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Learn: Statehood’s Nerd Room

Find out more about Michigan’s unusual path to Statehood.



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Surveying

  • The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 established, among other things, the way in which land in the Northwest Territory moves from being a territory to a state.
  • Michigan became a territory in 1805, and in 1807 Congress called for a survey of the original French and British land grants.
  • The first surveyor in Michigan was a man named Aaron Greely in (1808-1812). His surveys of the River Raisin area in Monroe were later rejected when it was determined he took bribes to make measurements larger than they should have been.
  • In 1815, a second set of surveyors attempted to survey the southeastern part of the Lower Peninsula, but quit after a few months declaring the land a “wretched, swampy place that was barely worth surveying, much less cultivating.”
  • In 1840, it was discovered that some survey crews in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula were completely making up internal land features and survey notes. Eventually, nearly 300 townships required corrections.

Settlement

  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Michigan in 1820 was 31,639. Michigan needed 60,000 people in order to become a state. Once the Erie Canal opened, the population increased to 212,267 by 1830.
  • Land in Wayne County was very inexpensive, selling for $1.25/acre.

Constitution

  • Michigan’s first Constitution was written in 1835, nearly two years before it officially became a state.
  • The Toledo War, a disagreement over whether the city of Toledo, was actually in Michigan or Ohio, delayed Michigan becoming a state by nearly two years.
  • The Federal government wouldn’t accept Michigan’s bid to become a state until the disagreement with Ohio about Toledo was settled.
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3rd Grade Reading Level and Up

Michigan History Magazine. The Mitten. Three Fires, September 2001. PDF

Michigan History Magazine. The Mitten. French Explorers, October 2003. PDF

Michigan History Magazine. The Mitten. The Northwest Ordinance, November 2003. PDF

Michigan History Magazine. The Mitten. Pioneer Life. PDF

Michigan History Magazine. The Mitten. The Toledo War. PDF


4th Grade Reading Level and Up

Michigan History Magazine. Michigan History for Kids. Getting to Michigan. PDF

Michigan History Magazine. Michigan History for Kids. 1830s: The Michigan Decade. PDF

Michigan History Magazine. Michigan History for Kids. Toledo, Michigan?. PDF


High School Reading Level and Up

Dunbar, Willis F. and May George S. Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State, 3rd ed., W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1995. Catalog Record.

Faber, Don. The Toledo War: The First Michigan-Ohio Rivalry, University of Michigan Press, 2008. Catalog Record.

Ravitch, Frank. “The Four Michigan Constitutions.” The History of Michigan Law, edited by Paul Finkelman and Martin J. Hershock Ohio University Press, 2006. Catalog Record.

Baker, Patricia. Stevens Thomas Mason. Michigan History Center. PDF

Swan, Lansing B. Excerpts from a Journal of a Trip to Michigan in 1841. George P. Humphrey, Rochester, NY. 1904. PDF

Mason, Philip P. The Plank Road Craze: A Chapter in the History of Michigan’s Highways. Wayne State University. PDF