Michigan history

Arts & Culture
6:00 am
Wed February 13, 2013

Get a letter from your great-great (etc) Grandpa: New, online MSU Civil War archive

Romance, tragedy, and hatchets: Michigan's Civil War letters are not dull. Click here to listen.

This story includes historically racist language that some readers may find offensive.

We're in the midst of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

So your great uncle, the war re-enactor, is probably having the time of his life.

But for those who have trouble sitting through all nine episodes of the Ken Burns “Civil War” documentary, now there’s something for us, a new online archive is bringing Michigan’s Civil War letters into the Google Age.

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Arts & Culture
10:31 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Lincoln movie calls to mind his connections to Michigan

Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad looking at an album of photographs.
Library of Congress

Rick Pluta traces Lincoln's historical connections to Michigan.

"Thank God for Michigan."

It’s supposedly what Abraham Lincoln uttered in May of 1861 as 75,000 Michigan volunteers marched into Washington – the first to answer his call for help from what were then the western states in preserving the union.

But there’s no proof Lincoln said that, according to Bob Garrett.

He’s an archivist who researched Lincoln for the Michigan Historical Center in Lansing.

“Who knows? A lot of things like this get passed around and, you know … I don’t know. I would call that apocryphal. Maybe he said it. He might have. He very well might have, but I have not seen any evidence that he said that,” Garret said.

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Politics & Government
9:10 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Stateside: It's the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812

Birg Niagara. The tall ship can be seen during the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 celebration in Detroit Sept. 4-10, 2012. The ship will be outside the GM Ren Cen.
Flagship Niagara League Facebook

There's a huge party happening right now on Detroit's Riverfront!

It's the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812.

The War of 1812 was when Great Britain and the new United States of America slugged it out over trade, over the British habit of grabbing American ships and sailors and forcing them to serve King George (yes, THAT same King George we beat in the Revolutionary War!!)

The War of 1812 Bicentennial and Navy Week are being celebrated this week with events happening from downtown Detroit to Lake St Clair.

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Politics & Government
6:15 pm
Sun August 26, 2012

Port Huron Statement's 50th Anniversary

Tom Hayden
user KCET Departures Flickr

A group of university students wrote the Port Huron Statement fifty years ago at a UAW retreat center, north of Port Huron. They called themselves “Students for a Democratic Society.” One of the main participants was political activist Tom Hayden, who was in his early twenties at the time.

The statement begins with these words: "We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit."

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Transportation
3:09 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

New 'Pure' Michigan license plates unveiled (PHOTOS)

1905-1910
Michigan Department of Natural Resources Michigan.gov

This morning, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson unveiled two new Michigan license plates.

(Click through the photos above to see Michigan plates through the ages.)

Standing on the Mackinac Bridge, Johnson revealed two newly designed plates that promote the state's Pure Michigan campaign.  A simple blue and white version will eventually replace the state's standard plate, but another more colorful option featuring the Mackinac Bridge will also be available.

The plates will be available beginning early next year.

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Sports
6:30 am
Fri July 20, 2012

Michigan Olympians

Ann Arbor-native Betsey Armstrong will goal tend for the U.S. Water Polo Team at this summer's Olympic Games
Michael Larson USA Water Polo

In the opening ceremonies next week, when the United States’ flag bearer declines to dip the Stars and Stripes for Queen Elizabeth, he or she will be following the lead of Ralph Rose, a Michigan alum who refused to lower the flag in the 1908 London Olympics, for King Edward VII. 

Rose explained, "This flag dips for no earthly king." 

Wolverines have also made their mark on the podium, winning 138 medals, including 65 gold. This year, Michigan is sending 26 athletes and coaches to London, who will compete in nine different sports. 

The list includes Betsey Armstrong, a graduate of Ann Arbor Huron High – widely considered the greatest high school in the history of Western Civilization —who will play goalie for the water polo team.

Tiffany and Jeff Porter both set hurdling records at Michigan, before getting married – even as Tiffany was becoming a doctor of pharmacy. 

There’s Connor Jaeger, an engineering student who walked onto the swimming team, and finished as a three-time NCAA All-American.  

There’s Sam Mikulak, a gymnast, who broke both ankles at a meet last year on the same landing.  He finished his remaining events – and learned afterward he’d fractured both ankles.  Not all tough guys play football.

And there’s Jerome Singleton.  When he was just one year old, doctors amputated his right leg below the knee.  He went on to become an engineering student, and a world-class paralympian – Michigan’s first.  

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Arts & Culture
2:46 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Ann Arborites say 'hello to the future' in new time capsule

The Library Lane parking structure time capsule.
Jada Hahlbrock Ann Arbor DDA

The Downtown Development Authority is getting ready to open the new Library Lane parking structure on Ann Arbor's South Fifth Ave. In the process, the group hopes to preserve a snapshot of the city's zeitgeist sealed beneath the structure's Division St. staircase.

DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay estimates that the time capsule will be reopened 100 to 200 years from now. She sees the project as a way in which all Ann Arborites can participate in the parking project.

"It's a chance to say 'hello' to people in the future," she said.

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History
8:19 pm
Sun May 6, 2012

Detroit Drunken Historical Society

DDHS website

A new group of history lovers has been meeting to talk about Detroit’s history. The Detroit Drunken Historical Society started three months ago and the group meets at a different Detroit bar each month.

At the group's meetings, a speaker usually gives an informal presentation. Recent topics included Native American Chief Pontiac and Detroit Catholic priest and politician Gabriel Richard

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History
4:18 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Michigan primaries, fascinating and bizarre

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry describes the history of Michigan’s primary as both fascinating and bizarre.

According to Lessenberry, Michigan held its first presidential primary in the early part of the 20th century. At that time people voted for Henry Ford in two separate primaries. To be exact, those primaries took place in 1916 and then in 1924, according to the Michigan Department of State Bureau of Elections.

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Commentary
11:09 am
Fri February 3, 2012

Saving Michigan's History

I have on my desk a beautiful, red-bound hardcover book published by our state exactly a century ago. It’s the Michigan Manual for nineteen eleven and nineteen twelve, sort of a one-volume encyclopedia of politics, government and life in our state.

This particular one has beautiful, fold-out maps of railroad line and judicial circuits and photos and biographies of all the state officeholders. I can find out exactly how people voted, or how to get  information about vacant swampland from the state land office.

This is a fascinating book, more than nine hundred pages long, and I bought it at a used book store for a dollar. Michigan has been publishing the Manual every two years since statehood, and I own all of them since eighteen sixty nine. Old timers in Lansing just call it “the red book.“ If you want to research our history, they are a  good place to start. Also on my desk is the most recent Michigan Manual,  published two years ago. Frankly, it isn’t nearly as nice as the century-old version, though I had to pay fifty bucks for this one. To save money, they dropped a lot of information.

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Statehood
7:08 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Happy birthday Michigan!

Happy Birthday Michigan - you don't look a day over 175... Well, that's because the state is, indeed, celebrating its 175th birthday today as Governor Snyder has declared it, "Michigan Statehood Day."

Michigan was "admitted to the union in 1837 as the 26th state," the Associated Press notes. The Detroit Free Press' Ron Dzwonkowski has a nice piece this morning on the state's history.

And, if that piques your interest, check out Michigan Radio Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry's story about the early days of the state, including the incredible history of Michigan's "boy governor" Stevens T. Mason who, as Lessenberry describes, "flashed across history like a comet, accomplishing more at a younger age than anyone could have dreamed possible and then burning out even faster. He made Michigan a state, fought the Toledo War, won the Upper Peninsula, established public education, and otherwise put the mitten on the map before his career collapsed. He died at a tragically young 31."

And, if you're a real Michigan history buff - check out the state's Constitution from 1835. Or, check out this "tourism map" from 1839.

History
4:14 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

Detroit automakers, then and now

North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

The North American International Auto Show opens to the public tomorrow.

The show has been a time for automakers to roll out new models and concept cars, letting consumers know what to expect in the future. The Detroit Three are heading into the year’s auto show with positive sales figures.

Joining us to take a historical look at the auto show and the Detroit Three is Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry.

You can read Michigan Radio reports and see photos and video here.

 

 

History
11:59 am
Thu October 27, 2011

Michigan's first governor is the youngest state governor in American history

Stevens T. Mason - Michigan's 1st Governor. He served from 1835 to 1840. He was 23 when he was first elected and is the youngest Governor in American history.
wikimedia commons

They called him the "boy Governor" because he was elected to be Michigan's first Governor at age 23.

Today is Stevens T. Mason's 200th Birthday.

At noon today, a statement from Michigan's 48th Governor, Rick Snyder, will be read about the state's first Governor. The governor's offices says the statement will be read "during a ceremony honoring Mason hosted by the Michigan Historical Commission." 

The ceremony is at noon today at Detroit’s Capitol Park, "the location of Michigan’s first Capitol and Mason’s burial site."

Here's Governor Snyder's statement:

“The story of Michigan’s first governor is the story of Michigan’s birth.  Although his actions often made him unpopular in his time, today we owe Stevens T. Mason thanks for his relentless pursuit of statehood.

“When Congress refused to act on a petition to grant statehood, Mason initiated a territorial census to prove the territory qualified under the Ordinance of 1787.  When Congress refused to seat Michigan’s delegates, Mason reached a resolution that ended the dispute over the Toledo Territory and gave Michigan the western reaches of the Upper Peninsula.  And when Michigan’s own people refused to accept the terms of this agreement, Mason forged ahead and led a new convention that resulted in Michigan joining the Union.  All by the age of 25. 

“Michigan has a rich, fascinating history of innovators, builders and leaders like Stevens T. Mason who helped turn Michigan’s unsettled wilderness into a state that eventually became an industrial powerhouse.  When we remember them, we remember and are inspired by the qualities of the people who made our state great.” 

Historic Preservation
1:18 pm
Sun September 18, 2011

People voice their concerns about historic preservation

Developers used tax credits to redevelop a former mental hospital in Traverse City

The state is holding a series of workshops to get the public’s feedback about historic preservation. A meeting is planned in Traverse City on September 21 and in Detroit on October 12. Another meeting will take place in Lansing in January.

People have already attended workshops in Kalamazoo and Midland. Their biggest concern so far is the lack of funding for preservation programs.

Laura Ashlee is with The State Historic Preservation Office.

“As part of the governor’s restructuring of taxes in Michigan for businesses he eliminated the tax credits for historic preservation. There will be a new program, we believe, and we’re going to work with the governor to implement that program.”

Ashlee says historic preservation also makes economic sense. She says people are employed when working on restorations. She also says historic buildings attract people and businesses to that area. 

The State Historic Preservation Office is in the process of writing its plan for the next five years. And the public’s feedback will help shape its plan.

Michigan History
5:48 pm
Wed July 27, 2011

A look back: UAW, Detroit auto workers and labor relations

UAW History
Screenshot from UAW website www.uaw.org

Once again Michigan Radio’s political analyst Jack Lessenberry unleashes his knowledge of Michigan history. This time we get a historical perspective about negotiations between the United Auto Workers and Detroit automakers.

Contract talks have already started between the UAW and General Motors, Chrysler and Ford. But these talks are a little different this time around.

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History
4:30 pm
Fri June 3, 2011

Historical: Union power, past and present (audio)

Seventy years ago, Ford Motor Company recognized the UAW.  Ford was the last major automaker to recognize the union, and that decision marked the starting point of the union’s “Golden Age.”

In this interview, Michigan Radio's Jenn White talks with Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio’s political analyst about unions past and present. And what lessons can be learned from those "golden years."

In 1941, the UAW signed contracts with General Motors and Chrysler, but Henry Ford remained opposed to unionization. After several days of strikes Ford gave in and soon after the first contracts took effect.

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What's Working
11:46 am
Mon March 7, 2011

Old prison breathes new life

user djbuchanan / Flickr

For this week’s installment of “What’s Working,” Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley speaks with Judy Krasnow, resident and tour guide of the Armory Arts Village in Jackson. Located in what once served as Michigan’s first penitentiary, the Armory Arts Village is a residential community originally set up to provide living, working, and presentation space for artists.

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Michigan History
4:52 pm
Thu February 3, 2011

It's not the first time Michigan has faced budget challenges

The Capitol in Lansing
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Michigan lawmakers face the challenge of balancing a budget with a hole of around $1.8 billion in it.

Governor Snyder plans to submit a plan to the legislature this month, and it promises to leave very few departments untouched.

Budget issues are not new to Michigan.

Today, we explored some other difficult times in budget years past with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry.

Michigan Radio's Jenn White asked what led to the deficit we are facing in this year's budget.

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