History of Michigan
The first European settlers encountered a number of tribes native to the land. This mostly included different Algonquian tribes such as Potawatomi, Ojibwa, also known as Anishnaabeg, who were supposedly the largest local tribe numbering somewhere around 35,000 people, as well as the Ottawa tribe. The Ojibwa tribe mostly inhabited the areas of today’s north-central and northern Minnesota, southern Manitoba, northern Wisconsin, northern Ontario and northern Michigan. Potawatomi lived in what is today the southwestern Michigan, while the Ottawas inhabited the western and northern parts of Michigan. These tribes lived in harmony in the union named the Council of Three Fires. The region also held other tribes, including the Wyandot, better known as Hurons, the Fox tribe, the Sauk or Sac tribe, the Miami tribe, the Menominee and the Mascouten tribe.
The first Europeans that reached the area of today’s Michigan were the French in 1622. It was also a Frenchman, Pere Jacques Marquette, who established the first permanent settlement in the region. It was in 1668 that he founded a base for Catholic missions, Sault Ste. Marie. This settlement enabled the creation of two Catholic missions in the area, Marquette and Saint Ignace. Local tribes accepted the missionaries rather well, and allowed them to proceed with their work undisturbed. Fort Miami was built in 1679 at what is today St. Joseph.
The next larger fort in the area, Fort Pontchartrain was built in 1701, and it soon became an important shipping and fur trading post. It is also there that the Church of Saint Ann was erected. The fur trading efforts ultimately caused a conflict between the French and the Meskwaki tribe. This prompted the French to strengthen Fort Michilimackinac in hopes of maintaining the dominance in the fur trade.
Michigan remained under French control until the Treaty of Paris in 1763 that marked the end of the Seven Years War. It is then that that Michigan, as well as the former areas of New France that were located to the east of the Mississippi River, came under the control of Great Britain. Detroit played an important part in the American Revolutionary War, as it was used as a supply center for the British forces. It stayed under British control even after the American Revolution, due to errors in cartography. It was also for a while considered a part of Canadian Kent County. Even when the British withdrew from the area in 1796, the ownership of the region was in question. It wasn’t until 1847 that the United States had complete control over the region.
The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 has brought a great number of new settlers to the region. These settlers mainly traded with iron ore, lumber and grain. The population grew fast enough for the territory to apply for statehood. State’s constitution was approved in 1835, but Michigan couldn’t be accepted into the Union before its boundary disputes with Ohio were settled. The matter was finally resolved in 1837, and Michigan was admitted into the Union. The Upper Peninsula turned out to be a great source of copper, iron and lumber, and Detroit became an important hub of the railroad development. Michigan has sent more than 40 regiments to contribute to the Union in the Civil War.
The 20th century was marked by numerous changes in the state’s economy, most notably by the development of the auto industry. Henry Ford and his innovations played a crucial part in the birth of this new industry, and Michigan remains one of the largest automobile producers in the nation.
In 2010 the GSP (gross state product) of Michigan was estimated at $384.1 billion. The unemployment rate in 2012 was 8.5%. The state’s largest industries include furniture, iron, copper, military equipment, aerospace, information technology, cereal products and automobiles. The state sets apart 60,520 acres for growing of Christmas trees, which makes it the 3rd largest Christmas tree grower in the nation. Michigan is also where two major pizza chains come from – Little Caesars Pizza and Domino’s Pizza.
Michigan employs almost 570,000 high tech workers, out of which some 70,000 work in the automobile industry. This makes the state the fourth largest high tech employer in the nation. Michigan is also the 3rd or 4th state in the nation when it comes to the research and development expenditures. This sector has a greater influence on the state’s economy than is the case with any of the other US states.
In 2004, Michigan was the state with the second highest number of new expansions and corporate facilities. In 2009, the state’s automotive industry has received a sizable grant that is supposed to help the electric cars manufacture. The grant has instantly created some 7,000 jobs, and is expected to create 40,000 more until the year 2020.
Michigan universities, notably the Wayne State University, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, are important research institutions that are also receiving large grants, and are making important contributions to the state’s economy. It is then not surprising that Michigan is the state with the 3rd highest number of engineering graduates in the nation.
Despite the focus on the high technology and automotive industry, agriculture remains one of the important industries in the state. When it comes to the diversity of agricultural produce, Michigan is second only to California. Approximately 10,000,000 acres of the Michigan’s surface is covered in 55,000 farms. This industry contributed to the state’s economy with some $6.6 billion in 2008. The most important state’s products are livestock, dairy products, potatoes, sugar beets, wheat, flowers, soybeans and corn.
Fruit is also an important part of Michigan’s agriculture, most notably strawberries, pears, plums, peaches, grapes, apples, cherries and blueberries. Due to the climate conditions, fruit is mostly grown in the northwestern and western parts of the state. A number of major food companies are located in Michigan, including Hebrew National, Koegel Meat Company, Ball Park Franks, Thornapple Valley and Kellogg’s.
Tourism is another one of Michigan’s major branches of industry. Tourism supports 193,000 jobs, and creates $17.2 billion every year. The fact that almost a half of the state’s territory is covered in forests attracts a number nature enthusiasts and hunters. Many other are also drawn in by the lakes and numerous beaches. There are also some event based tourist attractions, such as the National Cherry Festival and the Tulip Time Festival. Even though a lot of tourists are coming from Canada or from other US states, it is estimated that approximately 70% of the state’s tourism business comes from the state’s residents themselves.
There are a number of interesting museums in the state including the Arab American National Museum, museums in the Cranbrook Educational Community, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and Detroit Historical Museum. There are also a number of different attractions, such as the Detroit Zoo, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Henry Ford. The state is also known for the availability of casinos, including the Caesars Windsor, Motor City, Greektown, and the MGM Grand Detroit.
Personal income tax in the state is fixed at 4.35%. Cities also have their own additional tax rates. In most of the cities these rates amount to 0.5% for non-residents and 1% for residents. The sales tax in the state is 6% with medication and food being exempt from taxation. The rates for the property tax are determined locally, but there is a universal rate of $6 for every $1,000 of total property value, that is contributed to the State Education Tax. In 2011 business taxes were significantly reduced by repealing the Michigan Business Tax.
Michigan Geography and Climate
Michigan is bordered by the Great Lakes. From the west to the east, these lakes are Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Erie. It has Indiana and Ohio to the south, Ontario on the east and north and Minnesota and Wisconsin on the west. The Upper Peninsula is mostly mountainous region covered in forests. The Porcupine Mountains that are located in the Upper Peninsula almost reach the altitude of 2,000 feet and belong to one of the world’s oldest mountain chains. The point with the highest altitude of 1979 feet, Mount Avron, is located to the northwest of Maquette, in the Huron Mountains. The Upper Peninsula covers the surface equal to the combined surfaces of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Delaware and Connecticut, but it only has some 330,000 inhabitants. People living in this region are often referred to as ‘Yoopers’ – from the abbreviation for the Upper Peninsula – U.P.-ers, and their Yooper dialect shows influence of Canadian and Scandinavian settlers that were coming to region in great numbers in the 19th century.
The Lower Peninsula has a shape of a mitten, and people that live on it often just raise a hand when they want to indicate where they are coming from. The peninsula is 195 miles wide from the west to east and 277 miles long from the south to the north. The surface of the Lower Peninsula accounts for somewhere around two thirds of the state’s total surface area. Lower Peninsula is mostly flat, with some, rather low hills. The lowest point on the peninsula is the surface of Lake Erie that stands at 571 feet above the sea level.
Due to the large distance between the north and south extremes of the state, and the economic, cultural and geographical isolation of the Upper Peninsula from the Lower, the residents of the former have on several occasions lobbied for the secession of the Upper Peninsula from the state, and the founding of the new state, that would be known as ‘Superior’.
Both peninsulas have a number of marshes and lakes, and their coasts are shaped by numerous bays. The Lower Peninsula is marked by the Saginaw, Thunder, and Little and Grand Traverse bays, while the Upper Peninsula owes its shape to the Little and Big Bays De Noc, Whitefish Bay and Keweenaw Bay. With 3,288 miles, Michigan’s shoreline is the second longest in the United States. Michigan also has a number of islands, the most significant ones being the Drummond, Sugar and Neebish islands in the St. Mary’s River, Mackinac, Bois Blanc and Marquette islands in Lake Huron, the Grande Isle and Isle Royale located in the Lake Superior, and Fox, Beaver and South and North Manitou island groups in Lake Michigan. Michigan is known for being the state with the most lighthouses (150) in the United States.
Michigan is criss-crossed by a number of small and shallow rivers, including Escanaba, Manistee, Muskegon, Grand, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph rivers that flow into the Lake Michigan, Tahquamenon and Ontonagon, which flow into lake Superior, Saginaw, Cheboygan and Au Sable, which flow into Lake Huron and St. Clair, St. Mary’s and Detroit River, which are connecting the Great Lakes. The surface of Great Lakes is some 38,575 square miles, but Michigan also has some 11,000 smaller lakes that cover 1,305 square miles.
There are a number of state protected areas in Michigan, including a part of the North Country National Scenic Trail, Father Marquette National Memorial, Ottawa National Forest, Hiawatha National Forest, Manistee National Forest, Huron National Forest, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Keweenaw National Historical Park and the Isle Royale National Park in the Lake Superior. Michigan has the largest state forest system and state park in the nation with its 6 state forests, 19 state recreation areas and 78 state parks. Most notable forests and parks include Mackinaw State Forest, Au Sable Forest, Mackinac Island State Park and Holland State Park.
Generally, the climate in Michigan is considered continental, but there are two areas in the state with distinctive climates. The first area includes the northern parts of the Peninsula and the entirety of the Upper. This part has a harsh climate with short but warm summers and quite cold winters, while the other part of the state, namely the central and southern parts of the Lower Peninsula, have a milder climate with moderately cold winters and hot summers. It is not unusual for the northern parts of the state to average temperatures below freezing all the way up to March. The average annual precipitation in the state is somewhere around 40 inches, while the annual snowfall, can go up to 160 inches, especially in the north of the state. The highest temperature in the state is 112 °F, and it was recorded in 1936 at Mio, while the lowest temperature of −51 °F was recorded in 1934 at Vanderbilt. On average, Michigan has 30 days with thunderstorm activities annually and 17 tornadoes, mostly in the southern parts of the state.
Population of Michigan
In 2011 Michigan had 9,876,187 inhabitants, which was a 0.08% decrease when compared to the previous year. The center of the state’s population is located to the northwest of Morrice, a village in the civil township of Bennington in the Shiawassee County. It is estimated that in 1010 the state had 60% or 592,212 people who were foreign-born. Michigan is the state with the largest Macedonian, Finnish and Dutch populations in the US. When it comes to ethnicity of the inhabitants of the state, it was estimated that 76.6% of the state’s residents are non-Hispanic whites, 2.3% Hispanic white people, 14.2% African American, 0.6% Native American, 2.4% Asian, less than 0.1% Pacific islanders, 1.5% of the state’s inhabitants belong to some of the other races, while 2.3% are multiethnic people.
Some 22.3% of the state’s inhabitants belong to the German ancestry group, 11.9% to the Irish, 10.1% to English, 9% to Polish, 6.7% to French or French Canadian, 5.1% to the Dutch, 4.7% to the Italian, 4.6% have declared themselves as the descendants of Americans, 2.4% Scots and 1.7% Swedish.
The Catholic Church in Michigan has one archdiocese and six dioceses, the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Diocese of Saginaw, the Diocese of Marquette, the Diocese of Lansing, the Diocese of Kalamazoo, the Diocese of Grand Rapids and the Diocese of Gaylord. When it comes to the number of adherents, the Catholic Church is the largest denomination in the state; in 2000 it counted 2,019,926 believers. Until the 19th century, Catholicism was the only organized religion in the state. The second largest denomination in Michigan is Lutheranism. It is estimated that there are 110,000 Jewish and 80,515 Muslim people in the state.
Michigan Government and Legislation
Government of Michigan, just like the governments of other US states, is divided into three branches, the executive, legislative and judicial branch.
The executive branch has Michigan Governor at its helm. The Governor’s duties include commanding the Michigan National guard, granting pardons as well as signing or vetoing bills. Apart from the Governor, other executive branch officials include the Attorney General, the Secretary of the State and the Lieutenant Governor. Lieutenant Governor and Governor are elected on the same ticket, and they serve four year terms. A person can serve only one term as the state’s Governor. Lieutenant Governor takes over gubernatorial duties if Governor is somehow prevented from performing them and acts as the president of Senate. Lieutenant governor can only vote in the Senate if the decision is tied.
Legislative branch of the state consists of two bodies, the lower body, the House of Representatives that has 110 members and the upper body, the Michigan Senate, which has 38 members. These bodies are responsible for proposing and passing new legislation. The state Governor has the power to veto a bill that was passed by the legislative bodies, but if the Senate and the House of Representatives both gather two thirds majority of votes, the Governor’s veto is overturned. Members of the House of Representatives serve two year terms, while members of the Senate serve for four years.
Michigan’s judicial branch consists of a number of courts with different authorities and jurisdictions. The highest court in the state is the Michigan Supreme Court, with the Michigan Court of Appeals serving as an intermediate appellate court and District and Circuit courts being the lowest courts in the hierarchy and having primary jurisdiction. In 1846, Michigan became the first English speaking political subdivision that has abolished the death penalty.