (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan
Press, 2008). Gerald Ford’s autobiography, A Time to Heal (new York: harper and Row,
1979) offers insight into the political happenings in Michigan and the nation during the
years 1972–76. While many books deal with Jimmy hoffa’s career as a leader of the
teamsters’ Union, the best biography is Arthur A. Sloane, Hoffa (Cambridge: the Mit
Press, 1991).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

toward the twenty-First Century

Reeling from the crises of the 1970s, Michiganians hoped that the new decade
of the 1980s would bring them more stability and security, but the unresolved
issues of the 1970s precluded any chance for rapid improvement in the state’s
economic and social climate. over the years Michigan’s once-abundant natural
resources had been depleted, but mining, lumbering, and shipping continued
to provide wealth to businesses, and the state’s many lakes, rivers, and streams
still afforded recreational opportunities to residents and tourists. however,
fish rendered inedible by high levels of toxic mercury, ground water supplies
infected by waste disposal dumps, and state parks littered with garbage from
thoughtless campers provided ample proof that Michigan’s environment
required ever-increasing protection from both corporate and individual exploi-
tation and pollution. As prices for automobiles and fuel moved upward, calls
arose, especially from residents in large metropolitan areas, for creation of a
statewide mass transit system to meet the needs of both inner-city residents
and commuting suburbanites. the urgency of this requirement was intensified
by studies showing that the state’s expressway system, designed in the 1950s to
meet the needs of residents for at least the next fifty years, was already overbur-
dened by traffic, in turn causing an unanticipated need for costly and incon-
venient roadway resurfacing.

Culturally, the detroit institute of Arts, Michigan Council for the Arts,
the interlochen Arts Academy, which boasted such artists as pianist Van
Cliburn on its faculty, and a host of privately financed summer stock theaters



throughout the state, attested to the quality of and interest in the arts in
Michigan. Yet each time state and local budgets faced a deficit, the arts were the
first to fall victim to reduced funding, while government officials defended the
cuts by asserting that cultural activities were a luxury appreciated only by a
small percentage of the population. ironically, this occurred at a time when
many unions were negotiating shorter work weeks, which resulted in more
leisure time for people to patronize the arts.

Sports remained one of the major activities in the state, with attendance
growing every year at events of all descriptions. Yet, violence at sporting events
on the high-school level continued to force many urban schools to restrict their
games to daytime hours for increased security.

the state’s schools, both public and private, continued to be a source of pride
to Michiganians, but test scores revealed that despite increased funding, read-
ing, writing, and mathematics skills among the student body were declining,
while school vandalism cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars annu-
ally. Certain state services, such as welfare and prison construction, expanded,
but with them came increased taxes and rebellious taxpayers. thus, Michigan
truly remained a state in turmoil.

Figure 20.1 the Four Presidents (nixon, Reagan, Ford, Carter) toasting in the Blue
Room, 10/08/1981. Courtesy of the national Archives, ARC: 198522.

Toward the Twenty-First Century 301

The Republican Convention of 1980

in 1980, detroit hosted the Republican national Convention, which not only
gave the Motor City’s economy a $44 million infusion but also afforded
Michigan a chance to improve its “Rust Belt” image in the nation. George h. W.
Bush, a Yale University classmate of Governor Milliken, had gained his lone
victory over former California governor Ronald Reagan in the Michigan presi-
dential primary, but his poor showing elsewhere forced him to drop out of the
race prior to the convention. Milliken and twelve other moderate Republican
delegates refused to abide by Bush’s urging to support Reagan, and this so-
called “Michigan thirteen” acquired the dubious distinction of casting the only
votes for Bush. After a brief period of speculation that Michigan’s favorite son,
former President Gerald Ford, might accept the second spot on the ticket,
Reagan selected Bush to placate moderates and achieve party harmony. in
november, the national Republican ticket carried Michigan, although demo-
crats retained control of the state legislature.

The Eighties’ Disastrous First Year

in his 1980 State of the State Address, Governor William Milliken said that the
state’s future was “exciting, but frightening.” Unfortunately, the year proved to
be more of the latter than the former. nearly forty years of relative prosperity
for Michigan and its citizens came to an abrupt end as inflation, soaring inter-
est rates, and an influx to America of Asian-made automobiles caused a decline
in domestic car sales. Subsidiary automotive industries soon began to suffer as
well, and by midyear more than 620,000 Michigan workers were jobless—the
most people out of work since the Great depression. the city of Flint became
world famous as its 24 percent unemployment rate was cited repeatedly by
Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan as proof that, despite the
efforts of Republican governors such as George Romney and William Milliken,
the national democratic Party ultimately was responsible for the automobile
industry’s plight because of its failure to institute high protective tariffs to
reduce foreign competition.

As automobile sales declined and unemployment increased, state revenues
from income, sales, and business taxes plummeted. Consequently, requests for
state unemployment assistance increased and by mid-1980 10 percent of the
state’s residents received some form of welfare benefits. to meet these demands
for government resources, tax increases were necessary, but 1980 was a year of
calls for tax reduction, not raises. in november, voters narrowly defeated a


ballot proposal that would have devastated public services by cutting state
spending by 40 percent. Fearful of an expanded tax revolt, Governor Milliken
and legislative leaders, working together, attempted to prevent what seemed to
be imminent economic catastrophe, while, at the same time, avoiding both a
raise in taxes and excessive hardship among those most in need.

to accomplish this goal, severe budget slashing was necessary. Consequently,
in 1981 Michigan residents were told to expect less public transportation,
reduced road repairs, an end to school breakfast programs, reduced care for the
mentally ill, cutbacks in recreational facilities, fewer state police patrols, drasti-
cally diminished aid to public schools and state-supported universities, and
cuts in welfare.

Further compromising Michigan’s future, Chrysler Corporation had to
request even more federal loans to avoid bankruptcy, violent crime increased,
and the federal government cited the state as hazardous for its residents’ health
because of its high level of toxic waste material. Legislative Majority Leader
Bobby Crim summarized Michigan’s dilemma well when he said: “We’re not
going to make a recovery in one year. Michigan at this time in history has more
problems than ever before, more problems than any other state.”

The Newest “Boy Governor”

in early 1982 Michigan maintained for the third consecutive year the dubious
distinction of having the highest unemployment rate in the nation. From 1979–
82 Michigan’s economy shrank by 15 percent, more than twice the national
average, and the state’s population had declined by 210,000 as workers left to
seek employment elsewhere. By 1982, one in six Michigan workers was collect-
ing unemployment, a rate 50 percent above the national average. Moreover,
state officials and the general populace were embarrassed and angry when
it was revealed that after no domestic bank would back a proposed sale of
$500 million in short-term notes to ease the state’s debt crisis, five Japanese
banks consented to save Michigan from fiscal collapse.

this economic stress, coupled with Governor Milliken’s announcement that
he would not seek reelection, gave democrats hope that they could capture the
governorship for the first time in twenty years. Expectations of a democratic
victory were buoyed further when James J. Blanchard, the thirty-nine-year-old
suburban detroit congressman who had been credited with assembling the so-
called “Chrysler bailout package,” emerged triumphant in the primary election.

Blanchard expected his Republican opponent to be popular, moderate lieu-
tenant governor James Brickley, who had the tacit backing of Governor Milliken

Toward the Twenty-First Century 303

and the Republican state party organization. Republican voters in the primary
election, however, shocked political pundits by selecting as their candidate
Richard h. headlee, a conservative insurance company executive who had the
support of former governor George Romney.

the campaign devolved into vilification. Conservative Republicans labeled
Blanchard and his running mate, former ten-term congresswoman Martha
Griffiths, as big-spending, high-taxing, new deal liberals, whose only experi-
ence came from Washington, not Lansing. democrats and moderate Republicans
accused headlee of being insensitive to the needs of the poor, minorities, and
cities. Furthermore, headlee’s speeches against passage of the Equal Rights
Amendment and state-supported abortion funding earned him the enmity of
women’s groups across the state. to muddy the waters even more, a third candi-
date, Robert tisch, a vocal tax-cut advocate and political gadfly, entered the
race as an independent. on election day, Blanchard, backed by a coalition of
democrats and moderate Republicans, rolled to an easy 200,000-vote victory.

the new governor inherited a $1.7 billion deficit from his predecessor.
Because the state constitution mandated a balanced budget, Blanchard pro-
posed a temporary 38 percent increase in the state income tax, as well as a
$225 million cut in state services. After a bitter legislative battle, the tax bill passed,
and Michigan edged back from the brink of fiscal disaster. Bond ratings were
upgraded, funding for state programs and education increased, and a Michigan
Youth Corps was established to give temporary summer jobs to more than 60,000
young people. By early 1983, domestic automobile sales, aided by imposition of a
federal import quota on foreign cars, began to rise, unemployment dipped to
14 percent, and Michigan appeared to be on the road to recovery.

despite the brighter economic picture, the governor’s popularity sank to
34 percent in the polls because of the tax increase. Angry voters instituted a
recall drive in 1983 against politicians who had supported the tax increase. it
proved unsuccessful, but voters pledged to renew their efforts the following
year. Assurances by Blanchard that the tax bill, as passed, provided for auto-
matic phasing out of the levy did little to calm his foes. nor were the critics
silenced when former governor Milliken praised Blanchard, saying: “if i were
governor, i would have taken substantially the same steps. he did what he had
to do, and i commend him for it.” Recalls were begun against individual law-
makers who had supported the tax legislation, and these proved successful
enough to defeat two democratic state senators and give control of Michigan’s
upper house to the Republicans.

in late 1983 Blanchard outlined a program of economic strategies stressing
diversification of industry, retraining of workers for high-technology jobs, and
regional cooperation among the Great Lakes states to attract new industry.


While Michigan’s growth still was tied closely to the return of a healthy auto-
mobile industry and the stemming of the exodus of workers and business from
the state, a new optimism was being felt by most Michiganians. By mid-1985,
Michigan was hailed as the “comeback state.” the tax increase was being rolled
back, the state’s credit rating hovered just beneath the top investment grade,
and a prominent national management and accounting firm cited Michigan’s
business climate as the best in the country.

Even in the midst of economic difficulties, Blanchard demonstrated his
commitment to quality education. during his first term, state support for K-12
education increased by 50 percent and test scores in the state’s educational
assessment program reached an all-time peak. nor was higher education
neglected by the governor. When he took office, approximately 60 percent of
Michigan’s residents were high school graduates and 14.3 percent had com-
pleted at least four years of college. Michigan was unusual in that nearly
75 percent of its college students were in public, rather than private, institutions
of higher learning, nearly 20 percent above the national average. to meet the
future needs of a populace fearful of the spiraling costs of college education,
Blanchard proposed the Michigan Educational trust Fund (MEt) in which
parents could make a one-time investment of $3,000 per child and be guaran-
teed that child would receive a four-year education at any of Michigan’s fifteen
state-supported colleges beginning in the year 2005. Although critics ques-
tioned the financial ability of the state to fulfill these contracts, the measure was
passed into law as a majority of legislators believed MEt was in keeping with
Michigan’s tradition of assuring educational opportunities to all its citizens.

Basking in these successes, Blanchard won an unexpectedly easy 1986 reelec-
tion bid over Wayne County executive William Lucas, who previously had
served as that county’s sheriff. Much of Blanchard’s impressive victory margin
of 69 to 31 percent must be attributed more to Republican factionalism than
public favor with the governor. Lucas, the first black to be nominated for the
state’s highest office, had been a lifelong democrat until late 1985 and had not
earned the trust of the Republican faithful, even though he was an outspoken,
articulate conservative who had cut Wayne County’s debt through such strict
measures as laying off workers and selling a publicly owned hospital.

Unfortunately, the tone for Blanchard’s second term was set within a week
after the election when General Motors chairman Roger Smith announced the
closing of seven plants in Michigan, including the company’s oldest factory, the
Cadillac Fleetwood plant in detroit, which would idle 17,450 workers. Since
the governor had denounced rumors of the closings as baseless during the cam-
paign, he lost credibility with the electorate once again, despite his truthful
assertion that he had been misled by Smith.

Toward the Twenty-First Century 305

Another damaging trend for the state was the continued decline in the num-
ber of residents engaged in agriculture, the state’s third largest industry. during
the 1980s, the number of Michigan farms diminished from 66,000 to 55,000,
while cultivated acreage fell from 11.4 million to 10.8 million. Even though the
state retained its ranking as the nation’s number one cherry producer and as
one of the top in apple production, family-run dairy and grain farms were
being sold at an alarming rate either to agribusinesses or land developers.

The Women’s Hall of Fame

on June 10, 1987, an important part of Michigan’s population received long
overdue recognition with the opening of a Women’s historical Center and hall
of Fame. Located in Lansing, the center contained exhibits honoring more
than thirty initial inductees, among whom were abolitionist Sojourner truth,
Lieutenant Governor Martha Griffiths, former first lady helen Milliken, and
civil rights activist Rosa Parks. nominations for future induction were to be
collected annually by the Michigan Women’s Study Association, which would
then select the honorees. the museum features exhibits of the art, photography,
crafts, and literature of Michigan women, as well as displays relating the contri-
butions of Michigan women to science, politics, and law.

The Election of 1990

Confident of a third term in 1990 despite a lackluster previous four years,
Blanchard destroyed his reelection bid by unexpectedly dropping his seventy-
eight-year-old lieutenant governor, Martha Griffiths, from the ticket for what
he called “the best interests of the state.” infuriated, Griffiths lambasted the
governor, saying: “the biggest problem in politics is that you help some S.o.B.
get what he wants, and then he throws you off the train.” immediately women’s
and senior citizens’ organizations attacked Blanchard for sex and age discrimi-
nation, and the assaults did not diminish even when he named olivia Maynard,
the director of the State office of Services to the Aging, as his new running
mate. Republican gubernatorial nominee John Engler, the Majority Leader of
the State Senate, immediately seized upon the opportunity to win over the
angry electorate and selected sixty-six-year-old state senator Connie Binsfeld, a
former Michigan Mother of the Year, to run with him at the head of the ticket.

to compound the governor’s woes, traditional democrats were upset at
Blanchard’s efforts to attract middle-class and business support by proposing


property tax relief and setting forth a “hard line” anticrime package, including
military-style boot camps for young offenders. Especially critical were labor,
blacks, and women. detroit Mayor Coleman Young chided the governor for
not giving “enough attention to the problems of minorities and cities,” while
state representative Morris hood of detroit was even more blunt, stating that
the entire democratic party, including Blanchard, was “guilty of forgetting its
roots.” Prophetically, hood warned that “many of the working people i know
have talked about sitting this election out.” if all this was not enough, three
months before the election Blanchard’s ex-wife published a book portraying the
governor as a neglectful husband and father.

one other issue worked against Blanchard’s reelection chances. in 1990, anti-
abortion groups were beginning a parental consent petition drive, but the gov-
ernor was not only a supporter of Medicare-funded legal abortions but also a
spokesman for the national Abortion Action League. Conversely, his oppo-
nent, John Engler, worked diligently to win support from Right to Life of
Michigan. Abortion rights thus became not only a major issue in the race, but
also, as many pundits argue, the key factor in Engler’s narrow 17,595 vote

Years of Reform

in an economic situation similar to that of his predecessor, the new governor
inherited a $1.8 billion deficit. Unlike Blanchard, Engler opted to reduce it
through systematic cost-cutting and government reorganization rather than to
increase taxes. Engler’s reforms revitalized the fiscal climate so successfully that
in 1993 Michigan led the nation in new business growth and had the most
robust economic development of all industrial states. in 1993, a state record of
4,350,000 men and women were employed, an increase of nearly 400,000 since
1991, and unemployment was at its lowest level (7 percent) in fifteen years.
Furthermore, the growth in personal income for Michigan citizens was nearly
three times the national average.

Michigan’s turnaround was based on three factors. First came welfare reform,
aimed at ending dependency on the state. in 1991 general assistance welfare
payments were stopped for 84,000 single, able-bodied adults. despite allega-
tions made by democratic lawmakers, social service employees, and labor
union leaders that Engler was insensitive to the poor, and polls showing a high
disapproval rating, the governor remained steadfast about reducing welfare. he
assured residents that this was merely the initial step in a program that would
result in more than mere cost savings, because it was in conjunction with new

Toward the Twenty-First Century 307

employment retraining programs and community service alternatives to wel-
fare. to the surprise of many of his critics, the program worked so well that in
1993 Michigan led the nation in the number of welfare recipients who were also
employed and moving toward self-sufficiency. in mid-1994, Engler announced
the second stage of his welfare reform program, which required that able-
bodied welfare recipients either become employed or enroll in a job training
program, or their state assistance would be reduced by 25 percent after one year
and eliminated after two years.

Even as prosperity returned for many Michigan residents, poverty remained
a major issue in urban centers. detroit, for example, with a minority population
of 76 percent, had the unfortunate distinction of being the nation’s poorest
major metropolitan center, ranking last among the country’s largest 100 cities
in median home value and first in the number of households receiving welfare.
thirty-three percent of the city’s households were beneath the federal poverty
line, an increase of 8 percent from 1979. in keeping with the governor’s initia-
tive, detroit’s “Focus: hoPE” established retraining programs for the unem-
ployed, in an effort to reduce the city’s social and economic ills.

A second element of the governor’s financial recovery plan was put into
effect: a tax-relief program including a property-tax freeze, a cut in the state
small business tax, and elimination of inheritance taxes. Michigan ended the
1993 fiscal year with nearly $1 billion in surplus. A government program for
privatization of state services, such as competitive bidding for health insurance
and government partnerships with private industries, was begun, resulting in
significant benefits. Such a partnership with a pharmaceutical company made
it possible for the state to supply free vaccines to virtually all children. the gov-
ernment also made a contract with the Salvation Army to provide shelter for
more than 5,000 homeless persons.

Another of Engler’s primary goals was education reform. initially, the
Michigan Educational trust Fund was eliminated from the budget due to its
high cost. however, education was spared from budget slashing; in fact, it
received increases of more than $500 million. in a bold bipartisan initiative,
Engler endorsed a 1993 proposal introduced by democratic state senator
debbie Stabenow calling for ending reliance on property taxes for school fund-
ing, and in March 1994, voters approved reducing state property taxes on pri-
mary residences by an average of 83 percent. to replace the lost revenue, the
state sales tax was increased by 50 percent to 6¢ on a dollar, and an increase on
cigarettes of 50¢ per package was instituted. the latter proviso led critics to
point out derisively that the state’s residents had placed themselves in a
dilemma: if they chose to reduce their risk of lung cancer by not smoking ciga-
rettes, they were cutting revenue for schools as well. Also in 1994, the governor


signed into law a bill establishing the most comprehensive charter school act in
the nation, enabling outside entities, such as public universities, community
colleges, teachers, or other school districts, to open competing schools within a
school district. other elements of Michigan’s “education revolution” included
legislation for the minimum number of hours in a school year to be increased
from 900 hours to 1,080 hours beginning in 1999 and the addition of $230
million for teaching “at-risk” students. School administrators throughout the
nation are watching the results of the “Michigan Model,” and if it proves suc-
cessful, Michigan will regain its historic place as an innovative leader in public

Solving the Mystery of the “Fitz”

the Great Lakes have been for Michigan not only a source of commercial and
recreational benefits but also of tragedy. Gale-force winds and waves have sunk
hundreds of ships. historically, november has been the most treacherous
month for sailing on the Great Lakes, with major storms claiming more than
twenty vessels in 1842, ninety-seven in 1869, and eighty-one during the years
1900–66. twentieth-century november disasters alone caused the death of
more than 700 seamen, including all but two on the Carl D. Bradley, which
went down november 18, 1958, and all but one from the Daniel J. Morrell,
which sank november 28, 1966.

none of these maritime calamities, however, captured the public imagination
as did the loss of the 729-foot ore-carrier Edmund Fitzgerald, with all of its
twenty-nine crewmen, on november 10, 1975. Upon learning of the tragedy,
Reverend Richard ingalls, rector of the Mariners’ Church of detroit, rang its
bell twenty-nine times in honor of those who perished on the Fitzgerald. When
Canadian songwriter Gordon Lightfoot read of the tolling of the bell, he was so
moved that he penned a ballad, “the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” as a
memorial tribute. Partly because of Lightfoot’s popularization of the tragedy
and partly because the exact cause of its sinking had never been determined, the
loss of the “Fitz” became an event of fascination, even luring world-renowned
oceanographer Jacques Cousteau to examine the site of the wreckage.

in the early 1990s, an underwater video of the wreckage tended to discredit
the earlier Coast Guard theory that the Fitzgerald had broken in two after being
lifted simultaneously by two waves. the new pictures indicated that the ship
had taken water through unsecured hatch covers, had sunk in one piece, and
had then broken into three parts upon crashing into the lake bottom 535 feet
below the surface.

Toward the Twenty-First Century 309

in July 1994, “Expedition 1994,” headed by a Michigan diver, Fred Shannon,
came to another conclusion. When new photographs showed all hatch bolts in
their proper position, Shannon blamed the tragedy on an undisclosed “struc-
tural failure.” Even with this new evidence, the exact cause of the Fitzgerald
sinking remains a mysterious chapter in the lore of the Great Lakes.

As a consequence of the increasing numbers of visits to the site by subma-
rines and robotic cameras and the removal of artifacts such as the ship’s bell,
which is now on display at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at White Fish
Point, family members sought to have the final resting place of their loved ones
be designated as a burial site. Failing to gain their desire by law, in July 1999
relatives of the Fitzgerald’s crew boarded the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw
to hold a “graveside consecration” over the wreckage, which is believed to con-
tain the remains of all those who perished in the disaster. Following the service,
one relative appealed to those who wished to explore the Fitzgerald: “Let them
alone. it’s their grave. You just don’t violate that sort of thing.”

Figure 20.2 the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank on november 10, 1975, with its entire
twenty-nine member crew. Courtesy of the national oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration/department of Commerce; May 1975 ‒ St. Mary’s River. Photo by Bob
Campbell, Grand Ledge, Mi.


“Dr. Death”

throughout the 1990s, dr. Jack Kevorkian, a retired pathologist, gained
national attention for his campaign for the rights of the dying. Using a simple
carbon monoxide delivery system, which he named the mercitron, Kevorkian
assisted more than 100 terminally ill persons to commit suicide. Although each
of the victims and their families had sought Kevorkian’s aid in gaining “death
with dignity,” his opponents charged that he was abetting in murder and dubbed
him “dr. death.”

As his notoriety grew, Kevorkian came under attack not only from Right to
Life groups who tried unsuccessfully to bring him to trial for murder, but also
from Governor Engler and the Michigan legislature. in February 1993, Engler
signed into law legislation declaring assisted suicide a felony punishable by a
$2,000 fine and a maximum of four years in jail, but three months later the law
was declared unconstitutional.

in 1994 Kevorkian, who referred to himself as an “obitiarist” (specialist in
death), began to collect petition signatures to place assisted suicide on the bal-
lot for a statewide referendum. Although voters rejected the ballot referendum
in 1998, Kevorkian predicted his ultimate triumph, saying: “it may not happen
in my lifetime, but my opponents are going to lose.”

Figure 20.3 dr. Jack Kevorkian and his suicide machine. Courtesy of Gary Porter/
The Detroit News.

Toward the Twenty-First Century 311

in the short term, however, it was Kevorkian who suffered defeat. in 1998 he
administered a fatal injection to a patient suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
What made this assisted suicide unique was that he permitted the procedure to
be videotaped, and the tape was subsequently shown on a network television
news program. the uproar resulting from the telecast prompted the oakland
County Prosecutor to arrest Kevorkian on a charge of murder.

At his trial, the seventy-year-old Kevorkian presented no defense and refused
to permit his attorney to call witnesses to testify on his behalf. in early 1999 he
was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to ten to twenty-five
years in prison. Kevorkian appealed his sentence but remained in prison ineligi-
ble for parole until 2007, unless the Appellate Court ruled in his favor. Kervorkian
four times appealed his sentence unsuccessfully, but after serving more than
eight years in prison, he was granted a parole in 2007, the first year of his eligibil-
ity for such a request. Kervorkian stated to the parole board that while he would
not participate in any form of assisted suicide, he would support legislation to
legalize the procedure. he pledged, “i’m not going to do it again. Anything that
will bring me back to prison i will avoid. Prison is not a place to live.”

The Election of 1994

As Michigan neared its opportunity to have a referendum on Governor Engler’s
policies in the november 1994 election, several significant facts dominated the
state’s political and economic environment. during fiscal years 1990 to 1995,
the general fund budget had decreased by $10.1 million but spending for higher
education had increased 14.35 percent, allocations for mental health had gone
up by 22.2 percent, funding for the department of Corrections had soared
62 percent (with the opening of seven new prisons and three prison camps),
money for the State Police had risen by 36.6 percent, and welfare spending had
been increased 45.5 percent. in short, essential state services had received more
funding, while the overall budget had declined.

As a result of these policies and a strong economy that had created a $1
billion surplus in the state treasury, the electorate gave Engler an overwhelming
vote of confidence. the governor garnered 61 percent of the vote and carried all
but two of the state’s eighty-three counties in defeating his democratic oppo-
nent, former congressman howard Wolpe. Moreover, the governor’s coattails
enabled not only Spencer Abraham to become the first Republican elected to
the United States Senate from Michigan since 1972 but also Candice Miller to
oust veteran Secretary of State Richard Austin, giving Republicans that office
after forty years of democratic control. in addition, Republicans retained their

Figure 20.4 detroit democrat, Senator Carl Levin. Courtesy of the U.S. Senate.

Figure 20.5 Candice Miller, former secretary of state and now representative of
Michigan’s 10th congressional district. Courtesy of the office of Congresswoman
Candice Miller.

Toward the Twenty-First Century 313

22–16 margin in the state senate, gained a 56–54 majority in the state house,
and achieved a majority on the State Board of Education for the first time in
Michigan’s history.

Being returned to office was not the only reason for the governor to rejoice.
Five days after the election, the state’s first lady, Michelle Engler, gave birth to tri-
plets, making her husband the first Michigan governor since Austin Blair in 1864
to become a father while serving in the executive office. Flashing a broad smile,
Engler told reporters: “Four years ago, i was single, a state senator, and looking for
17,000 votes. today, i’m governor, married, and looking for 17,000 diapers.”

The New “Conscience of the Senate”

Carl Levin, a detroit democrat, was first elected to the United States Senate in
1978, upsetting two-term incumbent Republican Robert Griffin. he subse-
quently was reelected in 1984, when he survived not only Ronald Reagan carry-
ing the state with 59 percent of the vote, but also a determined bid by his
Republican challenger, former astronaut Jack Lousma. in 1990, running against
state senator Bill Schuette, Levin increased his margin of victory from 52 percent
to 57 percent, even though the head of the democratic ticket, Governor James
Blanchard, was defeated. then in 1996, he was sent back to the Senate with
59 percent of the vote as he trounced his Republican challenger Ronna Romney.

What makes the liberal Levin so popular in a decidedly moderate state is his
awareness of the interests of the people of Michigan, his intelligence, and his
ability to appear reasonable in pursuit of his goals. While ardently supporting
the liberal position on protecting abortion rights, tightening regulations on
lobbyists, support of gun control, civil rights, and advocating pro-labor legisla-
tion, Levin has earned a reputation for advocating fiscal responsibility and has
spearheaded his party’s call for reduction of the national deficit, both of which
appeal to more moderate Michiganians. As either the ranking member or
Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Levin tried to preserve
funding for conventional weapons systems, especially those such as the M-1
tank built in Michigan, but has been opposed to nuclear testing, the Strategic
defense initiative, and authorizing the use of force against iraq before the
Persian Gulf War. Levin also has been at the forefront of the “peace at any price”
democrats calling for the immediate end of American involvement in the iraq
War of the early twenty-first century.

Like his predecessor, Philip hart, Levin is known among his colleagues for
his civility, expertise, and being, as his campaign slogan boasted, “a fighter for
Michigan.” he has proven a worthy successor to wear hart’s mantle as “the


conscience of the Senate,” although his record of achievement for Michigan
falls short of that amassed by his noted predecessor. Announcing his intention
not to seek reelection in 2014, Carl Levin will leave office not only as Michigan’s
longest-serving United States senator, but also as one of its most effective and
beloved legislators.

A Third Term for Engler

Basking in unprecedented economic growth for the state, in 1998 John Engler
announced that he would run for a third term as Chief Executive. Facing the
governor was democrat Geoffrey Fieger, best known for being dr. Jack
Kevorkian’s attorney.

Going into the democratic primary, former East Lansing Mayor Larry
owen was the favorite, as he had name recognition, support from organized
labor, and the endorsement of detroit Mayor dennis Archer. Anticipated to
finish second was former state senator doug Ross, and Fieger was expected to
bring up the rear. the pundits seriously miscalculated the democratic primary
race in two respects. First, they did not anticipate the appeal Fieger’s populist
message would have among black voters. Second, they completely discounted
the possibility that large numbers of Republicans would cross over and vote for
Fieger because he seemed to be the easiest democrat to defeat in november.

the campaign was one of contrasts. Engler stressed how he had kept his
promise to move Michigan forward and boasted a litany of accomplishments
during his administration. Among the achievements the governor cited were:
more than 713,000 new jobs had been created; unemployment was at
3.5 percent—the lowest in forty years; Michigan residents had saved $11 billion
as a result of twenty-four tax cuts; the Work First Program had taken 325,000
people off welfare and into jobs, making Michigan the number one state in
welfare reform; Michigan ranked first in the nation in funding its schools;
Michigan topped the nation in business retention and new or expanded manu-
facturing facilities; and $6 billion had been allocated for improvement of the
state’s bridges and highways. “Michigan is moving forward, not backward,” the
governor reminded the state’s residents. “A decade ago some said, ‘Will the last
one to leave Michigan turn out the lights.’ Well, the lights are on and burning
bright, and we’re not turning back.”

By contrast, Fieger’s campaign was personal, derogatory, and defamatory,
and, as a result, many alienated democrats either stayed away from the polls or
endorsed Engler. Among the democratic nominee’s questionable remarks were
calling detroit Mayor dennis Archer a “slow learner” when the mayor refused

Toward the Twenty-First Century 315

to meet with him, saying that Jennifer Granholm, the democratic nominee for
attorney general, seemed “almost hysterical” when she criticized his anticrime
agenda, and referring to the potholes in Michigan’s roads as being “as big as
Engler’s gluteus maximus.”

With polls showing him trailing 59 percent to 27 percent a week before the
election, a contrite Fieger made an appeal to democratic party defectors. “to
some in our party, i pray you understand how hurtful and destructive some of
your unkind and divisive comments have been. Sometimes i may seem a little
harsh or a little too loud, and frankly sometimes i’ve said some things that i
wish i could take back,” he admitted. “But please let me explain something to
you: i care about the people i represent.”

it was a case of too little, too late, however, as Engler triumphed by a 62 per-
cent to 38 percent margin. Candice Miller’s political star skyrocketed as she
garnered more votes than did the governor to win easily her second term as
Secretary of State, and Republicans regained control of the Michigan legisla-
ture. the only statewide democratic candidate to weather the Republican del-
uge was Jennifer Granholm, who became the party’s beacon of hope by being
elected the first female attorney general in Michigan’s history.

Figure 20.6 Jennifer Granholm, former Attorney General and Governor of Michigan,
giving the State of the State Address, January 27, 2004. Courtesy of Gary Shrewsbury.


Looking Ahead

As the 1990s drew to a close, Michigan seemed well on the road to reclaiming
its former position as a national leader in economic growth, progressive social
reform, and education. the automobile industry had rebounded, but reliance
on automobile manufacturing as the sole bulwark of the state’s economy had
diminished. Michigan’s business community began to look to the world market
by establishing Business development offices in Canada, Mexico, Europe,
Japan, and Africa. in addition, by joining with other Great Lakes states,
Michigan became part of a consortium to work for preservation of natural
resources and regional growth based on cooperation rather than competition.

despite the promising economic outlook and the success of social and edu-
cational innovations, many challenges remained. Polls revealed that more than
three-fourths of the state’s residents favored women having the right to choose
an abortion, but divisive debates between Right to Life and Pro-Choice factions
raged on, stressing not legal, but rather moral, issues. While new black leaders
emerged, including Mayor dennis Archer of detroit and Mayor Woodrow
Stanley of Flint, nonwhites remained underrepresented in the state’s political
system. despite victories by Candice Miller and Jennifer Granholm, women’s
voices in politics still did not reflect their numerical strength. Minorities con-
tinued to suffer both rates of unemployment at least twice those for whites and
unequal opportunities in education and housing. Crime remained the number
one issue with Michigan residents. Legislation reducing the age of juvenile
offenders for trial as adults from sixteen to fourteen years of age was proposed,
and bills for “truth in sentencing,” increased hiring of state police troopers, and
new prison construction were signed into law.

For Further Reading

While little has been written as yet concerning the Blanchard years, basic information
on his first term may be obtained in neil Staebler, Out of the Smoke Filled Room (Ann
Arbor: George Wahr Publishing Co., 1990) and George Weeks, Stewards of the State
(Ann Arbor: historical Society of Michigan, 1987). Roger Martin, et al., The Journey of
John Engler (West Bloomfield: Altwerger & Mandel Publishing Co., 1991) offers a rea-
sonably balanced account of the 1990 gubernatorial race as set forth by reporters from
the Lansing Bureau of the Detroit News. Current public policy issues facing Michigan
are set forth in Phyllis t. h. Grummon and Brendan Mullan (eds), Policy Choices:
Framing the Debate for Michigan’s Future (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press,
1993) and Policy Choices: Creating Michigan’s Future (East Lansing: Michigan State
University Press, 1995).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Entering the new Millennium

Michigan entered the new millennium filled with both hope and anxiety. if the
state used its fiscal and natural resources wisely and met the needs of its citizens,
Michigan would continue in the social and economic vanguard of the nation,
but the scope of the impending challenges was daunting.

The Election of 2000

Because of its eighteen electoral votes, Michigan was certain to be one of the
major political battlegrounds in the presidential race of 2000. Realizing that his
reluctance to commit himself early to Robert dole’s 1996 candidacy may have
harmed state Republican Party unity, Governor Engler jumped on the George
W. Bush presidential bandwagon in 1999, making him one of the texas gover-
nor’s first influential supporters. the governor pledged that Michigan would
serve as a “fire wall” protecting Bush from his only rival, Arizona senator John
McCain. however, the results of the Michigan primary demonstrated that an
endorsement by the controversial Engler was a mixed blessing. Registered
Republican voters cast ballots for Bush, but independents and crossover
democrats turned out in force to deliver the state to McCain. Undaunted,
Engler declared that the results did not accurately reflect Bush’s popularity
in Michigan, but rather signified only that democrats wished to try to embar-
rass the governor by defeating his favored candidate.



the primary results also sent up an ominous warning that incumbent United
States Senator Spencer Abraham’s reelection bid could be threatened. the
freshman senator was being challenged by first-term congresswoman debbie
Stabenow, and without a strong vote-getter heading the Republican ticket,
Abraham’s chances for victory were decidedly diminished. the incumbent’s
reelection bid was hampered further when labor unions targeted him for defeat
because of his proposal to increase the number of visas available for skilled
immigrant workers to enter the country.

on election day, Michigan voters once again demonstrated their independ-
ent nature. Vice President Al Gore, the democratic presidential candidate,
defeated his Republican rival by a 51 percent to 46 percent margin. Gore’s vic-
tory resulted from gaining 95 percent of black voters and 70 percent of union
voters, which helped offset the fact that he lost sixty of the state’s eighty-three
counties to Bush. Gore’s strong showing in urban areas enabled Stabenow to
ride his coattails to a narrow 49 percent to 48 percent victory and become
Michigan’s first elected female United States Senator.

After the election, Engler praised his protégé for never missing a vote in six
years as senator, for working to protect the Great Lakes, and fighting for fair
immigration legislation. Engler’s influence with President-elect Bush resulted
in Spencer Abraham being named to the new president’s cabinet as Secretary of

however, the election also had several bright spots for the Republicans
on the state level. State Senator Mike Rogers captured Stabenow’s seat in the house
of Representatives, Republican nominees carried all three races for the State
Supreme Court, and Republicans retained their 58–52 margin in the state house.
thus, despite his party losing two national statewide races, Governor Engler
looked forward to Republican control of both houses of the legislature and the
state supreme court. this was especially significant for the party’s future because
it meant passage of a Republican redistricting plan, based on the 2000 census, that
would enhance the Republicans’ chances to increase their six congressional seats.
this, indeed, occurred, as by 2007, although Michigan’s declining population had
resulted in the loss of one electoral vote, Michigan’s congressional delegation
consisted of nine Republicans and six democrats.

Economic Prospects

the bright dawn of the new century was dimmed slightly by several disturbing
signs indicating an economic slowdown. in Michigan, the decline had
been noticed as early as 1999 when General Motors closed Flint’s Buick City

Entering the New Millennium 319

assembly line, marking the end of a plant that had produced 15.8 million Buicks
since 1906. this followed the closing of another of the city’s historic buildings,
Fisher Body Plant no. 1, the site of the Sit-down Strike of 1936–37. then in
2000, the automobile industry suffered two more blows when General Motors
announced the elimination of the oldsmobile line and daimler-Chrysler said
declining sales and a fourth quarter loss of $1.2 billion would force it to shut
down eight plants. this was especially important because, despite efforts at
diversification, $1 out of every $8 in the state’s economy was directly generated
by the automobile industry, which employed 6 percent of the state’s work force.
Moreover, manufacturing in general constituted 26 percent of Michigan’s
economy, which led one expert to caution: “Michigan has diversified quite a bit,
but so has every other state, and it’s still a lot less diversified than almost every
other state in the region.”

to try to offset the loss of revenue caused by diminished automobile sales,
Governor Engler joined with detroit Mayor dennis Archer in trying to tap into
China’s growing need for inclusion in the global market. China’s automotive
production increased from 700,000 in 1991 to 1.8 million in 1999, and some
experts predicted that within ten years its share of the world vehicle market
would rise from 7 percent to 25 percent. As Archer noted: “there are a lot of
auto suppliers who produce parts for the Asian market, and if we can help open
up some doors for them in Michigan and through joint ventures in Asia, it will
benefit our economy.”

Even Engler, usually the most vocal booster of the state’s growth, was
cautious in his 2001 State of the State Address. With thirty-one tax cuts
already passed during his terms as governor, a thirty-second would not be in
the immediate future. Budget estimates indicated that the state would not
bring in enough revenue during the fiscal year to keep up with inflation. the
decline in tax revenue was not merely a result of a sluggish economy, but also
because of previous reductions in the state income tax rate from 4.4 percent
to 4.2 percent, which resulted in a $269 million decrease in the state treasury.
Likewise, a cut in the Single Business tax, the state’s main levy on businesses,
from 2.2 percent to 2.1 percent caused a drop of $194 million in revenue. As
the income tax was reduced to 4.1 percent in 2002 and to 3.9 percent in
2004, and the Single Business tax was cut to 2 percent in 2001 and then
reduced by .1 percent annually until it was phased out in 2007, the revenue
derived continued to diminish. Because new industries were not created and
existing high-technology businesses in other states were not lured to relo-
cate in Michigan, the state entered the new century in a period of economic
stagnation similar to, or even worse than, that of the late 1970s and early


Environmental Protection

Closely linked to the economic future of the state was the question of
maintaining the quality of its air and water. Michigan, whose 3,288 miles
of coastline is second among states only to that of Alaska, relies heavily on its
waterways for both tourism and commerce. in 1994, tourism generated
$8.5  billion for the state, much of it from visitors seeking to enjoy sailing, swim-
ming, fishing, and other water-related activities. in addition to the economic
benefits, the Great Lakes, which contain 20 percent of the world’s fresh water,
provide drinking water to 40 million people.

Michigan also has more than 120 lighthouses, the most of any state, and
visitors to Port huron may tour not only the state’s oldest lighthouse, but also
the Huron Lightship. the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, located just north of the
Bluewater Bridges, is still in operation, while the Huron, which retired in 1970
as the last active lightship on the Great Lakes, is now a museum located south
of the bridges.

Sadly, the future of those tourist attractions and others throughout the state
is threatened by industrial pollution from both the United States and Canada.
Beaches throughout Michigan were closed in 2000 because of e-coli bacteria,
and the condition will continue to deteriorate if more is not done to stop
wastewater runoffs and raw sewage pouring into the Great Lakes and other
waterways. Fishing has been limited by discovery of high levels of mercury in
sport fish. in 2006, another toxic hazard from industrial waste, the fire retard-
ant dechlorance Plus, was detected in samples of walleye taken from Lakes Erie
and Michigan. Without clean water, a key element of Michigan’s appeal to
visitors will be lost.

Likewise, unless action is taken to preserve the Great Lakes through
conservation measures, the state will see another of its most important indus-
tries wither. the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway connect the
midwestern markets with the world. Since opening in 1959, the St. Lawrence
Seaway has handled more than 2 billion metric tons of cargo worth more than
$300 billion, of which more than 60 percent has gone to ports in Europe, the
Middle East, and Africa. domestic shipping on the Great Lakes transported
102.8 million tons of iron ore, coal, grain, and other materials in 2000, an
increase of 1.4 million tons from the previous year. however, foreign vessels
often bring with them parasitic marine life attached to their hulls, and when
they drop off and take up residence in the lakes and rivers they do harm to
fresh water fish.

Both foreign and domestic shipping on the Great Lakes, however, is
threatened by declining water levels. in 2007, the levels of Lakes Superior,

Entering the New Millennium 321

huron, and Michigan were nearly twenty inches below their normal depths
and were threatening to break the record lows recorded in 1925. in fact, in 2007
Lakes Michigan and huron were losing water three times faster than had been
predicted only a few years earlier, and in 2012, Lakes Michigan and huron were
twenty-five inches below normal, while Lakes Erie, Superior, and ontario were
ten to fourteen inches below normal. For every inch of draft lost, freighters,
depending on their size, must lighten their loads by between 50 and 270 tons.
huge freighters, such as the Paul R. Tregurtha, at 1,013.5 feet the largest ship on
the Great Lakes, have to make additional trips with less cargo to avoid running
aground. At $5 per ton of iron ore, a load lightened by 6,000 tons results in a loss
of $30,000 in revenue, and most freighters make fifty runs annually. Moreover,
the loss cannot be made up by lengthening the shipping season because the
locks at Sault Ste. Marie close from January 15 to March 25. Lower lake levels
also mean a loss of revenue for the pleasure boat industry and tourism. in 2007
more than 50 percent of boat ramps on Lake Michigan no longer reached the
water. Additionally, declining water levels have so affected the shipping of coal
to fuel electric plants that every electricity consumer in Michigan was warned
in mid-2007 to expect a steep increase in electric bills beginning in 2008.

Figure 21.1 the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse. Library of Congress, Washington, d.C.,
LC-d4-13256. United States Coast Guard Photo.


Warmer than normal winters and diminished snowfall have helped to create
this great drop in water levels, but so has the sale of millions of gallons of Great
Lakes water by both the United States and Canada to other nations. While
government has no control over the elements, it certainly could restrict the sale
of this natural asset until the lake levels begin to rise. if shipping, which is
already being harmed by the closure of several steel plants which previously
purchased iron ore, is further limited by declining water levels, Michigan,
as well as other states bordering the Great Lakes, will lose yet one more tradi-
tional economic bulwark.

Another environmental issue facing Michigan is whether it should continue
to permit the dumping of Canadian trash in the state. As a result of a contract
negotiated by a private landfill company with the government of toronto, more
than 313,500 tons of trash from that city cross the west-bound Bluewater
Bridge annually into Michigan, while another 495,000 tons enter across the
Ambassador Bridge in detroit. in return for accepting the trash, the company
receives $9.7 million a year for the duration of a five-year contract. this means
approximately forty tractor-trailers daily cross each bridge heading for a land-
fill in Wayne County. included in this daily caravan are truckloads of toronto
sewage. Unless Michigan joins with the federal government in stopping such
practices, the “Water Winter Wonderland” will slowly turn into a dumping
ground for waste matter.

Social Issues

in late 2000 the “State of Working America,” a report issued biannually by the
Economic Policy institute of Washington, d.C., stated that, despite a growth
in median income and a slight decline in the number of residents living in
poverty, Michigan continued to experience a widening income disparity.
during the past two decades the hourly wages of the lowest-earning 20
percent of the state’s workers declined 6.9 percent and the number of
poverty-level jobs had increased, thereby creating a new social class known
as the “working poor.” the report cited decreased unionization, fewer well-
paying opportunities for workers with only a high-school education, and a
higher tax burden on low- and middle-income residents than the national
average as primary causes for the disparity. if the state is to regain its eco-
nomic stability, Michigan must continue to seek ways to train workers for
jobs in the new high technology market and encourage development of new
businesses, while relying less heavily on temporary workers supplied by
contract companies.

Entering the New Millennium 323

Statistics on crime in the state provide a mixed message. Serious crimes,
including murder, arson, larceny, rape, and robbery, declined throughout the
last half of the 1990s, but overall Michigan’s crime rate increased by 1 percent.
the decline of serious crimes is deceptive, however, as residents of the state’s
large urban centers remain threatened by the prospect of being victims of crim-
inal activities. For example, detroit was regaining its unwanted reputation as a
“Murder City,” climbing to third in the national homicide figures in 1999, while
Flint jumped to tenth in the same category. Flint also led the nation in 1999 in
assaults and burglaries. Statistics such as these led one national survey taken in
2000 to list detroit as the most dangerous city in the nation, with Flint close
behind at seventh in the ranking.

Shortages of jail facilities and income disparity accounted perhaps for the
rise in urban violent crimes, as the unemployment rate among the state’s urban
minority males with less than a high school diploma was more than 28 percent
in 1999. While the state has attempted to deal with the former by permitting
privately owned prisons to be built to house youthful offenders, it must address
the unemployment issue or crime will continue to plague the state’s urban

Politics in the Early Twenty-first Century

With Governor John Engler’s announcement that he would not seek reelection
for a fourth term, the year 2002 marked the first time since 1982 that there
would not be an incumbent in the gubernatorial race. to avoid a potentially
divisive Republican primary, Secretary of State Candice Miller announced her
intention to seek a congressional seat rather than the gubernatorial nomina-
tion, which left Lieutenant Governor Richard Posthumus virtually uncontested
for the nomination. For the democrats, first-term Attorney General Jennifer
Granholm emerged as the party’s choice.

the race was primarily about the record of the incumbent, with Posthumus,
who before reaching his current executive position had been Michigan’s
longest-serving Senate majority leader, pledging to carry on Engler’s policies of
educational reform and lowering property taxes, while Granholm posed as a
centrist, “new democrat,” pro-business, pro-growth, and not bound by tradi-
tional democratic ties to big labor, high taxes, and government programs to
solve every citizen’s problems. Posthumus, a gracious politician with a rural
background, ran a low-key campaign emphasizing family values, agriculture,
and the possible need to stimulate the state’s economy by increasing the sales
tax. the national democratic Party poured money into the race and raised the


blond, Canadian-born Attorney General to the status of a rising star. the infu-
sion of outside funding and press attention helped lift Granholm to a narrow
51  percent to 49 percent victory, making her Michigan’s first elected female
Chief Executive. United States Senator Carl Levin won a fifth term by trounc-
ing his obscure GoP opponent, garnering 62 percent of the votes.

Although defeated in the gubernatorial and senate races in 2002,
Republicans retained control of the Michigan legislature and the secretary
of state’s office. terry Lynn Land proved to be as attractive a candidate as her
predecessor, Congresswoman-elect Candice Miller, by easily besting her
democratic opponent by a 56–44 percent margin. As well, the state GoP nar-
rowly captured the attorney general position vacated by Granholm, with Mike
Cox besting former State Senator Gary Peters by 5,200 votes out of nearly
3 million cast. Peters subsequently was rewarded by the new governor, who
appointed him state lottery director.

in 2004, Michigan again voted democratic for president, with liberal
Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry gaining a victory over President George
W. Bush by a 52–48 percent margin, but his coattails were not long enough to
elect sufficient democrats to gain control of the Michigan Senate.

Economic Woes

during her first term, Governor Granholm presided over an economic down-
turn which rivaled that of the Great depression. From January 2003 through
december 2006, Michigan lost more than 164,000 jobs, many of which were in
the domestic automobile industry. however, the losses were not limited to auto-
motive-related businesses, as the Ann Arbor area was devastated by the loss of
5,000 jobs when Pfizer pharmaceuticals relocated. Among other major compa-
nies that either relocated their corporate headquarters from Michigan or closed
their doors since 2000 were Comerica Bank, Kmart, Upjohn Pharmaceuticals,
and Gerber Foods. Michigan lost one job every ten minutes during the initial
four years of the Granholm administration, and, as a result, personal bank-
ruptcy rates reached all-time highs with 63,000 families filing for bankruptcy
protection in 2004. Michigan’s unemployment level remained constant at a
national high of 7.1 percent in 2003 and 2004, but dipped to 6.6 percent in mid-
2007, which was still significantly above the national average of 4.3 percent, and
thousands of state residents, often reluctantly, were compelled by financial
necessity to relocate. A study by Michigan State University found that in 2005
Michigan employers were planning on hiring 43 percent fewer college gradu-
ates, while nationwide employers anticipated a 5 percent hiring increase of

Entering the New Millennium 325

college graduates. the study concluded that if Michigan was excluded, national
hiring would be up 13 percent, making Michigan “the drag on the nation.” in
2006, more than half the graduates of the state’s three largest universities told
pollsters that they intended to leave the state to seek employment, and most
expressed no desire to return. Michigan had earned the unwanted title of “Job
Loss Capital of America.” Seeking to capitalize on Michigan’s economic misfor-
tunes, states such as Wyoming and texas engaged in vigorous recruiting efforts
to lure workers from Michigan. in 2006 alone, Wyoming, whose coal, oil, and
natural gas industries were booming, had given employment to nearly 2,000
laid-off Michiganians, while thousands of other state residents relived the mass
exodus of the 1980s to texas from Michigan to find jobs not only in the oil
industry, but also in law enforcement. the Union Pacific Railroad Company
hoped to recruit as many as 50,000 workers from Michigan to work for the
company in nebraska, texas, California, oregon, and Wyoming.

Between the years 2003–2005, nearly 85,000 Michigan residents, hoping for
financial security, fled the state; many of these emigrants were well-educated,
young people who represented the future of the state. Governor Granholm, like
Wilber Brucker, another depression-era governor, traveled throughout the
nation urging the purchase of Michigan goods; she also traveled to Asia and
Europe urging foreign companies not only to invest, but also to relocate, in the
Wolverine State. While her efforts brought hundreds of new jobs to the state,
these paled in contrast to the loss of tens of thousands during the same period.

Election of 2006

As a consequence of the state’s economic travails, by 2006, Governor
Granholm’s reelection was anything but certain. despite Michigan being the
only state in the Union not sharing in the national economic growth, the gover-
nor chose to blame President Bush’s economic policies for Michigan’s fiscal
woes, ignoring the fact that the same policies which she decried had brought
economic stimulation to every other state. According the Detroit News, not
known for its support of the governor, Granholm, despite her campaign rhetoric
of 2002, had become “an old-school liberal, devoted to the discredited programs
of the new deal and Great Society and enamored of central planning. . . . Freed
of her centrist bonds, [in her fourth State of the State message] she rattled off a
breathtaking far left agenda that should have had taxpayers gripping tight to
their wallets and businesses fleeing for the hills.” the governor’s response was to
promise the citizens that “We will protect you and your family and your
economic security,” with her “jobs today, jobs tomorrow” program and touting


her fiscal conservatism by having resolved more than $4 billion in inherited
deficits and cutting state government more than any of her predecessors. As part
of her promise to protect Michigan residents, during her administration health-
care coverage was provided to 300,000 uninsured state residents, and the nation’s
first bulk-buying of prescription drugs was instituted, saving the state nearly
$40 million in 2003 alone. Granholm also introduced the MiRx Card which
granted discount prescription drugs to uninsured families. She also proposed
the Michigan First health Care Plan to extend universal health care to every
Michiganian. As to the economic troubles in the state, the governor remained
upbeat, likening Michigan to a Great Lakes freighter plying through rough seas
in a storm. this unfortunate analogy led one wag to remark: “Yeah, the Edmund
Fitzgerald.” despite polls that showed more than 60 percent of Michigan voters
disapproved of the charismatic governor’s job performance, the same polls
showed nearly the same percentage liked her “as a person.”

the Republican Party, using the failing economy as its main message, nomi-
nated conservative millionaire businessman dick deVos, a proven job-creator
while heading Alticor (formerly Amway), who poured $35 million of his own
money, along with $6 million in donations, into advertising campaigns to increase
familiarity with himself and his positions. As the campaign progressed, deVos
unveiled a vague, yet sweeping, plan to revitalize the state economy. his proposal,
called “the Michigan turnaround,” included tax cuts, lower government spend-
ing, limiting welfare benefits to four years, cutting health-insurance costs, elimi-
nation of the Single Business tax, and eliminating state income taxes on families
earning less than $14,000 annually. Unfortunately for deVos, he came across,
especially in the televised series of debates, as stern, pedantic, and lacking in cha-
risma. in contrast, Governor Granholm, perhaps the greatest orator in Michigan’s
political history, was upbeat with her message of better times, reiterating her
pledge that in five years the results of her efforts to make Michigan a vibrant part
of economic globalization and restore the state’s economic climate “will blow you
[Michiganians] away.” Polls showed that by being the state’s “chief cheerleader,”
the governor’s contagious optimism made her the “more likeable” candidate. her
deftly articulated message, although equally as devoid of specifics as that of her
opponent, resonated with the voters, who gave her a 56 percent to 42 percent
victory in the most expensive gubernatorial race [$56 million] in state history.

the governor’s coattails helped bring about the unexpectedly easy reelection
of United States Senator debbie Stabenow by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin
over oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, despite polls giving the
incumbent a 60 percent disapproval rating, and the takeover of the State house
by democrats for the first time in nearly a decade. however, despite these
victories, the democrats failed in their bids to capture the positions of Secretary

Entering the New Millennium 327

of State and Attorney General, as both terry Lynn Land and Mike Cox were
returned by comfortable margins.

Other Socioeconomic Difficulties in the New Millennium

As the economy spiraled downward, urban crime experienced a resurgence. in
2007, among cities with a population of at least 100,000, Flint was ranked by the
Federal Bureau of investigation as first in violent crimes, with detroit ranking a
close third, after experiencing an 11 percent jump in crime from the prior year.
As crime increased, so did the number of felons sent to prison. in early 2007,
Michigan had 51,000 prison inmates, an increase of 4.2 percent from the previ-
ous year and 143 percent increase from 1987, and corrections officials projected
that the state would run out of prison bed space by late 2007. With 489 inmates
for every 100,000 residents, Michigan’s incarceration rate is 28 percent higher
than other Great Lakes states. in 2007 the cost of maintaining the state’s 42 pris-
ons and eight minimum security camps was $5 million daily, and taxpayers pro-
vided $30 million in health care to treat the 300 most costly inmate cases. these
figures translated into a troubling comparative statistic: Michigan was spending
$1.94 billion a year on corrections and only $1.78 billion on its fifteen state-
supported universities. in an effort to reduce costs by $92 million, in 2007
Governor Granholm proposed to release 5,500 nonviolent offenders. Critics of
the plan included Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of detroit and detroit Police Chief
Ella Bully-Cummings, both of whom expressed concerns that many released fel-
ons would return to the detroit area. Macomb County Sheriff Mark hackel sum-
marized public safety concerns succinctly, noting: “Because these are low-risk
inmates, it doesn’t mean they may not commit more serious crimes in the future.”

Public safety was also threatened by the state’s crumbling infrastructure. in
2006, Michigan was rated third in the nation in the number of structurally defi-
cient bridges, with 16 percent of the state’s 5,000 bridges seriously in need of
repair. the average age of the state’s county bridges is fifty years, but many of
the railroad overpasses were built more than 70 years ago.

Revival of the Motor City

A key to Michigan’s recovery will be the revitalization of detroit. despite having
to battle rising crime rates and a decades-long negative image, Mayor Kwame
M. Kilpatrick, elected in 2002 and reelected four years later, presided over the
city’s largest housing and commercial construction growth since the 1950s.


Construction of a RiverWalk began in 2003 and plans were finalized in 2006 for
building a multimillion dollar residential and retail project along the detroit
River. downtown detroit was energized by the construction of Comerica Park
and Ford Field, which attract millions of people each year. these facilities,
respectively, hosted the Major League Baseball All Star Game in 2005 and the
national Football League Super Bowl in 2006, drawing favorable national
attention to detroit’s new, more positive image. in 2007, a $180 million renova-
tion of the Book-Cadillac hotel to its former world-class status was begun.
Built in 1924, but vacant since 1984, the restoration of the once-elegant Book-
Cadillac was called the biggest rebuilding project in detroit since the Fox
theatre reopened in 1988. When completed, the Book-Cadillac will accom-
modate 2,000 guests and employ more than 300 people, thereby making
detroit even more viable as a convention center. the mayor focused on “Kids,
Cops, and Clean,” which he considered the three keys to a safe, healthy, and
prosperous detroit. despite the mayor’s commitment to education, however,
only 21.7 percent of detroit’s high school students graduate in four years, making
detroit’s public schools the worst in the nation in rate of graduation. the
mayor was more successful in creating a safer city, especially in the area of fatal
fires, which declined by 30 percent, and in reducing urban blight and cracking
down on illegal dumping of trash in the city.

Return to the “City of Champions”

As in the Great depression of the 1930s, the mental suffering of the citizenry
was lightened somewhat by the return to dominance of Michigan teams in pro-
fessional and collegiate athletics. the detroit tigers, who had nearly equaled a
major league record with 119 losses in 2003, rebounded in 2006 to capture the
American League pennant. Even though they were bested in the World Series
by the St. Louis Cardinals in five games, the tigers had “restored the roar” in
detroit, and the city’s economy was bolstered by near record-setting attendance
at Comerica Park. in 2012 the tigers again set an attendance record and
returned to the World Series, only to suffer a disappointing four-game sweep at
the hands of the San Francisco Giants. on the ice, detroit remained
“hockeytown, USA” as the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2002, and made
the playoffs every season through 2012. Avid hockey fans yearly fill Joe Louis
arena, adding to detroit’s economic coffers. the detroit Pistons, who bear the
Motor City name despite playing in suburban Auburn hills, recaptured some
of their glory of the late 1980s by winning division titles in the 2002, 2003, 2005,
and 2006 seasons, conference titles in 2004 and 2005, and a world championship

Entering the New Millennium 329

in 2004. the detroit Shock, the Piston affiliate in the Women’s national
Basketball Association began in 1998 as one of the league’s first expansion fran-
chises. the Shock, who finished in last place in 2002, rebounded under the
leadership of a new coach, former Piston great Bill Laimbeer, won conference
titles and world championships in 2003, 2006, and 2008. Unfortunately, attend-
ance never matched the team’s success on the court, and in 2009 the Shock
relocated to tulsa, oklahoma. Among professional sport franchises in
Michigan, only the woeful detroit Lions have not shared championship hon-
ors, not having won a world championship since 1957. despite their dismal
performances on the field, the Lions have loyal fans who fill Ford Field regu-
larly and help stimulate the Motor City economy.

At the collegiate level, the University of Michigan annually fields one of the
premier football teams in the nation. Although not gaining a national division i
championship thus far in the twenty-first century, the Wolverines won Big ten
titles in 2002, 2003, and 2004. the most successful football program in the state
since 2000 is that of Grand Valley State University. After losing the division ii
national championship in 2000, Grand Valley won national championship titles
in 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2006. Entering the 2007 season with 28 consecutive
victories, GVSU boasted the longest winning streak in collegiate football.
Michigan State University has one of the finest collegiate basketball programs
in the nation, appearing in the Final Four four times since 2000, and winning
the national championship in 2000. the Spartan hockey team also has enjoyed
success, winning the national collegiate hockey tournament in 2007.

the Great Lakes State, while languishing economically, boasts many jewels
in its sporting crown. Symbolically, a winning sport program is critical in times
of depression, especially if the team, like the 2006 tigers, is not expected to
triumph. Fans identity with, and derive hope from, fighting underdogs who,
with a “never give up” attitude, defy expectations and reach the top. thus, a
state’s residents, although beset with problems, may model themselves after
their sporting heroes and keep battling through adversity. if athletics represent
the light to guide Michigan out of its long economic and spiritual depression, a
stronger Michigan will arise from the ashes of the early twenty-first century.

Prospects for the Future

Michigan’s political, economic, and social leaders are aware of what needs to be
done to keep moving the state forward, and all agree that education is the cor-
nerstone upon which progress must be based. Under Governor Engler several
initiatives were proposed, many of which have been set in motion.


in 1999, at the urging of the governor, the legislature gave detroit Mayor
dennis Archer authority to reorganize his city’s failing school system. Charter
schools have opened giving parents an alternative educational opportunity for
their children if they reside in a city whose public schools are not doing their
job. By 2000, approximately 3 percent of the state’s students were attending such
a school. the Michigan Merit Award Scholarship Program was established in
1998 to motivate high school students to do well on their Michigan Education
Assessment Program (MEAP) tests. Under this program, a $2,500 college
scholarship is awarded to students who meet or exceed Michigan standards
in  mathematics, reading, science, and writing. to further motivate academic
excellence, in 2000 Governor Engler created the Golden Apple Award which
gave a minimum of $50,000 to schools that attained the highest MEAP scores
in the state and those that improved the most. Engler explained: “it bothered
me that we hand out championships for athletics and not for academics. When
it comes to science and math, people don’t really know the conference

As well, the Michigan Education trust (MEt), which had been suspended
when Engler assumed the office, was reorganized. Under the new program,
parents could invest in contracts totaling slightly more than $20,000 over a
four-year period, to defray future costs of college tuition for their children.

the Class of 2007 was the last required to take the MEAP tests, as the
oft-criticized testing system was replaced by the Michigan Merit Examination
(MME). the new system consists of three components—the ACt college
entrance examination, the Work Keys jobs skills assessment in reading and
mathematics, and the State of Michigan tests in mathematics, science, social
studies, and persuasive writing. the new test lived up to its billing as being
“tougher,” as attested to when the 2007 results showed that only 51 percent of
the state’s high school juniors passed the English component of the MME, and
fewer than half (47 percent) passed the mathematics test. other lackluster
scores were recorded in reading, with only 40 percent receiving a passing grade,
and science, with a success rate of 56 percent. only in social studies, with an
83  percent passing rate, did the state’s students excel. despite these relatively
dismal results, more than 94 percent of Michigan’s high school juniors who
took the test qualified for the $4,000 Michigan Promise Scholarship, which
requires only that students take the MME and receive “valid scores.” Minimizing
the issue of quality performance as an indicator for academic success in higher
education, Governor Granholm, who had proposed the scholarship in 2005,
boasted: “For the first time in our state’s history, the Michigan Promise
Scholarship offers every Michigan student the opportunity for a post- secondary
education. Students who continue their education beyond high school will be

Entering the New Millennium 331

part of our highly educated and skilled work force and will help to transform
Michigan’s economy.” With steps such as these, Michigan committed itself
to expand educational opportunities to prepare the state’s children for greater
success in the twenty-first century. only the passage of time would measure
whether the efforts bore fruit.

By 2007 traditional optimism waned under predictions from leading eco-
nomic analysts that Michigan’s economic doldrums would continue for at least
another decade. Unless financial conditions improve through innovative and
bold diversification and the state’s college graduates can find fiscal security in
their home state and choose not to seek their fortunes elsewhere, Michigan’s
future as a leader in the nation’s economic, social, and political growth seems
increasingly dim.

the state’s economic doldrums reached panic level in late 2008 when General
Motors and Chrysler pleaded with the federal government for a “bailout” to
save them from bankruptcy. Congress initially balked at using $85 billion of
taxpayers’ money to save private companies from their own failed business
practices. After General Motors and Chrysler projected a loss of three million
jobs, in the immediate companies as well as in automotive-related fields, should
the federal government not commit the funds to save them, Congress took
action, consenting to assume partial ownership and temporary control of the
companies through a loan to Chrysler and the purchase of 61 percent of General
Motors stock at a cost of $49.5 billion; government control purportedly would
continue until the loans were repaid and General Motors reorganized itself by
eliminating poorly selling model lines and closing 27 percent of its dealerships.
this agreement resulted in the structured bankruptcy that critics of the federal
loan initially predicted and favored. Ford Motor Company, the other member

Figure 21.2 A panoramic scene of detroit as it was in 1906. Courtesy of the detroit
historical Society.


of the historical “Big three,” refused to accept federal money, secured its own
financing, and continued to profit under its own direction. By 2013, some four
years after the start of what came to be known as the Great Recession, Chrysler
had repaid its loan, but “Government Motors,” as it was derisively nicknamed,
despite repurchasing of hundreds of millions of shares of its own stock, still
owed the treasury billions of dollars. in February 2013 the treasury department
announced its intention to sell its remaining 300 million shares, representing
19 percent of the company’s stock, on the open market by March 2014. Unless
the price of General Motors stock more than tripled during that time, the
treasury stood to lose more than $12 billion on the bailout, making it a dubious
investment of federal resources, although it arguably saved the jobs of thou-
sands of UAW members.

The Lost Decade

While Governor Granholm remained optimistic about the state’s future, in
2009 she expressed surprise that the economy had not, as expected, recovered
but had grown even worse, with Michigan having lost more than one million
jobs, the most in the state’s history, and being burdened with a staggering high
unemployment rate of nearly 15 percent, compared with the national average of
slightly over 8 percent. to the governor’s credit, she tried to reverse the eco-
nomic decline, but unfortunately many of her attempts mirrored the failed
policies of Governor Wilber Brucker during the Great depression. Among her
programs were the Pure Michigan campaign to encourage the purchase of
Michigan products and increase tourism, twelve trips overseas to urge reloca-
tion of businesses to Michigan, and attempts to persuade the motion picture
industry to come to Michigan when considering new film sites. While these
efforts did achieve some level of success, such as bringing 45 new businesses
and 11,000 new jobs to the state, the gains paled in comparison to the massive
losses the state suffered during her administration. the Pure Michigan
campaign brought in $600 million to the state treasury in 2009, and several
mostly small independent movie companies, lured by the highest tax credit
(42  percent) in the nation, began making films in Michigan. the governor also
strove to attract alternative energy industries to the state and cut the size of
government, more so than any of her predecessors.

Many of Granholm’s political failures stemmed from national and even
global economic factors beyond her control, but some were self-inflicted. her
inability to work effectively with both the Republican Senate Majority Leader
Mike Bishop and the democratic Speaker of the house Andy dillon stymied

Entering the New Millennium 333

many of her proposed legislative programs, most notably a sales tax on services
to help fund public schools. Although remaining personally popular with
Michiganders, Jennifer Granholm’s two terms as governor were defined by
economic chaos and decline of the state’s image and political influence.

For Further Reading

the depletion of the water supply in the Great Lakes is detailed by Peter Annin, The
Great Lakes Water Wars (Washington, dC: island Press, 2007). A self-serving, but
readable autobiography of Governor Granholm and her administration is Jennifer
Granholm and dan Mulhern, A Governor’s Story: The Fight for Jobs and America’s
Economic Future (new York: Public Affairs, 2012).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Reinventing Michigan

As the state approached the second decade of the new millennium, it found
itself mired in a deepening crisis. Among the hard facts it faced were an
unemployment rate that remained the second highest in the nation. the number
of job losses in Michigan alone accounted for more than half of the nation’s total
job losses in 2010. in addition, more than 100,000 residents had left the state in
the hope of finding a better life elsewhere, its budget had a $1.6 billion shortfall
for fiscal 2011, and Michigan now bore the dubious distinction of being ranked
the worst state in the nation for business because of its tax structure, excessive
regulations, and contract demands by organized labor.

Emergence of the “Tough Nerd”

on January 1, 2010, as term-limited Governor Granholm entered her last full
year in office, state democrats assumed that their next gubernatorial nominee
would be Lieutenant Governor John Cherry, an experienced politician who
had  a lengthy legislative career before having been named as Granholm’s
running-mate, and one who also had solid backing from the state’s labor organ-
izations, which constituted the base of the state democratic party. Four days
later, on January 5, Cherry rocked the state’s political landscape by announcing
that he would not seek the gubernatorial nomination, leaving democrats
scrambling to find another candidate before the election later that same year.


Reinventing Michigan 335

Ultimately the choice narrowed to moderate Speaker of the house Andy dillon
and the fiery liberal Virg Bernaro, the mayor of Lansing. in the primary
election, Mayor Bernaro, thanks to strong union support, won an easy victory
over dillon, garnering 59 percent of the vote.

the Republican primary field was crowded with five candidates, three of
whom were prominent conservatives: Congressman Peter hoekstra, Attorney
General Mike Cox, and oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard. Also run-
ning were the lesser-known but highly respected moderate state senator tom
George, and a political neophyte named Rick Snyder, a successful business-
man and former head of Gateway Computer, who had helped turn Gateway
from a fledgling enterprise into a Fortune 500 company. Snyder was given so
little chance of winning that if one factored in the margin of error into his poll
standings, he was in negative numbers. Undaunted, he ran with the self-
deprecating description of “one tough nerd,” touting his record of making
tough decisions to achieve success in business as making him the candidate
best qualified to reverse Michigan’s sinking economic fortunes. in the primary
election, the more familiar candidates divided the party’s conservative base,
enabling Snyder to emerge with a comfortable plurality victory, having
amassed 37 percent of the vote to 27 percent for his nearest challenger,
Congressman hoekstra.

in the general election, Snyder campaigned against the Michigan Business
tax, saying it was killing job growth, and promised to replace it with a flat
6 percent corporate income tax. he also pledged that with his experience as an
accountant he would balance the state budget through structural changes and
end reliance on “bookkeeping gimmicks” or temporary measures. his major
theme was that he would “Reinvent Michigan,” by establishing an economic
environment conducive to growth and job creation for both large and small

Bernaro, who had earned the title “America’s Angriest Mayor” for his out-
spoken defense of automobile workers during the debates over the federal
bailouts, campaigned, as he stated, “as a fighter for the working stiff who
can’t seem to get a break in this economy,” while attacking Snyder as a
“ candidate of the rich and corporate raiders.” he further assailed Snyder’s
career as a venture capitalist and revived Governor Granholm’s successful
tactic of 2006 by alleging that the Republican nominee outsourced American
jobs overseas, saying that “Michigan doesn’t need a CEo – chief executive

on election day, Michigan voters overwhelmingly rejected the negative
class-warfare campaign of the democrats and gave Snyder a nearly 600,000-
vote victory. Election results also gave Republicans control of both houses of


the legislature and saw the GoP retain control of the offices of Attorney General
and Secretary of State with the election of Bill Schuette and Ruth Johnson,
respectively. Polls reflected that disillusioned residents believed that a govern-
ment more business oriented than politically motivated would be the best way
to restore Michigan as a good place to live, work, and offer a prosperous future
for their children.

Relentless Positive Action

Governor-elect Snyder promised to pursue a course of “relentless positive
action” to overcome not only the state’s $1.8 billion deficit, but also to
reverse the state’s population decline, which amounted to 0.6 percent or
54,000 of the total residents during the decade 2000–2010, this after having
experienced a growth rate of 6.9 percent from 1990 to 2000. the most
important priority for Snyder was to establish his economic team. in so

Figure 22.1 Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder speaks to sup-
porters at his election-night event after the day’s primary election, August 3, 2010, in
Ypsilanti, Michigan. Snyder edged out Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and U.S.
Congressman Pete hoekstra to face democratic nominee and Lansing mayor Virg
Bernero in the november general election. tony ding/AP/Press Association images

Reinventing Michigan 337

doing he lured Utah’s John nixon, president of the national Association of
State Budget officers, to head Michigan’s department of technology,
Management, and Budget. the incoming governor then named former
democratic Speaker of the house Andy dillon as state treasurer. Within
two months this trio had devised a balanced budget by proposing several
politically daring measures, including instituting taxes on the state’s senior
citizens’ public and private pensions. Snyder explained this move in terms
of fairness, saying that paying for state-supported services for seniors, who
constituted a full 15 percent of Michigan’s population (a figure expected to
rise to 20 percent by 2030), would cause an unfair tax burden on the rest of
the state’s residents. Snyder also called for a $1.8 billion tax cut for business,
reductions in funding for education and cities, concessions from state,
local, and school district employees, as well as eliminating the 42 percent
tax credit for the state’s film industry and capping state film subsidies at a
less generous $25 million per annum. As a consequence of these necessary
but unpopular measures, the state’s economy began to recover, even re-
bloom. new York bond-rating agencies raised Michigan’s credit ranking,
more than 141,000 new private-sector jobs were created, the state unem-
ployment rate dropped back into single digits, and per capita personal
income rose to the eighth highest in the United States after six consecutive
years of decline. By 2012 the state’s “rainy day fund,” which had dwindled
from nearly $1.3 billion in 2000 to zero in 2003, had risen to $365 million,
and would rise by another $140 million during 2012. As a result of its fiscal
recovery Michigan was the nation’s “ comeback state.” not only did it have
the sixth fastest growing Gross domestic Product of any state in the nation,
but, remarkably, it was now ranked in the top ten states in which to do

Election of 2012

While Governor Snyder was not up for reelection in 2012, he had a vested
interest in the outcome of the political contests of that year. there were six
initiatives to amend the state constitution on the ballot, and Snyder’s posi-
tions were agreed to by the electorate on five of the six proposals. Most
important to the governor were the rejection of a proposal that would have
permitted construction of a second privately funded bridge between detroit
and Windsor, ontario, and the overwhelming rejection of a union-backed
proposal to guarantee within the state constitution collective bargaining


Although President Barack obama’s landslide victory over Republican chal-
lenger Mitt Romney, son of Michigan’s legendary governor George Romney,
helped democrats gain five seats in the Michigan house, Republicans retained
a 59–51 majority in that body. Republicans also retained control of the State
Supreme Court. the only bright spot for the democrats was the easy 59–38
percent reelection of United States Senator debbie Stabenow over former
congressman Pete hoekstra, who waged an underfunded and lackluster race
against Stabenow, one of the most effective campaigners in Michigan’s political


heartened by the defeat of the pro-union ballot proposal, on december 11,
2012, the lame duck Republican house passed a bill, long sought by many con-
servatives, making Michigan the twenty-fourth “right-to-work” state. this
historic legislation was also passed by the Republican-controlled State Senate
on the same day, and sent to Governor Snyder for his signature.

this action rocked national labor organizations, as Michigan was considered
the birthplace of the labor union movement and as late as the 1950s had the
most highly unionized workforce in the nation, even if by 2012 it had slipped to
eighth place. organized labor, led by the United Automobile Workers and the
Michigan Education Association, was outraged and held protests attended by
thousands of angry union members who jammed the Capitol and its grounds,
yelling threats and vowing to overturn the law; one democratic representative
claimed, “this is the day Michigan fired its workers,” while another went so far
as to threaten on the floor of the house that there would be bloodshed if the
governor signed what they perceived to be an anti-labor bill.

the proposed legislation prohibited requiring employees to join a union or
to pay fees comparable to union dues as a condition of employment. Supporters
defended the measure as “freedom to work,” noting that it did not prohibit
unions from trying to organize workers and to vote for a union shop, only from
forcing workers to join a union in order to get a job.

Amid outbreaks of continued unrest on the Capitol grounds and the din of
shrieking protestors within the Capitol, Governor Snyder signed the measure.
in the aftermath of this controversy, which cost taxpayers more than $100,000
in overtime pay to state police troopers called in to protect the Capitol,
lawmakers, and supporters of the bill from the outraged protestors, Governor
Snyder’s high level of popularity suffered a decline.

Reinventing Michigan 339

Relentless Positive Action Continued

Snyder’s priorities for the remainder of his term were ambitious. he wished
to expand on trade relationships he had begun by being the first Michigan
governor since John Engler to visit China. he also sought to reform Blue
Cross, Blue Shield of Michigan to become a public organization without
tax-exempt status, reform or eliminate the personal property tax, establish
a regional transit authority for southeast Michigan, move forward on a
new detroit-Windsor bridge, and improve the state’s crumbling infra-
structure by increasing the gasoline tax and automobile registration fees.
his success would be determined by whether he could forge a working
coalition with democrats in the legislature while maintaining the unity of
his Republican base.

Figure 22.2 Protesters gather in the Michigan Capitol Rotunda in Lansing as they
rally against Governor Rick Snyder’s proposal to empower emergency financial man-
agers to void union contracts. the governor’s plan helped inspire a 2012 ballot initiative
to put collective bargaining rights in the state constitution. Al Goldis/AP/Press
Association images (PA-14924591).


The Nation’s “Most Miserable City”

often overshadowing Michigan’s economic recovery, in the eyes of state and
national media, was the plight of detroit. By 2010 detroit had regained its
unwanted reputation of the 1970s as a butt of jokes, symbolic of everything that
was considered wrong in urban centers. in February 2013 Forbes Magazine
listed three Michigan cities among the top seven “most miserable cities” in the
United States in which to live, an assessment based on figures for crime, housing
foreclosures, unemployment, opportunities for personal advancement, income,
and quality of schools. heading the list was detroit, followed by Flint, ranking
second, and Warren, at seventh.

detroit’s plunge from the mid-1950s, when it was at the height of its glory
years, resulted from several factors, most notably the high levels of crime and
governmental corruption. detroit’s population loss between 2000 and 2010 was
140,000, a full 25 percent of its residents. detroiters were fleeing the city at a
rate of one every twenty-two minutes, which resulted in the city falling out of
the nation’s ten largest urban centers. the reason cited most often for departure
or planned departure was rampant crime.

in 2012, detroit suffered 411 homicides, taking its murder rate per 100,000
residents up 9.9 percent over the previous year and higher than in 1974, the
year in which the city was designated the “murder capital of the United States.”
despite the horrendous homicide rate, detroit ranked only third in the nation
in per capita murders, trailing Flint and new orleans, Louisiana, according to
statistics compiled by the FBi. Making detroit’s attempt to combat crime more
difficult was a lack of continuity in the leadership of the police. Between the
years 2008 and 2013, the detroit police department had four chiefs who
resigned, most tainted by issues of ethics.

Such issues in the police department were only a minor aspect of what had
become a “culture of corruption” in detroit and the larger Wayne County gov-
ernment for nearly the past half-century. Most damaging was the lingering
saga of Kwame Kilpatrick, once considered the brightest rising star in
Michigan and national democratic Party politics. A dark cloud hung over
Kilpatrick dating back to his days as a state representative, when he was inves-
tigated by the internal Revenue Service for soliciting an illegal campaign con-
tribution in return for influencing the awarding of a state contract. As mayor,
Kilpatrick, his father Bernard, and City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, the
wife of long-time Congressman John Conyers, were subjects of an FBi probe
into the granting of a $1.2 billion city  sludge-removal contract to Synagro
technologies. in 2009, Councilwoman Conyers pleaded guilty to having

Reinventing Michigan 341

accepted at least $6,000 in bribes in the Synagro case and was sentenced to a
thirty-seven-month prison term.

in late 2008, Kilpatrick was forced to resign as mayor after pleading guilty to
obstruction of justice and no contest to an assault charge. According to his plea
bargain agreement, Kilpatrick was sentenced to 120 days in jail and ordered to
pay the City of detroit $1 million in restitution; as of 2013, he still owed the city
more than $850,000.

in 2010, Kilpatrick was sentenced to fourteen months to five years in
federal prison for probation violations while awaiting trial on federal fraud
and tax violations. in June of that year he also was found guilty of nineteen
counts of fraud and tax fraud. in 2012 Kilpatrick was again in federal court
to face charges that he operated “a criminal enterprise” from City hall. After
a lengthy trial, the jury found the former mayor guilty on twenty-four of
the  thirty counts against him, including racketeering, extortion, bribery,
fraud, and tax evasion, and sentenced him to a minimum of twenty years in
federal prison. his co-defendants, contractor Bobby Ferguson and his father
Bernard Kilpatrick, were found guilty on nine counts of racketeering, extor-
tion, and bribery, and one count of tax evasion, respectively. United States
Attorney for detroit Barbara McQuade called the scope of the corruption
in  Kilpatrick’s administration “breath-taking.” After the court ruling, new
mayor dave Bing expressed the hope of most residents of detroit and
Michigan, stating: “We can finally put this negative chapter in detroit’s his-
tory behind us. it is time for all of us to move forward with a renewed
commitment to transparency and high ethical standards in our city

Saddled by the burden of their predecessor’s malfeasance, Kilpatrick’s
mayoral successors, former City Council president Kenneth Cockrel, Jr.
and dave Bing, a local entrepreneur and sports legend, did their best to
cope with the mounting crisis but detroit’s financial structure continued
to decline, until in 2013 Governor Snyder was compelled to declare detroit
in a state of financial emergency, a legal technicality necessary before he
could appoint an Emergency Financial Manager to try to resolve the city’s
$14 billion long-term liabilities and a short-term accumulated deficit of
$327 million. this made detroit the fifth Michigan city placed under
emergency management, joining Benton harbor, Ecorse, Pontiac, and
Flint. despite incurring the wrath of the City Council and several civic
groups, who steadfastly claimed, in the face all evidence to the contrary,
that the city could solve its fiscal matters without a state takeover, Governor
Snyder stuck to his decision, calling it “a sad day, a day which i wish had


never happened in the history of detroit, but also a day of optimism and

Promise for the Future

despite the bleak first decade of the twenty-first century, there is promise for
Michigan to restore itself to its past glories. in detroit, entrepreneurs such as
Mike illitch and dan Gilbert have committed themselves to reviving the city’s
economy and residential attractiveness. Within the next decade, they envision
detroit as a place toward which college graduates seeking an urban working
and living environment will gravitate, thus bringing more vibrancy and diver-
sity to the city’s cultural and business climate. if this vision is realized, detroit
will become the state’s “brain center” and will once again thrive, and with it so
too will all of Michigan.

Figure 22.3 demonstration at Wayne State University’s Law School in detroit, where
state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn orr was scheduled to speak at a public
informational meeting, June 10, 2013. orr told people attending the meeting that
chances detroit could avoid bankruptcy were 50/50. david Guralnick/AP/Press Asso-
ciation images (PA-16774188).

Reinventing Michigan 343

For Further Reading

Kilpatrick gives his version of his career in a self-serving autobiography, Kwame
Kilpatrick, Surrendered (new York: Audioink, 2012). detroit’s plight is vividly described
in Charlie Leduff, Detroit: An American Autopsy (new York: Penguin, 2013), while the
city’s racial issues are recounted in Joe darden and Richard thomas, Detroit: Race Riots,
Racial Conflicts, and Efforts to Bridge the Racial Divide (East Lansing: Michigan State
University Press, 2013). Another aspect of detroit’s decline is told in Scott Burnstein,
Motor City Mafia (Chicago: Arcadia, 2006).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Appendix A

Governors of the territory
and State of Michigan

Territorial Governors Term of Office Political Party
William hull 1805–1813 democrat
Lewis Cass 1813–1831 democrat
George B. Porter 1831–1834 democrat

State Governors Term of Office Political Party
Stevens t. Mason 1835–1839 democrat
William Woodbridge 1840–1841 Whig
John W. Gordon 1841 Whig
John S. Barry 1842–1846 democrat
Alpheus Felch 1846–1847 democrat
William L. Greenly 1847–1848 democrat
Epaphroditus Ransom 1848–1850 democrat
John Barry 1850–1851 democrat
Robert McClelland 1852–1853 democrat
Andrew Parsons 1853–1855 democrat
Kinsley S. Bingham 1855–1859 Republican
Moses Wisner 1859–1861 Republican
Austin Blair 1861–1865 Republican
henry h. Crapo 1865–1869 Republican
henry P. Baldwin 1869–1873 Republican
John J. Bagley 1873–1877 Republican

Appendix A

Charles M. Croswell 1877–1881 Republican
david h. Jerome 1881–1883 Republican
Josiah Begole 1883–1885 Fusion
Russell A. Alger 1885–1887 Republican
Cyrus G. Luce 1887–1891 Republican
Edwin B. Winans 1891–1893 democrat
John t. Rich 1893–1897 Republican
hazen S. Pingree 1897–1901 Republican
Aaron t. Bliss 1901–1905 Republican
Fred M. Warner 1905–1911 Republican
Chase S. osborn 1911–1913 Republican
Woodbridge n. Ferris 1913–1917 democrat
Albert E. Sleeper 1917–1921 Republican
Alexander J. Groesbeck 1921–1927 Republican
Fred W. Green 1927–1931 Republican
Wilber M. Brucker 1931–1933 Republican
William A. Comstock 1933–1935 democrat
Frank d. Fitzgerald 1935–1937 Republican
Frank Murphy 1937–1939 democrat
Frank d. Fitzgerald 1939 Republican
Luren d. dickinson 1939–1941 Republican
Murray d. VanWagoner 1941–1943 democrat
harry F. Kelly 1943–1947 Republican
Kim Sigler 1947–1949 Republican
G. Mennen Williams 1949–1961 democrat
John B. Swainson 1961–1963 democrat
George W. Romney 1963–1969 Republican
William G. Milliken 1969–1983 Republican
James J. Blanchard 1983–1991 democrat
John Engler 1991– 2003 Republican
Jennifer Granholm 2003–2011 democrat
Rick Snyder 2011–present Republican


Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Appendix B

Counties, dates of organization,
and origins of County names

Alcona 1869 Believed to have been coined by henry Rowe
Schoolcraft to mean “the excellent prairie.”

Alger 1885 named for Governor Russell Alger.
Allegan 1835 thought to be a name derived by Schoolcraft from

the Chippewa words for “fine lake” or “fine river.”
Alpena 1857 A Schoolcraft word that loosely translated into “the

Antrim 1863 Several Michigan counties had substantial numbers

of irish Catholic settlers who sought to preserve some
of their native heritage. thus, this county is named for
County Antrim in ireland.

Arenac 1883 A combination of the Latin “arena” and the indian
“ac,” which means “the sandy place.”

Baraga 1875 named for the Catholic bishop of northern Michigan,
Frederic Baraga.

Barry 1839 Several Michigan counties were named for members
of President Andrew Jackson’s cabinet as a means of
honoring the administration under which statehood
was first sought and then achieved. William t. Barry
was Jackson’s postmaster general.

Bay 1857 So named because it nearly encompasses Saginaw Bay.

Appendix B 347

Benzie 1869 originally derived from a French river title
“aux- Bec-Scies.” in later years, the name was changed
to Betsey and finally Benzie.

Berrien 1831 named for Jackson’s attorney general, John Berrien.
Branch 1833 named for Jackson’s secretary of the navy, John

Calhoun 1833 named for Jackson’s first Vice-President, John C.

Cass 1829 named for Michigan’s territorial Governor Lewis Cass.
Charlevoix 1869 named for the Jesuit missionary Pierre Charlevoix.
Cheboygan 1853 taken from the indian name for the major river in the

Chippewa 1826 named to honor the Chippewa indians who inhabited

much of the state before the arrival of Europeans.
Clare 1871 named for County Clare in ireland.
Clinton 1839 named to honor new York Governor deWitt Clinton,

whose administration financed construction of the
Erie Canal, which brought thousands of settlers to

Crawford 1879 named for Colonel William Crawford.
delta 1861 originally the county contained parts of the later

counties of Menominee, dickinson, iron, and
Marquette, and formed a triangle, or delta, shape.

dickinson 1891 named for don M. dickinson, attorney general under
President Grover Cleveland.

Eaton 1837 named for Jackson’s secretary of war, John Eaton.
Emmet 1853 named for irish patriot Robert Emmet.
Genesee 1836 Many settlers came from the Genesee Valley in west-

ern new York and settled in the Flint area. to honor
their former residence, they named their new home
Genesee, the iroquois word for “beautiful valley.”

Gladwin 1875 named for Major henry Gladwin, commander of
Fort detroit during Pontiac’s uprising.

Gogebic 1887 thought to mean “rock,” the derivation is unknown.
Grand traverse 1851 From the French “grande travers,” meaning “great

crossing” or “long crossing.”
Gratiot 1855 named for Captain Charles Gratiot, who built and

commanded the garrison bearing his name at Port


hillsdale 1835 named for the beautiful hills and fields in the area.
houghton 1846 Reorganized in 1848. named in honor of geologist

douglass houghton.
huron 1859 named to honor the huron indians.
ingham 1838 named for Jackson’s secretary of the treasury, Samuel

d. ingham.
ionia 1837 named for the Greek province.
iosco 1857 derived from the indian word for water “osco.”
iron 1885 named for the ore abundant in the area.
isabella 1859 named for the Spanish queen who financed the voy-

age of Columbus to the new World.
Jackson 1832 named for President Andrew Jackson.
Kalamazoo 1830 Supposedly an indian word for “boiling water.”

other translations include “reflected river” and
“otter tail.”

Kalkaska 1871 A Schoolcraft creation. originally spelled Calcasca, in
honor of Schoolcraft’s family name Calcraft, the Ks
were substituted to make the title seem more like an
indian word.

Kent 1836 named for the noted new York judge, Chancellor

Keweenaw 1861 An indian word meaning “portage place.”
Lake 1871 Many small lakes dot the region.
Lapeer 1835 Purportedly from the French “La Pierre,” meaning

“flint” or “stone.”
Leelanau 1863 A sentimental creation of Schoolcraft, whose wife

used the word as one of her several literary pen

Lenawee 1826 An indian term for “man.”
Livingston 1836 named for Jackson’s secretary of state, Edward

Luce 1887 named for Governor Cyrus G. Luce.
Mackinac 1849 originally organized in 1818 as Michilimackinac, it

was reorganized in 1849 under the shortened title
given the former fort at the Straits.

Macomb 1818 named for General Alexander Macomb.
Manistee 1855 named for the primary river in the county.
Marquette 1846 Reorganized in 1848. named for the Jesuit missionary

and explorer Jacques Marquette.

Appendix B 349

Mason 1855 named for the state’s first governor, Stevens t. Mason.
Mecosta 1859 named for Chief Mecosta.
Menominee 1861 originally named Bleeker, it was reorganized in 1863.

it is named for the Menominee indians.
Midland 1850 So named because it is near the geographical center of

the state.
Missaukee 1871 named for a local indian chief, although he was better

known as nesaukee.
Monroe 1822 named for President James Monroe.
Montcalm 1850 named for the French general, Louis Montcalm.
Montmorency 1881 named for one of the many Counts Montmorency.
Muskegon 1859 An ojibwa word for “swamp.”
newaygo 1851 Allegedly named for an indian chief.
oakland 1820 Abundant stands of oak trees were found in the

oceana 1851 Reorganized in 1855. it received its name because of

its nearness to Lake Michigan.
ogemaw 1873 Reorganized in 1875. named for Chief ogemaw- ki-

keto of the Chippewa of Saginaw, Swan Creek, and
Black River.

ontonagon 1846 Reorganized in 1848 and declared legal by the state
legislature in 1853. it derives its name from the ojibwa
word for “dish” or bowl.”

osceola 1869 named for the Seminole indian chief osceola.
oscoda 1881 A combination of two Schoolcraft words “ossin,”

meaning “stone,” and “muskoda,” meaning “prairie.”
otsego 1875 iroquois for “clear water” or “meeting place.”
ottawa 1837 named to honor the ottawa indians who inhabited

much of the state before the arrival of Europeans.
Presque isle 1871 From the French for “narrow peninsula” or “almost an

Roscommon 1873 named for County Roscommon in ireland.
Saginaw 1875 derived from the indian terms “Sac-e-nong,” meaning

“Sauk town” or “sagong,” meaning “place of the

St. Clair 1821 named for General Arthur St. Clair.
St. Joseph 1829 named for the patron saint of new France.
Sanilac 1848 named for Chief Sanilac.
Schoolcraft 1846 named for henry Rowe Schoolcraft.


Shiawasse 1837 Exact meaning is unknown. Some possibilities include
“straight running water” and “twisting river.”

tuscola 1850 A Schoolcraft word meaning “levellands.”
Van Buren 1850 named for Jackson’s second Vice-President, Martin

Van Buren.
Washtenaw 1826 Reorganized in 1829. its name comes from the ojibwa

words for “land beyond the Grand Rivers.”
Wayne 1815 named for General Anthony Wayne.
Wexford 1869 named for County Wexford in ireland.

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Appendix C

Michigan’s State Song
“Michigan, My Michigan”

—Douglas M. Malloch

A song to thee, fair State of mine,
Michigan, my Michigan.
But greater song than this is thine,
Michigan, my Michigan.
the whisper of the forest tree,
the thunder of the inland sea,
Unite in one grand symphony
of Michigan, my Michigan.

i sing a State of all the best,
Michigan, my Michigan.
i sing a State with riches bless’d
Michigan, my Michigan.
thy mines unmask a hidden store,
But richer thy historic lore,
More great the love thy builders bore,
of Michigan, my Michigan.

(Sung to the melody of
“o tannenbaum”)

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Appendix d

Michigan’s State Symbols

State Flower: Apple Blossom
State Bird: Robin
State tree: White Pine
State Stone: Petoskey Stone
State Gem: Chlorastrolite
State Fish: Brook trout
State Soil: Kalkaska Sand
State Reptile: Painted turtle
State Game Animal: White-tailed deer
State Wildflower: dwarf Lake iris

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein
and Lawrence E. Ziewacz.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


abolition of slavery, 85
abolitionists, 92‒93, 166, 305

abolitionist areas, 87
as cause of Civil War, 105
democratic Party, 97
Free Soil Party, 98
and the law, 92‒93
Michigan 92‒93, 166
newspapers, 88
party members, 89, 97, 98, 99
Republican Party, 99
societies, 88
views of, 105
see also Underground Railroad

abortion, 303, 306, 316
abortion rights, 306, 313
anti-abortion groups, 306

Abraham, Senator Spencer, 311, 318
Adams, Charles Francis, 120
Adrian, 88, 90, 123, 166, 168, 228

attempt to become Lenawee
County seat, 185‒86

college, 166
Adrian (locomotive), 186

affirmative action, 277
African Americans, see blacks
agribusiness, 142, 153
Agricultural deferment Act (1942), 252
agriculture in Michigan, 131, 142‒56

changing views of, 148
climate and soil, 143
costs, 153
decline in Michigan, 142, 305
declining prices, 210
depression of 1873 and, 126
developments following World War ii,

153, 251
education for, 145, 100, 165‒66
effects of the Civil War on, 112,

in 1870s, 148, 150
improvements, 144‒45, 147, 153
of indians, 4, 6, 7
interwar period, 152‒53, 228
late 20th‒early 21st centuries, 153, 264,

275, 290
mid-19th century, 72, 145
mechanization of, 144, 146


agriculture in Michigan, (cont’d)
new deal, 152‒53
in 1960s, 142, 275
P.B.B. crisis, 293–94
and politics, 153
railroads and, 150, 187
scientific agriculture, 145
on settlers’ prairies, 72
subsistence farming and

sharecropping, 152
transport, 72
use of oxen, 145
World War i and, 152, 220
World War ii and, 251‒52, 253

Aid to dependent Children, 12
airplanes, 193, 250
Albion, 89, 146

college, 166
Kansas-nebraska Bill, 99

distribution to indians, 9, 43, 44
henry Ford and, 202
regulation of, 36
timber industry, 181
see also prohibition; temperance

Alexander Vi, Pope, 17
Alger, Fred, Jr., 264
Alger, Russell, 124
Algonac, 289
Algonquin, 3
Allardt, Max E., 131‒32
Allegan, 253
Allegheny Mountains, 38, 51, 167,

183, 186
Allegheny River, 38, 183
Allen, tim, 173
Allouez, Father Claude, 27, 28
Almy, John, 130‒31
Alpena, 183
Alticor (Amway), 326
Ambassador Bridge, 62, 225, 249, 322
American Federation of Labor (AFL), 241

American Fur Company, 63–64
American Motors Corporation, 208,

277, 279
American Party, 97

see Know-nothing Party
American Protective Association of

Michigan, 140
American Protective League, 220
American Red Cross, 184
American Revolution, 50, 51‒55

peace treaty ending, 57
Americans for democratic Action, 270
American work ethic, 232
Amherst, Lord Jeffrey, 1, 39, 42–44, 48,

49, 52
policies toward indians, 42–44

Amherstbergh, ontario, 111
Anatomy of a Murder (Voelker), 172
Angels of Mercy, 148
Ann Arbor, 133, 167, 324

legislators’ meeting on U.S.
statehood, 67

population changes, 274
relocation of Pfizer, 324
Underground Railroad, 89, 90

Anne (Woolson), 171
Anthony, Susan B., 118
anti-abortion groups, 306
Antietam, battle of, 107, 110
antiforeign sentiment, 216
Anti-Market hunting Act, 155
anti-Mormonism, 94, 95‒96
antipollution and safety legislation, 297
anti-Radicalism 105
Anti-Saloon League, 217
anti-Semitism, vii, 202, 227

Black Legion, 238
Coughlin, 238

anti-slavery movement and Kansas-
nebraska Bill, 99

anti-slavery societies, 88, 89
Anti-trust Act (1976), 115, 297
antiwar protests, 271, 287

Index 355

Arab oil embargo, 287, 289–90
Archer, Mayor dennis, 314‒15, 316, 319

reforms, 330
architecture, 170
Army-McCarthy hearings, 272
Army of northern Virginia, 109
Arnow, harriette, 172
Arsenal of democracy, 247, 249,

253, 258
artists, 169, 172, 246, 299
assembly line, 200, 270 319
assisted suicide, 310–11
Association St. Jean-Baptiste, 135
Astor, John Jacob, 63–64, 75
Auction Bell (ex-slave), 91
Austin, Richard, 311
automobile industry, 195–208, 299, 335

in 1970s, 287, 289‒92
in 1980s, 303
antipollution and safety

legislation, 297
and attitudes, 208
beginnings, 195
Communists and, 236, 270, 271
demand following World War ii,

261, 264
early 20th century, 197‒98, 199
economics, 289‒90
effect of the Arab oil embargo, 289‒90
effect on society, 208
emissions standards imposed on, 287
foreign competition and imports, 301
impact of Great depression, 231,

236, 246
impact on railroads, 192, 193
impact on women, 208
indians in, 11
interwar period, 227, 224
Ku Klux Klan and, 254
late 20th century, 316, 319, 339
recession of 1958 and 275
role in World War i, 221
role in World War ii, 249‒50

Romney’s testimony on, 279
sales, 301, 303
strikes, 241
unemployment, 290, 324, 331
see also Chrysler; Ford Motor

Company; General Motors;
olds Motor Vehicle Company;
Reo Motor Car Company

Auto Workers Union, 269
Autrain, 253
Axis propaganda, 253, 258

Baby, François, 55
baby boom, 24, 265, 275
Backfurrow (Eaton), 171
Bagley, John J., 120, 121, 122, 123‒24, 131
Bagwell, Paul d., 264, 277
Baldwin, Governor henry P., 119‒20,

Baltimore and ohio railroad, 186
Bank holiday, 237, 238
Bank of the United States, 74
Bank of the United States of

Pennsylvania, 74
banks, closure of, 236–37
Barry, Governor John, 100, 102, 130‒31
Bath School Massacre, viii, 227‒28
Bartha, Justin, 173
Barton, Clara, 184
Bates, Frederick, 58
Bates township, 139
Battle Creek:

as breakfast food capital, 151‒52, 250
Know-nothing Party in, 98
military camp near, 220
prisoner-of-war camps in, 252, 253
prohibition demonstrations in, 86
sanitarium in, 152
Underground Railroad in, 89
women suffrage in, 118‒19

Battle Creek sanitarium, 151, 152
Battle of the overpass, 243
Battle of the Running Bulls, 242


Battle of ticonderoga, 20
Bay City, 226, 250

Ku Klux Klan, 226
sawmills in, 183
violence at convention, 215

Bay County, 266
Beaman, Judge Fernando, 123
Beaubien, Angelique Cullier dit, 46
Beaver islands, 93‒96

King of, 94‒95
Begole, Josiah W., 118, 124, 132
Bell, Kristin, 173
Belle isle, 52

riot, 257–58
Bellestre, François de, 40
Benton harbor, 283, 341
Benton harbor Fruit Exchange, 134
Bering Straits, 2
Berlin, irving, 227
Berlin, Michigan, name change, 220
Bernaro, Mayor Virg, 335
Bernstein, Ray, 259
Berrien County, 73, 143
Bessemer, 136
Beveridge, Senator Albert, 214
Big Round top battle, 107
Bill of Rights, 10
Bing, dave, 341
Bingham, Kinsley S., 99, 104
Binsfeld, Connie, 305
birds, 154‒55
Birney, James, 89, 102
Bishop, Mike, 332

affirmative action and, 277
black power groups, 277
civil rights of, vii, 122, 254, 255, 282
in Civil War, 106, 254
education, 276‒77
free black early 19th century, 88, 89
Know-nothing Party and, 97
migration into Michigan, 224
in politics, 288, 304, 314, 316, 318

riots, 88‒89, 257
slavery and, 87‒88
suffrage, 82, 116‒17
unemployment, 282, 288
in World War ii, 253‒55
see also segregation

Black Arts Convention, 282
Blackburn, thornton, 88‒89
“Black hat” iron Brigade, 107–08
Black Knights, 240
Black Legion, vii, 238–40

hostile public reaction to, 240
origins, 238
and strikes, 241
see also Ku Klux Klan

Black Panthers, 277, 282
Black River, 135
Black Swamp, 186
Blainville, Céloron de, 38
Blair, Austin, 313

anti-slavery campaign, 99
Civil War and, 103‒04
decision to not run again, 106
election of, 102, 103
Liberal Republican Party and, 104, 120
on Lincoln’s administration, 102
renomination, 105
rise of Republican Party and, 103
Senatorial campaign, 119
state legislature grants powers, 103

Blair, Selma, 173
Blanchard, James J., 302‒04, 313

Milliken on, 303
1982 election, 302–03
1986 election, 304
1990 election, 305‒06
tax hikes, 303‒04

Blazed Trail (White), 171
Bliss, Aaron, 128
Blissfield, 253
Board of Commissioners of internal

improvements, 73
Board of indian Commissioners, 180

Index 357

Board of Regents, 165
Bono, Sonny, 173
Book-Cadillac hotel, 328
Boone, daniel, 38
Borgess, Bishop Caspar, 134
Bouchard, Michael, 326, 335
Bouquet, henry, 48
Bowen, dana thomas, 172
Bowman, John, 280
Boys Vocational School, Lansing, 168, 228
Braddock, General Edward, 39
Bradish, Alvah, 170
Bradley, Reverend George, 180
Bradstreet, John, 48
Brébeuf, Jean de, 22
Brickley, James, 302
bridges, 327
Briggs’ Manufacturing Company, 269
British northwest Company, 34, 63
British, see England/British
Broadhead naval Arsenal, 257
Brock, isaac, 60
Bronte Vineyards, 291
Brown, h. Rap, 282
Brown, John, 92‒93
Brown, Prentiss M., 240, 267
Brucker, Wilber M., 232‒33, 234, 247, 325

policies, 332
re-election, 240

Brûlé, Étienne, 21
Bryan, William Jennings, 127
Buchanan, President James, 103
Buick, david d., 203‒04
Buick automobiles, 199
Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company, 203
Buick City 318‒19
Buick Motor Company, 204, 206, 205, 270
Bullet Club, 24
Bull Run, battles of, 107, 110
Bully-Cummings, Ella, 327
Bunyan, Paul, 181
Burgoyne, “Gentleman John,” 52
Burnham, t.W.o.P. “Alphabet,” 169

Burns Anti-Mask Law (1923), 169, 227
Burns detective Agency, 212
Burt, William A., 78
Busfield, timothy, 173
Bush, George h. W., 301
Bush, George W., 317, 325
Business development offices, 316

agribusiness, 142, 149, 153
automobile, 196
business community, 14, 272
Civil War, 92, 93, 103‒04, 121
Cold War era, 261
during colonial period, 31, 49, 59
exports, 316
Grange and, 150
Great depression, 237‒38, 242
late 19th century, 115
late 20th‒early 21st century, 299, 306,

319, 322, 331, 332, 334
lumber, 177
Pingree era, 126, 128
and politics, 97, 314, 336
Prohibition era, 225
promotion of, 140
railroads and, 121‒22, 185, 186, 187,

190, 191, 193
regulation of, 121, 211, 213, 297
relocation to other states, 304
Republican Party and, 100, 121, 122, 264
strikes, 216, 244
taxation of, 126, 301, 307, 319, 326,

335, 337
tourism, 267, 268
World War i, 219
see also automobiles, lumbering

busing, 297

Cadillac, Antoine Laumet de la Mothe,
Sieur de, 34, 35, 36–37

policies 36
Cadillac Motor Company, 212
Caldwell, William, 54


Calhoun County, 105, 214
Calhoun, John C., 75
Calumet, 169, 217
Calumet Mine, 77, 138, 216

Copper Strike, 229
strikes, 216‒17

Camp Custer, 220, 252
Camp Pugsley, 226
Canada, 27, 45

abolitionists and, 92, 93
agriculture, 24, 29
British in, 42, 54
division of, 54‒55
exploration, 19, 213
French in, 17, 19, 20‒21, 23‒24, 26, 27,

28, 29, 36, 38
fur trade, 64
harrison’s invasion, 61
hull’s invasion of, 60‒61
law, 55
pollution, 320
relations with U.S., 62, 88‒89, 90, 225,

sale of water from the Great Lakes, 322
slavery, 87
spying ring in, 269
statute prohibiting slavery, 87
trash, 322
Underground Railway and, 89, 90, 91,

92, 93
and U.S. Civil War, 111, 254
see also new France

Canadian statute of 1792, 87
Canadians, 60, 134–35
Canadiens, 25, 63, 134–35, 181

Erie Canal, 65, 70, 71, 72
Portage Lake and Lake Superior Ship

Canal, 120
Sault Ste. Marie Canal, 79–81
transpeninsular canals, 73

Cape Rouge, 19
Carignan Salières regiment, 23

Carl D. Bradley (vessel), 308
Carleton, Guy, 49
Carleton, Will, 173
Carr, Judge Leland W., 259
Carter, Jimmy, 300
Cartier, Jacques, 17, 19
Carver, Jonathan, 50
Case, Jerome, 144
casino gambling, 13–14
Cass County

abolitionists and, 92
Cass, Lewis, 61, 100

concern over British and indian threat,

Crosswhite trial and, 91–92
as democratic presidential candidate,

89, 91–92
and education, 164–65
and indians, 62–63
and Missouri Compromise, 99
move to Republican Party, 100, 105
north West Scientific Expedition, 63, 75
political career, 61, 62, 91
portrait of, 169
proposal of popular sovereignty, 99
resignation of, 103
testimony against hull, 61

Casson, Father François dollier de, 25
Cassopolis, 89
Catherine (indian woman), 46
Catholepistemiad, 164, 165
Catholic Church/Catholics

Beaver islands, 93
Black Legion and, 238, 239
Canadian, 51, 134–35
democrats, 100, 121
discrimination against, 98
division of new world by, 17
German, 133
irish, 137
Know-nothings and, 97, 100
missions work of, 5, 10
opposition to, 140, 226

Index 359

political impact of, 97
Quebec Act, 1774, 51
Sulpitian order in Montreal, 28
view of Cadillac, 34
see also Jesuits; St. ignace

Cattlegate, 293–94
Cavanagh, Governor Jerome, 282–83
Central Michigan College, 266
Central Michigan Line, 89–90
Cerberus Capital Management, 207
Chambers, Whittaker, 269–70
Champion, Albert, 204
Champlain, Samuel de, 19–21
Chandler, Elizabeth Margaret, 88
Chandler, Zachariah, 102, 122–23, 124, 125

Blair’s electoral campaign, 119
Chairman of Michigan Republican

State Committee, 122
on Civil War, 103
election to the Senate, 99, 119
position on hard money, 121
and Seward, 102
support of Radical Reconstruction, 116
support of temperance, 86
views of, 122

Chapin, Roy d., 196, 208
Charlevoix, Pierre François de, 74
Chatham, battle at, 61
Chelsea, 73
Cherry, John, 334
Chequamegon, 27
Chevrolet, Louis, 205, 206, 242
Chicago fire, 176, 183, 184
China, 17, 269, 339
Chippewa 3, 6, 7, 10, 13, 14, 22, 37, 44,

48, 51, 75, 78
and American government, 76
in American Revolution, 54
and British, 44, 48, 54, 59
casino gambling and, 14
fishing, 3, 4, 13
Fox indians and, 37
and French, 37

iroquois Wars and, 22
lifestyle, 3–4
and mining concessions, 75, 76, 78
ownership of upper peninsula, 75
region inhabited, 3, 75
relationship with whites, 9–11, 13, 14, 76
religion, 5
reservations, 76
sale of ontonagon boulder, 78
social structure, 4
and tobacco, 5
War of 1812, 59

Christiancy, isaac P., 86, 122, 123
Chrysler Corporation, 207–08

bailout package, 302, 331
economic crisis of
effect of the Arab oil embargo, 290
founding of, 207
loans, 302, 331, 332
losses, 319
purchase by daimlerBenz, 207
request for loans, 302
role in World War ii, 250
support of banks during

depression, 236
and UAW, 207, 243
during World War ii, 250, 251

Chrysler Expressway, 268
Chrysler, Walter P., 207
cities and towns, see also specific city
Citizens for Michigan, 277, 279
civil liberties, viii
civil rights

of blacks, 88, 117, 254, 255
detroit, 281, 282
hart’s role in legislation, 297
legislation, 255
Levin and, 313
Red Scare and, 271
Republicans, 117
Romney and, 281–85
StRESS and, 288
Williams’ reforms, 266


Civil War, 103–13
and agriculture, 135–136, 146–47
and emigration, 131
racism, 106

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), 245
Clardy, Kit, 271–72
Clare County, 163, 274
Clark, George Rogers, 52–53, 54
Clark, Ramsey, 283–84
Clary, Jim, 172–73
Clay, henry, 92
Cleveland iron Company, 78
Cliburn Van, 299
Cliff Mine, 76
climate, 58, 75, 131, 132, 139, 143, 272
Climax, 86, 89
Clinton County, 133
Clinton River, 73
Clive, Alan, 251
Cobo, Albert E., 264
Cockrel, Jr., Kenneth, 341
Colbert, Jean Baptiste, 22, 24, 25, 29, 33

Canadian agriculture, 29
and Canadian fur trade, 25, 29
and Fort Frontenac, 29

Cold duck wine, 291
Cold War period, 261–72
Coldwater, 120, 125, 168
Coleman, Silas, 240
colleges and universities, see education;

specific college or university
Coloma, 253
Columbus, Christopher, 1
Comerica Bank, 324
Comerica Park, 14, 328
Committee on Commerce, 176
Committee for industrial organization

(Cio), 241
Common Council, 234
communism, 222, 243, 258, 269–70

anti-Communist attitudes, 241, 242,
269, 270–71, 272

Black Legion, 239

in Michigan, 268–69
Rouge riots, 236
see also Red Scare

Communist Control Act, 271
Communist Party, 222, 234, 235–36, 269

in Michigan, 271
Compromise of 1850, 92, 98
Comstock, William A., 236, 237
Conely, William B., 170
Conger, omar d., 123–24, 126

lumber interests and, 176
response to Michigan fires, 176, 184
as senator, 121, 184
women’s suffrage and, 119

Congress, U.S., 65
Congress for Racial Equality, 282
Conscription, 276
Conscription Act, 254, 262
conservation, 155–56
constitutional convention

of 1850, 82
of 1908, 119, 218
of 1961, 277, 278
proposals for, 67, 73, 278

constitution of Michigan
of 1835, 65, 158–59, 160, 161
of 1850, 10, 82, 100, 165, 167
of 1867, 117
of 1908, 119, 218, 277–78
of 1963, 279
of 1964, 159
Article X of 1835, 158
and black suffrage, 116
clause banning slavery, 89
and detroit, 81
and education, 158, 159, 167
and establishment of state, 58, 65
Ferris and, 215
Gateway Amendment, 278
and liquor licences, 85
Mason and, 65
prohibition amendment, 278
requirement for balanced budget, 303

Index 361

revision, 277–79
Romney and, 279
suffrage amendment, 116
2012 proposals, 337–38
women’s suffrage, 117, 119

construction safety bill, 281
consumer protection laws, 297
Continental Congress, 52
conventional weapons system, 313
Conyers, John, 283, 340
Conyers, Monica, 340–41
Cooley, thomas M., 161
Cooper, Alice, 173
Cooper, James Fenimore, 170
Copper harbor, 76
copper mining, 74–78, 112
Corktown, 137
Cornish immigrants, 136, 137
Cornish miners, 216
corporate malpractice, 211
Coughlin, Father Charles E., viii,

237–38, 256
Coulier, dave, 173
Council of Five, 58
counterculture revolution, 287
counties, see specific county by name
Country Gentleman magazine, 146
Courage of Captain Plum (Curwood), 171
Court of King’s Bench, 55
Cousin, Victor, 158
Cousteau, Jacques, 308
Couzens, James, 199, 222, 223–24, 228,

332–33, 240
and Red Scare incident, 223–24
and Roosevelt, 240

Cox, Mike, 324, 327, 335, 336
Crapo, henry h., 120, 140, 204

and agriculture, 148–49
on end of Civil War, 112
nominated, 106

Crary, isaac, 67, 158, 160, 266
Crédit Mobilier scandal, 122
Crim, Bobby, 302

assisted suicide as, 310
Blanchard’s anticrime package, 306
in detroit, 288, 322, 327, 34
increases in, 322
McCarran Act, 270
in 1970s, 287–89
in 1980s, 302
and 1990 election, 305, 315, 316
on railroads, 188
Sigler, 263–64
in 2000s, 323, 327

Cromwell, Robert, 92
Cross Music and Record Company, 227
Crosswhite, 90–91
Croswell, Charles, 123
cultural enrichment, 246
Curwood, James, 171–72
Cust, Edwin M., 130
Custer, Elizabeth, 109
Custer, George Armstrong, 107–09, 110

dablon, Father Claude, 27, 28
daimler-Benz AG, 207
daimlerChrysler AG, 207, 319
Daniel J. Morrell (vessel), 308
daniels, Jeff, 173
darrow, Clarence, 216, 254
dawber, Pam, 173
davis, Jefferson, 111
dearborn, 199, 219, 234–35, 266, 269
Dearborn Independent, 202
de Baptiste, George, 92, 93
dechlorane Plus, 320
deere, John, 144
delaware indians, 45
delta College, 266
democratic Party, 97–100, 117, 339, 340

appeal to racial prejudice, 106, 117
black suffrage, 116, 117
1800–1836, 62
1836–1840, 97
1840s and 1850s, 89, 97


democratic Party, (cont’d)
1863 platform, 105
1870s, 115, 122, 123
in 1880s, 123, 124
in 1890s, 126–28
Catholics, 100, 121
civil rights and, 266
after the Civil War, 106, 115
convention of 1959, 278
and Free Soil Party, 98, 99
Fusion Party, 124, 125
governors of Michigan, 67, 83
and iraq War, 313
irish immigrants and, 138
Kansas-nebraska Act and, 99
Mormon vote and, 96
Murphy, 234
and poverty, 231
prohibition and, 86, 121
and Republican split, 105
and Romney, 279, 280, 283
Senatorial campaign of 1918, 221
slavery and, 89, 92, 97, 99
Southern democrats, 105
split during Civil War, 105
Strang and, 95
21st century, 323–24, 326
Union democrats, 105
views on Lincoln, 105
see also elections; Republican Party;

women’s suffrage
denonville, Le Febvre de Le Barre,

Marquis de, 33
department of Corrections, 311
department of natural Resources, 13
department of technology, Management,

and Budget, 337
de Peyster, Arent, 53–54

of 1839, 97
of 1873, 120, 150
of 1893, 126
see also Great depression

Der Michigan Wegwiser (Allardt), 131
desegregation, 297
détente with Soviet Union, 296
dethmers, John, 259
detroit, vii

in American Revolution, 52–53, 54
antislavery society in, 89
automobile industry in, 224, 233, 249
Black Legion in, 238
blacks in, 253–54, 256, 281, 282, 306
business, 268, 288, 289, 342
casino gambling in, 14
civil rights movement in, 281–82
Cornish immigrants in, 136
corruption in council, 212–13, 341–42
crime, 287–89, 322, 327
culture of corruption in, 340–41
delegates to 1959 constitutional

convention, 278
dutch immigrants in, 135
education in, 276
effects of Arab oil embargo, 290
effects of Great depression, 233–34
entertainment facilities, 169
financial emergency, state of, 341–42
and hull’s invasion of Canada, 60–61
immigrants in, 116, 140, 224
inner city decay, 276
interwar period, 225
irish immigrants in, 116, 137–38
Ku Klux Klan in, 254, 256
Milliken and, 292
as most miserable city, 340
as murder capital, 340
narcotics, 288
1963 civil rights conclave, 282
Pingree’s reforms in, 136
politics in, 116
Pontiac’s uprising, 47
population changes, 274, 287, 340
poverty levels in, 307
prohibition in, 116, 225
protest at Kansas-nebraska Act, 99

Index 363

public high school established, 160
race riots in, 253–54, 255, 257–58,

Red Scare in, 268–69
Republican national Convention in,

288, 301
revitalization of, 327–28
River Walk, 328
role in World War ii, 255–56
shortages after World War ii, 261–62
sports in, 247, 328, 328–29
as state capital, 81, 299
StRESS, 288
strikes, 244
suburbanization of, 280
Sunday’s campaign in, 217 218
Underground Railroad in, 90
unemployment in, 288, 290
urban blight, 328
in War of 1812, 59–62
white flight from, 268, 276
writing of Michigan’s constitution, 67

Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, 106
detroit Art Association, 170
detroit Bankers’ Company, 236–37
detroit Citizens Committee for Equal

opportunity, 284
detroit Citizens League, 212
detroit Common Council, 268
detroit Community Chest, 232
Detroit Free Press, 103, 105, 106, 117
detroit housing Commission, 256
detroit institute of Art, 169–70, 299
detroit institute of technology, 167
detroit Lions football team, 169, 247, 329
detroit Lubricator Company, 191
detroit and Milwaukee railroad, 189
detroit Municipal League, 212
detroit Museum of Art, 170
Detroit News, 200, 215, 245, 284, 288, 325

and Pingree, 127–28
detroit opera house, 169
detroit Pistons basketball team, 328

detroit Receiving hospital, 258
detroit Red Wings hockey team, 247, 328
detroit Ring, 122
detroit River, 31, 36, 44, 45, 47, 59, 60, 328

as border, 134, 225
detroit Shock, 329
detroit tigers baseball team, 14, 247, 328
Detroit Tribune, 99, 117
detroit-Windsor tunnel, 225, 339
deVos, dick, 326
dexter, 89, 99
diepenbeck, Rudolph, 131
diggs, Charles, 283
dillon, Andy, 332–33, 337
dinwiddie, Robert, 38, 39
discrimination, 266

against blacks, 255, 257, 276–77
against Catholics, 98
in colleges and universities, 276
against indians, 14
irish, 138
racial, 14, 276
Red Scare and, 268
sex and age, 305
in the workplace, 266
see also Black Legion

dobbs, Arthur, 49
dodge, horace, 199
dodge, John, 199
dodge Motor Company, 207
doe, Mary, 118
dole, Robert, 317
Dollmaker, The (Arnow), 172
donnacona (iroquois chief ), 17
douglas, Stephen A., 102
douglass, Frederick, 92–93
dow Chemical, 250
downs, thomas, 278
draft riot, 1863, 117
driggs, John F., 179
drug Safety Act (1962), 297
drug trafficking, 288
dunbar, Willis, 192


dundee, 253
duPont, Pierre S., 206
duquesne, Marquis, 38, 39
durand, 189, 190
durant, William Crapo, 189, 204–06

and General Motors, 205–06
purchase of Buick Motor Company,

203–04, 205
duryea, Charles, 195
duryea, Frank, 195
dutch immigrants, 135–136

Eastern Michigan College, 266
Eaton, G. d., 171

agriculture, 142, 153
automobiles and, 275, 290, 316, 319
colonial, 24, 29, 43
culture, contribution of, 173
decline, 302
detroit, 301, 328, 329, 342
early 19th century, 83, 121
Engler, 311
Gerald Ford and, 296
henry Ford and conspiracy, 238
foreign trade, 319
lumber, 185
prisons, 266
Romney’s administration and, 281
21st century, 323, 326, 327, 331,

and wine, 292
WWi, 261

Ecorse, 341
Ecorse River, 45
Edison, thomas Alva, 191–92
Edison Electric Company, 191
Edmonds, Sara Emma, 110
Edmund Fitzgerald (ore-carrier), 308–09,


advances in 1960s, 275–77
Bath School Massacre, viii, 227–28

blacks, 282
Blanchard’s commitment to, 303, 304
charter schools, 168
compulsory attendance laws, 164
Cooley’s ruling, 161
in detroit, 276
elementary education, 161–64
1835 Constitution, 159
Engler’s reforms, 307–08, 323, 329–31
excessive cruelty, 163
Finnish immigrants and, 140
German contribution to, 133–34
graduation rates, 304, 324–25, 328
Grange, 149
Groesbeck’s reforms, 228
higher education, 164–67, 168–69, 311
of indians, 11, 14, 75, 163
land allocated for financing, 158–59
law of 1809, 157
law of 1829, 158
law of 1869, 160
Millikin, 292
19th century, 72, 131, 160, 161–64
1960s and 1970s, 275–77
1980s, 300
1990s and after, 316, 328, 329–31, 337
ordinance of 1787, 157
primary, 160
reforms, 330
school laws, 157–58
for special needs children, 167–68
student attendance, 163–64
union districts, 163
Williams and, 264–65, 266
for women, 165, 167

Edwards, George, 282
Eighteenth Amendment (U.S.

Constitution), 218
85th “Polar Bears” division, 221
Eldred, Julius, 77–78

in 1840s and 1850s, 131
of 1850 and 1852, 81, 95, 121

Index 365

of 1856, 99
of 1860, 100, 102
of 1862 and 1864, 105, 106, 107
of 1868, 119
of 1869, 119
of 1869 and 1871, 119
of 1872, 115, 120, 121
of 1874, 120–22
of 1875, 1878, and 1880, 122–23, 124
of 1882 and 1884, 124
of 1887, 125
of 1889, 126
of 1890, 126
of 1892, 1894, and 1896, 127
of 1900, 213
of 1912, 214, 215
of 1914, 215–16
of 1916, and 1918, 217, 221
of 1914, 215
of 1918, 221
of 1920–1928, 229, 240
of 1932, 236
of 1934, 262
of 1936, 244
of 1938, 244
of 1942, 1946 and 1948, 262, 264
of 1950, 4, 270
of 1952, 271
of 1960, 277, 280
of 1962–1966, 280–81
of 1968, 280
of 1970, 1974, and 1978, 292
of 1973, 293
of 1976, 296
of 1978, 293, 313
of 1984, 313
of 1980, 301, 314–15
of 1982, 302–03, 323
of 1986, 304
of 1990, 305–06, 313
of 1994, 311–13
of 1996, 213, 317
of 1998, 314–15

of 2000, 317–18
of 2002, 323
of 2006, 325–27
of 2010, 335–37, 334–36
of 2012, 334, 334–35, 337–38

Ellis, George E., 211–12, 213
Emancipation Proclamation, 105, 254
Emigrant’s Guide to the State of Michigan,

The (thomson), 131
Emmet County, 14
Emrick, Richard, 284–85

acquisition of north America, 40, 42
American Revolution, 52–55
capture of Quebec, 21
colonies of, 16, 38–39, 42, 49, 51
exploration by, 62–63
free-trade policies, 134
French and indian War, 37
hudson Bay Company, 27
immigrants to Michigan, 134–35
and indians, 42–44, 62–63
King William’s War, 33
and Michigan, 60–63
policy on migration to America, 38
Pontiac’s uprising, 44–48
Proclamation of 1763 and, 48–49
Quebec Act (1774), 51–55
rivalry with French in north America,

rule of north America, 42–55
War of 1812, 59–62
see also fur trade; mining

Engler, John
casino gambling, indians and, 14
election of 1990, 305
election of 1994, 311, 313
election of 1998, 311, 314–15
election of 2002, 323
as governor, 298–300
initiatives, 329–30
joint ventures with China, 319
and dr. Kevorkian, 310


Engler, John (cont’d)
referendum, 311
reforms to educational system, 168–69
State of the State address (2001), 319
support for George W. Bush, 317
visit to China, 339
welfare reforms, 306–07

Engler, Michelle, 313
English Poor Law (1601), 231–32
entertainment industry, 173, 174
environment, 299

antipollution and safety legislation, 297
effect on European trade with indians

on, 7–8
effects of lumbering, 184–85
environmental protection, 320–22
indians and, 3, 4, 5, 7
industrialization and, 77
pollution of, 320
protection of, 156, 299, 320–22
waste of wildlife, 153–56
see also lumbering; mining

Equal Rights Amendment, 303
Ericson, Leif, 1
Erie Canal, 65, 70–71, 72
Erie and Kalamazoo railway, 183, 185, 186
Etherington, George, 47
Ethiopian Pacific League, 258

arrival in north America, 1–2
exploration by, 16, 19, 21, 25, 28,

31–32, 50, 62–63, 75, 213
impact of white contact, 7–9
trade with indians, 7
understanding of reciprocity, 6
see also England/British; France/

French; immigration; missionaries
Evelyn, 253
Everet, Philo M., 78
Expedition 1994, 309

Fairbanks Scale Company, 81
Fair Employment Act, 266

decline in numbers in Michigan, 142
Great Railroad Conspiracy, 187–89
and mechanization, 144–46
poverty of, 145

farming, see agriculture
Farner, Mark, 173
Federal Bureau of investigation (FBi),

249, 269, 327
Federal Corrupt Practices Act, 222
Federal deposit insurance Corporation

(FdiC), 237, 238, 262
Felch, Alpheus, 100
Ferber, Edna, 170
Ferency, Zolton, 280
Ferguson, Bobby, 341
ferries, 193
Ferris, Governor Woodbridge n., 215,

216, 262
Ferry, thomas W., 119, 121, 124
Fieger, Geoffrey, 314, 315
Fiery Cross, The, 227
Fifteenth Amendment (U.S.

Constitution), 116, 117
5th Michigan infantry, 107
Fillmore, Millard, 95–96
Finns, 138, 139–40
fires, 183–84

automotive factories, 198, 235
Chicago, 176, 184
detroit, 258, 283, 285, 328
fire protection, 14, 137, 211, 254
forest, 184

First Ambulance Company, 221
1st Michigan infantry, 104, 107
First Michigan Colored infantry, 106
1st Michigan Sharpshooters, 107
Fisher Body plant, 241, 242, 319

strikes, 269
Fisher Brothers, 204
fishing industry, 153–54
Fitch, Abel F., 188
Fitzgerald, Frank, 138, 237, 244

Index 367

Fitzgerald, William B., 293
Fitzsimmons, Frank, 294

automobile industry in, 241, 242,

Battle of Running Bulls in, 242
Black Legion in, 238
crime rate in, 327, 340
education in, 276
emergency management, 341
as miserable city, 340
renewal projects in, 246, 289
riots in, 283
school for the deaf, dumb, and blind

in, 120, 167
sit-down strikes, 241, 242
unemployment in, 301
University of Michigan at, 265, 289

Flint Alliance, 242
Flint River, 299
Flint Wagon Works, 203
Florek, dann, 173
Florida, 106
Focus: hoPE, 307
Food Preparedness Committee, 220
Ford, Edsel, 201, 203, 221
Ford, Gerald R., 296, 300, 301
Ford, henry

admiration of, 202
anti-Semitism of, viii, 202
automobile manufacturing, 199–203
and banks, 236
durant’s offer, 205
impact on society, 202–03
political activity, 226–27
response to Great depression, 233, 234
response to union activity at the Rouge

plant, 235–36, 242–43
Senatorial campaign, 221–22
and temperance, 217
UAW and, 243
use of assembly line, 200
World War i peace efforts, 219

Ford, henry ii, 203
Ford Field, 328, 329
Ford Local 600, 270
Ford Motor Company, 199–203, 208

donation of land to University of
Michigan, 265–66

durant’s offer, 205
effect of the Arab oil embargo, 290
effects of Great depression, 207
establishment of, 199
Model t, 201, 202
refusal to accept federal money,

restructuring, 203
role in World War i, 219
role in World War ii, 250
strikes against, 243
UAW and, 243
vehicles produced, 187–89, 199–202, 203
workers, 202, 203

foreign policy, 262–63
Fort Brady, 63
Fort Chartres, 48
Fort Custer, 253
Fort dearborn, 60
Fort detroit, 45–46, 47
Fort du Buade, 34, 36
Fort duquesne, 39
Fort Frontenac, 29–30, 32
Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, 320, 321
Fort Le Boeuf, 38, 39
Fort Malden, 60
Fort Meigs, 61
Fort Miami, 32, 47
Fort Michilimackinac, 33, 40, 47, 49,

50–51, 55, 60
Pontiac’s uprising, 47–48

Fort necessity, 39
Fort niagara, 47
Fort ouiatenon, 47
Fort Pitt, 48
Fort Ponchartrain, 36, 40
Fort Presque isle, 38


Fort Sackville, 53
Fort Sandusky, 47
Fort St. ignace, 32, 31
Fort St. Joseph, 32, 47, 54
Fort Sumter, 103
Fort Venango, 38
Fort Wayne, 60, 254
42nd “Rainbow” division, 221
Fourteenth Amendment (U.S.

Constitution), 116
4th Michigan Cavalry, 111
4th Michigan infantry, 107
Fox, noel, 13
Fox indians, 22, 37, 51
Fox River, 28
Fox theatre, 328

copper discovery, 25
Crown control of colonies, 22–23
entry into race for new lands, 16, 17, 19
exit from new France, 32, 37–40
exploration by, 16, 19–21, 28–32,

French and indian War, 23, 32, 37–38
King William’s War, 33
legacy, 40
missionaries, 21–22, 26–28
new France, 18, 19, 23–26
role in Pontiac’s uprising, 44
trade and expansion, 34–37
see also Canada; Cartier; new France

Francis i (king of France), 17
Frankenmuth, 133
Frankensteen, Richard, 245
Fredericksburg, battle of, 110
Freeland, 253
Free Soil Party, 89, 98, 99

Kansas-nebraska Bill, 99
Fremont, 253
Frémont, John C., 99
French and indian War, 37, 42, 49, 52
French Ministry and new France, 35
Frey, Glenn, 173

Frigerator Company, 205
Frontenac et de Palluau, Louis de Buade,

Comte de, 29–36
expansion of new France, 34, 35

Fugitive Slave Act, 92, 98, 99
Fulton, Robert, 70
fur trade

American Fur Company, 62–63
Cadillac and, 34–37
Canadian, 25
copper mining and, 74–75
expansion of, 37
English, 33, 58
French and indian War and, 21–22
Frontenac and, 34–37
of indians, 7, 8–9, 17
of new France, 25, 29, 37
Proclamation of 1763 and, 49

Fusion Party, 124

Gage, thomas, 50
Gail, Max, 173
Galineé, René de Brehant de, 25
Galissonière, Comte de la, 38
game wardens and environment, 155
Garfield, President James, A., 124
Garrison, William Lloyd, 88
Gates, horatio, 52
Gateway Amendment, 278
Gateway Computer, 335
General Motors, 167, 198, 199, 207, 208

bailout plea, 331
Chrysler and, 207
closure of plants, 304, 318–19
development of, 198, 205
durant and, 205–06
effect of the Arab oil embargo, 290
Red Scare at, 270
role in World War ii, 249, 250
Romney’s testimony on, 208
Governor Murphy, 242–43
sit-down strikes, 242–43
Sloan, 206–07

Index 369

support of banks during depression, 236
UAW, 242
World War ii, 250–51

General Motors institute, 167
Genesee County, 72, 250
Genesee County Board of Supervisors, 232
George iii (king of Great Britain), 50
George, tom, 335
Gerber Foods, 324
German immigrants

abolitionist, 88
American Protective League and, 140
American Revolution, 107
automobiles, 207
in Civil War, 131–32
culture, 169
democrats, 121
and education, 158, 165
preservation of culture, 134
prohibition and, 116, 121
recruitment of, 131–34
Republican Party and, 121
women’s suffrage and, 118
World War i and, 134, 219, 220, 221
World War ii, 249, 252, 253

German theaters, 169
gerrymandering, 116, 119
Gettysburg, battle of, 107
Gilbert, dan, 342
Girls training School, Adrian, 228
Girls Vocational school, 168
Gladwin, henry, 45, 46–47
Gogebic County, 139, 274
Gogebic range, 79, 136
Golden Apple Award, 330
Goldwater, Barry, 280
Gorcyca, david, 295–96
Gore, Al, 318
Gorham, Charles t., 91
government, 212, 213

and automotive bailout, 331, 332
blacks and, 117
of Canada, 134

and Civil War, 103, 104, 105, 111, 112,
121, 147

corruption, 259, 340
cultural activities 300
detroit, 51, 138, 212–13, 225, 340, 341
and education, 165
English/British, 42, 43, 50, 55, 62, 75
French, 74
and grants, 160
and Great depression, 231–32, 238,

of indians, 14, 35, 43
and infrastructure development, 78,

81, 228, 322
Know-nothings and, 97–98
McCarthyism, 269–70
of Michigan state, 14, 57, 58, 73, 81–82,

228, 239, 278, 279, 301, 332, 332
muckrakers, 211
of new France, 19, 20, 22, 24, 35, 36
restructuring and reforms of, 100, 306,

307, 326
sale of indian’s lands, 177, 178, 181
support for, 231
theory of limited government, 115
United States, 8, 54, 57, 63, 74, 75–76,

236, 290, 302
United States and indians, 9, 13, 62
of Upper Canada, 49, 51
World War i, 134, 219
Word War ii, 250–52, 253, 254
women’s suffrage, 218
see also constitution of Michigan;

governors; specific governor by

Government Land office, 177
governors, see specific governor by name
Grand Blanc, 145, 250
Grand haven, 136, 183
Grand Portage, 50
Grand Rapids 211, 283

Cornish immigrants in, 136
dutch immigrants in, 136


Grand Rapids (cont’d)
furniture production, 185
industry, 250
Know-nothing Party in, 97–8
progressive reforms in, 211–12
railroads to, 73
Red Raid, 222–23
riots in, 283
role in World War ii, 250
Scandinavian immigrants in, 138–40
wine industry in, 291

Grand Rapids Herald, 224
Grand River, 64, 73, 135
Grand traverse County, 142, 291
Grand trunk Railroad, 191
Grand Trunk Weekly Herald, 192
Grand Valley State College, 266
Grand Valley State University, 329
Grange, (Patrons of husbandry) 120–21,

125, 149–51
Granholm, Jennifer 315, 333, 334

and economy, 324, 325, 332
election of, 316, 323–24, 325
as governor, 324–27, 332–33, 334
health care program, 326
overseas trips, 332
plan for release of prisoners, 327
political failures, 332–33
re-election campaign, 325–26
on scholarship program, 330
2006 election, 325

Grant, 253
Grant, Alexander, 55
Grant, General Ulysses S., 109, 110, 120
Graverat, Lieutenant (in Civil War), 107
grayling, 154, 155
Great depression, 229, 328

Bank holiday, 237, 238
Black Legion activities, 238–40
Brucker’s response to, 233–34, 332
Coughlin’s agitation, 237–38
creation of employment, 245–46
impact on auto industry, 207

impact on railroads, 193, 207
Murphy’s relief efforts, 234–35
new deal programs in Michigan,

racism, 245

Great Lakes, 2, 59, 70
as boundary, 54
canals and, 81, 320
declining water levels, 320–22
exploration of, 16, 29, 32
fishing, 13
pollution of, 320
preservation of, 316, 318, 320
ships sunk in, 172–73, 308–09, 326
transport, 70, 79, 81, 320
War of 1812, 59
as water supply, 320, 322

Great Lakes area, 43, 44, 54, 57
Europeans and, 7, 32, 37
fur trade, 29, 37, 63, 64
indians and, 2, 3, 5, 6, 14, 22, 29, 44
mining, 75
U.S. government and, 63
War of independence, 47, 52

Great Lakes Center for Education
Research and Practice, 168

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, 309
Great Railroad Conspiracy, 187–89
Great Recessions, 332
Greektown Casino, 14
Greeley, horace, 120
Green, Fred, 229
Greenbackers, 123, 124
greenbacks, 121
Green Bay, 21, 27, 28, 31, 96
Greenfield Village, 202
Green Timber (Curwood), 171
Grier, david Allen, 173
Griffin, John, 58
Griffin, Senator Robert, 280, 293, 313
Griffiths, hicks, 264
Griffiths, Martha, 303, 305
Griffon (ship), 30, 31–32

Index 371

Griswold, Stanley, 58
Groesbeck, Alex J., 219, 228–29
Groseilliers, Medart Chouart, Sieur de, 27
Grosse ile, 253
Guardian Union Company, 236
Guest, Edgar, 173
gun control, 297, 313

hackel, Mark, 327
hall, Robert, 86
hamilton, henry “hair Buyer,” 51–54

gift giving, 52
hamlin, hannibal, 106
hancock, 77, 139, 140, 169
harding, Warren, 224
hare, James M., 277
harpers Ferry, 93
harrison, Jim, 172
harrison, William henry, 59–60, 61
hart, 253
hart, Philip A., 297, 313
hart, William, 288
hartwick Pines State Park, 177
harvey, Charles, 81
hastings, Erotius P., 89
havighurst, Walter, 172
havilland, Laura Smith, 89
hayes, President Rutherford B., 122
hays, Andrew L., 170
headlee, Richard h., 303
head Start, 282
health care, 326

under Baldwin, 120
under Granholm, 326
for indians, 14

helm, Leonard, 52–53
hemans, Lawton t., 213
hemingway, Ernest, 170
hennepin, Father Louis, 31
henry, Alexander, 48
henry, Patrick, 38, 52
hensel, Professor, Paul, 213
hesse, 54, 55

highway Loan Board, 228
hill, Arthur, 180
hillsdale, 90, 166
hiss, Alger, 270
hitler, Adolf, 202
hochelaga (Montreal), 17
hoekstra, Peter, 335
hoffa, James R. “Jimmy,” 260, 294–95
hoffa, James R., Jr., 295
holland (town), 136
home (Kirkland)
home Guard, 220
homeless persons, 307
home Missionary Society of the

Congregational Church, 158
hood, Morris, 306
hood, nicholas, 283
hooper, Warren G., viii, 259–60
hoover, J. Edgar, 222
hoover, President herbert, 232, 233,

236, 262
hopkin, Robert, 170
horner, Governor John S. “

Little Jack,” 67
houghton, 75, 77, 136
houghton County, 136, 137, 139, 169
houghton, douglass, 72, 75
house Judiciary Committee, 67
house of Masses, 222, 223
house of Representatives, 116
house Un-American Activities

Committee (hUAC), 269, 270, 271
howard, Jacob M., 99, 104, 116, 119
howard, William, 49, 119
hudson, Joseph L., 208, 212, 250, 268
hudson, Joseph L., Jr., 285
hudson Bay Company, 27
hudson Motor Company, 208, 250
hudson River, 70
hull, William, 58–61, 68

invasion of Canada, 60–61
hunger March, 235–36
huntington, Samuel, 58


huron (indians)
detroit River council and, 44
and English, 44, 48
and French, 21
intertribal wars, 22, 28
iroquois Wars and, 22, 26
missionaries among, 21, 26–27
Pontiac’s uprising, 45, 46, 47

huron Lightship, 320
hussey, Erastus, 89
hutchinson, Edward, 278

iacocca, Lee, 290
illinois indians, 27, 28, 31, 32
illinois region, 27, 32, 48, 54

settlements, 51
illinois river, 31, 51
illinois, state of, 52, 58, 72, 159
illitch, Mike, 342
immigrants and immigration

after 1890, 140
attitudes toward, 212
blacks, 116
from Canada, 176, 181
in Civil War, 107
from Cornwall, 136, 137
from Eastern Europe, 140
from holland, 135–36
influence in politics, 107, 116, 128
from ireland, 107, 116
Know-nothing Party and, 97
in 1920s, 224
progressivism and, 212
Republican Party and, 116
from Scandinavia, 138–40
see also German immigrants

immoral nineteen, 128
indian agents, 9, 10
indiana territory and State, 58
indian department, 10

agriculture, 4, 6, 7
and alcohol, 34, 36, 43, 52

in American Revolution, 54
Amherst’s policies toward, 42–44
arrival in north America, 2
attitudes toward nature, 4
attitudes toward whites, 9–10
automobile industry and, 11
and British, 42, 62–63
and capture of detroit, 61
casino gambling, 13–14
change in hunting style, 7–9
and Christianity, 10
in Civil War, 107
Constitution of 1850 and, 82
discrimination against, 11, 13
and dutch, 135–36
economic improvements, 12
effects of assimilation, 9–11
effects of white contact, 7–9
employment of, 11–12, 13, 79
in Europe, 1–2, 17
fishing, 13
and French, 20–21
and fur trading, 63
gambling, 169
gift giving, 43–44, 52
and Great Lakes, 13
health, 11
illegal seizure of timberlands of,

iroquois Wars and, 22
land cessions, 8
land settlements, 75
lifestyle, 3–4
loss of skills, 7
missionaries among, 5–6, 9
in modern Michigan, 11–14
need for education, 11, 14
negotiations over fishing rights of, 13
political structure, 9
population of, 2–3, 9
poverty, 11–12
Proclamation of 1763 and, 48–49
region inhabited, 2–7

Index 373

relationship with French, 17
relationship with nature, 4, 5‒6, 7
religion of, 4–5, 6
schools, 163
significance of tobacco, 5
theory on arrival in north America, 2
three Fires confederation, 2–7
unemployment, 11, 12
and United States, 63‒64
whiskey, impact of, 9
women, 12
see also specific group; French;

missionaries; Pontiac; trade
industrialization, 210, 224
industry, 261, 264, 268, 278, 307, 319,

325, 332, 337
automation of, 275, 287–88
during the Civil War, 76, 112–13
detroit, 224, 225, 250
diversification of, 303
entertainment, 173
food processing, 151–52, 290–92
impact on environment, 77, 320
indian, 10, 11, 13
of new France, 21, 24, 29
1950s, 272
Panic of 1837, 64
shift of industry, 287
strikes, 222
tourist, 290, 321
during World War ii, 221, 249–50
see also automobile industry; Great

depression; lumbering; mining,
railroads, shipbuilding

infant mortality, 12
inflation, 74, 121, 147, 261, 296,

301, 319
ingalls, Reverend Richard, 308
ingham County, 82, 250, 259
interlochen Arts Academy, 299
interlochen Music Camp, 173
internal improvements, 67, 72–74, 81,

82, 83

see also canals; public services; roads
and highways; rural electrification

international Brotherhood of teamsters,
294, 295

international Workers of the World, 220,

interstate Commerce Act, 115
interurban trains, 191
“intolerable Acts,” 51
ionia, 229, 266
iraq War, 313
“irish hills,” 137
irish immigrants, 136–38
iron County, 139, 274
iron mining, 78–79, 136
iron Mountain, 136, 250
iron River, 136
ironwood, 136
iroquois, 35

Cartier’s relationship with, 17
French military campaign against, 23,

24, 25
Frontenac and, 27
relationship with French, 20, 21, 27, 33
see also missionaries

iroquois Federation, 21
iroquois Point, 22
iroquois Wars, 21–22, 26, 34
irving, Washington, 170
isabella indian Reservation, 178, 180–81
ishpeming, 78, 136
isolationism, 262

Jackson, 89, 99
Jackson, President Andrew, 67, 73, 97

Specie Circular, 74
Jackson Company, 78
James Madison College, 276
Japanese, 316

banks, 302
World War ii, 249, 258, 262

Jay treaty, 55, 87


Jefferson, thomas, 53, 57, 97
Jeffries, Mayor Edward, 258
jerkwater railroads, 189
Jerome, Governor david, 124, 132, 180
Jerome, timothy, 180

and Cadillac, 34
closure of St. ignace mission, 36
missions work of, 10, 27–28, 33
opposition to further penetration of

interior, 30
and Recollects, 10
understanding of indians, 5, 28

Joe Louis Sports Arena, 288
John C. Lodge–Edsel Ford expressway

system, 267, 268
Johnson, Andrew, 106
Johnson, Lyndon B., 280–1, 284
Johnson, Ruth, 336
Johnson, Sir William, 43–44, 48
Johnson’s island, 111
Jolliet, Adrian, 25, 28
Jolliet, Louis, 28
judiciary system, 82
Junior Chamber of Commerce, 277, 279
Justice department, 222, 223

and Michigan, 268–69
Justin Morrill College, 276

Kahn, Albert, 170
Kaiser-Willys-overland-Jeep Company,

208, 250

asylum for the insane in, 120
dutch immigrants in, 136
education in, 160–61
fur trade in, 64
Know-nothing Party in, 98
protest at Kansas-nebraska Act, 99
riots in, 283
role in World War ii
wine industry in, 291

Kalamazoo College, 166

Kalamazoo County, 71
Kalamazoo County Agricultural

Society, 146
Kalamazoo River, 73, 135
Kalkaska, 293
Kansas-nebraska Bill, 98, 99
Kanter, Robert, 245
Kaskaskia, 293
Kehoe, Andrew, 227–28
Kelley, Frank, 138
Kellogg Company of Battle Creek,

151–52, 250
Kellogg, John harvey, 151–52
Kellogg, Will Keith, 151–52
Kelly, harry, 264
Kelly, harry F., 252, 258, 262, 264,

Kennedy, J. J., 245
Kennedy, John F., 264, 265
Kent County, 55, 73, 130
Kentucky, 89
Kerry, John F., 324
Kettering University, 167
Kevorkian, Jack, 310–11, 314
Keweenaw Bay, 76
Keweenaw County, 136
Keweenaw Peninsula, 75, 76, 77, 216
Keywell, harry, 259
Kidd, James h., 107–08
Kid Rock, 173
Kids, Cops, and Clean campaign, 328
Kilpatrick, Bernard, 341
Kilpatrick, Kwame, 327, 340–41
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 282, 283
“King of the Beaver islands,” 94–95
“King’s daughters,” 23–24
King William’s War, 33
Kirkland, Caroline, 171
Kitchi Manitou, 4
Kmart, 324
Know-nothing Party, 97–98

and Republican party, 100
Knox, Frank, 214

Index 375

Knudsen, William S., 249–50
Ku Klux Klan, viii, 226, 238, 254, 255–56

see also Black Legion

labor costs, 287
labor laws, 213
labor unions

AFL and Cio, 241
communist activities and, 222, 269
Michigan as birthplace, 338
opposition to, 212
and politics, 306, 318, 334
strikes at copper mines, 216
during World War i
see also hoffa; McCarthyism;

Progressivism; strikes
La Chine massacre, 33
La demoiselle (chief of Miami), 38
Lafayette Society, 135
LaFollette, Robert “Fighting Bob,” 211,

214, 222
La honton, Louis Armand de, 74
Laimbeer, Bill, 329
Lake Erie, 25, 31, 37, 38, 61, 65, 70, 111
Lake huron, 21, 321
Lake Linden, 169
Lake Michigan, 3, 21, 28, 30, 93, 94, 143,

152, 184, 189, 226, 321
Lake ontario, 321
Lake Superior, 76, 77

canals built, 77, 79, 120
declining water levels, 320–21
exploration of, 21, 25, 50, 63, 75
indians, 26
mines, 76, 79

Lake Superior and ishpeming Railroad,

L’Alemant, Gabriel, 22
Lambert, William, 92
Lanctot, Mederic, 135

Canada, 51, 134
colonial acquisition, 16, 23, 25, 32, 36, 38

farmland, 142, 144–45, 147, 153, 231,

frauds, 9
fraudulent acquisition of by lumber

companies, 177–81
indian cessions and sales, 8, 6, 63, 76, 135
indian settlements, 6–7, 14, 75, 135–36
landfill, 322
land speculation, 39, 49
restriction on sales of, 44, 49
sales, 74, 75–76, 81
sales for funding schools, 158–59, 160,

seigneurial system, 28
settlements, 58, 71, 72, 73, 136
survey, 68
timberland, 177–81, 185
toledo Strip boundary dispute, 65,

U.S. governance of, 57, 58

Land, terry Lynn, 324, 327
L’Anse, 27, 76

auto industry in, 195, 196, 198
Black Legion, 238
education in, 167, 168, 228, 276
fire in, 184
Ku Klux Klan in, 226, 238
Michigan Agricultural College, 100, 166
population growth, 274
as state capital, 81–82
Women’s hall of Fame in, 305

Lansing, John, 82
Lapeer County, 184
La Pointe du Saint Esprit, 27
Lardner, Ring, 170
La Salle, René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de,

25, 28–32
establishment of shipyard, 31
exploration, 32
see also Frontenac

Last True Story of the Titanic,
The (Clary), 173


Laurium, 169
League of Women Voters, 277, 279
LeCaron, Father Joseph, 21
Lee, Robert E., 107, 111
Leelanau Peninsula, 291
Leland, henry, 212, 213
Leland iron Company, 79
Lemke, William, 238
Lenawee County, 137, 185–86
Leonard, donald S., 264
Levin, Carl, 313–14, 334
Levin, Sander, 292, 312
Lewis, James o., 169
Lhut, daniel Greysolon, Sieur du, 33
Liberal Republican movement, 119–20
Liberator, The, 88
Liberty Boys, 49
Liberty Party, 89
libraries, 158, 164, 246
Licavoli family, 225
Lightfoot, Gordon, 308
Lighthouses, 320
Lincoln, Abraham, 105, 106, 254, 255

Blair on, 104
nomination and election, 102–03
opinions on, 105

Lincoln Motor Company, 221
Littlejohn, Augustus, 86
Little Round top battle, 107
Little traverse Bay Band of ottawa, 14
locomotives, 186, 189
log drives, 182
Longfellow, henry Wadsworth, 170
Lonsma, Jack, 313
Louis, Joe “Brown Bomber,” 247
Louis XiV (king of France), 22, 33
Lousma, Jack, 313
Loyalty Commission, 270
Loyalty Review Board, 269
Lucas, Governor Robert, 65, 66
Lucas, William, 304
Luce, Cyrus G., 125
Ludington, 28, 183, 193, 250

lumbering, 176–85
Canadians and Canadiens in, 176, 181
during the Civil War, 112–13
cutting and milling, 181–83
environmental and economic

concerns, 184–85
indians, 177–81
life of lumberjacks, 181–82
in modern Michigan, 185
and railroads, 185
Scandinavian immigrants in, 112
threat of fire, 183–84
timber locating, 177
timber sharks, 179

Lupp, Arthur, 239, 240
Lutheran church, 100, 139
Lyman Briggs College, 276
Lyon, Lucius, 67

Macatawa Bay, 135
Machus Red Fox Restaurant, 294
Mackie, John, 279
Mackinac, 3, 54, 64, 93–94, 96

Mormon presence, 93
Mackinac Bridge Authority, 267
Mackinac City, 37, 64, 267
Mackinac County, 95
Mackinac island, 28

in American Revolution, 54
bridge to, 264, 265
exploration, 28
ferries to, 193
indians inhabiting, 3
Marquette on, 27
Mormons, 93–96
see also Beaver islands

Mackinaw City, 37, 267
Mackinaw (Coast Guard cutter), 309
Macomb, William, 55
Macomb County, 120, 268, 278, 327
Maddy, Joseph, 173
Madison, President James, 61
Madonna, 173

Index 377

Maine, prohibition legislation, 86
Majors, Lee, 173
Mammoth Bill, 73
Man from Red Keg (thwing), 171
Manistee Broadaxe, 140
Mansfield, Mike, 297
Mao tse tung, 269
maple syrup, 4, 7, 177
March to the Sea, 107
Marne, 220
Marquette, 75, 136, 266
Marquette, Père Jacques, 27–28
Marquette County, 134, 137, 139
Marquette iron Company, 78
marriage, 4, 7, 24
Marshall, 86, 91–92, 158, 167, 170

Know-nothing Party, 98
Underground Railroad, 89

Marshall Plan, 263
martial law, 94, 105
Marysville, 250
Mascouton, 22
Mason, Governor Stevens t., 65–66, 67,

73, 81
Mason and oceana Line, 189
mass transit system, 189, 192, 193, 299
materialism, 224
Matilda Montgomery (Richardson), 171
Maumee River, 65
Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Company, 207

see also Chrysler Corporation
Maynard, olivia, 305
Maysville Road Bill, rejection of, 73
McCain, John, 317
McCarran Act, 270
McCarthyism, viii, 271
McClelland, Robert, 86, 100, 105, 107
McCormick, Cyrus, 144
McCoy, Elijah, 191
McKay, Frank d., 259
McKinley, William, 127–28
McKissick, Floyd, 282
McMahon, Ed, 173

McMillan, James, 125–26, 127–28
Mcnamara, Patrick, 138, 265
McQuade, Barbara, 341
Meadows, tim, 173
Melchers, Geri, 170
Menard, Father René, 27
Menominee range, 79, 183
mental health issues, 281, 311
mercitron, 310
Methodism, 136
Meuse Argonne offensive, 221
Miami indians, 27, 38, 48

abolitionism in, 89, 91–93
agriculture, 72, 112, 142–56, 275
arts, 300
automobile industry, 170, 195, 224,

231, 264, 275, 290, 304
banking crisis, 74
Black Legion in, 238–40
blacks in, 89, 92, 106, 224, 226, 254, 256
boundary dispute with ohio, 65–68
Canadiens and Canadians, 134–35
canals, 79–81
capital, 81–82
Civil War, 135–136, 146–47
Communism in, 268–69, 270
constitution, 67
copper mining, 74–78
corruption in, 258–60
democratic control, 97, 116
dumping of Canadian trash, 322
economic development, 72, 75, 275,

299, 318–19
economic diversification, 290–91
in 1880s, 124–25
exploration of, 63
expressways, 268
Free Soil Party, 98
German immigration, 131–34
governors, see specific governor by

Great depression, 231–47


immigration, 130‒32
impact of War of 1812, 59–62
infrastructure, 327, 339
internal improvements, 67, 72–74, 81,

82, 83
irish, 137
iron mining, 78–79, 136
land settlement with indians, 75
legislature and wildlife protection, 155
links to new York, 82
liquor traffic and interests, 85–87, 117
martial law, 54
mining, 75–77, 79
new deal, 245
in 1990s, 299–316
perceptions of, 70
population increase, 70–72, 130, 274
population losses, 318, 324
prohibition legislation, 86–87, 121,

prospects, 329–32
railroads, 73–74, 79, 185–93
Red Scare, 268–69, 271
relocation of companies, 324
Republican Party, 99–100, 102, 116,

slavery, 87–93, 98
statehood, 58, 65–68, 83, 104
Strang, James Jesse, 93–96
strikes, 240–43, 244, 250–51
tourism, 290, 292
transfer from Canadian to American

rule, 55
transportation improvements, 70, 72,

73–74, 77, 79
and Underground Railroad, 92
unemployment, 292, 301, 302, 324–25,

332, 334
Whig Party, 97–100
white population, 274–75
wine production, 290–91
women’s suffrage movement, 117–19,


World War i, 219–22
World War ii, 249–54
see also specific topic such as

agriculture or automobile industry
Michigan (warship), 96, 111
Michigan Agricultural College

establishment of, 100, 145
progressive improvements, 228
role in American Revolution, 52
war gardens, 220
women in, 167
work in Lansing fire, 184

Michigan Association of Public School
Academies, 168

Michigan Business tax, 335
Michigan Cavalry Brigade, 107
Michigan Central Railroad, 180, 189
Michigan Centre, 89, 188
Michigan Chemical Corporation, 293
Michigan Club, 125, 126
Michigan Colored infantry, 106
Michigan Council for the Arts, 299
Michigan Education Association, 338
Michigan Educational trust Fund

(MEt), 304, 307, 330
Michigan Education Assessment

Program (MEAP), 330
Michigan Education Association, 164,

292, 338
Michigan Employment Security

Commission, 290
Michigan Equal Suffrage Association, 118
Michigan Farm Bureau Services, 293
Michigan Farmer, 145
Michigan First health Care Plan, 326
Michigan Grange, beginning of, 149
Michigan Manufacturers’ Association,

Michigan Merit Award Scholarship

Program, 330
Michigan Merit Examination (MME),

Michigan Model for schools, 308

Index 379

Michigan national Bank, 259
Michigan Promise Scholarship, 330–31
Michigan Renaissance Fund, 169
Michigan Republican Party, 214
Michigan School of Mines, 77, 167

see also Michigan technological

Michigan Soldiers’ Relief Association, 113
Michigan Soup house, 113
Michigan Southern Railroad

Company, 189
Michigan State Constabulary, 220
Michigan State Constitution, see

Michigan State Police, 259
Michigan State teachers’ Association, 164
Michigan State University, 166–67, 266,

274, 276, 329
hiring of ombudsman, 274

Michigan Suffrage Association, 117
Michigan technological University, 77, 167
Michigan temperance Society, 86, 87
Michigan territory, 58
Michigan thirteen, 301
Michigan turnaround, 326
Michigan Virtual Automotive College, 169
Michigan Virtual University, 168–69
Michigan Women’s Study Association, 305
Michigan Youth Corps, 303
Michilimackinac region, 38, 40, 49–51,

52, 53–54
see also Fort Michilimackinac

Middle East peace talks, 296
Midland, 250
Miller, Candice, 311, 312, 315, 316,

323, 324
Milliken, helen, 305
Milliken, William G., 292

automobile industry crisis and, 289
and Blanchard, 302, 303
Cattlegate and, 293
cutting budget, 301–02
decision to not run again, 302

and education, 292
and George h. W. Bush, 301
as “Ghetto Governor”, 292
as governor, 281, 292–93, 301–02
and Levin, 292
and P.B.B. crisis, 293
State of the State address (1980), 301
study on indian poverty levels, 11

minimum wage law, 218, 238, 242, 281
mining, 169, 299

Calumet, 216–17
Canadians in, 134
during the Civil War, 112
for copper, 75–76, 77, 112, 136
Cornish immigrants in, 136‒37
development of transportation, 79‒81,

forest clearance, 74–75
German contribution to, 134
irish and, 137
for iron, 78–79
for precious metals, 74
Scandinavian immigrants in, 139

MiRx Card, 326

attitudes toward Christianity and
civilization, 5

French, 21–22, 26–27
and tobacco, 5
ultimate failure of missionary work, 5–6

Mississippi River, 14, 29, 30, 31, 32, 38,
42, 62–63

mouth, 32
Missouri, 89
Missouri Compromise of 1820, 98–99
Model A to Model n automobile, 187–89,

199, 201–02
Model Corrections Act, 266
Model t, 199–200, 206
Monroe, 61, 73, 185
Monroe County, 66
Montcalm, Louis, 39
Monteith, Reverend John, 164


Monteith College, 276
Montreal, 17, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32, 35,

36, 50, 52
Monts, Pierre du Guast, Sieur de, 20
Moody, Blair, Sr., 271
Moore, hiram, 144
Moore, Michael, 173
Moose Mountain, ontario, 213
Morenci, 90
Morgan, harry, 173
Morley, Colonel Frederick, 132
Mormonism, 93–96
Morrill Act, 166–67
Morris Canal and Banking Company of

new Jersey, 74
Motor Vehicle information and Cost

Saving Act (1972), 297
Mott, Charles Stewart, 204, 265
Mouet, Charles, 38
Mt. Clemens, 98, 220, 284

canals, 73
Know-nothing Party, 98
riots in, 283
Underground Railroad 90

Mt. Pleasant, 167, 178
muckrakers, 211
Murphy, Frank, 138

attitudes toward, 244
elected governor, 240
elected mayor, 234
relief efforts, 234
response to riots at the Rouge plant, 235
sit-down strikes and, 240–43, 244
Sweet trial, 254

Murphy, Judge Frank, 254
music, 173

Ford and, 202, 227
Muskegon, 183, 226, 283
Muskegon County, 139
Muskegon Valley, 64

nash, Charles W., 208
nash Motor Company, 208

Nation, The, 117
national Abortion Action League, 306
national Association for the

Advancement of Colored People
(nAACP), 254, 255, 258, 279

national Guard, 213, 214, 220, 221, 242,
243, 248, 283

national origins Act, 140
national Union for Social Justice, 238
native Americans, see indians
natural resources, see copper mining;

iron mining; lumbering
negaunee, 78
neighborhood protection associations, 288
neighborhood revitalization program,

newberry, truman h., 214, 221–22
new Buffalo, 73
new deal, 152, 153, 236, 262, 303, 325

and Michigan, 245
new detroit Committee, 285
new France

Cadillac in, 34, 35, 36–37
Crown control of, 22–23
end of, 32, 37–40
establishment of, 19, 22
Frontenac as governor of, 29–34
fur trade, 25, 29, 31, 37
iroquois Wars and, 29, 33
missionaries in, 21–22, 26–27
settlement of, 23–34
see also Jean talon

New Home, A (Kirkland), 171
New Republic, The, 256–57
new Spain, 20
new York, 52

Communists in, 269
Erie Canal, 70
settlers, 72

niagara, 30, 31
nichols, John, 288
nicolet, Jean, 21
night Riders, 240

Index 381

niles, 27, 33, 165, 167
American Revolution, 54

nineteenth Amendment (U.S.
Constitution), 119, 218

nisbet, Stephen, 278
nixon, John, 337
nixon, Richard M., 281, 294, 300
normal schools, 167
norris, George, 222
north Atlantic treaty organization

(nAto), 263
northern Michigan University, 167
northland Shopping Center, 268
northwestern Association, 117
north Western Scientific Expedition, 63, 75
northwest Passage, 17, 21, 29, 50
northwest territory, 58, 157, 158–59
novell, John, 67
nuclear testing, 313
nugent, ted, 173

oakland, 205, 266, 268, 278
oakland County, 71, 120, 296
obama, President Barack, 338
o’Brien, Charles “Chuckie,” 295–96
odessa, 253
office of Facts and Figures, 257
office of Foreign Emigration, 130
office of Price Administration, 261
ohio, 38, 52, 58, 61, 72, 73, 186

Black Legion, 238
boundary dispute with Michigan,

sit-down strikes, 241

ohio River, 37, 38, 51
oise-Aisne, battle of, 220‒21
ojibwa, see Chippewa
okondokon (Chippewa chief ), 78
old-age pension, 213
old Britain (chief of Miami), 38
old Mission Peninsula, 291
olds, Ransom E., 195, 196–99

marketing, 196

olds Motor Vehicle Company, 196–99
oldsmobile, 196–99, 201, 319

olivet, 166
ontonagon Boulder, 77–78, 83
ontonagon River, 75, 76
open housing Act (1968), 297
o’Quinn, terry, 173
ordinance of 1784, 57–58
ordinance of 1785, 158, 160
ordinance of 1787, 57–58, 65, 87, 157
ordinance Line, 65
organization of American States

(oAS), 263
Original, The (Smith), 172
orr, Kevyn, 342
osborne, Chase S., 215, 216, 218, 221

1910 electoral campaign, 213
1912 electoral campaign, 214

Oscar II (peace ship), 219
oscoda County, 274, 293
ottawa, 10, 44

in American Revolution, 54
casino gambling, 14
English and, 44, 48, 54
fishing rights agreement, 13
Fox indians and, 37
French and, 33, 37
iroquois Wars and, 22, 33
missionaries and, 5, 27
Pontiac’s uprising, 45–46
reciprocity, concept of, 6
region inhabited, 3, 4
relationship with Michigan

government, 59
relationship with U.S. government, 10, 13
relationship with whites, 9–11
religion, 4, 5
social structure, 4, 6
trading, 4, 27, 31
War of 1812, 59

ottawa River, 19, 25, 35
“over the hill to the Poor house”

(Carleton), 173


owen, Larry, 314
owosso, 171, 253

Packard Motor Company, 208, 221, 250
strike, 257

Pains and Penalties Act, 65
Palmer, A. Mitchell, 222, 224
Palmer, thomas W., 119, 124, 125
Panic of 1837, 64, 83
paper currency, 121
Paradise Valley, 256, 257
Parks, Rosa, 305
parks and recreation, 185, 212, 245, 299
Parma, 89
passenger pigeons, 154–55
Patrons of husbandry, see Grange
Paw Paw, 290, 291
payless paydays, 272, 277
P.B.B. crisis, 287, 293–94, 296
P.B.B. Reform Bill, 293
P.B.B. Scientific Advisory Panel, 293
Peace democrats, 106, 313
Pearl harbor, 249, 262
penal institutions and prisons, 50,

228, 259
Groesbeck and, 228
increased crime rate and, 323, 327
increased spending for, 300
Kevorkian on, 311
prison construction, 311, 316
privately owned, 323
reforms, 223, 264, 266
study of, 266
youth boot camps, 306

Peninsula, battle of 110
Penn Central Company, 186
Peoria, Lake, 32
Peppard, George, 173
Pere Marquette (ferryboat), 193
Perry, oliver hazard, 61
Perrysburg, 66
Personal Liberty Law, 92, 100
Peters, Gary, 324

Petoskey, 155, 177, 183
Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, 324
Philo Parsons (steamer), 131
Pickard, Judge Frank, 271
Pickett, George, 107
Pierce, John d., 158, 160, 161, 165, 268
Pilgrim Fathers, 2
pine scouts, 177
Pingree, hazen S., 126–28, 234
Pitt, William, 39
Pittsburgh and Boston Company, 76
Plymouth, 60, 90
politics, see specific party or politician
pollution, 320
polybrominated biphenal, see P.B.B.
polygamy, 93
Pontchartrain, Count, 36
Pontiac and detroit Railroad Company,

Pontiac (indian chief ), 45–48, 171
Pontiac’s uprising, 44–48
Pontiac (town), 146, 165, 283, 341

Know-nothing Party, 98
Protest at Kansas-nebraska Bill, 99

Pop, iggy, 173
popular sovereignty, 99

in 1830s, 65, 70–71, 83
in 1860–1890, 102, 106, 130
in 1920s, 224
in 1960s, 274
in 2000s, 318, 336, 337
agricultural, 142, 210
of blacks, 89, 92, 117, 254, 281
of Canadians and Canadiens, 134–35
Cornish, 136
of detroit, 250, 254, 269, 274, 281,

307, 340
of dutch immigrants, 135
and education, 158, 265
exodus of workers, 302
of Flint, 204, 327
of German immigrants, 133

Index 383

growth of, 70–72
immigrant component, 117, 130, 224,

226, 269
of indians, 2, 9, 12, 14
of irish immigrants, 137
of Michigan territory, 57, 58, 73
of new France, 23, 24, 29, 36, 38
and railways, 193
and tourism, 267
urban, 210, 226, 268, 274, 300
white, 274

Port, 253
Portage Lake, 76, 77, 120
Portage Lake and Lake Superior Ship

Canal, 77
Porter, Moses, 55
Port huron

casino gambling in, 14
electric train and trolley cars in,

origins, 33
railroads to, 73
railroad tunnel, 192
sawmills in, 183
State Relief Committee, 184
tourism in, 173, 192, 320
Underground Railroad in, 90

Port Lawrence, 186
Port Royal, 20
Post, C. W., 151, 152
Posthumus, Richard, 323
Postum, 151, 152
Potawatomi, 3, 6–7, 10

in American Revolution, 54
detroit River council and, 44
and English, 48, 54
iroquois Wars and, 22
land cessions, 59
missionaries among, 27
polygamy, 7
Pontiac’s uprising, 45, 46, 47
region inhabited, 3
relationship with whites, 9–11

social structure, 7
in War of 1812, 59, 60

Potter, Charles E., 271, 297
Potter, nathaniel, 50

agriculture, 145
antipoverty campaign, 282
crime rate and
in detroit, 307
and health, 11
of indians, 11–12
levels in, 11, 322
stigma of, 231–32

Pratt, Anthony, 212
primary interest fund, 159
prisoner-of-war camps, 252, 253
Pritchard, Benjamin d., 111
Pro-Choice, 316
Proclamation of 1763, 48–49
Proctor, henry, 60, 61–62
progressivism, 120, 210–13, 216

legislation, 281
in Michigan, 211–13, 292
nature of, 210
origins, 210–11
of osborne, 213
Pingrew, 136
temperance, 217
theodore Roosevelt and, 214, 215
women’s suffrage and, 117

prohibition, 49, 86, 87, 212
in detroit, 225
progressivism and, 217
repeal, 225
Republican Party and, 121
temperance movement and, 86, 217–18
women’s movement and, 87, 100, 118,

166, 218
prohibition movement, 19th century,

85–87 100, 123
Prohibition Party, 87
Prophet, the (delaware indian), 44–45
prostitution, 44, 202, 225


Protestantism, 100, 239
protective tariffs, 301
Public improvement Act (1837), 73
public services
Public Works Administration, 246
Pure Michigan campaign, 332
Puritans, 2
Purple Gang, 225, 226, 259, 260
Purple Rose theater, 173

Quakers, 88
Quebec, 17, 21, 22, 24, 31, 32, 34, 39, 135
Quebec Act (1774), 49, 51–55
Quebec City, 17
Quincy Mine, 76

race riots, 253–54, 255, 284–85
racial discrimination and stereotyping 14,

106, 276
against indians, 1
detroit, 255, 288
education, 276
suffrage, 117
racial unrest, 253, 254, 282
see also segregation; race riots under

racism, 245, 254, 256, 277, 288
Rackham, horace, 199
Raco, 253
Radical Reconstruction, 116
Radisson, Pierre Esprit, 26, 27
Radner, Gilda, 173
railroads, 185–93

and agriculture, 150
call for regulation of, 121–22
cities and railroads, 189–90
decline of, 193
development of, 73–74, 185–87
electric trains, 191
golden age of, 185, 189–92
Great Railroad Conspiracy, 187–89
interurban lines, 191, 192
“little fellows,” 189

lumbering and, 185
objections to spread, 187
Pingree and
regulation of, 191
status aspects of traveling, 190–91
and time zones, 191
in upper peninsula, 120, 192–93

Raisin River, battle of, 61
Ransom, Epaphroditus, 131, 195
Reagan, Ronald, 300, 301, 313
reapportionment, 116, 262, 279
recall, 303
reciprocity, concept of, 6
Recollects, 21
Reconstruction Finance Corporation, 236
redistricting plan, 96, 318
Red Keggers, The, (thwing), 171
Red Ribbon Societies, 87, 121
Red Scare, viii, 268–69, 270, 272

of 1919–1920, 222–24
see also McCarthyism

Red Squad, 271
Red ties, 108
Reese, della, 173
referendum, 87, 117, 212, 213, 215, 218,

243, 610, 311
reforestation program, 155–56, 177, 245

in 1840s and 1850s, 85
in detroit, 212–13
education, 314, 316, 323
for miners, 217
railroads, 122
social and economic, 115, 120, 316
temperance movement, 100, 217
under Baldwin, 120
under Ellis, 211, 213
under Engler, 168, 306–08
under Groesbeck, 228–29
under Levin, 292
under osborn, 213
under Pingree, 126–28
under Romney, 279, 281

Index 385

under Snyder, 339
under Williams, 264–66
women’s rights, 100
see also abolition; progressivism

Reinvent Michigan, 335
relief programs, 232–34

detroit, 233, 234–36
during Great depression, 232, 246–47
mismanagement, 234
Pingree, 126
tax, 307
see also new deal

religion, 135
and education, 165
French, 17, 19
immigrant, 133, 135, 139, 211
of indians, 4, 5–6, 10
opposition to railroads, 187
religious revivals, 1840s and 1850s, 85
settlers, 72
see also Catholic Church; missionaries;

Renaissance Center, 288, 289
Reo Motor Car Company, 198, 204
Report on the Condition of Public

Instruction in Germany and
Particularly Prussia, 156

“Republican Era,” 115
Republican Party

anti-Sigler forces, 264
anti-slavery attitudes, 99
blacks and, 117
business regulation, 121–22
after the Civil War, 115–16
convention of 1980, 288
defection of Union democrats to, 105
establishment of, 99
German-Americans’ attitude, 121
and the Grange 120–21
legislature of 1855, 99–100, 166
Liberal Republican movement, 119–20
Michigan, 116
national convention in detroit, 301

1980 Republican national Convention,
288, 301

and Pingree, 126
prohibition, 121
radicals in, 99, 116
rift in 1912 campaign, 214–15
Senatorial campaign of 1918, 221
support of 1961 constitutional

proposal, 278
women, 100
see also elections

Republican redistribution plan, 318
Reserve officer training Corps

(RotC), 276
retraining programs, 303, 307
Reuther, Walter, 243, 245, 264, 270, 271,

282, 295
detroit riots and, 283
Red Scare and, 269, 270
relationship with Williams, 270
Rouge riots and, 243

Richard, Gabriel, 164, 169
Richardson, israel P., 107
Richardson, Major John, 171
Richter, Andy, 173
Right to Life of Michigan, 306, 310, 316
Right-to-Work, 338–39
River Men (White), 171
River ouragon, 50
River Raisin massacre, 61
River Walk, 328
roads and highways

and automobile industry, 199, 200, 201
construction, 74, 182, 184, 185
expressway construction, 267, 268, 299
Groesbeck’s improvements, 228–29
investment in 72, 73, 220, 228–29, 245
need for mass transit, 268
territorial and Chicago Military

Roads, 71
and WWi, 220
see also railroads

Roberts, Benjamin, 50


Roberval, Jean François de la Rocque,
Sieur de, 17, 19

Robinson, Smokey, 173
Rock, Kid, 173
Rockefeller, John d., 210
Roethke, theodore, 173
Rogers, Mike, 318
Rogers, Robert, 40, 49–50, 74
Rogers, Will, 202
Romeo, 165
Romney, George W., 278, 292, 301,

303, 338
automobile industry crisis and, 279
declaration of state of emergency, 283
elected, 279–80
as governor, 280–81
and Lyndon Johnson, 284
presidential campaign, 280–81, 284
response to riots in detroit, 283–85
role in constitutional reform, 277,

278, 279
stabilization of America Motors, 279
and Vietnam, 281

Romney, Mitt, 338
Romney, Ronna, 313
Romulus, 253
Roosevelt, Franklin d., 240

Bank holiday declaration, 237
civil rights and, 255
Coughlin and, 237, 238
strike at Ford plant and, 243
support for in Michigan, 240, 244
tour of detroit during World War ii,

Vandenberg’s view of, 263

Roosevelt, theodore, 214–15, 221
Roscommon County, 274
Rosie the Riveters, 252
Ross, doug, 314
Rouge Assembly Plant riots, 234–36
Rural Electrification Act, 153
rural electrification projects, 252
Russia, 221, 222, 269, 271

Rust, Ezra, 180
Rust Purchase, 180

Saarinen, Eero, 170
Saarinen, Eliel, 170
safety legislation, 76, 186
Sage, henry W., 178–79
Saginaw, 64

Black Legion in, 238
education in, 163, 266, 276
Ku Klux Klan in, 226
land frauds, 180
riots in, 283
sawmills in, 183

Saginaw County, 134, 173
Saginaw River, 73
Saginaw Valley, 152, 177
Saint-Lusson, Simon François, daumon

de, 25–26
saloons, popularity of, 217
Salvation Army, 307
Sandwich, ontario, 60
Sanilac County, 184
Sarnia, ontario, 192
Sault, 27, 37, 81
Sault Evening News, 213
Sault Ste. Marie, 13 27, 63

canal built, 77, 120
casino gambling in, 13
defeat of iroquois at, 22
forts, 32
French, 21, 38
fur trade in, 64
as headquarters for missions, 21, 25, 27
and indians, 13
locks, 120, 321
north Western Scientific Expedition

in, 63
railroads, 120
reaction to indian fishing rights in, 13
sawmills in, 182

Sault Ste. Marie Canal, 77, 79–81, 120
Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa, 14

Index 387

Saux, 22
sawmills, 182–83
Sawyer, 253
Scandinavian immigrants, 138–40
Schenectady massacre, 33
Scholle, August, 264, 279
Schoolcraft, 86, 89, 159
Schoolcraft, henry Rowe, 9, 63, 75
schoolhouses, 157–58, 161–64
school tax, 160
schools, church supported, 166
Schuette, Bill, 313, 336
Schurz, Carl, 120
Seagal, Stephen, 173
2nd Michigan infantry, 110
2nd Regiment United States Colored

troops, 106
2nd “Red Arrow” division, 220–21
Securities and Exchange Commission, 238
Seelye, Sara Emma Edmonds

(thompson), 110
Seger, Bob, 173
segregation, 82, 256–57, 276–77

see also racism
seigneurial system
Selfridge Air Force Base, 284
Selfridge Field, 220
Selleck, tom, 173
Seminary Ridge, 107
Senate, 115, 124
Seneca, 29, 45
7th Michigan infantry, 107
Seventh day Adventist Church, 151
Seven Years’ War, 37, 38, 47, 74
Seward, William h., 102, 188
Shannon, Fred, 309
shanty boys, 181–82
Shelburne, Earl of, 48–49
Sherman Anti-trust Act, 115
Sherman, William tecumseh, 100,

106, 107
shipbuilding, 24, 134, 185
shipping, 320–21

shipwrecks, 172–73
shopping malls, 268, 289
Sigler, “Cowboy Kim,” 259, 263–64
silent witness program, 288
Simcoe, John Graves, 54
Sinbad, 173
Sinclair, Patrick, 52, 54
sit-down strikes, 240–43, 244, 319
6th Michigan Cavalry, 107
Sixteenth Amendment (U.S.

Constitution), 213
Sizemore, tom, 173
Skerritt, tom, 173
skidders, 182

extent, 87
ordinance of 1787, 58, 87
see also abolition; abolitionists;

Underground Railroad
Sleeper, Albert, 216, 219, 221, 228
Sloan, Alfred M., 206–07
Small Town D.A., Troubled Shooter

(Voelker), 178
Smith, david W., 55
Smith, Gerald L. K., 256
Smith, Larry, 172
Smith, Roger, 304
Smith, Samuel L., 196
Smith, William Alden, 155
Snyder, Rick, 335–39

and detroit, 341–42
Reinvent Michigan campaign, 335
and right-to-work legislation, 338
visit to China, 339

social enrichment, 169–74
Social Justice (Coughlin), 238
Socialist Workers Party, 271
soil, 31, 72, 132, 139, 143, 145, 148–49

pollution of, 153, 294
see also agriculture; Free Soil Party

South Carolina, 103, 106
Southern secession, 103
Sovereign Council, 22, 32–33


Soviet Union, 269, 296
Spade, david, 173
Specie Circular (Jackson), 74
sports, 300, 329

detroit, 247
sport fishermen, 13, 154

Spotsylvania, battle of, 107
St. Clair County, 73
St. Clair fort, 36, 289
St. Clair River, 25, 225, 289
St. Clair, Lake, 25
Stabenow, debbie, 307, 318, 326, 338
Stadacona (Quebec), 17, 19, 20
Staebler, neil, 264, 277, 280
Standard oil, 210
Stanley, J. M., 170
Stanley, Woodrow, 316
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, 118
State Administrative Board, 228
State Board of Education, 82, 313
State Board of health, 220
State Corrections department, 266
State Liquor Commission, 225
State office of Services to the Aging, 305
State of Michigan—1845—To Emigrants

(Almy), 131
“State of Working America” report, 322
State Relief Committee, 184
State Unemployment Commission, 233
steamboats, 70
steam-engine system, 191
Steffens, Lincoln, 211
Sterling, James, 46
St. ignace, 31, 32, 267

closure, 36, 37
mission at, 28

St. James, 96
St. Joseph, 19, 32, 64, 73, 269
St. Joseph Valley, 27
St. Julian’s vineyards, 290
St. Lawrence region, 20, 29
St. Lawrence River, 16, 17, 21–22, 23, 34, 37
St. Lawrence Seaway, 81, 272, 320

St. Mary’s Falls Ship Company, 81
Stockbridge, Francis B., 124, 126
Stout, Byron G., 105
Straits of Mackinac, 21, 193, 264
Strang, James Jesse, 93–96

as King of the Beaver islands, 94–95
Strategic defense initiative, 313
StRESS (Stop the Robbers, Enjoy

Safe Streets), 288

in Calumet mines, 216–17
communist influence in, 241, 269
following World War ii, 261
General Motors, 242, 243
in iron mines, 220
interwar, 222, 242–43
over racial issues, 257
Pingree’s answer to, 126
Red Scare and
sit-down strikes, 240–43, 244, 319
during World War ii, 250–51, 257

Stuart, Robert, 75
Studebaker-Packard Company, 208
Student nonviolent Coordinating

Committee, 277
Students for a democratic Society

(SdS), 277
suburbs and suburbanization, 190, 268,

274, 280, 285, 299

for blacks, 82, 89, 116–17
for women, vii, 100, 117–19, 218, 221

Sulpitian order, 28
Sumner, Charles, 120
Sunday, Billy, 85, 217, 218
Suomi College, 139, 140
Superintendent of Public

instruction, 67
Supreme Court, and strikes, 243
Swainson, John B., 282, 283

constitutional reform, 279
elected governor, 277
Romney’s campaign, 280

Index 389

Swedes in Michigan, 139
Sweet, ossian, 254
Synagro case, 341

taft, William howard, 213, 214–15
talon, Jean, 23–25

encouragement of immigration into
Canada, 23–27

revision of seigneurial system, 23
and the West, 25–26, 28

tappan, henry, 165–66
opposition to, 166

tarbell, ida, 211
taxes, 300, 302, 323, 337

agriculture, 152, 231
automobile industry crisis and, 301
business income taxes, 126
on cigarettes, 307
corporate franchise tax, 228
corporate income tax, 264, 272, 335
detroit, 233
for education, 157, 160, 161, 168, 227
Engler’s reforms, 306
income tax, 278, 326
inheritance taxes, 159, 307
1970s, 287
1980s, 301–02
property taxes, 227, 272, 292,

307, 323
sales tax, 237, 307, 323, 333
Single Business tax, 319
Snyder, 337

taylor, President Zachary, 76
teachers, 161–64

competence and lack thereof, 163–64
teacher training colleges, 167

teamsters union, 294, 295
tecumseh (city), 90, 185–86
tecumseh (indian chief ), 60, 61–2
temperance movement, 85, 86, 140,

political support, 121
legislation, 100

territorial and Chicago Military Roads, 71
territory of the north West of the ohio,

texas, 316, 325
thames River, 61
theater, 140, 169, 246, 299
thirteenth Amendment (U.S.

Constitution), 116
thomas, danny, 173
thomas Edison depot Museum, 192
thompson, Frank (Seelye), 109, 110
thompson, Mayor William B., 124, 212
thomson, Edward h., 131
“three Fires” confederation, 2–7
thumb district, 143, 184
thumb Valley, 152, 184
thwing, Eugene, 171
Timber (titus), 171
timber cruisers, 177
timber industry, see lumbering
time zones and railroads, 191
tippecanoe, 60
tisch, Robert, 303
Titanic, 173
titus, harold, 186, 220
tobacco, 5, 7, 63, 95, 181, 202
toledo, 65–68
toledo Strip, 65, 67–68
tomlin, Lily, 173
tonty, Alphonse, 36
tonty, henri de, 31
torch Lake, 77

automobiles’ impact on, 208
development of, 185
and the economy, 264, 290, 320
effect of the Arab oil embargo, 290
Engler and, 169
environmental protection and, 320–22
expansion, 267
Williams’ efforts to increase, 267

townshend, Charles, 74
toy, harry S., 259, 270, 271


toyota Motor Corporation, 207

American, 63, 65
English, 38, 42, 48, 74–75, 134
foreign trade, 339
free trade, 49
of indians, 4, 6
between indians and Europeans, 7–8,

9, 29, 31, 35, 43, 44, 45
legislation, 150
of new France, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 32,

34, 36, 38, 39
see also fur trade

transportation, 302
development of, 70, 72, 73, 83, 220
on Great Lakes, 70, 79, 81, 320
industry, 186
interurban trains and trolleys, 191–92
and lumbering, 179, 182
and mining, 79
see also canals; railroads; roads and

traver, Robert, 172
traverse Bay, 136
traverse City, 173, 266

sawmills in, 183
wineries in, 291

traverse City Film Festival, 173
treaty of Ghent, 65
treaty of LaPointe, 75
treaty of Paris, 54, 55
treaty of Ryswick, 34
treaty of Vervins, 19
trolley cars, 191
truant officers, 164
truman, harry S., 269
truman doctrine, 263
truth, Sojourner, 89, 257, 305
truth-in-Lending Act (1966), 297
truth-in-Packaging Act (1965), 297
tuition statements, 160
tuscola County, 184
tute, James, 50

twenty-first Amendment (U.S.
Constitution), 225

24th Michigan infantry, 107

Underground Railroad, 89–91, 92–93, 257

in 1960s, 275, 282
in 1970s, 290, 292
in 1980s, 301, 302, 303
in 1990s, 306, 314
in 2000s 323, 324–25, 332, 334, 337, 340
Brucker and, 233
crime rate and, 287–88, 323
in detroit, 290
during Great depression, 232, 234
during recession of 1958
of indians, 11, 12
minorities, 282, 316
Murphy and, 234
Romney and, 281
stigma of, 231–32
under Engler
under Ford, 296
Williams and, 264

unemployment compensation, 233, 290
Union democratic Party, 105
United Automobile Workers (UAW), 241,

264, 270, 338
during WWii, 251
election of Swainson, 277
and Ford, 243
General Motors, 242–43
and Great Recession, 332
and right-to-work, 338
suspected Communist leanings, 269

United Brotherhood of America, 238–40
United Community League for Civil

Action, 282
United nations Charter, 263
Union Pacific Railroad Company, 325
United Public Workers, 271
United States Agricultural Research

Center, 293

Index 391

United States Army, 104, 249, 251
United States national defense

Council, 249
University of detroit, 134
University of Michigan, 75, 213

accused of radicalism, 105
Board of Regents, 165, 213
campus developments, 170, 228
enrollment boom, 265, 274
environmental program, 156
establishment of, 165
financing for, 160
Flint campus, 265, 289
growth of, 168
19th-century development, 165–66
predictions of financial crisis, 290
progressive improvements, 228
sports at, 329
women in, 167

University of Michigania, 164–65
Upjohn Pharmaceuticals, 324
Upper Canada, 54

blight, 287–89
geologic survey of, 120
legislation in, 55
Michigan and, 55
slavery, 87
tourism in, 210–11
see also indians; new France;

individual topics
urban blight, 287–89
urbanization, 192, 210

Van Antwerp, Eugene, 270
Van Buren County, 87
Vance, Courtney B., 173
Vance, Cyrus, 284
Vandenberg, Arthur h., 224–25,

229, 271
speech on end of Fortress America, 263
views, 262–63

Van Raalte, Reverend Albertus, 135
VanWagoner, Murray d., 131, 243, 262

Veenfliet, George, 131
Vermontville, 72
Vernetti, Charles, 216
Verrazano, Giovanni de, 16, 17
Vespucci, Amerigo, 1
Veterans Association of the Grand Army

of the Republic, 110, 125
Victoria (queen of United Kingdom), 197
Vietnam War, 276, 277, 287
Vieux de Sert indians, 76
vigilante activity, 216, 243

see also Black Legion; Ku Klux Klan
Vincennes, 51, 52–53, 54
Virginia, 103
Virtual information technology College,

proposed, 169
Voelker, John, 172
voting rights, see suffrage
Voting Rights Act (1965 and 1970), 297
voyagers 16, 28, 33

Wabash Railroad Company, 212
Wacousta (Richardson), 171
Wagner, Robert, 173
Wakefield, 136
Waldron, henry, 123
Walk-in-the-Water (steamer), 70
war contracts, 250
Ward, david, 177
War democrats, 105, 106
War department, 76
war gardens, 220
War Manpower Commission, 252
Warner, Governor Fred, 213
War of 1812, 59–62
war on narcotics, 288
War Preparedness Board, 219
war preparedness fund, 219, 220
War Production Commission, 252
Warren, 250, 340
Warren, Joseph, 99
Washington, 67, 78, 104, 107, 111, 113,

126, 170, 249, 262, 284, 291, 297, 303


Washington, George, 52, 53, 65
as lieutenant, 39

Washington Peace Conference, 103
Washington Society, 86
Washtenaw County, 71, 119, 132, 268, 278

and immigration, 132
Watergate, 287, 292, 296
Waterloo, 253
“Water Winter Wonderland,” 322
Wayne College, 266
Wayne County, 71

Canadians in, 124
in Civil War, 107
culture of corruption, 340
debt reduction, 304
immigration to, 124, 131
landfill in, 322
loss of residents, 268
1912 Republican convention, 214
1918 election, 222
voter turn out on constitutional

convention, 278
Wayne State University, 262, 266, 276, 342
Welcoming Michigan initiative, 140
welfare program, 12, 228, 234, 300, 301, 311

automobile industry crisis and, 242, 290
Coughlin and, 238
cuts in, 302, 326
Engler’s reforms, 306–07, 314
Milliken, 298

Western Federation of Miners, 216
Western Michigan College, 266
Western Michigan University, 167, 266
Westinghouse air brake, 187
Westphalia, 133
Whig Party, 89, 97–100

Kansas-nebraska Bill, 99
White, Stewart Edward, 171
white flight, 268, 274–75
White Pigeon, 165
Whiting, James h., 203, 204
Wilcox, orlando B., 107
wildcat banks, 74

Wilderness, battle of, 107
wildlife, 153–56
Wilhelm, Kaiser, 219
Wilkens, district Judge, 92
Williams, George F., 180
Williams, Governor G. Mennen, 266–67,

270–71, 277, 280, 297
budget policies, 272
Kelly on, 270
policies, 264–65

Willow Run, 250
Wilson, Alfred G., 266
Wilson, President Woodrow, 214, 216, 221
Windsor, ontario, 192
Windsor tunnel, and Bridge 192, 225,

249, 339
wine industry and wineries, 290–92
Wisconsin, 136
Wisconsin idea, 211
Wisner, Moses, 99, 103, 131
Witherell, John, 58
Wolf (harrison), 172
Wolfe, James, 39, 51
Wolpe, howard, 311
“Wolverines,” 66, 108, 329
Wolverine tube, 250

affirmative action and, 277
and automobiles, 196–97, 208
and Blanchard, 305–06
Civil War, 113, 146
crime, 225
culture, 169
education of, 165, 167
new France, 36, 38
health care for, 148
in industry, 252–53, 306
legislation, 100
opposition to headlee, 303
opposition to tappan, 166
in politics, 277, 316
rise of Republican Party and, 100
role in World War ii, 252

Index 393

role of in indian groups, 12, 45, 47
rural, 146, 148, 149
suffrage, 83, 117–19, 218, 221
as teachers, 163
temperance, 87
women’s rights, 166, 316
World War ii, 247, 250
see also organizations; abortion

Women’s Christian temperance
Union, 87

Women’s hall of Fame, 305
Women’s historical Center and

hall of Fame, 305
Wonder, Stevie, 173
Woodford, Frank, 240
Woodward, Judge Augustus E. B., 58,

87, 164
Woolson, Constance Fenimore, 171
Work First Program, 314
Workingmen’s Sick Benefit and

Educational Society, 223
working poor class, 322

workmen’s compensation law, 213
Works Progress Administration (WPA),

World War i, 219–22
World War ii, viii, 254, 256, 262

labor shortages, 252, 253
transport, 193
U.S. entry into, 247
women in, 247, 250, 252–53

“Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,
the” (Lightfoot), 308

writers, 211
see also under individual names

Wyandot, 4, 44, 54, 59

Yaple, George L., 125
Young, Brigham, 93, 95–96
Young, Coleman, 288–89, 292
Ypsilanti, 90, 167, 336

Zeeland, 136
Zerilli, tony, 296

  • Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State
  • Copyright
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • 1 The Original Michiganians
    • The Three Fires
    • Effects of White Contact
    • Effects of Assimilation
    • Indians in Modern Michigan
    • For Further Reading
  • 2 The New Acadia
    • Samuel de Champlain
    • Missionaries and their Activities
    • The Crown Takes Control
    • Jean Talon—“The Great Intendant”
    • Talon and the West
    • The Revival of Missionary Activity
    • Père Marquette
    • La Salle and Frontenac
    • Cadillac and Frontenac
    • End of the French Empire
    • For Further Reading
  • 3 Under the Union Jack
    • Pontiac’s Uprising
    • Proclamation of 1763
    • Michilimackinac and Major Robert Rogers
    • The Quebec Act and the American Revolution
    • For Further Reading
  • 4 Wilderness Politics and Economics
    • The War of 1812
    • The Continuing British Threat
    • The American Fur Company
    • Toledo and Statehood
    • For Further Reading
  • 5 Challenges of Statehood
    • Internal Improvements
    • The Copper Kingdom
    • The Ontonagon Boulder
    • Iron Mining
    • Transportation
    • The Sault Ste. Marie Canal
    • A New Capital
    • The Constitution of 1850
    • A New Look
    • For Further Reading
  • 6 Decade of Turmoil
    • Evils of “Old John Barleycorn”
    • Bastion of Free Men
    • King of the Beaver Islands
    • Under the Oaks
    • For Further Reading
  • 7 Defense of the Nation
    • War Politics
    • The Struggle for Freedom
    • Life and Labor During the War
    • For Further Reading
  • 8 Radicals and Reformers
    • Black Suffrage Agitation
    • The Quest for Women’s Suffrage
    • Senatorial Contests of 1869 and 1871
    • The Liberal Republican Movement
    • The Campaign of 1874
    • Zachariah Chandler: Down but Not Out
    • From Chandler to Pingree
    • The Pingree Era
    • For Further Reading
  • 9 Early Ethnic Contributions
    • Michigan and Immigration Encouragement
    • Germans
    • Canadiens and Canadians
    • Dutch
    • Cornish and Irish
    • Scandinavians
    • The New Immigration
    • For Further Reading
  • 10 Grain, Grangers, and Conservation
    • Climate and Soil
    • Effects of the Civil War
    • The Patrons of Husbandry
    • Kellogg and Post
    • Agriculture in the Late Twentieth and Early Twenty-first Centuries
    • Waste of Wildlife
    • For Further Reading
  • 11 Development of Intellectual Maturity
    • School Laws and Financing
    • Teachers, Students, and the “Little Red Schoolhouse”
    • Higher Education
    • Women’s Education
    • Special Education
    • Recent Educational Advances
    • Social and Cultural Enrichment
    • For Further Reading
  • 12 Wood and Rails
    • Finding the Timber
    • Cutting and Milling
    • Fire
    • Nature or Money
    • Timber in Modern Michigan
    • Riding the Rails
    • The Great Railroad Conspiracy
    • The Golden Age of Railroads
    • Upper Peninsula Railroads
    • Decline of the Railroads
    • For Further Reading
  • 13 The World of Wheels
    • Olds’ “Mobile”
    • Henry and His “Lizzie”
    • Ford and Society
    • Growth of an Industrial Giant
    • Chrysler and American Motors
    • The Automobile Industry’s Effect on Society
    • For Further Reading
  • 14 From Bull Moose to Bull Market
    • Early Michigan Progressives
    • Chase S. Osborn—“Mr. Progressive”
    • The Campaign of 1912
    • Crisis in Calumet
    • The End of “Demon Rum”
    • Women’s Suffrage
    • World War I
    • The Newberry‒Ford Senatorial Struggle
    • The Red Scare of 1919–1920
    • Hooch, Hoodlums, and Hoods
    • The Bath School Massacre
    • The Politics of Normalcy
    • For Further Reading
  • 15 Depression Life in an Industrial State
    • The Stigma of Poverty
    • The New Boy Governor
    • The Plight of Detroit
    • Riot at the Rouge
    • Closing the Banks
    • The Voice from the Pulpit
    • Black Legion
    • Sit-Down Strikes
    • Growth from Troubled Times
    • For Further Reading
  • 16 Inequality in the Arsenal of Democracy
    • Michigan in the War
    • The War Within Michigan
    • Corruption and Murder
    • For Further Reading
  • 17 Fears and Frustration in the Cold War Era
    • The Father of Bipartisan Foreign Policy
    • The Green and White Polka Dot Bow Tie
    • Red Baiting
    • The End of an Era
    • For Further Reading
  • 18 The Turbulent 1960s
    • Economic Growth and Stagnation
    • Educational Advances
    • Another New Constitution
    • A Citizen for Michigan
    • Playing Politics While a City Burned
    • For Further Reading
  • 19 Challenges of the 1970s
    • Crime and Urban Blight
    • Automobile Economics
    • The “Ghetto Governor”
    • Cattlegate
    • The Disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa
    • A Ford in the White House
    • The Conscience of the Senate
    • For Further Reading
  • 20 Toward the Twenty-First Century
    • The Republican Convention of 1980
    • The Eighties’ Disastrous First Year
    • The Newest “Boy Governor”
    • The Women’s Hall of Fame
    • The Election of 1990
    • Years of Reform
    • Solving the Mystery of the “ Fitz ”
    • “Dr. Death”
    • The Election of 1994
    • The New “Conscience of the Senate”
    • A Third Term for Engler
    • Looking Ahead
    • For Further Reading
  • 21 Entering the New Millennium
    • The Election of 2000
    • Economic Prospects
    • Environmental Protection
    • Social Issues
    • Politics in the Early Twenty-first Century
    • Economic Woes
    • Election of 2006
    • Other Socioeconomic Difficulties in the New Millennium
    • Revival of the Motor City
    • Return to the “City of Champions”
    • Prospects for the Future
    • The Lost Decade
    • For Further Reading
  • 22 Reinventing Michigan
    • Emergence of the “Tough Nerd”
    • Relentless Positive Action
    • Election of 2012
    • Right-to-Work
    • Relentless Positive Action Continued
    • The Nation’s “Most Miserable City”
    • Promise for the Future
    • For Further Reading
  • Appendix A Governors of the Territory and State of Michigan
  • Appendix B Counties, Dates of Organization, and Origins of County Names
  • Appendix C Michigan’s State Song “Michigan, My Michigan”—Douglas M. Malloch
  • Appendix D Michigan’s State Symbols
  • Index

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