Michigan trades Toledo for the Upper Peninsula

It’s hard to imagine it now, but two states once fought over Toledo, and a third state lost hundreds of square miles of wilderness because of that spat.  In the early 1800’s, the four territories of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio were getting close to achieving statehood.  At that time the legal threshold to become a state was a population of 60,000 and of the four, Wisconsin was the last to achieve that mark.

Michigan wrangled with Ohio over the location of Michigan’s southern border, and at stake was the determination of which future state would claim Toledo.  As a thriving port city, Toledo was key to Ohio’s movement of commerce.  After much wrangling, during which each side actually armed themselves and prepared for war, a compromise was finally reached and the border was located far enough north that Toledo officially became a part of the new state of Ohio.

Since Michigan had made the concession on its southern border Congress compensated them by giving them the Upper Peninsula.  Wisconsin objected, of course, because that land was attached to their territory, but short of the population numbers necessary to become a state Wisconsin had no say in the matter and the borders were redrawn.

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4 Responses to Michigan trades Toledo for the Upper Peninsula

  1. starbear says:

    Thanks Lynn for the comment and referral. I used to work at the Luce County Historical Museum. There was actually one shot fired during the Michigan-Ohio War!
    Or so the story goes… The historical stories are quite humorous. You mightenjoy this – just for fun: http://starbear.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/postcard-from-jail/

  2. Love your photo and the comments. I’m finding the research so interesting and wonder how I never heard about some of this stuff before. The border battles back then were extremely tense as people’s entire livelihoods were on the line and the state’s power over pieces of territory was in question. I want a time machine.

  3. Sid Dunnebacke says:

    So, Lynn, you’re collecting these state stories into a book? That’s a great idea. I’ve only read a couple of your posts, but I’m intrigued for sure.

    I knew a little of the Toledo/upper peninsula story, so it was fun to read what you’ve found and shared here.

    Thank you for the suggestion that I visit – I’m glad I did!


  4. Welcome Sid, and I’m glad you’re finding it interesting. My quest actually began about a year and a half ago when my husband wondered aloud why the Upper Peninsula is part of Michigan and not Wisconsin. I set out to find the answer and discovered that every state seemed to have an interesting story to explain the oddball boundaries.

    My original inspiration came from a book called (perfectly) “How the States Got Their Shapes” by Mark Stein. I’m expanding on what he wrote and aiming at a non-historian market. Stay tuned!

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