The History of Genesee County, MI
Chapter I
Governor John J. Bagley

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Clayton



John J. Bagley was governor from 1873 to 1877. He was a native of New York, born in Medina, Orleans county, July 24, 1832. One of the first important events in his administration was the participation of Michigan in the centennial celebration of the Declaration of independence at Philadelphia, July 4, 1876. In Michigan commemorative exercises were held in all the principal cities and villages. The international exposition at Philadelphia was held from May 10 to November 10. An attractive Michigan building was erected on the grounds, wholly by voluntary contributions from Michigan citizens. The register kept at this building showed thirty-two thousand signatures of Michigan visitors. Very much of the success of Michigan's part of the exposition was due to the generosity, energy and activity of governor Bagley, who was ex-officio a member of the board of managers.

During the first term of Governor Bagley here was much important legislation. Chief among the acts was that which created a state board of health. In 1873 was created the office of railroad commissioner. The office of commissioner of insurance was established. The subject of banking was thoroughly overhauled; old laws were repealed, and a general law was adopted for the regulation and control of all banks organized under it. The artificial propagation of fish had been found practicable, and it seemed to be quite feasible to restock the lakes with more valuable varieties so as to prolong indefinitely the life of the fishing industry; with this in view, the Legislature, acting upon the governor's suggestion, created a fish commission. Governor Bagley's administration was a business administration, characteristic of the plain, unassuming, shrewd and well-balanced citizen at its head.

In 1873 the question came up again of revising the state constitution. The Legislature appointed a commission, which formulated a new one, but when it was submitted to the people at the spring election of 1874, they rejected it.

The successor of Governor Bagley was Charles M. Croswell, of Adrian, who served from 1877 to 1881. It was early in his administration that the reform school for girls was established at Adrian. In 1879 Thomas A. Edison , who, though not a native of Michigan, spent much of his early life in St. Clair county, and made his first successful inventions in the state, established the success of his incandescent lamp, which revolutionized the lighting of interiors not only in this state but throughout the world.

In 1880 David H. Jerome, of Saginaw, was chosen governor. During his one term the St. Mary's Falls ship canal was transferred to the general government. About this time Judge Andrew Howell, acting under the auspices of the state, compiled the state laws of Michigan. An epoch in the commercial development of the state was marked by the connecting of the railway system of the two peninsulas of Michigan.


History of Genesee County, Michigan, Her People, Industries and Institutions
by Edwin O. Wood, LL.D, President Michigan Historical Commission, 1916

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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