Why the Upper Peninsula is Not Part of Wisconsin
The Upper Peninsula seems to be mystery to much of the U.S. population outside of the Midwest, and even to some of those in the Midwest. It’s quite common to think that the Upper Peninsula is part of Canada and sometimes even textbooks don’t know what state the Upper Peninsula is in. More than anything, most people assume that the Upper Peninsula is part of Wisconsin.
A sample of search engine keywords to Yooper Steez:
It’s a fair question to ask. After all, the Upper Peninsula at no point touches the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Wisconsin is the only section of land shared between the Upper Peninsula, everywhere else is bordered by water.
The Toledo War
During the early 1800s there was a conflict between Michigan and Ohio (and I don’t mean a football rivalry). At the time Ohio had already been admitted into the union while Michigan was still a territory.
The dispute during the Toledo War (also known as the Ohio-Michigan War) began with different interpretations of the geographic boundaries and features between the State of Ohio and the Michigan Territory. Both governments were claiming sovereignty over a 468 square mile region, which became known as the Toledo Strip.
Until the year 1818, the Michigan Territory had ownership over the eastern section of the Upper Peninsula (the yellow region in the graphic above). The territory then expanded to include the rest of the Upper Peninsula, the entire State of Wisconsin and other parts of the Midwest.
Due to a financial crisis the Michigan Territory was under pressure from Congress and President Andrew Jackson, at which point the Michigan Territory accepted a resolution from the government.
173 Years Ago
On June 15, 1836, President Andrew Jackson signed a bill that first recognized Michigan as a state. However, Michigan would have to concede the Toledo Strip to Ohio, but was given the western three quarters of the Upper Peninsula in return (most of which borders Wisconsin along the Menominee River).
At first, Michigan rejected the offer partly out of pride and feeling that the Upper Peninsula was a worthless region. As their financial crisis lingered on they would have been left out of surplus government money if they had remained a territory rather than a state. Michigan accepted the terms in December in Ann Arbor.
When the Toledo War ended it was considered that Ohio had “won”. This belief changed in the 1840s when it was discovered that the Upper Peninsula was a vast region of resources including copper and iron ore. Considered to have produced more mineral wealth than the California Gold Rush, the Upper Peninsula supplied 90% of the United States copper supply by the 1860s and was the largest supplier of iron ore by the 1890s.
Had Michigan won the Toledo War they would have acquire the Toledo Strip, meaning that the Upper Peninsula probably would have become a part of the Wisconsin Territory and later a part of the State of Wisconsin.
Michigan was finally admitted into the Union on January 26, 1837 as the 26th state with the Upper Peninsula included.
Quite frankly, I’m pretty stoked that Michigan has the 16,452 square mile paradise of the Upper Peninsula rather than the 468 square mile region of the Toledo Strip. Clearly I’m biased, but I think we clearly got the better deal.
All you history buffs out there let me know if there is more info I should include.