Michigan became the 26th state to join the Union in January 1837. It’s known by nicknames such as the Wolverine State, Great Lakes State, and Water Winter Wonderland. This state’s history is steeped in Native Americans and cars – an odd combination, to be sure.
The native tribes were mostly the Ojibwe, Ottawa, and the Potawatomi. They lived on the land for thousands of years until the first Europeans started to explore. Frenchman Etienne Brule was the first known explorer in the area, but he had been searching for a route to China.
From 1754-1763, the French and Indian War took place. This was a conflict between the British and French, and each side had Native American tribes help them. Ottawa Chief Pontiac had a few tribes following him and they warred on the side of the French. The British defeated Pontiac’s warriors and claimed the territory.
During the American Revolutionary War, Michigan’s citizens were not as displeased with English rule as the other colonies. The British didn’t leave this area until nearly ten years after the war ended, and the U.S. did not get control of the entire territory until 1818. The War of 1812 saw the British take over Michigan once again. They were defeated a year later at the Battle of Lake Erie.
One of the most important people in the state was Henry Ford, who started off the car industry with a bang. Ford didn’t invent the car, but he was the first to make cheap motor vehicles for the masses. His first “horseless carriage” was called the Ford Quadricycle. In 1903, Ford started the Ford Motor Company. In October 1908, he released his first car, the Model T. By 1918, half the cars in the U.S. were Model Ts.
Michigan is also known for its many lakes and streams. It has more than 11,000 inland lakes and over 36,000 miles of streams. The Great Lakes here have 3,126 miles of shoreline.