Some interesting points in the
History of Michigan


The French had explored the Great Lakes since Etienne Brulé reached the St. Marys River around 1620.

In 1668, the Jesuit mission at Sault Ste Marie was the first permanent European settlement in what would later become Michigan. For over 25 years, the military post at Michilimackinac was the center of French influence in the Great Lakes area.

In 1679, Robert Cavelier Sieur de la Salle builds the Fort Miami at present-day St. Joseph, the first non-Indian community in the Lower Peninsula.

On July 24, 1701, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, a French army officer, selects a site at le détroit (the straits) the waterway between Lakes St. Clair and Erie. The one hundred soldiers and workers that accompany Cadillac build a 200-square-foot palisade and name it Fort Pontchartrain. Cadillac's wife, Marie Thérèse, soon moves to Detroit, becoming one of the first white women to settle in the Michigan wilderness.

On May 7, 1763, three hundred Ottawa Indians, led by Pontiac, enter Fort Detroit intent upon launching a surprise attack upon the British garrison. Alerted to the plan, the British are ready, and Pontiac withdraws and places Detroit under siege. Despite being vastly outnumbered, the British at Detroit held, they receive supplies, and Pontiac ended his siege in late October.

On June 2, 1763, the Chippewa Indians take Fort Michilimackinac

In 1787, the United States included the Michigan region as part of the Northwest Territory.

On July 11, 1796, U.S. regulars under the command of Lt. Colonel John F. Hamtramck enter Detroit and replace the British Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes. The ceremony comes thirteen years after the signing of the Treaty of Paris at the end of the American Revolution.

On July 1, 1805, the Territory of Michigan was created with General William Hull as the first governor.

In 1805, Detroit was proclaimed the capital of this new territory.

On January 22, 1813, a British force of 1,300 soldiers and Indians falls upon an American army at the River Raisin near present-day Monroe. Against direct orders, U.S. Brigadier General James Winchester has moved his force of 700 Kentuckians and 200 regulars to the River Raisin. The Americans repulse several British assaults, but finally they surrender because Winchester fears a possible Indian massacre. The British withdraw after the battle leaving behind eighty wounded Americans. The following day, the Indians murder many of these soldiers. The battle of the River Raisin, the largest battle ever fought on Michigan soil, concludes a series of U.S. setbacks in Michigan during the early months of the War of 1812.

In September 1813, U.S. forces will return to Michigan and, amidst cries of "Remember the River Raisin," they will drive the British from Michigan soil. Michigan will grow slowly after the war.

In 1825, the opening of the Erie Canal will precipitate a flood of immigrants, especially from New York and New England.

In 1835, the Michigan State Constitution is written.

On January 26, 1837, in Washington, DC, President Andrew Jackson signs the bill making Michigan the nation's twenty-sixth state.

On January 27, 1847, Francis Troutman and several others arrive at the home of the Adam Crosswhite family Kentucky slaves who have escaped to Marshall. Troutman, who plans to return the Crosswhites to their former master, is confronted by several hundred Marshall residents who threaten the slave holders with tar and feathers. While Troutman is being charged with assault and fined $100, the Crosswhites flee to Canada.

On March 16, 1847, against major opposition, the governor signed a bill on which named Lansing Township as the new state capital. Many called that area a wilderness, noting there was not even a village there. By January of 1848, the legislature was to meet in the new capital so work began quickly to build a simple wooden structure to serve as the temporary capitol building. Originally, the settlement built up around the capitol was called Michigan, Michigan. But this proved to be too confusing and was quickly changed to Lansing.

On June 22, 1855, the passage of the steamer Illinois through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie marked the opening of unobstructed shipping between Lakes Superior and Huron. Ships were no longer forced to stop at Sault Ste. Marie and portage their cargoes around the rapids of the St. Mary's River, which drops twelve feet from Lake Superior to Lake Huron.

In 1859, Lansing was incorporated as a city. Due to the Civil War, the temporary building was utilized much longer than was originally anticipated. An addition was built which had to suffice until a larger, more modern capitol would be built.

On October 2, 1872, the cornerstone was laid for a modern capitol building. The final cost of the building would total $1,427,738.78.

On 1 January 1879, the new capitol was dedicated, this capitol was one of the first which used the newly re-modeled United States Capitol building in Washington, D. C. as its model. The Michigan edifice, in turn, became the model for many other state capitol buildings.

In May 1861, the first western regiment to reach Washington, DC the northern capital was the first Michigan Infantry. Reportedly President Abraham Lincoln exclaimed, "Thank God for Michigan."

On July 1, 1863, The Twenty-fourth Michigan Infantry, a member of the famed Iron Brigade, engages advancing Confederate forces at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In savage fighting, the Twenty-fourth suffers 80 percent casualties the greatest loss of any northern regiment in the war's most dynamic battle.

On May 10, 1865, the defeated Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured by Colonel Benjamin Pritchard and the Fourth Michigan Cavalry. By then over 90,000 Michigan men, and at least one woman disguised as a man, will have served in the Union armies; approximately 15,000 will have died.

On January 28, 1877, Winfield Scott Gerrish opens the 7.1-mile-long Lake George and Muskegon River Railroad in
Clare County. Following a warm winter that seriously hampered logging activities, Gerrish moves 20 million board feet of logs to the Muskegon River. The next year he increases his output sixfold.. Commercial logging in Michigan had flourished since the Civil War, drawing immigrants from around the world. Michigan retained leadership in lumber production until 1900. By the end of the lumbering era, Michigan loggers had cut 161 billion board feet of pine logs and 50 billion board feet of hardwoods. This is the equivalent to a half-mile wide, one-inch plank road from New York to San Francisco.

In 1881, one of Michigan's worst natural disasters were fires in the Thumb region leave 300 people dead. This will be the first disaster relief project for the American Red Cross.

On March 6, 1896, Charles King of Detroit is the first person to test drive a gasoline-powered automobile in Michigan.

In June 1896, Henry Ford drives his gasoline-powered, two-cylinder quadricycle in Detroit. But it is Ransom E. Olds of Lansing who starts Michigan's first auto company.

In 1903, Ford who has been credited with perfecting modern mass production, begins manufacturing autos.

In 1905, the Olds Motor Works is producing 6,500 cars annually.

In 1908, Ford introduces the Model T. Five years later, he is producing 250,000 Model Ts annually.

In 1908, William Durant, a successful Flint carriage maker, organizes the General Motors Company. Unlike Ford, whose strategy was to manufacture only one model of car, Durant merges several existing auto companies to offer a diversity of models..

On 2 May, 1933, two hundred young men from Detroit arrive at an isolated spot in Chippewa County and set up Camp Raco, Michigan's first Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) facility. Within months, dozens of similar camps open across northern Michigan. When the program ended in 1942, over 100,000 Michigan men will have served in the CCC. Their accomplishments included: planting over 484 million seedlings (more than twice the number in any other state), expending 140,000 man-days in fighting forest fires, placing 150 million fish in rivers and lakes, and constructing 7,000 miles of truck trails, 504 buildings and 222 bridges.

In December 1940, the federal government asked the Ford Motor Company to build 1,200 B-24 bombers

On October 1, 1942, the first B-24 bomber rolled off the assembly line at the Willow Run Bomber Plant near Ypsilanti. The plant will produce 8,600 planes. By early 1944 bombers will come off Willow Run's mile-long assembly line at the rate of one an hour. By the end of World War II, Chrysler's Warren Tank Plant will have made 25,000 tanks, while in Kingsford, the Ford Motor Company will have manufactured over 4,000 gliders. Known as the "Arsenal of Democracy," Michigan, with only four percent of the nation's population, will lead all other states in the production of war materiel.

In May 1954, the construct of the Mackinac Bridge began. The bridge's central span of 3,800 feet between the towers is the third largest such span in the world. The length between anchorage's is 8,614 feet, making it the world's longest suspension bridge at this time.

On November 1, 1957, the Mackinac Bridge, connecting Michigan's two peninsulas, opened.