- Economic, Cultural, and Political History
- Profile of People and Lifestyles
- State Facts
|ECONOMIC, CULTURAL, AND POLITICAL
|Economy and Culture
|About 15,000 Indians lived
in Michigan when Europeans first arrived in the area in the
early 1600s. The Chippewa (Ojibway) lived in the Upper Peninsula
and eastern lower peninsula and the Potawatomi in the southwest.
Other tribes included the Sauk, Miami, Huron, and Menominee.
The earliest European immigrants came largely
from France, mainly as fur traders and missionaries. Father
Jacques Marquette founded the first permanent settlement in
Michigan, in Sault Ste. Marie, in 1668; three years later,
he founded St. Ignace. The military posts at Mackinac Island
and Mackinaw City (Fort Michilimackinac) were built to protect
French influence in the region.
Southern Michigan was settled a bit later. In
1690 the French established Fort St. Joseph, near Niles. In
1701 Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who commanded Fort Michilimackinac,
established Fort Pontchartrain in Detroit, which became a
fur-trading hub, a strong defense against British exploration,
and an early farming site.
|In search of the mythical northwest
passage to the Orient, Samuel de Champlain (founder of Quebec)
sent Etienne Brulé to head west through the Georgian Bay. Brulé
reached the Sault Ste. Marie area in 1618. On a later trip,
in 1621, he traveled as far west as the Keweenaw Peninsula.
In the 1630s Jean Nicolet explored the Lake Michigan area, reaching
The French settled northern Michigan first because
they had made an enemy of the Iroquois Nation in southwest
New York, which blocked the French path to Lake Erie and southern
By the turn of the 18th century, the British
too were interested in Michigan. The French responded by forming
an alliance with various Indian tribes, as they had in the
eastern areas of Canada and America. At the conclusion of
the French and Indian War—which ended with a British victory
on the Plains of Abraham, in Quebec—the French surrendered
Detroit, in 1760, to British Maj. Robert Rogers.
|Life was extraordinarily difficult
in Michigan during much of this period.
Constant skirmishing occurred among the French
settlers, various Indian tribes, English settlers, and—after
the Revolutionary War ended, in 1783—newly independent Americans.
Much of Michigan was unsettled. Control of the few forts shifted
among French and British and American control. Indian raids,
spirited by the French and British, were common.
After the War of 1812, federal surveyors dismissed
Michigan as uninhabitable because of its swampland. This finding
caused many easterners to settle and farm in Illinois and
Missouri rather than Michigan.
Compounding problems of settlement was the lack
of clearly defined property rights. Not until treaties clearing
the way for titled land were signed with the Indians in 1819
through 1821 did settlers from the eastern states begin moving
into the Michigan Territory.
In the 1820s and 1830s, settlement surged. New
roads were built into the territory's central parts, the first
public land sales were held, and the Erie Canal's completion,
in 1825, spurred an influx of farmers from New England and
New York. The territory grew faster than any other part of
the United States.
In 1820 Michigan had 8,896 people, excluding
Indians. By 1830 the population had grown to 32,000.
|The Indian tribes had found
the French to be friendly and respectful, and British ascension
incited nearly nonstop skirmishing among European settlers and
the Indians. For example, the Ottawa leader Pontiac organized
attacks against all British forts in the 1760s, and most fell.
Michigan saw little action during the Revolutionary
War, and even afterward, the British settlers ignored the
new U.S. government. Fort Detroit remained in British hands
until 1796, and in 1812 the British and their allies, the
Shawnee, led by Tecumseh, regained control of Detroit and
Mackinac Island; many U.S. settlers were slaughtered at Frenchtown,
in Monroe County, in 1813. It was not until 1815 that the
British surrendered Mackinac Island to the United States.
The Northwest Territory was formed under the
Ordinance of 1787, and the County of Wayne was defined as
including most of Wisconsin, all of Michigan, and northern
sections of Indiana and Ohio. Later, Minnesota, Iowa, and
part of the Dakotas were added. In 1805 President Jefferson
declared Michigan a separate territory, with Detroit as its
capitol, and named William Hull territorial governor.
In 1833 the Michigan Territory had more than
60,000 inhabitants, sufficient to formally seek admission
as a state. Voters adopted a territorial constitution in October
1835, and Michigan's acting governor, Stevens T. Mason—who,
at age 19, had been appointed by President Jackson—pushed
for statehood. But a skirmish with Ohio over the rightful
ownership of Toledo (eventually ceded to Ohio in exchange
for the Upper Peninsula) delayed statehood until 1837.
|In 1840 the new state's population
had reached 212,267, and settlers were pouring into Michigan,
doubling the population by 1850 and again by 1860. Farming replaced
fur trading as the state's primary economic activity.
The transplanted New Englanders and New Yorkers
brought with them Yankee values: tolerance, a strong work
ethic, and love of education. Dutch farmers settled the southwest,
Germans the Saginaw Valley, Irish the southeast, and Finns
and Italians the Upper Peninsula.
The Germans, in particular, strongly encouraged
establishing public schools in each community. Borrowing from
the Northwest Territory's policy, the property tax revenue
from one section of each township in each county was dedicated
to public schools.
In the 1830s oil was discovered in Macomb County,
and in the 1840s rich copper and iron ore deposits were found
in the Upper Peninsula.
Rapid economic growth prompted land and
money speculation fueled by an unregulated credit and banking
system. Following the Panic of 1837, the boom evaporated,
leaving impoverished farmers, failed banks, and abandoned
projects that included several grand schemes for state-financed
railways and canals. Economic stability returned during the
1850s with agricultural growth and the burgeoning lumber and
|On January 26, 1837, Michigan
became the 26th state. Stevens T. Mason, a Democrat aged 24,
became its first elected governor. He led the efforts to establish
state-supported schools and to locate the University of Michigan
in Ann Arbor. Mason left the governorship in 1840.
From 1837 to the 1850s, Michigan politics were
decidedly Jacksonian and Democratic out of loyalty to President
Jackson for supporting Michigan statehood. One Michigan county
is named after the president and several others after members
of his cabinet: Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Eaton, Ingham,
Livingston, and Van Buren.
The influx of settlers from New York and New
England created a strong liberal, temperate, and abolitionist
political ethos. For example, Michigan was the first government
unit in the country to prohibit capital punishment, and Michigan's
abolitionist sentiment gave birth to the Republican Party,
uniting the Whigs and Free Soilers at a July 6, 1854, convention
With the exception of a single term (184041),
when Whigs William Woodbridge and James Wright Gordon served,
Democrats controlled the governorship from statehood until
1854. In 1854 the new Republican Party's standard bearer,
Kingsley S. Bingham, was elected chief executive, and no Democrat
managed to win the office back until 1890.
|The population of the state
reached 749,113 in 1860, and farming, lumbering, and early manufacturing
dominated the economy in the last half of the 19th century.
Michigan's climate and fertile soil led to national
leadership in wheat production. Important cash crops were
fruit along the temperate Lake Michigan shoreline, sugar beets
in the Thumb, and celery in the Kalamazoo area.
Lumbering became a huge industry after the Civil
War. Michigan woodlands, producing about a quarter of the
nation's total supply, spurred furniture manufacturing in
Grand Rapids and papermaking in Kalamazoo and produced enormous
capital and wealth throughout the state. Another successful
industry established in this early period was the production
of cereal foods, launched by W.K. Kellogg and C.W. Post.
Railroads transformed Michigan's economy by
making it easier to distribute the state's timber, livestock,
and food nationwide.
Between 1860 and 1890, more than 700,000
immigrants, more than half of them from Europe and Canada,
migrated to Michigan.
|The Civil War solidified Republican
control of Michigan politics. Michigan was fiercely pro-Union,
and residents revered President Lincoln.
A major force in state politics was the Grand
Army of the Republic—veterans of the Civil War and staunchly
Republican. Michigan's Civil War governor, Austin Blair, became
one of the most prominent chief executives in America; he
marshaled troops to serve in the war and raised considerable
money for the effort.
Blair's successor as governor was Henry Crapo,
the first of several lumber barons to serve as chief executive.
One of his grandsons was William C. Durant, the founding president
of General Motors.
In 1882 Josiah Begole was elected governor as
a Fusionist, a political party that combined Democrats and
Greenbackers (who favored paper money and populist ideals).
The only other non-Republican governor in this era was Edwin
Winans, a Democrat who served in 1891–92. The century ended
with the election of the last person from Detroit to serve
in Michigan's highest office, Hazen S. Pingree; he led property
tax reform and sought unsuccessfully to make taxes progressive
and shorten the workday.
|By 1900 the population of the
state had reached 2,402,982, and in the next few decades the
major turning point in the Michigan economy occurred: Henry
Ford introduced the assembly line into automobile manufacturing.
Ford and such other auto pioneers as R.E. Olds, William Durant,
and Walter Chrysler set in motion the 20th century's greatest
wealth creator—the automobile industry.
Automobile manufacturing created an enormous
number of jobs, attracting people to Michigan from Canada,
the southern states, and Europe. Between 1900 and 1930, only
Los Angeles grew faster than Detroit, the population of which
soared from about 286,000 to nearly 1.6 million. Flint grew
from 13,000 to more than 156,000.
During this time, new immigrants were less likely
than before to be German or English, as in earlier years,
and more likely to be Polish, Hungarian, Italian, Greek, and
African-American. With the heterogeneous influx, the old Yankee
influences—social, political, and economic—began to wane.
As the automobile industry grew, so did the
labor force's unity and activism. Michigan witnessed bitter
confrontations between unions and large employers. As labor
organizing drives became more successful, the benefits and
wages of the automobile workplace grew richer and began to
spill into other segments of the economy.
The Great Depression of the 1930s took a terrible
toll. By 1934, 800,000 of the state's five million residents
were receiving some form of public relief. Half of the nonagricultural
work force was unemployed. But by the early 1940s,
World War II and the need for arms production had boosted
the state's industrial capacity and ignited a new era of economic
|The Republicans so dominated
Michigan politics in the first half of the 20th century that
the state came close to one-party control. From 1918 to 1928,
not one Democrat was elected to the state Senate and only nine
served in the state House of Representatives.
The Republicans, however, were torn between
two factions: Progressives such as Pingree and Chase Osborn
and conservatives such as Albert Sleeper. In 1912 the split
led to Democrat Woodbridge Ferris—the founder of Ferris Industrial
School, now Ferris State University—being elected governor;
he later served in the U.S. Senate.
Progressives in both parties introduced such
reforms as the secret ballot, referendum and initiative, direct
election of U.S. senators, women's suffrage, workers' compensation,
and expanded state authority over railroads, banks, insurance
companies, and the liquor industry.
Progressive support was so strong that Michigan
voted for Teddy Roosevelt for president in 1912, despite his
being a third-party candidate.
In the 1920s, Gov. Alexander Groesbeck served
three terms and, by creating the State Administrative Board,
consolidated and centralized the executive branch of state
government. In 1932 and 1936, Democrats William Comstock and
Frank Murphy, respectively, rode the coattails of Franklin
Roosevelt into the governor's office.
Thomas Dewey, an Owosso native, carried
Michigan against Democrat Harry S. Truman in the 1948 presidential
election. But in the same year, Democrat G. Mennen Williams
was elected governor and ushered in a new era of Michigan
|In 1950 the population reached
6,372,009, and in that decade the domestic vehicle industry
reached its zenith.
Without serious competition from other states
or countries, Michigan automobile companies spread enormous
wealth among workers and employers. In 1955 Michigan's per
capita income was 16 percent above the U.S. average—among
the highest in the world—and by 1960 the state probably had
the world's broadest middle class.
A high standard of living translated into public
acceptance of considerable government intervention in the
social and economic spheres, as evidenced by Michigan's highway
system, construction of the Mackinac Bridge, and among the
nation's most generous education and welfare programs.
In 1960, however, the trickle of imported foreign
cars—which later became a flood—began, and Michigan's primary
reliance on the motor-vehicle industry's fortunes showed signs
of becoming a serious problem. "When the nation gets a cold,
Michigan gets pneumonia" was the epigram summing up the effects
that national recessions had on the state.
Seeds of racial unrest emerged in the 1940s
and 1950s as the black population of Detroit and other cities
grew and racial segregation policies came under attack. By
the 1960s, urban unrest escalated into the worst civil disturbance
in the nation, as rioting cost 43 lives in Detroit.
|Gov. “Soapy” Williams transformed
the Michigan Democratic Party and state politics. He represented
a new coalition of labor leaders, recent immigrants, and blacks
and created a vibrant two-party system in the state.
In 1948 Republicans had controlled both U.S.
Senate seats from Michigan, held all statewide elected offices,
and enjoyed a 95-5 majority in the state House and a 28-4
majority in the Senate. By 1959 Democrats held both U.S. Senate
seats, all statewide partisan offices, 12 of the 34 state
Senate seats, and 55 of the House's 110 seats (a tie).
The one-man, one-vote apportioning of
state legislative districts in the mid-1960s reduced the disproportionate
power of out-state, rural areas and greatly strengthened Democratic
representation in the state legislature. From 1969 to 1993,
Democrats enjoyed uninterrupted control of the state House.
From 1963 through 1982, liberal Republicans
George Romney and William G. Milliken held the governorship
(Milliken—in office for 14 years—is Michigan's longest serving
Before he became the state's chief executive,
Romney was instrumental in rewriting the state constitution
and then, as governor, in winning its adoption by voters.
Still in force, the 1963 constitution consolidated executive
power in the office of the governor and eliminated from statewide
election several positions, including treasurer, highway commissioner,
superintendent of schools, and auditor.
|From 1980 to 1983, the bottom
seemed to have dropped out of the Michigan economy, as two serious
national recessions were aggravated by fierce international
competition in the automobile industry. Michigan suffered more
unemployment than any other state: Some communities, such as
Flint, endured an unemployment rate higher than 20 percent.
The state per capita income fell to almost 7 percent below the
In recent decades the Michigan economy has become
less reliant on the automobile industry. Service jobs have
increased dramatically, and in the 1990s Michigan led the
nation in economic gains. The state unemployment rate was
below the national average during most of the 1990s, and per
capita income again rose above the U.S. average.
Michigan weathered the 2001 recession better
than many states, but a combination of factors—a revenue slowdown
associated with the recession plus phased reductions in personal
income and single business taxes—created serious fiscal problems
for state government in late 2001. Revenue from the largest
taxes declined by 2.3 percent from 2000, and the state's "rainy
day fund" was tapped heavily in 2002. The state budgets for
the next few years will be among the tightest in modern history.
|After 40 years of liberal domination
of Michigan politics, the state has become fairly conservative.
The economic anxieties of the 1980s, coupled with social unrest
and racial tensions in the 1960s and 1970s, produced skepticism
about government and opposition to taxes, and the Republican
Party's fortunes have risen.
Democrat Gov. James J. Blanchard was upset in
1990 in his bid for a third term. The winner, Republican John
Engler, instituted many conservative policies such as reforming
welfare programs, eliminating the inheritance tax, and introducing
competition into the state public school system.
Republicans have controlled the state Senate
since 1983, but the House has shifted back and forth. At this
writing, Republicans hold both chambers, enjoying a 58-52
majority in the House and a 23-15 majority in the Senate.
Voters adopted two far-reaching changes in the
1990s. In 1992 they added term limits to the constitution,
restricting state representatives to three terms in office
(six years) and the other major elected officials—senators,
governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney
general—to two terms (eight years). In 1994 voters approved
sweeping changes in K12 school funding by raising the sales
tax and lowering and restricting the growth of the local property
taxes that had supported schools.
Sources: Public Sector Consultants,
Inc.; Legislative Service Bureau, Michigan Manual 2001–2002;
George Weeks, Stewards of the State (Detroit News and
Historical Society of Michigan, 1987).
|A PROFILE OF PEOPLE AND LIFESTYLES
The 2000 Census reports the
Michigan population to be nearly 10 million, roughly the same
as the neighboring Canadian province of Ontario, the Czech
Republic, Hungary, Greece, Portugal, Senegal, or Mali.
Michigan's population grew
by 643,147, or 6.9 percent, in the 1990s. This is 19 times
its growth in the previous decade but still well below the
national average growth of 13.2 percent.
Michigan is the 8th most
populous state. Of the top ten, six are growing more rapidly
than Michigan and three more slowly.
Michigan's population density,
averaging 174 residents per square mile, is much higher than
the nation as a whole (the national average is 77). New Jersey,
the most densely populated state, has 1,100 people per square
Michigan's youngest and oldest
residents are roughly equal in number: about 7 percent are
aged under five, while about 6 percent are over 75.
In the percentage of population
aged 65 and older, Michigan, at 12.4 percent, ranks just under
the national average of 12.7 percent.
In 2000 the 136,048 babies
born in Michigan included 99,667 non-Hispanic whites, 24,003
blacks, 6,923 Hispanics, and 3,631 Asian/Pacific Islanders.
One in three births was to an unmarried woman, and more than
one in 10 births was to a teen. Abortions totaled 12.2 for
every 1,000 women aged 15–44, lower than the 1997 national
average of 22.2.
In 2001 Michigan's gross
economy was nearly $298 billion. If it were a nation, Michigan
would rank as the world's 16th largest economy, exceeding
Argentina, Switzerland, Belgium, and Russia.
The median household income
approaches $43,000, ranking Michigan 17th in the nation. Among
Michigan households, 28 percent earn less than $25,000, and
about 12 percent earn more than $100,000.
In 1998 the average household
spent $28,000 on retail purchases.
While still relying on vehicle
manufacturing as a generator of high wages, Michigan is diversifying
steadily. One economic diversity measure is a state's position
in relation to the median of all states (100 percent): In
1970 Michigan stood at 80 percent, which meant that most states
had an employment base more diverse than Michigan's; by 2001
Michigan's economic diversity score was up to 94 percent.
Of employed Michiganians,
22 percent work in manufacturing, 40 percent in services,
and 12 percent in retail.
In 1996 Michigan firms exported
$38 billion in goods to other nations, ranking the state 4th
in the nation; 57 percent of the goods went to Canada.
Of Michigan households, 68
percent are family households; of these, about half are married
couples, and one-third of these couples have minor children.
Female householders with no husband present comprise 13 percent
of the family households, and 8 percent of these women have
The average household size
is 2.6 people, and the average family size is 3.1.
In 1998, among every 1,000
people there were seven marriages and four divorces.
More than a fourth (27 percent)
of Michigan households receive Social Security.
Three of four Michiganians
(74 percent) live in single-unit structures, 19 percent live
in complexes, and 6 percent in manufactured homes.
Among homeowners with a mortgage,
the median monthly housing cost is $961; among those who have
paid off their mortgage, the figure is $282. Renters pay an
average of $552 a month.
The average person in 1997
consumed 31 million British thermal units of energy, ranking
Michigan 31st in the nation in energy consumption.
In 8 percent of Michigan
households, a language other than English is spoken.
Ten percent of residents
live at or below the federal poverty level (in 2002, $15,020
for a family of three); included in this group are 14 percent
of the state's minors and 9 percent of those aged 65 and older.
Fifteen percent of Michiganians receive some type of means-based
public assistance or non-cash benefits.
More than half of all households
have a computer. Nearly two-thirds of adults have used the
Internet, and nearly one-third have made an on-line purchase.
school enrollment is 306,000, K12 enrollment is 2.7
million (about 66,000 are in public school academies, or so-called
charter schools), and 2,000 Michigan children are home schooled;
588,000 Michiganians are in college.
percent of adult residents have a high school diploma. Among
all adults, 15 percent have a bachelor's degree and 8 percent
a graduate or professional degree.
year olds, 10 percent are not enrolled in school and have
not graduated from high school.
K12 teacher's salary in 2000 was $49,044, ranking Michigan
5th in the country.
Eighty-four percent of workers
drive alone to their workplace, spending, on average, 23 minutes.
Nine percent carpool, 3 percent work at home, and one percent
take public transportation. There are 192,000 households in
metropolitan Detroit without a vehicle.
In 2000, 15 percent of all state
residents lived in a dwelling different from where they resided
the previous year.
In 1998, 14,000 foreign immigrants
settled in Michigan; the countries of origin of the greatest
numbers were India (1,500), Mexico (1,000), and China (560).
Crime and Public Safety
In 1996 state and local police
totaled 20,600, or 21 for every 10,000 Michigan residents;
the national average is 25.
In 1999 Michigan experienced 575
violent crimes for every 100,000 people, ranking the state
12th highest in the nation; this is an improvement over 1990,
when Michigan ranked 8th with 790 crimes per 100,000 residents.
Among all Michigan residents aged
five and older, 16 percent report a disability.
Compared to all Americans, Michiganians
are more likely to die from heart disease, diabetes, or homicide
and less likely to die from cancer, cerebrovascular diseases,
a motor-vehicle accident, HIV, or suicide.
In 1998, 27 percent of Michiganians
smoked; the national figure is 23 percent.
In 1998, 35 percent of Michigan
adults were overweight (the national average is 33 percent);
this is up considerably from 1989, when 26 percent were overweight.
Roughly one in 10 Michiganians
(one million) are without health insurance; 311,000 are children.
Michigan has fewer medical doctors
and more nurses than the national average. MDs number 22,000
(225 per 100,000 residents) and nurses 83,000 (830 per 100,000).
About 25 percent of state residents
are enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid. Medicare and Medicaid
expenditures in Michigan total roughly $12 billion.
The National Sporting Goods Association
surveys Americans about their recreational activities and
compares participation among the states. An index is created
whereby a number larger than 100 means that compared to the
national average, more people in that state participate in
the given activity. An index of 150, for example, means that
50 percent more than the national average say that they participate
in that activity. The five highest ranking activities and
their Michigan index numbers are the following:
- Boating (203)
- Darts (144)
- Golf (142)
- In-line roller skating
- Camping (128)
for Educational Performance and Information; Michigan Department
of Community Health; Michigan Department of Education;
Michigan Information Center; National Sporting Goods
Association; U.S. Bureau of the Census; U.S. Statistical
Abstract; World Bank.
The state's name derives from Michigama,
a Chippewa word meaning “large lake.” Michigan is nicknamed
the Wolverine State. Residents are referred to as Michiganians
Michigan is 456 miles long and
386 miles wide and has 56,817 square miles of land.
The 2000 Census reports that Michigan
has 9,938,444 residents, ranking the state 8th among the 50.
Lansing was named the capital city
in 1847, and the current Capitol Building was built in 1879.
Admission to the Union
On January 26, 1837, Michigan
became the 26th state to be admitted.
Si quaeris peninsulam
amoenam circumspice, meaning
“If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”
The present seal was adopted by
the legislature in 1911. At the center is a shield on which
a man is depicted standing on a shore with the sun at his
back. His right hand is upheld, symbolizing peace, and in
his left hand is a gunstock, indicating his readiness to defend
his state and nation. Above him is the word Tuebor,
meaning “I will defend.” The shield is supported on the right
by a moose and on the left by an elk.
Below the shield is the state motto
and above is a bald eagle, representing the nation. In the
bird's right talon is an olive branch with 13 olives, symbolizing
a desire for peace and the 13 original states; in the left
talon are three arrows, symbolizing a willingness to defend
principle. Above the eagle is the national motto, E pluribus
unum, meaning From many, one. The seal's outer edge
is encircled by the words “The Great Seal of Michigan, A.D.
Michigan has 83 counties.
There are 11,037 inland lakes in
Michigan, 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, and 1,573 square
miles of inland water.
Michigan borders on four of the
five Great Lakes: Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior. The
state's Great Lakes shoreline (including islands) is 3,288
Representation in Congress
Michigan has two U.S. senators
and is entitled (based on population) to 15 members in the
U.S. House of Representatives.
Thirty-eight senators and 110 representatives
comprise the Michigan Legislature.
The present state flag was adopted
by the legislature in 1911. On a dark blue field is the state
coat of arms, which is identical to the state seal but without
the encircling words.
- Bird Robin
- Fish Brook
- Flower Apple
- Fossil Mastodon
- Game mammal White-tailed
- Gem Chlorastrolite,
commonly known as greenstone (1972)
- Reptile Painted
- Soil Kalkaska
- Stone Petoskey
- Tree White
- Wildflower Dwarf
lake iris (1998)
SOURCE: Legislative Service
Bureau, Michigan Manual 20012002.
CONTENT CURRENT AS OF APRIL 1,
© 2002 Public
Sector Consultants, Inc.
Sponsored by the Michigan Nonprofit Association and the Council
of Michigan Foundations