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Michigan in the early 19th century


Michigan capitol state
Michigan capitol state

Anticipating the eventual British surrender of the western frontier regions, Congress in 1787 had passed the Ordinance of 1787, or Northwest Ordinance, for the government of the area north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River. The ordinance provided an orderly plan to divide the area, called the Northwest Territory, into smaller territories that eventually would become not less than three nor more than five states.

After the British handed over the forts in 1796, most of present-day Michigan became Wayne County, a part of the Northwest Territory. In 1800 the western part of the Northwest Territory became the Territory of Indiana, which included a part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. When Ohio became a state in 1803, all of present-day Michigan became a part of the Indiana Territory. On January 11, 1805, President Thomas Jefferson signed an act creating the Michigan Territory, with Detroit as its capital. The territory included the eastern tip of the present Upper Peninsula and all of the Lower Peninsula. A line drawn straight east through the southernmost tip of Lake Michigan marked the southern boundary at that time.

When Michigan became a separate territory, the white population was probably less than 4,000. Most of these people lived around Detroit, Mackinac Island, and Sault Sainte Marie.

Only small areas around these places had been purchased from the Native American inhabitants. The one important business was supplying the needs of the fur traders.

Jefferson appointed William Hull, a native of Connecticut and a general in the revolution, as the first governor of the Michigan Territory. The first governing body consisted of the governor, a secretary, and three judges; only one of these five men had been a resident of Michigan. Just before the new officials arrived, Detroit was destroyed by fire. Augustus B. Woodward, one of the appointed judges, drew up plans for rebuilding the town based on the model of Washington, D.C., but the plans were not fully carried out. Constant quarreling among the governing officials made Michigan’s government unstable from 1805 to 1812, and little growth in population occurred. "Michigan" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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