History of Michigan

The first expedition to the region that today occupies the state of Michigan was led by the French Étienne Brulé, in 1620. Later, Jean Nicolet, (1634), and Jacques Marquette (1668) explored this territory. The latter founded the settlements of Sault Ste Marie and St. Ignace. The first permanent settlement, however, dates back to 1701 when Antoine Laumet de la Mothe Cadillac, settled with a group of French settlers in the place that later became known as Detroit. However, the French presence was not very numerous, counting only on a few missionaries, traders and hunters of skins.

The Treaty of Paris of 1763 put an end to the 7 Years War, and with it the French presence in this territory which was ceded to the British. The territory was part of the British province of Quebec. The Indians fought against the presence of European settlers, regardless of whether they were French or British. Thus, the Indians of the Ottawa tribe attacked the English detachments that same year, among them that of Fort Michilimanckinac.

During the War of Independence, Michigan residents supported the British, as as hunters and traffickers they feared that independence would allow new settlers to arrive in these lands, and they would have problems with their businesses. The Treaty of Paris of 1783 which ratified the independence of the thirteen colonies, agreed that the territory of Michigan was part of the United States, although, despite the agreement, the British did not abandon some of their detachments in the region until 1796. The United States Congress organized the territories under its jurisdiction in 1787, this established that Michigan was part of the Northwest Territories. In 1803, Michigan became part of the Indiana Territory, created in the administrative and territorial reorganization of the 1800s. In 1805, Congress created the territory of Michigan. The federal government, at the same time, drove the Indians out of their lands, and moved them to the northern reserves, in order to be able to assign plots of land to the white settlers. During the war of 1812, when the British tried to restore power over their former colonies, Detroit was occupied for a year. The Americans, however, managed to reconquer the city in September 1813.  They were unable until 1814 to expel the British from Mackinac Island, a strategic site that gave them control of Michigan.

The definitive end of the war with England, and the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 (which allowed communications between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean), facilitated the settlement of settlers in Michigan. Population growth was rapid, so in 1834 the Michigan territory asked for admission to the United States. Admission, however, was delayed until 1837 by a southwestern border dispute with Ohio, which resulted in the Toledo War in 1835, when Michigan militias occupied the disputed strip of land. The United States Congress mediated between the two states, and to compensate for the allocation of this strip of land to Ohio.

During these years, Michigan’s economic activity was centered on the exploitation of wood and mineral resources in the upper peninsula, and agricultural in the rest of the territory. The need to transport iron ore from the mines of western Michigan to the blast furnaces on the edges of the great lakes required the construction of the Soo canals.

During the Civil War, Michigan actively participated with 90,000 men; among them emerged General George Armstrong Custer whose cavalry managed to capture the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. During this war, no battles were fought on the territory of the state of Michigan. In 1899, Ransom Olds founded the first automobile factory in Detroit, and in 1903 it was Henry Ford who founded the Ford Motor Company in this city located on the Great Lakes. These pioneering companies were followed by others in the automotive sector. The manufacture of the Ford T model, in which a revolutionary chain assembly system was used which radically lowered production costs and, consequently,

Michigan’s industrial specialization allowed its factories to supply Allied armies with automotive materials, armor and other types of military tools during the world wars. The end of the First World War, and the economic crisis that followed it, had a negative effect in Michigan as the decline in the purchasing power of Americans resulted in the loss of jobs of industrial workers working in those sectors of goods. not considered essential. As a further effect, during those years there was a great labor conflict and the creation of powerful unions that tried to resist the power of the entrepreneurs. The end of the Second World War had different effects than those that occurred after the Great War, as the US economy was enormously strengthened by the last war. In fact, the purchasing power of most Americans increased substantially and, as a result, the sales of automobiles and other related goods, as a result of which Michigan experienced a continuous and rapid growth. This economic boom practically continued until 1973, when the oil crisis occurred, as a result of the decision of the OPEP countries, (oil exporting countries), to control their production quotas. In 1980, the Chrysler Corporation received $ 15 billion in federal aid to avoid bankruptcy and the resulting rise in unemployment. In 1982, Michigan unemployment reached 17.3 percent, the highest level since the Great Depression of the 1930s. After several years of crisis, from the mid-1980s car sales began to rise again. Michigan continues to be the automotive center of the world today, however, the excessive dependence on this sector has led the companies and public institutions involved to try to diversify the economic activities of the state.

In 1974, Vice President Gerald Rudolph Ford, a native of Grand Rapids, became president of the United States after Nixon’s resignation over the Watergate scandal.

Michigan State Flag

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