As we cruise east along the southern shore of Lake Superior, Wisconsin turns
to Michigan. The Upper Peninsula lies ahead on our starboard; if we follow
the shore far enough, all the way around the peninsula, we'll be off Wisconsin
again. Which brings us to the question - why is the U. P. part of Michigan?
Why create a state in two sections? Seems a bit awkward. What were they
The answer, oddly enough, lies in Ohio. In the mid-1830s Michigan Territory
longed for statehood. There was a major fly in the ointment however. It
wanted to have the important lake port of Toledo as part of its territory.
Ohio had other ideas. The so called Toledo War broke out. Michigan governor
Stevens T. Mason, nicknamed the boy governor for his extreme youth, called
out the territorial militia in March of 1835 and occupied the disputed region.
Ohio governor Robert Lucas moved his militia into the same region. Checkmate
turned to stalemate and both militias disbanded. In those days militias
would do this at the drop of a beaver hat. It was time for the Federal government
to step in. President Andrew Jackson appointed Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia
and Benjamin C. Howard of Baltimore as peace emissaries. Success proved
elusive as Michigan troops in April took several peace commissioners hostage.
In June governor Lucas and the Ohio legislature made Toledo the seat of
a new county named (surprise, surprise) Lucas County. Old Hickory requested
Ohio to put the measure on hold. This was pretty much ignored until Federal
authorities arrested an Ohio judge and temporarily removed governor Mason
In June of 1836 Congress decided the argument in favor of Ohio and granted
Michigan statehood the following year. As a sop to wounded Michigan pride
the new state was awarded the Upper Peninsula. Wisconsin, a dozen years
away from statehood and sparsely populated, was in no position to argue.
And, as it turned out, Michigan did all right for herself. The peninsula
contained large deposits of copper and iron ore. The Chippewa knew of these
deposits; the whites of the new state would not discover their rich good
fortune until the 1840s.
The triumph would be a little late for former-governor Mason. Replaced by
Michigan voters, framed by his triumphant rival on charges of bribery, and
out of office, he traveled to New York City to practice law, only to be
told his Michigan law degree was inadequate for the New York bar. Sinking
ever deeper into poverty, Mason hit the books and eventually passed his
bar exam. Success still eluded him and the struggling lawyer came down with
a cold. Mis-diagnosed, it turned to pneumonia and on January 5, 1843, Stevens
Thomson Mason passed away. He was 31. His body would laterbe exhumed and
returned to Michigan, in 1905.
For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor.
© 1998 David Minor / Eagles Byte
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