Michigan Becomes 26th State

U.S. #775 pictures the state seal and flag, as well as farm and city scenes.

On January 26, 1837, President Andrew Jackson approved Michigan’s bid for statehood.

French explorer Étienne Brûlé was likely the first European to visit Michigan when he explored the area around 1620.  In 1634, Quebec Governor Samuel de Champlain sent Jean Nicolet to search for a route to the Pacific Ocean.  Nicolet sailed through the Straits of Mackinac and explored the Upper Peninsula.  In 1660, Father René Ménard established a Jesuit mission at Keweenaw Bay.  The first permanent settlement was created by Father Jacques Marquette at Sault Ste. Marie in 1668.

U.S. #1658 – Michigan’s flag includes the official state motto which translates to “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”

France and Great Britain struggled for control of North America during the late 1600s and 1700s.  By 1763, France was defeated and forced to relinquish control of most of its North American colonies. That same year, the Ottawa Indian Chief Pontiac led an uprising and massacred the British at Fort Michilimackinac and attacked several other forts.  Pontiac’s forces laid siege to Detroit for five months, but were eventually turned away.  In 1774, the British made Michigan a part of the province of Quebec.

U.S. #1974 – The state bird and flower – Robin and Apple Blossom.

After the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, America gained the Michigan area.  However, the British kept control of Detroit and Fort Mackinac until 1796, to control the valuable fur trade.  In 1787, Michigan became part of the first territory organized by the U.S. government, the Northwest Territory.  A section of Michigan was organized as part of the Indiana Territory in 1800, and by 1803, all of Michigan was in the Indiana Territory.  In 1805, Congress created the Territory of Michigan, which included the Lower Peninsula and the eastern portion of the Upper Peninsula.  The British reclaimed Detroit and Fort Mackinac during the War of 1812.  American forces took Detroit in 1813, but Fort Mackinac remained in British hands until 1814, after the war had ended.  Many new settlers from the East came to Michigan when the Erie Canal was completed in 1825.

U.S. #3582 pictures the monorail in Detroit and a Great Lakes fishing boat.

A constitutional convention was held, and on October 5, 1835, the people ratified the state’s constitution.  However, Congress delayed Michigan’s admittance to the Union due to a dispute with Ohio over the Toledo area.  Congress settled this in 1836 by giving the “Toledo Strip” to Ohio and the entire Upper Peninsula to Michigan.  Finally, Michigan became the 26th state to join the Union on January 26, 1837.

U.S. #4298 pictures the state flag and boats you’d often see on the Great Lakes.

In 1842, Michigan obtained Isle Royale and the Keweenaw Peninsula in a treaty with the Indians.  It was discovered that the western portion of the Upper Peninsula was an important source of minerals.  The Upper Peninsula quickly developed a thriving mining industry.  The need to ship ore to the iron and steel centers on the Great Lakes resulted in the construction of the Soo Canal, which was completed in 1855.  The Soo Canal allowed ships to pass between Lake Superior and Lake Huron.

U.S. #2246 pictures Michigan’s state tree – the white pine.

In a thirty-year period, from 1870 to 1900, Michigan’s population more than doubled.  The lumber industry developed rapidly.  Huge amounts of land were cleared as large numbers of farmers settled in the area.  Then in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Olds Motor Works and Ford Motor Company transformed Detroit into the center of the nation’s automobile industry.  Later, during both World Wars, Michigan’s industrial might aided the war effort greatly.  Factories built trucks, armored vehicles, airplane engines, and more.

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  1. I had no idea that Detroit and Mackinac Is. had been in British hands as late as 1814. I’m a college professor, but I learn something new from this post every day. Thank you.

  2. Yep, at I tell my students, Ohio got Toledo, Michigan got the UP, and Wisconsin got screwed by losing the UP to Michigan. BTW, Nicolet continued down into Lake Michigan, exploring its west coast, and put into the area which later became Milwaukee, my home town.

  3. No need to go to school to learn about USA’s rich history. Mystic and the dedicated staff should be awarded an honorary degree for their in depth knowledge and writing technique. Anybody interested in history as myself, always finds very useful information no matter what subject you are dealing with.

    Great learning experience for young and old alike.!
    What you are doing is truly remarkable…..please don’t stop.!!!

    Frank Sierra

  4. The great state of Michigan. Who’d have known that decades later the horrible city of Detroit would declare bankruptcy.

  5. Instead of Soo Canal, a better term for the junction of Lakes Superior and Huron would be Soo Locks. The mean water level of Lake Superior is 21 ft above that of Lakes Huron and Michigan. For that reason, a pair of locks were built so the ships, primarily large iron ore carriers, could negotiate that elevation difference.

    I rode through there once on a tour boat–we had the huge locks to ourselves, It takes only minutes for a lock to fill from Lake Superior, for vessels going into that lake, or empty into Lake Huron, for vessels going the opposite way. The locks operate totally by gravity water flow–no pumps, only gates.

    Lakes Huron and Michigan are connected by the Strait of Mackinac. They are actually one lake–the only two Great Lakes with the same water level.

  6. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa meaning “large water” or large lake.

  7. Stamp #1069 calls them Soo Locks. It’s the only term I’ve ever heard. I’m not sure why it wasn’t mentioned. Also, is this the same Mackinac that has the bridge in stamp #1109??? There you go, two more great stamps representing your area.

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