When the state of Michigan celebrates its “birthday” today, there might not be enough room for candles on the cake.
Special celebrations commemorating Michigan’s 175th year of statehood are scheduled to take place far and wide, ranging from a weekend party hosted by Lansing’s Historical Society of Michigan to free general admission at the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum on Thursday.
Some MSU students are recognizing the milestone without the fanfare of big celebrations.
Communication junior Samantha Palamera said although the marker is significant, she won’t do anything for the occasion.
“I love … Michigan, but I have too much going on,” she said.
As officials look back on the state’s history, assistant professor of history Roger Rosentreter said the state’s intriguing past has lent itself to a unique sense of pride for residents.
“Michiganians are very proud of their state and their past, which is as diverse as any state out there,” Rosentreter said. “I would challenge most states when it comes to the diversity of our past — we’re not just an automobile state.”
The state’s tourism and historical sites are undoubtedly part of each other, said Michelle Begnoche, a senior communications specialist with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which runs the state’s Pure Michigan advertising campaign.
“So many of our great cultural destinations … those are all tied so closely to our history and the state,” she said.
Rosentreter said the circumstances surrounding Michigan’s statehood were somewhat controversial, citing the Toledo War and its aftermath.
After several years of disputes surrounding the location of the actual boundaries of southern Michigan and northern Ohio — an area then known as the Toledo Strip — then-Michigan Gov. Stevens T. Mason mobilized troops toward the area in 1835, with the intent to reclaim the land.
The dispute eventually prompted intervention from former President Andrew Jackson, who later signed a bill requiring Michigan to give up the Toledo Strip in exchange for three-quarters of the state’s Upper Peninsula, according to the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
The deal left Michiganians uncertain of whether to join the Union, Rosentreter said.
“(The government) forced us to accept a compromise that we didn’t like, and as a result of that, the issue was, ‘Do we want to become a state?’” he said.
Since becoming a state, Michiganians have made contributions to the country in areas from mining and maritime pursuits to the automobile production the state is known for, he said.
“We do a lot, and we have a very beautiful state,” he said.
And despite the state’s recent struggles in terms of a declining population, Rosentreter said Michigan residents remain different than most.
“I think we’ve got a uniqueness,” he said.