How Wisconsin Lost the Upper Peninsula to Michigan
Looking at a map, did you ever wonder why our Upper Peninsula did not become part of the state of Wisconsin? It woulda made sense, right? Michigan’s Upper Peninsula actually was once part of what is now Wisconsin. So how did Wisconsin lose it? They’ve been wanting it back for years, and they can blame Ohio for it.
In 1787, the U.S. government enacted the Northwest Ordinance which designated the border between Ohio and Michigan Territory. Congress used the Mitchell Map, which was an inaccurate depiction. Seeing that this map’s borders would cut off Ohio’s access (and trade) to Lake Erie, Ohio changed the map’s borders themselves, running
from Lake Michigan to Maumee Bay, creating what became known as the ‘Toledo Strip’.
When Michigan applied for statehood in 1833, officials drew a border between Michigan and Ohio using the original description of the border. This ticked off Ohio governor Robert Lucas, who used his influence on congress to deny Michigan’s request to become a state. Fighting back, Michigan governor Stevens Masons came up with the "Pains and Penalties" Act, which made it a crime, with prison time to anyone who supported Ohio’s Toledo Strip. Masons sent out 1,000 soldiers to the strip, while Lucas sent 600.
No blood was shed – just a lot of name-calling, threats, fistfights, arrests and lawsuits. This lasted until 1836 when the two struck a deal. Michigan would get statehood if they gave up the Toledo Strip, but acquire the Upper Peninsula as compensation.
In retrospect, Michigan got the better end of the deal, after copper and iron ore were discovered in the U.P. bringing lots of money to the state, adding to its incredible lumber boom income. Michigan ended up making more money than California did with the Gold Rush.
In mid-1837, as Michigan gained statehood, the Wisconsin territory broke off from Michigan territory and became its own entity.
So, if Ohio had just shut up and let well alone, Michigan would probably never have acquired the U.P. and today it would be part of Wisconsin.
For a whole different story about how Wisconsin thinks THEY are the real "Mitten State", CLICK HERE!
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