Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State

Excerpt

Writing a state history is generally thought to be a thankless task. Geographic areas complain of being slighted; every city views itself as living in the shadow of the major metropolis; and ethnic groups are perceived as either receiving too little or too much emphasis. Yet, it is these very complaints which make the recitation of a state's history worthwhile. In a very real sense, these voices of discontent are the state's history. Throughout Michigan's existence as a state, the western portion of the lower peninsula and the entire upper peninsula have felt dominated by the power and influence of the eastern lower peninsula, especially Detroit. It is this continuing sense of being neglected which has given rise to movements in the upper peninsula to break away and become a separate state. Moreover, for better or worse, much of Michigan's history is the history of Detroit, and it is understandable that smaller cities should feel frustration as they pale by comparison to the Motor City. Likewise, even though ethnic groups, both white and nonwhite, have contributed mightily to the state's growth, their contributions have been minimized because of a “melting pot” syndrome which demands that native cultures be abandoned so that everyone can become “American.”

While mindful of these past truisms, this book endeavors to present Michigan's history in a different fashion. To be sure, there are the traditional accounts of the impact of the French and British, the rise of the automobile industry, and the tales of lumbering and mining—no story of Michigan would be complete without them. However, this volume intends to go beyond the well-known aspects of the state's development; it intends to tell the story of the people of Michigan. Special emphasis is given to American Indians and their fight to survive in a “white man's world,” the struggle for black rights and women's suffrage, and the contributions of white ethnics. Nor is this book intended only to glorify the state, its people, and its accomplishments, for that would be a distortion of reality. Thus, stories are told of Ku Klux Klan and Black Legion vio-

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