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French and the British in Michigan


Michigan center
Michigan center

The French and then the British in Michigan had sought mostly to trade with the Native Americans but not to buy the land they occupied. That changed with American control, as the U.S. government purchased Michigan lands from the native people through a series of treaties in the 19th century. Many of the treaties were negotiated by Territorial Governor Lewis Cass. The first sizable acquisition was made through the Treaty of Detroit in 1807. With the last, the Treaty of La Pointe in 1842, the Native Americans had ceded all of their land in Michigan, except for some reserves. During the 19th century some of the native peoples, primarily the Potawatomi, were forced to move to reservations in Kansas and Oklahoma.

For 15 years after the War of 1812, Michigan’s population grew slowly, since the territory did not lie on the main routes of the westward movement. In addition, rumors circulated that Michigan’s swamps and sand dunes made it an unhealthful place to live. Cass instituted a program to dispel Michigan’s negative image. When the Erie Canal in New York opened in 1825, transportation to Michigan from the population centers of the Northeast became easier.

The New England influence was especially strong, and it profoundly affected the development of Michigan as a territory and later as a state. Michigan’s strong antislavery movement, its leadership in public education, and the dominance of its Republican Party in state politics were all related to the New England background of its settlers. "Michigan" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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