Michigan was not always the way it is today. It was swampy, wet and full of mosquito’s. In this paper one will see how Michigan was formed and what Michigan wanted in a Constitution. Many people did not want to settle in Michigan because of the war between the British and the Americans. After the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814 people began to see the opportunities that lie in Michigan. The land that was once blooming with hostilities between the Indian’s and the British was now open to families to begin settlement. With the Erie Canal opening in 1825 and the dismissal of British danger along with the harmonious relations with the Indians, Michigan’s population soared from 8,500 in 1820 to 31,000 by 1830. Michigan was only a territory during this time with residents up to 60,000 people making the territory more than qualified to become a state yet Congress refused because of a territorial dispute between Michigan and Ohio. The area of land being debated between Michigan and Ohio is called Toledo. Toledo is 468 square miles long, five miles wide at the Indiana border and eight miles wide at Lake Erie. There was much surveying involved and a lot of fighting between the territory and the state Ohio. Overall Ohio was awarded Toledo and Michigan was awarded the Upper Peninsula. Michiganian’s were furious but accepted simply because if they didn’t they wouldn’t become a state. During the feud with Ohio and Toledo, 91 delegates had assembled at Detroit to begin the assembling of the first constitution of Michigan. The first constitution was based off of several occurring constitutions and incorporated was a bill of rights. In this constitution was the development of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the formation of a two-house legislature accompanied by senators serving two-years, the representatives one-year terms and the conditions for two-year terms for the governor but also the lieutenant governor. Michigan’s effort to shorten ballots, all offices except the state legislators, governor, and lieutenant governor had to be accompanied by gubernatorial appointment; judiciary included. Looking at Michigan’s first constitution one can see the effort Michiganian’s were putting into making a great state for years to come. They made sure to not give so much power to one branch and gave specific terms to each branch as well. Michigan’s first constitution was elaborate and thought out very well. It had specific details and was easily understandable. What does the first constitution say about early Michiganian’s you may ask? To being with it took counter measures to make sure everyone had rights hence the bill of rights included. Education, law and branches of government reflected how Michigan felt about how their state should be ran. With these three important factors in mind, Michigan wrote the constitution fairly. Even though America already had a federal bill of rights Michigan took an extra step and included one of their own, making the constitution itself stronger all-around. Even back in 1837 Michigan was on the rise to becoming a successful state because they were taking the responsibilities that came with becoming a state quite seriously. It does not take an intelligent man or women to realize that changes to the constitution and the bill of rights would happen in the near future but to get the state up and running the first constitution did an acceptable job. I personally wouldn’t have added anything to the bill of rights because the important areas were all covered. Michiganian’s today have a successful state because of the first constitution and how it was based in the beginning.


Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes

Michigan Voices: Our State’s History in the Words of the People Who Lived It