Michigan played an active role in opposing slavery before the American Civil War (1861-1865). Many of its citizens were originally from New England and western New York, centers of abolitionist sentiment, and the state was often a final stop in the United States on the Underground Railroad for fugitive slaves seeking safety in Canada. The first state Republican Party in the nation was founded in Michigan in 1854 to oppose the extension of slavery.
More than 90,000 Michigan men served in the Union Army and Navy during the Civil War, and a woman, Sarah Emma Edmonds, disguised as a man, fought with the Union forces. George Armstrong Custer, whose home was at Monroe, was the state’s most famous Union cavalryman. A Michigan regiment captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Georgia, where he fled following the collapse of the Southern armies in 1865. Michigan Senator Zachariah Chandler was nationally known during and after the Civil War for his support of a radical policy for Reconstruction in the South.
The Civil War hastened Michigan’s change from an agricultural to an industrial state. By 1880 manufacturing had increased threefold, and rapid industrialization continued. Detroit’s manufacturing output in 1900 exceeded that for the entire state in 1870. Large numbers of Polish immigrants settled in Detroit, becoming the city’s largest ethnic group. "Michigan" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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