Michigan was primarily land that was largely unexplored. And I can understand why, the brutal weather alone would be unappealing. Michigan was also remote and had a reputation for sickness, this discouraged settlers. It is surprising that Michigan grew as rapidly as it did. With the promise of rich land, Robert Fultons steamboat and New York’s Erie Canal the population of Michigan skyrocketed. I learned that many settlers were immigrants from New York, and largely descendants of New Englanders. With them they brought, “the Yankee traits of industry, thrift, religious zeal, reformism, and interest in education.” (Rubenstein and Ziewacz 72). These characteristics aided in the abolition of slavery.
I found that the early New York settlers, were the leading force in the abolition of slavery. With the passion of the New Yorker’s to improve themselves, and the recognition of immoral behavior toward slaves; advocacy to end slavery grew. This was the start to the abolitionist movement. “Despite efforts by Quakers, Germans, Jews and free blacks, Michigan was not immediately won over to the cause of abolition.” (Rubenstein and Ziewacz 88). Violence became rampant.
As a result of the increase in rivalries, Erotius P. Hastings developed the first antislavery society. Many other antislavery leaders rose up and thus gave way to the development of The Underground Railroad. In 1840 The Underground Railroad began aiding escaped slaves who sought freedom. It provided transportation to Canada through routes that were actually underground safe houses. These safe houses provided refuge as people continued their journey to freedom.
With the 13th amendment, in 1865 slavery was officially abolished in the United States. Five years later, in 1870, the Underground Railroad finally celebrated its closing. Even though slavery was abolished in 1865, African-Americans were still not being treated equally. In 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment allowed African-Americans to vote. But it wasn’t until 1965 with the Voting Rights Act that African-Americans received the protection they needed to freely vote, especially in the south. We need to continue to acknowledge history and the strive it took and continues to take so that all racial groups are equivalent.
Michigan A History of the Great Lakes States