Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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MICHIGAN, a state of the American Union, formed from the northwest territory. (See TERRITORIES, ORDINANCE OF 1787.) The territory of Michigan, as formed by the act of congress of Jan. 11, 1805, was enlarged by other acts until that of June 28, 1834, when it embraced all the territory north of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, and between Lakes Erie and Huron and the Missouri river. According to the provision of the ordinance of 1787, which directed congress to admit new states, with a population of 60,000 at least, from the northwest territory, Michigan began its applications for admission as a state in January, 1833, claiming to have reached the constitutional limit of population; but congress paid no attention to the applications, and the bills for admission, which were introduced, were not acted upon. Finally a convention, called by the territorial council, framed the first constitution, referred to below. The question of the southern boundary was very embarrassing to congress, which finally passed the act of June 15, 1836, to settle the northern boundary of Ohio and to admit Michigan when its convention should assent to the boundaries provided by congress. A convention called by the territorial legislature, Sept. 28, 1836, refused to ratify the new boundaries; but another convention, Dec. 15, 1836, chosen by the people of their own motion, ratified them, and this was accepted as sufficient by congress. The state was then admitted by act of Jan. 26, 1837. Objections were made to the counting of Michigan's electoral votes in 1837, on the ground that the electors were chosen before the state was admitted, but they were counted "in the alternative." (See ELECTORS.)


—BOUNDARIES. The first constitution claimed for the new state the same boundaries as those established for the territory of Michigan in 1805—the southern peninsula of Michigan, with the southern boundary a few miles farther south than at present. The act of June 15, after so fixing the northern boundary of Ohio and the southern boundary of Michigan as to give the disputed territory to the former state, added to the new state, in compensation, the whole of the northern peninsula of Michigan also, with a western boundary as follows: from the mouth of the Montreal river in Lake Superior, up the main channel of the Montreal to the middle of the lake of the Desert; thence by a straight line to the nearest headwater of the Menomonee river and up that fork to the Menomonee river; thence down its main channel to the centre of the most usual ship-channel of the Green bay of Lake Michigan, and through that channel to the middle of Lake Michigan; thence down the middle of Lake Michigan to the northern boundary of Indiana, and east and south, with the Indiana line, to the Ohio line. The eastern and northern boundary was that between the United States and Canada.


—CONSTITUTIONS. The first constitution was framed by a convention which met at Detroit, May 11 - June 29, 1835, and was ratified by popular vote, Nov. 2. It prohibited slavery; gave the right of suffrage to white males over twenty-one, on six months' residence; provided for a house of not less than 48 nor more than 100 representatives, to be chosen annually and a senate one-third as numerous, to serve two years; and fixed the governor's term at two years.


—The second constitution was framed by a convention held at Lansing, June 3 - Aug. 15, 1850. Its principal modifications were that it fixed the capital permanently at Lansing, where the legislature had already established it; if fixed the number of senators at 32, and of representatives at not less than 64 nor more than 100, and it forbade the creation of corporations, except under general laws, the giving of state credit to corporations, and the passage of laws to license the selling of intoxicating liquors. It was amended in 1866 by giving the right of suffrage to voters absent from the state during time of war in the military service of the United States; in 1870 by empowering the legislature to fix maximum rates for transporting passengers and freight on railroads, and by prohibiting the consolidation of parallel or competing railroads, and in 1876 by abolishing the prohibition of license laws.


—GOVERNORS. Stevens T. Mason, 1836-40; William Woodbridge, 1840-42; John S. Barry, 1842-6; Alpheus Felch, 1846-8; Epaphroditus Ransom, 1848-50; John S. Barry, 1850-52; Robert McClellan, 1852-5; Kinsley S. Bingham, 1855-9; Moses Wisner, 1859-61; Austin Blair, 1861-5; Henry H. Crapo, 1865-9; Henry P. Baldwin, 1869-73; John J. Bagley, 1873-7; Charles M. Croswell, 1877-81; David H. Jerome, 1881-3.


—POLITICAL HISTORY. In presidential elections Michigan was democratic until 1856, except that in 1840 it was carried by the whigs for Harrison by a very small majority. In 1856 it was republican, and in subsequent elections it has always been the same, the popular majority not varying much from 6 per cent. of the total vote. The congressional and state elections have been governed by much the same laws. The senators, congressmen, (see APPORTIONMENT), legislatures and governors were democratic until the end of 1854, with the following exception: the whig success in the election of 1840 included not only the electoral vote of the state, but the congressman from 1851 until 1853, two United States senators and the governor (Woodbridge)


—Early in June, 1854, the "anti-Nebraska" state convention of Michigan formally adopted the name "republican" for their party, the name having been recommended to the consideration of several of its members by a letter of Horace Greeley, of New York. The state was carried in the election of 1854 by the party which its state convention had baptized, and since that time the governors, legislatures and United States senators have all been republican. In 1881 the democrats have but 15 of the 132 members of the legislature on joint ballot. The congressmen have been almost as invariably republican: the only exceptions have been the elections of 1854, 1858, 1862, 1870, and 1876, in each of which a single democratic representative was chosen; and the election of 1874 in which three democratic and liberal republican representatives were chosen. In the congress of 1881-3 all the nine representatives are, as usual, republican.


—In local politics there has been little worthy of note, except in 1853, when a "Maine liquor law" was adopted by a popular majority of nearly two to one, and in 1870-72, upon questions in regard to the railroads of the state. Until 1870, under acts of the legislature, towns, cities and counties had issued bonds in aid of various local railroads. In 1870 the state supreme court decided that the whole system of bond issues was outside of the legitimate field of taxation, and was unconstitutional. The legislature therefore proposed three amendments, two of which, referred to under the second constitution above, were ratified by popular vote. The third, which was intended to legitimize the bond system of the past and to authorize its continuance, was rejected by a heavy popular majority.


—Among the political leaders of the state have been the following: Kinsley S. Bingham, democratic representative 1847-51, first republican governor of the state, and United States senator 1859-61; Austin Blair, the war governor of the state, and republican representative 1867-73; Julius C. Burrows, republican representative 1873-5 and 1879-85; Lewis Cass (see his name); Zachariah Chandler, first republican United States senator 1857-75 and 1879-81, and secretary of the interior under Grant, Isaac P. Christiancy, justice of the state supreme court 1858-72 and chief justice 1872-4. United States senator 1875-9, and minister to Peru 1879-81; Omar D. Conger, republican representative 1869-81, and United States senator 1881-7. Thos W Ferry, republican representative 1865-71, and United States senator 1871-83; Jacob M. Howard, republican representative 1861-2, and United States senator 1862-71; Jay A Hubbell, republican representative 1873-83; Robert McClelland, democratic representative 1843-9 governor 1852-3, and secretary of the interior under Pierce; Charles E. Stuart, democratic representative 1847-9 and 1851-3, and United States senator 1853-9; Alpheus S. Williams, major general of volunteers 1861-5, minister to San Salvador 1866-9, democratic and liberal republican representative 1875-9; and William Woodbridge, whig governor 1840-41, and United States senator 1841-7.


—The name of the territory and state was given from that of the lake on its border, an Indian word. It is probably a compound of the Algonquin word "gan" (lake) with the Chippewa prefix "mitcha" (great). The popular name for its people is "Wolverines."


—See 1 Poore's Federal and State Constitutions; 2 Stat at Large, 309. 5. 48. 144 (for acts of Jan. 11, 1805, June 15, 1836, and Jan 26, 1837, respectively); 12 Benton's Debates of Congress, 701, 749, and 13:29, 65, 185, 255; Sheldon's Early History of Michigan (to 1815), J. H. Lanman's History of Michigan (to 1837): 2 Wilson's Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, 412, authorities under CASS, LEWIS; Chas. Lanman's Life of William Woodbridge, and Red Book of Michigan (to 1870), Campbell's Political History of Michigan, (1880); Porter's West in 1880, 195.


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