The History of Genesee County, MI
Chapter I
The Toledo War

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Clayton



The people conceived that they had a right, under the Ordinance of 1787, to have the southern boundary of Michigan fixed at a line drawn due east from the southernmost bend of Lake Michigan. This right was disputed by Ohio, which had been a state since 1803. Indiana and Illinois were also interested adversely to Michigan's claim, since this could cut off a northern strip of territory which they had come to look upon as belonging to them. Toledo was the real object of the controversy which ensued, and it is often therefore called the "Toledo War." Toledo, then as now an important post on Lake Erie, was in the disputed strip of land claimed by Ohio and Michigan. The dispute grew so bitter that both Governor Lucas, of Ohio, and Acting-governor Stevens T. Mason, of Michigan, called out the militia on each side to enforce the respective claims. The question had also a practical aspect. The President, Andrew Jackson, who saw on one side Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, with votes in the electoral college, and a Territory with no vote at all on the other, was between duty and a strong temptation. As John Quincy Adams said, "Never in the course of my life have I known a controversy of which all the right was so clearly on one side, and all the power so overwhelmingly on the other; never a case where the temptation was so intense to take the strongest side, and the duty of taking the weakest was so thankless."

In October, 1835, the same month in which the state constitution was adopted, the people of Michigan elected a compete set of officials for the new state government. Stevens T. Mason was elected governor. Isaac E. Crary was elected to Congress. The Legislature met and elected Lucius Lyon and John Norvell United States senators. Michigan now had two governments. The territorial government was recognized by the President and Congress; the state government was recognized by the people of Michigan. Ultimately, Michigan's view prevailed, except in relation to the southern boundary. The President and Congress would not yield on that point. The people of Michigan did not, in fact, yield, until they were committed by a convention falsely purporting to represent them. This convention, which met in Ann Arbor, December 6, 1836, accepted the proposition of Congress that Michigan should be admitted to the Union if it would relinquish all claim to the disputed strip of land on the south, and accept instead certain lands bordering on lake Superior--lands now known as the Upper peninsula of Michigan. Michigan technically became a state in the Union on January 26, 1837. It is very significant, however, that the constitution adopted in 1835 was tacitly accepted by congress without a change, and without being re-adopted; that the officers hen chosen continued in office without re-election and that the representative elected to congress was seated without re-election.


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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