Friday, 10 January 2014


Michigan, state in the East North Central United States. It is unique among the states because it consists of two peninsulas completely separated by water and bordering on four of the five Great Lakes. Between Lakes Michigan and Huron lie the Straits of Mackinac, which separate Michigan’s two peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula is bounded on the east by Lakes Huron, Saint Clair, and Erie and by the Detroit and Saint Clair rivers, all of which separate the state from the Canadian province of Ontario. This peninsula is bounded on the south by Ohio and Indiana, on the west by Lake Michigan, and on the north by Lakes Michigan and Huron and by the Straits of Mackinac. The Upper Peninsula is bordered on the east by the Saint Marys River, on the south by the Straits of Mackinac and Lakes Huron and Michigan, on the west by Wisconsin, and on the north by Lake Superior. Lansing is the capital of Michigan. Detroit is the largest city.
When Michigan was admitted to the Union on January 26, 1837, as the 26th state, it was primarily a fur-trading territory. Its rich agricultural resources were not developed until later in the century. Its industrial prominence dates from the beginnings of automobile manufacturing in the early 20th century.
The way of life in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, with its vast industrial development, has come to symbolize the 20th-century United States. The Upper Peninsula is a less populated region of great natural beauty that is known as a recreation and wilderness area. It is also noted for its mineral wealth.
The name of the state is taken from that of Lake Michigan. The source of the lake name is disputed. Traditionally it is said to have been derived from the Algonquian term michigama meaning “big water” or “great lake.” Others say the word comes from the Chippewa term majigan, meaning “clearing,” which was given to an open area on the shores of the lake in the 17th century. Michigan is called the Wolverine State, because of the importance of wolverine pelts to early trading posts in the region.
With extensive portions of the Great Lakes under its jurisdiction, Michigan is the 11th largest of the U.S. states, with an area of 250,493 sq km (96,716 sq mi). The state includes 99,199 sq km (38,301 sq mi) of the Great Lakes waters and 4,172 sq km (1,611 sq mi) of inland waters. The Lower Peninsula encompasses a little more than two-thirds of the state’s land area. The Lower Peninsula is sometimes called the Michigan Mitten, because its shape resembles a mittened hand, with the peninsula extending into Lake Huron known as the Thumb. Maximum distances in the Lower Peninsula are about 460 km (about 285 mi) from north to south and about 315 km (about 195 mi) from east to west; maximum distances in the Upper Peninsula are about 515 km (about 320 mi) from east to west and about 200 km (about 125 mi) from north to south. The shapes and separation of the two peninsulas make distances great in Michigan. The distance from Detroit to the westernmost portion of the Upper Peninsula is the same as the distance from Detroit to New York City. Until 1957, when a bridge 8 km (5 mi) long was opened over the Straits of Mackinac, the two peninsulas were connected only by ferry service.
A Natural Regions
Michigan contains portions of two major physiographic provinces, or natural regions of the United States. They are the Central Lowland, a subdivision of the Interior Plains, and the Superior Upland, a subdivision of the Laurentian Upland. All of the Lower Peninsula and the eastern part of the Upper Peninsula belong to the Great Lakes section of the Central Lowland. Structurally most of this part of Michigan is a basin, which is sometimes referred to as the Michigan Basin. Flat plains, which mark the bottom of an Ice Age lake, surround the basin bordering the Great Lakes, especially in the east. The western margin of the Lower Peninsula is marked by an extensive area of sand dunes, which have been piled up by the prevailing westerly winds off Lake Michigan. The Lower Peninsula’s highest points are found in its northern section, where a tableland, capped by hills of glacial origin, ranges in elevation from 370 to 520 m (1,200 to 1,700 ft). Most of the rest of southern Michigan is level or gently rolling. The mean elevation above sea level of Michigan is about 270 m (900 ft).
The eastern half of the Upper Peninsula is also fairly level, but there are vast areas of swampland formed when glacial action hindered drainage of the area. Along its northern border, on the shore of Lake Superior, are sandstone tablelands, from which have been carved the Pictured Rocks, one of Michigan’s most interesting natural features. Moisture has released the chemicals embedded in this sandstone formation to color the rocks in hues of yellow, brown, green, and blue. Glacial, wind, and water action has eroded them into fantastic shapes.
Another pronounced feature of the Upper Peninsula is the Niagara Escarpment. Running along the southern edge of the peninsula’s eastern wing is a belt of limestone hills, which stand out because the weaker rocks of the surrounding area have been worn away through erosion. The Niagara Escarpment extends westward from New York, forming a continuous horseshoelike landform around Lakes Huron and Michigan. The many peninsulas and islands that lie between the basins of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay are exposed sections of the Niagara Escarpment, which generally rises to heights of 240 to 300 m (800 to 1,000 ft) in Michigan.
The Superior Upland, in the western portion of the Upper Peninsula, is a region of ancient and resistant Precambrian time rock. Repeated glacial invasions have removed much of the sedimentary deposits of sandstone and limestone, leaving granite, gneiss, and other igneous and metamorphic rock exposed. Streams are generally short with many rapids and falls, especially those that flow into Lake Superior. Lakes and swamps are abundant. Michigan’s most important copper ore-bearing region, the Keweenaw Peninsula, juts north into Lake Superior in the western part of the Upper Peninsula. The backbone of the Keweenaw Peninsula is formed by an extension of the Copper Range of Michigan and Wisconsin. The Huron Mountains and the Porcupine Mountains, containing the state’s highest elevation of 603 m (1,979 ft) atop Mount Arvon, lie south and west of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The iron-bearing Gogebic Range is also in the Superior Upland, as is the Menominee Iron Range.
B Rivers and Lakes
Michigan has more than 11,000 lakes and about 5,300 km (3,300 mi) of coastline on four of the Great Lakes. The interior lakes vary greatly in size, ranging from small bodies of water to Houghton Lake, the state’s largest lake, 80 sq km (31 sq mi). Other large lakes are Torch, Gogebic, Burt, Black, Hubbard, Higgins, Charlevoix, Mullet, Portage, Crystal, and Manistique lakes.
The rivers lying within Michigan’s borders do not rank among the major river systems of the United States, although several, such as the Saginaw River of the Lower Peninsula, are navigable. In the Upper Peninsula the rivers tend to have rapids and waterfalls and are not useful for navigation. However, the navigable streams on Michigan’s borders, the Detroit, Saint Clair, and Saint Marys rivers, are vital links between Lakes Erie, Huron, and Superior. The major streams of the Lower Peninsula are the Au Sable and the Saginaw rivers, which flow into Lake Huron, and the Saint Joseph, Kalamazoo, Grand, Muskegon and Manistee rivers, which drain into Lake Michigan. In the Upper Peninsula the rivers flowing northward into Lake Superior are the Montréal, Ontonagon, and Tahquamenon, and the rivers emptying into Lake Michigan include the Menominee, Escanaba, and Manistique rivers.
C Climate
The interior location of Michigan in the northern part of North America results in a continental climate, characterized by four definite seasons with moist, mild to hot summers and snowy, cold winters. Winds off of Lakes Michigan and Superior in winter create heavy snow accumulations in nearby areas. The tempering effects of Lake Michigan account for the presence of the state’s famous fruit-growing belt along the lake’s shore. Since the water is colder than the land in spring, the westerly winds passing over the lake tend to keep temperatures low enough on land to retard the opening of young buds until the danger of frost is over. In fall the water is warmer than the land and therefore the growing season is longer than in the interior of the state. Overall, the growing season is longer near the lakeshore.
C1 Temperature
Detroit, in the south, has an average January low temperature of -9° C (16° F) and a July average high of 29° C (83° F). The January low in Sault Sainte Marie, in the north, is -15° C (5° F), and the July average high is 25° C (76° F). The Lower Peninsula has cold winters and hot summers; the Upper Peninsula has severe winters and mild summers. January averages for the state as a whole range between about -12° and -3° C (about 10° and 27° F), and the range in July falls between about 16° and 23° C (about 60° and 74° F).
C2 Precipitation
Precipitation is fairly uniform over the state. It generally ranges from about 660 mm (about 26 in) yearly in the interior of the Lower Peninsula to about 910 mm (about 36 in) in the extreme southern part of the state. It is also fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. Snowfall is heaviest in the northern portion of the Upper Peninsula, the higher elevations of the northern Lower Peninsula, and areas along Lakes Michigan and Superior. The southeastern region of the Lower Peninsula receives relatively little snowfall.
D Soils
The soils of the state fall into two broad groups, sandy spodosols and loamy alfisols. Spodosols, which typically develop under coniferous forest, are generally found in the northern two-thirds of Michigan. They tend to be acidic and have thin, dark surface layers and a leached, nearly white subsurface layer. Nutrients valuable to plants have been leached, or carried away, by water. These soils are interspersed with loamy soils and large muck areas, often supporting agriculture. The western half of the Upper Peninsula, especially in the Superior Uplands, is dominated by loamy and sandy soils, often only thinly covering the underlying bedrock. The loamy alfisols in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula include thick, dark surface layers and farmed areas of muck that developed under a natural cover of hardwood forest and swamp vegetation.
E Plant Life
Until the late 1800s, Michigan was almost entirely forested. The state’s forests were made up of a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees. In the southern hardwood area, oak, maple, hickory, beech, basswood, elm, soft maple, and ash were dominant. The forests also supplied an abundant source of edible fruits, nuts, and berries, consumed by both animals and the early Native American inhabitants. The forests and swamps had luxuriant growths of wildflowers, interspersed with numerous types of ferns and mosses. Tracts of the original forest still remain, such as a large stand found in Hartwick Pines State Park in the north central part of the Lower Peninsula.
Michigan’s extensive reforestation program began in 1899, when the state forestry commission was established. Forested areas now cover 53 percent of the state, two-thirds of which is owned by private interests. The rest is under state and federal ownership.
A number of types of trees and plants are on a list of threatened or endangered species because of disease or disturbance of their natural habitat. Trees include swamp or black cottonwood and American chestnut. The butternut is on a special concern list. Wildflowers include the prairie fringed orchid, dwarf lake iris, pitcher’s thistle, Houghton’s goldenrod, Michigan monkey flower, smaller whorled pagonia, and hart’s-tongue fern. Wild ginseng is currently rare in Michigan due to overharvesting, and is on the threatened species list.
F Animal Life
The black bear is frequently seen in northern Michigan, especially in the Keweenaw Peninsula. In Lake Superior, Isle Royale has one of the few remaining herds of great antlered moose and a small gray wolf population. There are also controlled herds of elk in the upper part of the Lower Peninsula. Deer are abundant in many parts of the state. Among other mammals are porcupines, squirrels, rabbits, skunks, weasels, opossums, and bobcats. Most of the species that provided the base for the fur trade still exist in the state. These include the beaver, otter, muskrat, mink, raccoon, red fox, and badger.
Michigan’s wide variety of fish and birds yearly attracts thousands of hunters and fishing enthusiasts to the state. The principal birds are the partridge, quail, grouse, pheasant, wild turkey, and wild geese and ducks. Fish include bass, perch, crappie, pike, trout, salmon, and smelts.
G Conservation
In the 20th century, large areas of Michigan’s cutover land have been set aside as state forests, which are used for recreational purposes and for the protection of Michigan’s wildlife. The development and the management of forested areas, as well as of fish and game resources, are the concerns of the state’s Department of Natural Resources. The state’s Department of Environmental Quality, established in 1995, handles environmental policy and enforcement issues. Forest fires have been greatly reduced by rapid detection of fires and by campaigns to educate the public in the hazards of fire and in the ways of controlling it. The Land Economic Survey was begun in 1929 to inventory the state’s natural resources in northern Lower Michigan counties with a view to their integrated management. Michigan conservationists claim that this survey was the first of its kind and scope in the country. To prevent soil erosion and to preserve the fertility of its soil, the state has 83 soil conservation districts that cover all of its farmland. A demonstration project in watershed protection was undertaken on the Rifle River to improve the stream for fish habitation.
Obtaining an adequate supply of water is becoming a problem as cities and industries grow. Some Midwestern cities, including Grand Rapids, are already drawing water from the Great Lakes. However, there is danger of severe pollution of the Great Lakes and smaller lakes and streams. Another concern regarding the state’s waters is the introduction of harmful, nonnative plant and animal species. Species such as the sea lamprey, zebra mussel, and purple loosestrife were inadvertently spilled into the Great Lakes when cargo ships unloaded ballast water before taking on more cargo. These species and others are known to quickly replace native species, alter the ecosystem, and cost millions of dollars in damage to structures and industries.
Michigan has a special office in the Department of Natural Resources charged with monitoring and carrying out research on endangered species in the state. The gray wolf increased from only a few to more than 80 in the mid-1990s, while the Kirtland’s warbler, which was found primarily in north central Michigan, increased from 167 nesting pairs in 1974 to nearly 700 in the mid-1990s. Although the annual deer-hunting season attracts many hunters, the number of deer that may be taken has been carefully determined to preserve the deer population.
In 2006 the state had 66 hazardous waste sites on a national priority list for cleanup due to their severity or proximity to people. Progress was being made in efforts to reduce pollution; during the period 1995–2000 the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment was reduced by 42 percent.
During the colonial period, when the area now known as Michigan had few European settlers, fur trapping and trading were the principal economic activities. As the region became more populated in the first half of the 19th century, settlers were occupied by farming and lumbering. Subsequently large-scale mining operations were started. The metals mined in the state allowed Michigan to develop a manufacturing economy by the early 20th century, and the state became a center for producing motor vehicles and associated equipment.
Michigan had a labor force of 5,081,000 people in 2006. The largest share of those, 35 percent, were employed in the diverse services sector, doing such jobs as working in advertising offices or medical clinics. Some 19 percent were employed in wholesale or retail trade; 14 percent in manufacturing; 15 percent in federal, state, or local government, including those in the military; 18 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 4 percent in construction; 19 percent in transportation or public utilities; 2 percent in farming, forestry, or fishing; and just 0.2 percent in mining. Although services provide the largest share of employment, the manufacturing sector produces the largest portion of the state’s income and trade. Manufacturing and construction dominate in the southern one-third of the state, while in the northern two-thirds the leading sources of income are government, services, retail trade, and small-scale manufacturing.
In 2005 some 21 percent of Michigan’s workers were unionized, compared to a national figure of 14 percent. The labor market is undergoing rapid change due to the continued automation of industrial plants, the spread of automobile production to other regions of the United States, the production of many automobiles and machine parts in other countries, and the rising importance of service-sector employment throughout the state.
The fortunes of Michigan’s key industry, the motor vehicle industry, are closely tied to general business conditions. Thus, during times of recession the state experiences high unemployment. In the 1970s the U.S. automobile industry, and with it Michigan, went through a major crisis. Beset by rising fuel prices, consumers turned away from the traditional, big American car and bought increasing numbers of fuel-efficient imported models.
At the end of the 1970s U.S. manufacturers began trying to counter the trend away from American-made automobiles by introducing their own small cars. The efforts made by automobile manufacturers to improve quality and selection was showing results in the 1990s. Production and profits at the major United States automobile plants began to increase in the late 1980s and continued to grow in the 1990s, the result, in part, of a resurgence in popularity of larger vehicles and light trucks..
Michigan’s automakers and other large corporations have also used their research and production skills to manufacture missiles, computers, and communications equipment. Computer-related advances in automobile design and manufacturing have resulted in an emphasis on high technology in much of the industry in southeast Michigan. This development, along with the increasing diversification of manufacturing in general and a greater emphasis on service industries, has reduced Michigan’s economic dependence on the automobile industry. The state now derives just one-fifth of its manufacturing value directly from firms manufacturing motor vehicles.
A Agriculture
The principal crops grown in Michigan in the late 1990s were corn, soybeans, vegetables, sugarbeets, wheat, and fruit. Sales of greenhouse and nursery products are the other leading source of crop income, producing cash sales roughly equal to those of corn. The state leads the nation in the production of cucumbers, and is behind only North Dakota in the amount of dry beans grown. Other important vegetable crops are celery, asparagus, snap beans, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, tomatoes, and onions. In fruits Michigan is especially outstanding. The state is first in the nation in the production of sour cherries; it is also a leading producer of sweet cherries, apples, grapes, peaches, plums, and strawberries.
In 2005 there were 53,000 farms in Michigan. Some 41 percent of the farms produced more than $10,000 in annual sales. Farmland occupied 4.1 million hectares (10.1 million acres). Cropland occupied 22 percent of the state’s total land area, and pasture another 5 percent. Three-fifths of agricultural income comes from crop sales and the rest from sales of livestock and livestock products. Dairy farming was the most economically important livestock sector in 1997.
The bulk of the agricultural activity is centered in the Lower Peninsula. Orchards and vegetable farms are concentrated in a belt about 50 km (about 30 mi) wide running along Lake Michigan from the Indiana border northward to Grand Traverse Bay and Charlevoix.
Michigan’s thumb and the Saginaw Lowlands, in the southeastern section of the Lower Peninsula, are noted for the production of soybeans, sugar beets, navy beans, and wheat. Another specialized kind of farming is seen around Holland, where, appropriately, tulip bulbs are raised. The farms of southern Michigan, adjacent to the Corn Belt, raise corn, wheat, and oats for cash. Dairying is important, as are beef cattle, hogs, and chickens.
In the Superior Upland many of the farms are classed as residential or part-time farms, in which farm income is supplemented by outside income, mainly from mining, lumbering, and tourism. The leading form of agriculture in the Upper Peninsula, especially its eastern portion, is dairy farming. In the western segment, hay, oats, and potatoes are raised and much of farm income stems from dairying. This pattern is repeated in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula.
B Fisheries
Employing only a few hundred workers, commercial fishing is still recovering from the invasion of the sea lamprey, an eellike fish that nearly wiped out the multimillion-dollar Great Lakes fishing industry. First appearing in Lake Huron in the late 1930s, the parasite had spread to Lake Superior by the early 1950s. After testing thousands of chemicals, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service found a poison that eliminates the lamprey without affecting other fish. The catch consists mostly of whitefish, salmon, lake trout, chub, yellow perch, catfish, and carp. Sport fishing is now more important than commercial fishing on most of the Great Lakes.
C Forestry
Lumbering in Michigan is not of major importance economically, although it does service thriving paper and furniture-manufacturing industries. During the latter part of the 19th century, until the turn of the century, Michigan was a leading lumbering state. Sawmilling towns grew up along the Great Lakes at river mouths, where the streams provided access to the lumber of the interior. Such towns included Oscoda on the Au Sable, and Saginaw and Bay City at the mouth of the Saginaw.
The first trees to be felled were white pines. As they were exhausted, lumbermen turned to the hardwoods. Hundreds of thousands of acres of bleak cutover land long remained as a monument to the greedy timbering policy that prevailed. Many of the boomtowns have since become ghost towns.
Lumbering in Michigan concentrates on secondary growth, and pulp and plywood predominate among wood products. More than half the timber for pulp comes from the Upper Peninsula. Spruces and hemlocks are the major species cut for pulp. The western part of the Upper Peninsula also furnishes most of the hardwoods used in the veneer and furniture industries. The area around Escanaba on the Upper Peninsula is the source of most of the bird’s-eye maple in the world.
D Mining
Michigan’s mineral resources are varied. They include cement, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, salt, and gypsum. The state’s production of iron ore is second in the nation, behind only that of Minnesota. Michigan is the leading state in the production of magnesium compounds and the second leading state, behind Florida, in the production of peat, which is marketed for fertilizer, not for fuel. Among the stones that are extracted are limestone and such gemstones as thomsonite, greenstone, datolite, agate, and a fossil coral called Petoskey stone. By the mid-1970s nonmetals, including construction materials and saline minerals, had become more important than metals in the state’s mineral output. Mineral fuels also became much more significant in the 1970s.
Commercial mining for copper began in the 1840s, and soon afterward, copper fever engulfed the Keweenaw Peninsula. During the next 40 years about half the nation’s copper came from Michigan mines. Other areas with larger deposits later surpassed Michigan in copper production. However, the state still has some of the nation’s purest deposits. With the closure of the White Pine mine in 1995, no commercial mining of copper remained in the state. In the mid-1990s White Pine was experimenting with electrolytic refining and acid solution mining in portions of existing mines, with the hope that the process would allow the resumption of commercial production. In 1996 citizen protest and a review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of the solution mining process effectively halted this pilot program.
Iron ore has long been one of the leading minerals mined in Michigan. Originally there were three iron-ore ranges in the state, all in the Upper Peninsula. The Marquette Range in Marquette County was the leading producer, followed by the Menominee in Iron and Dickinson counties and the Gogebic range before its plants closed in the late 1960s. The Menominee and Gogebic ranges extend into Wisconsin and are part of the Lake Superior ore district, from which Minnesota also extracts iron ore. The Superior ores were long noted for their high quality, but the ores have run out. In the late 1950s the Superior ores encountered stiff competition from high-grade imported ores, chiefly those from the Labrador-Québec mines and from Venezuela. Within a few years ore companies began to process the lower-grade ores, such as taconite in Minnesota and jaspilite in Michigan. The processing, called beneficiating, removes the useless material and concentrates the ore into pellets that are highly efficient for blast-furnace steelmaking. The pelletizing process gave a temporary boost to the industry, but production began to level off in the late 1960s. No ore was mined in the Gogebic Range after 1967. By 1970, several of the pellet plants had closed or had suspended operations. In 1982 the Groveland mine in the Menominee Range and its pellet plant were permanently closed. In 1996, 15 million metric tons of pellets were produced at two remaining plants. Most of Michigan’s iron ore is shipped by rail and then by water through the locks at Sault Sainte Marie to Detroit and other large steel centers.
A large oil and natural gas field was discovered in 1969 in the northern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. In 2006 production amounted to 5 million barrels of crude petroleum and 10 billion cu m (365 billion cu ft) of natural gas. While production of natural gas was increasing, the amount of oil being pumped was substantially less than in the mid-1980s.
Limestone is the most abundant and valuable of the stones mined in Michigan. It is used primarily as a flux in the steelmaking process and in the chemical and construction industries. Major deposits are found along the northwestern and northeastern shores of the Lower Peninsula. The manufacture of portland cement is based on native limestone and is one of the state’s leading mineral products. Lime, which has a number of industrial uses, is produced primarily in Wayne County. The Lower Peninsula, with abundant supplies of sand and gravel, provides the state with basic materials for its construction industry. Gypsum, used locally in the manufacture of wallboard, exterior sheathing, lath, and plaster, is mined in the Grand Rapids area and quarried at Alabaster.
The state is a leading salt producer. Salt is mined in the Detroit area, where there are vast underground deposits. It is also obtained from brines in the central Michigan area around Midland, Saginaw, Bay City, and Whitehall. Natural salines, including bromine, calcium chloride, calcium-magnesium chloride, other magnesium compounds, and potash, are also extracted from brines in the Lower Peninsula.
E Manufacturing
Although Michigan has a diversified economy, it stands out as an industrial state, ranking fifth in the United States in value added by manufacturing in 1996. Michigan, especially its southern region, already had some industries before the automotive age. In the middle of the 19th century sawmilling, brewing and distilling, and flour milling had begun to develop. About the time of the American Civil War (1861-1865), Detroit began to smelt copper and to make iron and steel and railroad equipment. Based on native lumber, carriage making flourished in Lansing, Pontiac, Flint, and Detroit. Automobile manufacturing was a logical and natural outgrowth of the early carriage industry.
Transportation equipment, industrial machines of many kinds, electronic devices, and metal processing dominate the state’s manufacturing. Michigan leads the nation in automobile production. Other important manufactures include plastics, pharmaceuticals, soaps and cleansers, milled grain, dry cereals, agricultural machinery, office furniture, dairy products, preserved fruits and vegetables, printed matter, electrical equipment, construction materials, and measuring and control devices.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Michigan’s automobile industry was devastated by national economic recessions and competition from foreign manufacturers. Foreign cars that were smaller, more fuel-efficient, and more reliable than U.S. cars captured a big share of the U.S. market while economic recessions also reduced sales. Massive layoffs in the U.S. automobile industry soon resulted. But by the mid-1980s the industry had partly recovered, primarily through sales of trucks and of luxury automobiles. The recovery was complete by the 1990s, although increased automation and the opening of production plants elsewhere in the country left the industry permanently changed.
The manufacture of motor vehicles is centered largely in Detroit, Dearborn, Flint, and Pontiac. Much of the income generated by manufacturing in the state originates in Wayne, Macomb, Oakland, Monroe, Lapeer, and Saint Clair counties, which the U.S. census calls the Detroit primary metropolitan statistical area. The Detroit area is the home of the so-called Big Three automotive manufacturers—General Motors Corporation has headquarters in Detroit, Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, and DaimlerChrysler AG in Auburn Hills. Best known of the Detroit area industrial establishments is Ford’s River Rouge plant in Dearborn. The plant is virtually a manufacturing city, with more than 160 km (100 mi) of railroad track within the industrial complex. Body and automobile parts manufacturers are spread throughout the Greater Detroit area in such places as Hamtramck, Warren, Sterling Heights, Wayne, Southfield, and Troy. Farm machinery, machine tools, and chemicals based largely on salt are also important products in the Detroit area. Other significant industries are steelmaking, food processing, petroleum refining, and printing and publishing.
Among the other leading manufacturing centers is Flint, which has been virtually a one-industry city because of its dependence on automotive production. The majority of its manufacturing workers are employed by General Motors. Automobile parts are also part of Grand Rapids’s manufacturing structure, although that city manufactures a considerable amount of furniture. Grand Rapids has lost a great deal of the low-cost furniture market and now is stressing its skill in manufacturing quality furniture. Lansing, another important automotive center, has developed research facilities and industry related to science, technology, and agriculture. Saginaw, in addition to manufacturing automobiles, produces foundry work and machines and is a food processor. Muskegon also specializes in foundry work and has become a manufacturer of sporting-goods products, namely billiard tables and bowling equipment. Paper manufacturing is especially important to Kalamazoo as are pharmaceuticals and chemicals. Limestone quarrying and shipping are major activities in the Alpena region. The city is a center for portland cement and concrete production and has wood product processing and metals industries. Bay City, home to a major Great Lakes port that distributes regional agricultural and industrial products, has a variety of industries, including shipbuilding. Smaller cities with manufacturing specializations include chemicals in Midland, cereals in Battle Creek, baby food in Fremont, furniture and other wood products in Holland, petroleum headquarters in Mount Pleasant, household appliances in Benton Harbor, and automobile, electronic, and aircraft parts in Jackson.
F Electricity
Of the electricity generated in Michigan in 2005, 70 percent came from facilities burning fossil fuels, primarily coal. Another 27 percent of the electricity came from the state's five nuclear power plants, of which two were at Bridgman and one each was at Big Rock Point (which was shut down in 1997), Newport, and South Haven. Just 1.2 percent of the electricity was generated in hydroelectric facilities. Most of the electricity is generated by privately owned utilities.
G Transportation
The state highway system has taken over much of the traffic formerly handled by the railroads and, before that, by the inland waterways. The federal interstate highway program has given Michigan important multilane freeways. By 2005 there were 195,464 km (121,456 mi) of public highways within the state, of which 2,000 km (1,243 mi) were interstate highways. A pioneer in urban highway construction, Michigan has extensive free expressways.
Car and railroad ferries cross the Great Lakes, especially Lake Michigan. A tunnel links Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, and bridges link Michigan with Canada at Sault Sainte Marie, Detroit, and Port Huron. At Mackinaw City, the nation’s third longest suspension bridge, the Mackinac Bridge, links the two peninsulas.
As in most other states, the amount of railroad track in Michigan has declined from past levels, although railroads remain an important transporter of raw materials such as metallic ores as well as parts for Michigan industry. In 2004 the state was served by 5,778 km (3,590 mi) of track.
Air travel has taken over much of the passenger business once handled by the railroads. Michigan has 20 public and private airports serving all parts of the state. Principal airports are at Detroit—the nation’s eighth busiest in 1996—and Grand Rapids.
H Trade
The Great Lakes play a major role in Michigan’s transportation. The state has many ports on “America’s fourth seacoast,” as the lakes are sometimes called. Most of the shipments in and out of Michigan’s ports consist of such bulk commodities as iron, coal, and limestone. Of all the Great Lake ports, Detroit is the leader in terms of freight receipts, although its shipments rank well behind those of Chicago and Duluth, Minnesota. Another leading port is Escanaba, which handles shipments of ore coming from the iron ranges in the Superior Upland. Marquette, Muskegon, and Bay City are also busy ports. The channel of the Saginaw River, on which Bay City is situated, was widened and deepened, and turning basins were built to enhance the river’s usefulness for navigation. The opening in 1959 of the St. Lawrence Seaway, with channels of sufficient depth to accommodate oceangoing vessels, stimulated the foreign trade of various lake ports, including Detroit.
A Population Patterns
Michigan ranks as the eighth most populous state. Its population of 10,071,822 in the 2000 national census was an increase of 6.9 percent over the 1990 count of 9,295,297. The average population density in 2006 was 69 persons per sq km (178 per sq mi). Michigan’s people have been predominately urban since 1910, and in 2000 the share of those living in cities was 75.
In 2000 whites constituted 80.2 percent of the population, blacks 14.2 percent, Asians 1.8 percent, Native Americans 0.6 percent, and those of mixed heritage or not reporting race 3.2 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 2,692. Hispanics, who may be of any race, were 3.3 percent of the people.
B Principal Cities
Most of the state’s population is concentrated in the industrial cities in the southern Lower Peninsula. Detroit, Michigan’s largest city, was the tenth largest city in the United States at the time of the 2000 national census and one of the country’s major industrial centers. In 2005 Detroit had a population of 886,671 and more than one-half the population of Michigan, or 5.5 million people, lived in the Detroit metropolitan area in 2000. During the 1970s the Detroit population declined by more than 20 percent; in the 1980s it lost 15 percent and in the 1990s another 7 percent. But the population loss in the central city was offset by growth in outlying parts of the metropolitan area.
Grand Rapids had a population of 193,780 in 2005. Warren, a suburb of Detroit, had 135,311 residents. Flint, a center for automobile production, had 118,551. Lansing, the state capital, had 115,518. All these cities except Grand Rapids lost population during the 1990s.
C Religion
The largest religious groups in Michigan are the Roman Catholics, the Baptists, the Lutherans, and the Methodists. The Seventh-Day Adventist Church has its major congregation in Battle Creek. The Reformed Church, introduced by the early Dutch colonists, and the Christian Reformed Church, founded in 1857, are strong in Kent and Ottawa counties. There are also small groups of Amish, Mennonites, and Mormons. The House of David is a religious colony founded at Benton Harbor in the early 20th century. There are many synagogues in Detroit, which is the center of Jewish life in Michigan. Michigan also has a large Muslim population, centered in the Detroit area, chiefly in and around Dearborn.
A Education
There were a few Catholic mission schools among the Native Americans when Father Gabriel Richard was sent to Detroit in 1798. Considered the state’s first educator, he soon organized local schools. He was also largely responsible for establishing the nation’s first state university in 1817. This university, curiously named the Catholepistemiad, or institution of universal knowledge, later developed into the University of Michigan, which now has three campuses.
Michigan was the first state to establish a modern public education system headed by a superintendent of public instruction with strong supervisory powers. It was the first state to establish, in the landmark Kalamazoo Case decided by the state supreme court in 1874, that high schools were part of the school system. In 1855 Michigan was the first state to create by law an agricultural college, opening for students in East Lansing in 1857. In 1862 the institution became the first land grant college in the United States, emphasizing agriculture and applied science. Now Michigan State University, it is known for research in scientific agriculture and medicine.
Public schools are supported by local school districts and by state funds. Attendance is compulsory for children from the ages of 6 to 16. Some 10 percent of the state’s children attend private schools.
In the 2002–2003 school year Michigan spent $10,593 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,299. There were 18.1 students for every teacher (the national average was 15.9). Of those older than 25 years of age in the state in 2006, 87.2 had a high school diploma, compared to the national norm of 84.1.
In 2004–2005 Michigan had 45 public and 60 private institutions of higher learning. In addition to Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, other schools in the state include Wayne State University and the University of Detroit Mercy, in Detroit; Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo; Hope College, in Holland; Eastern Michigan University, in Ypsilanti; Central Michigan University, in Mount Pleasant; Northern Michigan University, in Marquette; Michigan Technological University, in Houghton; and Oakland University, in Rochester.
B Libraries and Museums
Michigan has 383 public library systems. Free library services, provided by city, county, and regional libraries and by bookmobile deliveries to some areas, are supplemented by the extension services of the state library in Lansing. Libraries circulate annually an average of 5.8 books per state resident.
The University of Michigan contains one of the largest libraries in the nation; a comprehensive law library; a noted collection of rare books in the William L. Clements Library of American history; and the Michigan Historical Collections of materials relating to the state’s history. The Gerald R. Ford Library is located on the University of Michigan campus. The University of Michigan is also home to museums devoted to art, natural history, and life sciences. The University Cultural Center, in Detroit, includes the Detroit Institute of Arts; the Detroit Historical Museum; the Detroit Science Center; the Children’s Museum; and the Detroit Public Library, one of the largest in the United States. Cranbrook, in Bloomfield Hills, is a unique educational center composed of five separate institutions. Outstanding collections are housed in the library and galleries of the Cranbrook Academy of Art and in the museum of the Cranbrook Institute of Science.
Other fine art collections have been acquired by the Grand Rapids Art Museum; the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts; the Flint Institute of Arts; and the Muskegon Museum of Art. Grand Rapids has a public museum and public library that contain large and comprehensive collections on furniture. Grand Rapids also is the site of the Gerald R. Ford Museum. A specialized exhibit is also offered by the Holland Museum, in Holland.
Perhaps the most popular museum depicting local and national history is the Henry Ford Museum and the adjoining Greenfield Village in Dearborn. The museum contains a vast collection of Americana, including Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House and the chair in which Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Greenfield Village is the site of many historic homes and buildings transferred from all parts of the United States, including the courthouse used by Abraham Lincoln, the Wright brothers’ original bicycle shop, and the workshops and laboratories of Thomas Edison.
C Communications
The Michigan Essay and Impartial Observer, which briefly appeared in Detroit in 1809, was the territory’s first newspaper. With the appearance in 1817 of the Detroit Gazette, Michigan had its first regularly published paper. In 2002 the state was served by 390 newspapers, of which 52 were dailies. Influential newspapers in the state include the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, the Flint Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, the Oakland Press (Pontiac), and the Lansing State Journal.
The Detroit News operated the state’s first radio station in 1920. In 1924 Michigan State University started the first college radio station in the country. Michigan’s first commercial television station was WWJ-TV in Detroit, which began regular broadcasts in 1947. In 2002 the state was served by 117 AM and 179 FM radio stations and 42 television stations.
D Music and Theater
Detroit, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Flint, Saginaw, Midland, and Lansing all have symphony orchestras, and many cities have local concert series and amateur theaters. Major cultural events in the state include the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and the Kalamazoo Bach Festival in May. The Interlochen Arts Camp, in Interlochen, and the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, near Muskegon, operate summer programs in the fields of music, art, dance, and drama. The picturesque resort of Saugatuck is a well-known art colony.
Michigan owes its scenic and recreational advantages to its central location on the Great Lakes and to thousands of inland lakes threaded by thousands of miles of streams. The Circle Drive around Lake Superior is an especially scenic route through the forest lands of the Upper Peninsula. The rugged landscapes common to this part of Michigan are particularly impressive in the Porcupine Mountains and at the waterfalls of the swift Tahquamenon River.
Michigan has well-developed facilities for year-round recreation. The lakeshores and riverbanks, lined with cabins, resorts, camps, and parks, attract millions of vacationers each year. There are more than 40 downhill ski areas and four times that number of organized cross-country ski trails. Many of the best alpine slopes are in the north, but there are ski slopes near Detroit and in the southwest. The northern two-thirds of the state has excellent snow for winter snowmobiling, and the coastal dunes and beaches along the Great Lakes provide summer attractions.
Michigan is a leading state in the ownership of recreational boats and in the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. Seasons exist for the hunting of various kinds of wildlife, particularly white-tailed deer and ducks. Excellent fishing is found in the Great Lakes as well as inland lakes and stocked trout streams.
A National Parks and Forests
Isle Royale National Park encompasses Isle Royale, the largest island in Lake Superior, and a chain of about 200 tiny islands. Abundant with wildlife, including moose and wolves, this roadless park contains one of the few remaining areas of true wilderness in the Midwest. Keweenaw National Historical Park commemorates the copper-mining heritage of the region, which dates back 7,000 years to early Native American inhabitants and later played a critical role in the industrial development of the United States. Three national forests, Ottawa, Hiawatha, and Huron-Manistee, all with frontage on the Great Lakes, extend over 1.2 million hectares (2.8 million acres) in northern Michigan. The federal government also administers national wildlife refuges and two national lakeshores. Both of the latter are on the Great Lakes. Pictured Rocks, on the shores of Lake Superior, is noted for its spectacular multicolored sandstone cliffs. Sleeping Bear Dunes, on Lake Michigan, has extensive bare, moving dunes and fine sandy beaches.
B State Parks and Forests
Michigan’s park system is one of the largest in the country. In addition to about 1.6 million hectares (about 3.9 million acres) of state forests and many game areas, the state has 99 parks and recreation areas. P. H. Hoeft and Lakeport state parks have attractive beaches on Lake Huron, and a series of state parks has been developed along the sand dunes on the Lake Michigan shore. The wilderness character of the northern woods marks the state parks at Indian Lake, Muskallonge Lake, and Porcupine Mountains. More than 15 recreation areas have been set up near Detroit.
Mackinac Island, a historic state park since 1895, consists of a series of rock terraces rising out of the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. It has been a popular tourist resort since before the American Civil War (1861-1865). Fort Michilimackinac at Mackinaw City and Fort Wilkins near the northernmost point of Lower Michigan have been restored as state parks. The ghost town of Fayette, once a prosperous iron-smelting center near Escanaba, also is a state park.
C Annual Events
Skating races, ski meets, and carnivals highlight the winter sport season at Cheboygan, Petoskey, Boyne Falls, Grayling, and other sports centers. In January hundreds of people set up shanties on Houghton Lake during an annual ice-fishing festival. Annual sled-dog championship racers compete in the Upper Peninsula in February, while a cross-country ski race begins at Marquette in March. Spring is introduced at the Blossomtime Festival, the largest multicommunity festival in Michigan, centered in Saint Joseph and Benton Harbor at the heart of the fruit-growing region. The annual Maple Syrup Festival takes place in the appropriately named Vermontville in April, where syrup producers stage demonstrations and sell maple goods. Prized agricultural products are at the core of the Tulip Time Festival in May in Holland and July’s National Cherry Festival in Traverse City. The International Freedom Festival, recognizing Canada Day and Independence Day, is held jointly in late June and early July in Detroit and neighboring Windsor, Ontario. In August the ten-day Michigan Festival in East Lansing features some of the country’s top performers and acts as an umbrella for three accompanying festivals. The Labor Day jazz festival and gospel festival are major musical events in Detroit. The International Festival of Lights brightens December in Battle Creek, while ice artists from around the world create 200 sculptures in an annual ice-carving exhibition in January in Plymouth.
D Sports
Michigan’s major professional sports teams include the Detroit Tigers (baseball), the Detroit Pistons (basketball), the Detroit Lions (football), and the Detroit Red Wings (ice hockey). The University of Michigan and Michigan State University are known for excellent sports teams, especially in football and basketball.
Michigan is governed under a revised constitution that went into effect in 1964. Three earlier constitutions had been adopted, in 1835, 1850, and 1908. An amendment to the constitution may be proposed by a two-thirds vote of the legislature, by a constitutional convention, or by initiative of the voters. To be ratified, an amendment must be approved by a majority of the people voting on the issue in an election.
A Executive
The governor and lieutenant governor are elected as a team on the same ballot and serve for four years. The secretary of state and attorney general are also elected for four-year terms. The treasurer, auditor general, superintendent of public instruction, and head of the highway commission are appointed by the governor. The departments of the executive branch of state government underwent major change in the mid-1990s. A Department of Environmental Quality was created; a Department of Community Health was formed from the former public health and mental health departments and the Medicaid program formerly in the Department of Social Services; the Department of Social Services is now called the Family Independence Agency; and the Michigan Jobs Commission was formed from units of the education, commerce, labor, and social services departments.
B Legislative
The legislature, which meets annually in Lansing, consists of a Senate with 38 members, who are elected for four years, and a House of Representatives with 110 members, who are elected for two years. Representation in the house is based on population. Formerly the senate was apportioned under a formula allowing for representation partially on the basis of area, as well a population. However, at present the districts for each chamber are drawn solely on the basis of population.
C Judicial
The judicial system is headed by a seven-member supreme court. Members are popularly elected to eight-year terms; one of the judges is elected by the court to serve a two-year term as chief justice. The state’s intermediate appellate court, the court of appeals, consists of 24 popularly elected judges. Michigan has been divided into judicial districts, each with a circuit court, which acts as the primary criminal trial court. Other courts include county probate courts and a statewide system of district courts, which has replaced justices of the peace and most municipal courts. All judges are elected on a nonpartisan ballot.
D Local Government
Michigan is divided into 83 counties, which are governed by boards of commissioners. Members of the boards are selected by the towns and cities they represent. Some cities elect their county representatives and other cities appoint them. Any county or municipality may adopt a charter for home rule. Some cities, including Detroit, have the mayor and city council form of municipal government, and other cities in Michigan are governed by city managers.
E National Representation
Michigan elects two senators and 15 representatives to the Congress of the United States, giving the state 17 electoral votes in presidential elections.
A Early Inhabitants
The earliest inhabitants of Michigan were Paleo-Indians, a nomadic people who appeared about 11,000 bc, during the last Ice Age. Evidence from archaeological sites indicates the Paleo-Indians hunted with spears, killing caribou and other large animals. They probably wandered in and out of the region, moving north as the glaciers retreated and the Great Lakes were formed from melting ice. Approximately 4000 bc the Archaic people inhabited the area, mining copper in the Lake Superior region and creating copper tools and other artifacts. Following the Archaic period was the Woodland culture, which began about 2500 bc and developed into the Native American culture that Europeans encountered when they arrived in the early 1600s. The Woodland culture saw a number of changes: Its people produced pottery, began to cultivate crops such as corn about ad 700, and constructed large earthen burial mounds. The people of the Middle Woodland stage, known as the Hopewell or Mound Builders, entered the Upper Great Lakes area about 100 bc. They created elaborate ceremonial centers, such as one excavated near present-day Grand Rapids, where they buried their dead in mounds that held finely decorated pottery, tools, and copper and mica ornaments.
The Native American population in the early 1600s was estimated at about 15,000, of which 12,000 lived in the southern part of the Lower Peninsula. The three major groups were closely related Algonquian-speaking people, the Potawatomi, the Ottawa, and the Ojibwa or Chippewa. Several smaller groups also occupied parts of the state at times, including the Miami, the Menominee, and the Iroquoian-speaking Wyandot, who settled near what is now Detroit. Tribal groups in southern Michigan relied more heavily on agriculture, while the Ojibwa in the harsher northern areas depended largely on fishing and hunting. The Ottawa, who lived between these two groups, were primarily traders.
B French Period
In about 1618 the French explorer Étienne Brûlé, searching for a waterway to the Pacific Ocean, became the first white man to reach Michigan. He was followed by other Frenchmen, including missionaries, traders, and explorers, as fur traders from Canada extended their influence over the Great Lakes region. However, the first permanent settlement was made in 1668, when Father Jacques Marquette, a French priest and explorer, founded a mission at Sault Sainte Marie. Three years later, in a colorful ceremony at the settlement, the French proclaimed the sovereignty of King Louis XIV over all of the interior of North America as part of New France, the French colonies on the continent. Forts and missions were built at Saint Ignace, Saint Joseph, Port Huron, and other sites. In 1696, seeking to concentrate French settlements along the St. Lawrence River, the king ordered all French inhabitants except the missionaries to abandon the western posts.
However, English traders began to challenge the French trapping operations, and the French decided that only colonization of the territory would protect it against English encroachment. In 1701 soldiers and farmers under the command of Antoine de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac, built Fort Pontchartrain on the Detroit River, which forms a strait connecting Lake Erie and the upper lakes. The French word for strait, détroit, later became the name of the settlement, which was the center of French control in the western Great Lakes region. Fort Michilimackinac was later established on the Straits of Mackinac, and other forts were built at Sault Sainte Marie and Niles. However, despite these defenses, the entire region was taken by the British during the French and Indian War (1754-1763), the last in a series of wars fought between France and Great Britain for domination of North America.
C British Control
The British occupied Detroit on November 29, 1760, and took over the other French posts the following year. Like the French, the British sought mostly furs from the region rather than land for settlement, and they did little that interfered with the Native Americans’ way of life. However, the native people had become quite friendly with the French, and many of them resented the British, who gained a reputation as unscrupulous traders. In addition, British colonists were beginning to move into western Pennsylvania and the Ohio region, forcing many Native Americans off their lands.
In the spring of 1763, an alliance of Native Americans led by the Ottawa chief Pontiac rebelled against the British. Tribes attacked British posts along the frontier from Pennsylvania to Lake Superior and captured most of them, including Fort Michilimackinac and Fort Saint Joseph in Michigan. Pontiac led the attack on Detroit but failed to capture it, then kept the fort under siege for more than five months. Pontiac finally withdrew from Detroit when he learned that he would receive no help from the French, who had signed a treaty ceding all of New France to Great Britain.
The British then began to consolidate their control over the region, which brought them great wealth from fur trapping. Michigan was included in the province of Québec in 1764, and in November 1775, Henry Hamilton became lieutenant governor of the territory, residing in Detroit. To protect the forests that sheltered the fur-bearing animals, the British government discouraged settlement by denying the right to buy land. On the eve of the American Revolution (1775-1783), few inroads had been made into Michigan’s wilderness by either the French or the British.
D American Revolution
During the revolution the British used Detroit as a rallying point from which they sent out raiding parties to attack the Americans. In response, American soldier George Rogers Clark led troops into the Illinois country and captured three British posts. His successes led the British commandant at Fort Michilimackinac to move his defenses to Mackinac Island, where it was called simply Fort Mackinac. At one point in the war Spain, which had joined the French and the Americans against the British, sent a raiding party that occupied Fort Saint Joseph, near Niles, and briefly raised the Spanish flag.
By 1782 the British were ready to make peace. Under the Treaty of Paris that ended the revolution in 1783, American and British negotiators agreed that the boundary between the United States and Canada would be a line drawn through the middle of each of the Great Lakes and their connecting rivers. Isle Royale, in Lake Superior, was specifically included within the United States, but the ownership of the islands in the Detroit and Saint Marys rivers was not determined until almost 50 years later.
Although the British ceded present-day Michigan to the United States, they continued to occupy Detroit and Fort Mackinac. They had little confidence that the new nation would be strong enough to endure and wished to maintain their profitable fur trade. British officials encouraged Native Americans who fought against further white settlement in the region. In 1794 the Americans gained control over much of the Ohio area after an army led by General Anthony Wayne defeated Native American forces at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, near present-day Toledo, Ohio. That year the British agreed to withdraw from their northwest outposts, under a treaty negotiated by American statesman John Jay and known as Jay’s Treaty. The flag of the United States was raised over Detroit on July 11, 1796, and a few weeks later an American force took over Fort Mackinac.
E Michigan Territory
Anticipating the eventual British surrender of the western frontier regions, Congress in 1787 had passed the Ordinance of 1787, or Northwest Ordinance, for the government of the area north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River. The ordinance provided an orderly plan to divide the area, called the Northwest Territory, into smaller territories that eventually would become not less than three nor more than five states.
After the British handed over the forts in 1796, most of present-day Michigan became Wayne County, a part of the Northwest Territory. In 1800 the western part of the Northwest Territory became the Territory of Indiana, which included a part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. When Ohio became a state in 1803, all of present-day Michigan became a part of the Indiana Territory. On January 11, 1805, President Thomas Jefferson signed an act creating the Michigan Territory, with Detroit as its capital. The territory included the eastern tip of the present Upper Peninsula and all of the Lower Peninsula. A line drawn straight east through the southernmost tip of Lake Michigan marked the southern boundary at that time.
When Michigan became a separate territory, the white population was probably less than 4,000. Most of these people lived around Detroit, Mackinac Island, and Sault Sainte Marie. Only small areas around these places had been purchased from the Native American inhabitants. The one important business was supplying the needs of the fur traders.
Jefferson appointed William Hull, a native of Connecticut and a general in the revolution, as the first governor of the Michigan Territory. The first governing body consisted of the governor, a secretary, and three judges; only one of these five men had been a resident of Michigan. Just before the new officials arrived, Detroit was destroyed by fire. Augustus B. Woodward, one of the appointed judges, drew up plans for rebuilding the town based on the model of Washington, D.C., but the plans were not fully carried out. Constant quarreling among the governing officials made Michigan’s government unstable from 1805 to 1812, and little growth in population occurred.
F War of 1812
Michigan became the western focus of the War of 1812 (1812-1815) between Britain and the United States. The war broke out over British aggression against neutral American shipping in the Atlantic Ocean, but the conflict was fought all along the United States-Canadian border. In Michigan, the two countries fought for possession of the forts at Detroit and on Mackinac Island and thus for control of the Great Lakes.
Before news of the declaration of war reached Michigan, a British force landed on Mackinac Island, and the American commander surrendered without firing a shot. Hull, in command of the U.S. forces at Detroit, tried unsuccessfully to capture nearby Fort Malden in Canada. Returning to Detroit, Hull could not get reinforcements because the British controlled the Great Lakes. In August 1812 Hull surrendered Detroit to the British, who were joined by the Shawnee chief Tecumseh and his Native American forces.
In January 1813 a U.S. detachment sent to protect Americans living at Frenchtown (now Monroe) was surprised and defeated by the British and Native Americans. More than 1,000 people were killed in the Battle of the Raisin River, the bloodiest battle ever fought on Michigan soil. In September 1813 American naval forces defeated the British fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie, regaining control of the water routes to the East and forcing the British to evacuate Detroit. Efforts by U.S. naval and military forces to retake Mackinac Island failed in 1814. However, the fort was restored to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war.
G Pioneer Settlement
The French and then the British in Michigan had sought mostly to trade with the Native Americans but not to buy the land they occupied. That changed with American control, as the U.S. government purchased Michigan lands from the native people through a series of treaties in the 19th century. Many of the treaties were negotiated by Territorial Governor Lewis Cass. The first sizable acquisition was made through the Treaty of Detroit in 1807. With the last, the Treaty of La Pointe in 1842, the Native Americans had ceded all of their land in Michigan, except for some reserves. During the 19th century some of the native peoples, primarily the Potawatomi, were forced to move to reservations in Kansas and Oklahoma.
For 15 years after the War of 1812, Michigan’s population grew slowly, since the territory did not lie on the main routes of the westward movement. In addition, rumors circulated that Michigan’s swamps and sand dunes made it an unhealthful place to live. Cass instituted a program to dispel Michigan’s negative image. When the Erie Canal in New York opened in 1825, transportation to Michigan from the population centers of the Northeast became easier.
Settlement increased, especially when nationwide prosperity in the early 1830s gave settlers and speculators money to buy Michigan land. Michigan’s population, which was 31,640 in 1830, grew to more than 212,000 by 1840. New York and New England supplied the largest number of Michigan pioneers. The New England influence was especially strong, and it profoundly affected the development of Michigan as a territory and later as a state. Michigan’s strong antislavery movement, its leadership in public education, and the dominance of its Republican Party in state politics were all related to the New England background of its settlers.
H Statehood
By 1834 Michigan had reached a population of more than 60,000, the minimum needed for statehood under the Ordinance of 1787. A request was sent to the Congress of the United States for authorization to form a state government. However, Congress did not act because of a dispute between Michigan and Ohio over a boundary line. The acting governor of the Territory of Michigan, Stevens T. Mason, contested Ohio’s claim to a strip of land around Toledo and ordered out the militia. After some minor clashes occurred in the so-called Toledo War of 1835 and 1836, President Andrew Jackson became alarmed and removed Mason as territorial governor.
Mason and the territorial legislature, however, claimed that Congress could not deny Michigan’s right to statehood and called for the election of a state constitutional convention. After a constitution was adopted, a slate of state officers, with Mason as governor, was elected and took office. Congress then arranged a compromise to settle the boundary dispute, giving the Toledo area to Ohio and compensating Michigan with a large area of the Upper Peninsula south of Lake Superior. On January 26, 1837, Jackson signed a bill making Michigan the 26th state.
I Development of the State
The 1840s saw the beginning of important industries that made use of Michigan’s natural resources. The lumber industry developed in the white pine and hardwood forests of northern Michigan, and the state became a leading wood producer in the nation before the boom ended about 1910. Copper and iron ore deposits discovered in the Upper Peninsula led to creation of a mining industry. Copper prospectors flocked to the Keweenaw Peninsula beginning in 1843, while mining and smelting companies formed to exploit iron ore discovered near Negaunee in 1844.
Mining created a demand for a canal to bypass the rapids at Sault Sainte Marie, and in 1855 the state opened the Sault Sainte Marie Canals, which made it possible for ships to pass between Lake Superior and the lower lakes. The canal and locks were built on 300,000 hectares (750,000 acres) granted by Congress and were operated by the state until 1881, when control was transferred to the U.S. government. Railroads were built in the 1840s, and in 1852 a rail line linked Detroit to Chicago.
From 1835 to 1860 many immigrants arrived in Michigan, especially British, Germans, and Irish. In 1847 a Dutch group arrived and founded Holland in western Michigan. Population growth occurred mainly in farming areas of southern Michigan, but large numbers of miners from Cornwall, England, were attracted to the Upper Peninsula. In 1847 the state capital was moved from Detroit to Lansing.
J Civil War
Michigan played an active role in opposing slavery before the American Civil War (1861-1865). Many of its citizens were originally from New England and western New York, centers of abolitionist sentiment, and the state was often a final stop in the United States on the Underground Railroad for fugitive slaves seeking safety in Canada. The first state Republican Party in the nation was founded in Michigan in 1854 to oppose the extension of slavery.
More than 90,000 Michigan men served in the Union Army and Navy during the Civil War, and a woman, Sarah Emma Edmonds, disguised as a man, fought with the Union forces. George Armstrong Custer, whose home was at Monroe, was the state’s most famous Union cavalryman. A Michigan regiment captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Georgia, where he fled following the collapse of the Southern armies in 1865. Michigan Senator Zachariah Chandler was nationally known during and after the Civil War for his support of a radical policy for Reconstruction in the South.
The Civil War hastened Michigan’s change from an agricultural to an industrial state. By 1880 manufacturing had increased threefold, and rapid industrialization continued. Detroit’s manufacturing output in 1900 exceeded that for the entire state in 1870. Large numbers of Polish immigrants settled in Detroit, becoming the city’s largest ethnic group.
K The Progressive Era
From July 1854, when the Michigan Republican Party was formally established, until 1932, Michigan usually voted for Republican candidates. Not once in this period was the entire electoral vote of the state given to a Democratic presidential candidate. Only three governors of this period belonged to other parties, and only one Democrat served as a U.S. senator.
During the first two decades of the 20th century, several Michigan political leaders were associated with the Progressive movement, a national effort to curb abuses by governments and industry and to improve life for workers, the poor, and other groups. Under their leadership, Michigan instituted direct elections for U.S. senators, direct primary elections, and the use of the initiative and referendum, measures that allow voters to propose or approve legislation. Conservation programs and compensation for workers injured on the job were established. Among the leading Michigan progressives were Hazen S. Pingree, a Detroit mayor who became Republican governor of the state in 1897; Republican Governor Chase S. Osborn (1911-1913); and Democratic Governor Woodbridge N. Ferris (1913-1917).
L Automotive Revolution
The 1890s saw the creation of the industry that would become synonymous with Michigan: automobile manufacturing. Within decades, Detroit became the automotive capital of the world as men who had made fortunes in lumber and mining invested in the new industry. Ransom E. Olds of Lansing established the first Michigan company to manufacture automobiles in 1897. Henry Ford, who produced his first experimental car in 1893, founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903. Ford’s Model T, first produced in 1908, dominated the low-price market for almost two decades. Ford’s plant was the first to perfect the continuously moving assembly line, which allowed automobiles to be made more quickly and cheaply, putting them within reach of more consumers and greatly expanding the industry. William C. Durant of Flint organized the General Motors Corporation in 1908, combining the Buick, Oldsmobile, and Oakland companies. The Cadillac company and the firm started by Louis Chevrolet were added later. In 1925 Walter Chrysler established the Chrysler Corporation, the youngest of what became the Big Three automobile companies.
The automobile industry had a revolutionary impact on Michigan. The state, which had few large cities before 1910, became rapidly urbanized. Detroit rose from ninth to fourth place in population among U.S. cities from 1910 to 1920, when it had 1 million residents. The number of foreign immigrants, largely from southern and eastern European countries, rose rapidly from 1910 to 1925. During and after World War I, (1914-1918), thousands of Southern blacks also moved to Detroit seeking jobs and better opportunities, but they also faced segregation and a chapter of the racist Ku Klux Klan. During the war, Michigan factories produced trucks, airplane engines, and other military supplies, in addition to the mass production of cars.
M The Depression and the Labor Movement
The automobile industry grew rapidly until the 1930s, when it suffered severely during the economic hard times of the Great Depression. Because Michigan’s economy was so dependent on the industry, the state was hit hard, experiencing unemployment rates far above the national average. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs.
The hardships of the Great Depression helped to end the Republican Party’s long domination of Michigan politics. In 1932 Michigan residents gave the state’s electoral votes to Democratic presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt and elected Democrats to most state offices. Roosevelt’s programs to combat the depression, known as the New Deal, provided work for more than 500,000 Michigan residents.
The United Automobile Workers of America (UAW) was formed in 1935, the same year Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act guaranteeing workers the right to organize unions. Workers staged a series of sit-down strikes in automobile plants seeking recognition of the union by the major manufacturers. In December 1936 workers at a General Motors plant in Flint locked themselves in the factory when the company refused to recognize the union and allow collective bargaining. Democratic Governor Frank Murphy mediated the dispute, refusing to call out troops to break the strike. In February 1937 General Motors recognized the UAW as the collective bargaining agent for the workers. Other major auto companies followed suit except for Ford, which was found guilty of repeated violations of the national labor-relations law. Ford finally recognized the union in 1941 after a strike at its main plant. The UAW’s success in becoming the representative of most auto workers was one of the most significant labor actions of the century, affecting thousands of workers in Detroit and other cities.
N World War II and Postwar Changes
During World War II (1939-1945) the automobile industry ended production for civilian use and converted its operations to the manufacturing of military equipment such as tanks, airplanes, and amphibious vehicles. Turning out war materials valued at $50 billion, Detroit earned the title of “Arsenal of Democracy.” Large numbers of workers from other states, including many blacks from the South, went to work in the plants. Racial tensions erupted into violence in Detroit in 1943 that killed 34 people.
The migration of workers continued after the war as plants returned to civilian production, meeting long-suppressed demand for cars, trucks, tractors, and buses. In 1950, when the nation began rearmament on a large scale, the automobile industry expanded to handle the production of defense materials. The demand for workers continued in the early 1950s, and Michigan’s population grew 23 percent in the decade.
The Democratic Party, which had first gained strength during Roosevelt’s administration, took control of the governor’s office in 1948 with the election of G. Mennen Williams. Williams was reelected to five more terms, serving from 1949 to 1961. No previous governor had served more than three terms. The Democratic Party won most statewide elections in the 1950s, due to Williams’s popularity, the party’s close ties with organized labor unions, and its support from black voters. However, the Republicans maintained control of the legislature, because apportionment of seats in both houses favored rural areas and small cities, where the Republicans were strongest.
In the mid-1950s, employment in Michigan’s automobile industry began to decline, intensified by a nationwide recession in 1957 and 1958. Revenue from taxes fell while state expenditures rose to meet the rising costs of social welfare payments, causing budget deficits. It was only with the auto industry’s gradual return to prosperity in the early 1960s that the drain on the treasury ceased. In 1967 Michigan enacted a flat-rate income tax to help pay for the state’s increasing public needs.
In 1961 the state convened a constitutional convention to deal with outmoded government and fiscal practices. A new constitution was approved by the voters in April 1963 and went into effect the following year. One of the members of the constitutional convention, Republican George Romney, was elected governor in 1962. The state legislature was reapportioned in 1964 to comply with the “one-person, one-vote” principle.
During the 1960s, Michigan continued to struggle with racial and economic problems, especially in its deteriorating cities. Many city residents, mostly whites, moved into the suburbs, leaving behind rising crime and unemployment. During a tense period of civil rights struggles throughout the nation, rioting broke out in predominantly black sections of Detroit in July 1967. Blocks of buildings were burned and looted, and 43 people were killed.
O Decades of Turmoil
The 1970s and 1980s were a period of crises for Michigan. Detroit still suffered from the aftermath of the race riots in 1967 and its crime rate increased. Detroit and other cities were ordered by federal courts to desegregate their schools, but whites resisted programs to bus children to achieve racial balance. Urban automobile plants and their suppliers began to relocate both in suburban areas and other states, leading to more unemployment, neighborhood deterioration, and crime. Conditions worsened when Middle Eastern oil suppliers imposed an embargo on the United States in 1973, causing gasoline shortages and a decline in car sales. This temporarily crippled Michigan’s two largest industries, automobile manufacturing and tourism.
Coleman Young was elected in 1973 as Detroit’s first black mayor, and the start of construction on a hotel and business complex named the Renaissance Center and the Joe Louis Arena helped revitalize the downtown area. After a brief rebound, the economy faltered again in the 1980s. Because its economic base was so heavily dependent on the auto industry, Michigan once more was hit hard when automobile sales slumped, as many consumers chose foreign cars over American models. The state’s third leading industry, agriculture, also declined, and unemployment in the state reached its highest level since the Great Depression.
Two governors held office during this turbulent period. William G. Milliken became governor in 1969 when Romney resigned to join President Richard Nixon’s cabinet. Milliken was in office 13 years, making him the state’s longest serving chief executive. In 1983 James Blanchard became the first Democratic governor of Michigan in 20 years. Like Milliken, Blanchard emphasized education and economic stability. He proposed a plan to diversify the economy, retraining workers for high technology jobs, and sought regional cooperation among the Great Lakes states to attract new industries. However, his ideas received little support from the legislature and business leaders.
In 1973 Gerald R. Ford, a Michigan congressman, was appointed vice president of the United States after the incumbent, Spiro Agnew, resigned. The next year, Ford became the 38th president when Nixon resigned because of the Watergate political scandal.
The 1970s also saw conflicts between the state and Native American residents. A 1979 federal court decision upheld the rights of Michigan tribes to fish and hunt in traditional areas.
P Recent Developments
In 1990, primarily because of another decline in the automobile industry, Blanchard was defeated for reelection by Republican state Senator John Engler. Engler instituted fiscal reforms that made Michigan first in the nation in new business growth and first among all industrial states in economic development in 1993. In five years, the state’s deficit of nearly $2 billion became a $1 billion surplus. The state’s growth in personal income was three times the national average, and unemployment reached its lowest level in nearly 20 years.
Michigan’s recovery was based on three factors: tax laws were changed to stimulate business growth and reduce property taxes on individuals; many state services were privatized; and welfare reforms were instituted, cutting off aid to able-bodied adults with no children and establishing retraining and community service alternatives for the unemployed. In the mid-1990s, Michigan served as a national laboratory for experiments in government and economic reform. Michigan also reestablished itself as a leader in education, enacting a broad charter school program that permitted universities, community colleges, and other groups or individuals to open state-funded private schools within a school district. The state’s school financing system was changed in 1993, ending reliance on property taxes and increasing the sales tax.
By the mid-1990s Michigan business leaders were seeking to expand manufacturing and attract high technology companies, rather than relying on the automobile industry. Michigan also joined other Great Lakes states to preserve natural resources and promote regional economic development.
The history section was contributed by Bruce Alan Rubenstein. The remainder of the article was contributed by Lawrence M. Sommers.

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