Michigan History

Early Michigan history is defined by the Indian tribes who inhabited the region for thousands of years. Modern Michigan history would begin with the French, who were the first Europeans to move into the territory. étienne Brulé was the first Frenchman to enter what is now known as Michigan around the year 1618. Other French explorers would eventually follow Brulé, including Jacques Marquette, Louis Joliet and Sieur de la Salle. The first permanent settlement they would establish would be Sault Ste. Marie, in 1668. However, Great Britain would take over control of the Michigan area in 1763, following the French and Indian Wars. The United States would begin attempts to oust the British after the Revolutionary War, with ongoing turmoil in the region continuing between the British and the U.S. forces and their respective Indian allies, through the War of 1812.

During the ongoing British and U.S. disputes, the U.S. had originally established The Michigan Territory in 1805, and Detroit was designated as the seat of government for the new territory. William Hull was appointed governor of Detroit, which would soon be destroyed by fire. Michigan history would continue to be defined much by British and native-led control, and in 1812 Detroit and Fort Mackinac were surrendered to the British. Around 1813, Michigan state history would begin to change as American forces would re-enter Detroit and appoint Lewis Cass military and civil governor of The Michigan Territory. In 1819, The Treaty of Saginaw gave Michigan settlers almost 6 million acres of Indian lands, forever changing Michigan state history in terms of dominance over the region, and Michigan sent its first delegate to Congress. Michigan would be denied its entry into the Union for a brief time, due to The Toledo War, which began in 1835. This war was the result of Michigan not surrendering a claim over the region of Toledo, Ohio. However, Michigan would soon agree to an exchange of the Toledo strip for the western section of the Upper Peninsula. Michigan state history would see the territory's admittance into the Union in 1837, as the 26th state, and in 1847 Lansing would be designated as the state capital due to the need to oversee development of the western regions of the state and for easy defense from British soldiers stationed in Windsor, Ontario. The Michigan state capitol building in Lansing is a popular attraction for visitors and an important piece of history in Michigan.

As far as industry was concerned in Michigan in the 1800's, copper was king and the shipping industry was alive. In 1842, the Chippewa Indians had ceded all claims to 30,000 square miles of the Upper Peninsula to the United States Government. The Copper Rush began in 1843 when thousands came to the copper rich Copper Harbor. In 1855, the Soo Locks were opened, increasing immigration, commerce and cheaper copper shipping connections to industrial markets farther east. The Soo Locks at Sault Ste Marie, Michigan remain the busiest in the world today. By 1900, the mining shafts had reached maturity and were no longer profitable. As for the shipping industry, the Michigan lakes were always a popular shipping route in the 1800's and the lighthouse found on S. Manitou Island off the shores of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore was a welcome beacon to ships looking for ice and wood for their burners. The Maritime Museum found there, and the Maritime Museum in South Haven depict the shipping history in Michigan and these coastal points' importance as a haven for ships looking for refuge from Lake Michigan storms. Around Lake Michigan beachtowns, the lumber industry was an important part of western Michigan's economy and at South Haven you'll find exhibits based around the old shipping routes and trades. While shipping remains strong on the Great Lakes, there was a new industry about to define history in Michigan.

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