Living in the Aftermath of the Great Toledo War

I came to Michigan in the fall of 1990 when I enrolled as a first year law student at the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. Five years later, I moved here for good when I accepted a job with Bill Wright, founder of the Wright Beamer law firm. It’s a common enough story, and everyone comes from somewhere of course. But having grown up in Northwest Ohio, I received (and still do) a fair share of derision on both sides of the border. It seems Ohioans and Michiganders have been feuding since time immemorial – at least well before the storied sideline rivalry between Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler.

In 1835, the Michigan Territory filed petition paperwork with the U.S. Congress seeking statehood. In its application Michigan laid claim to a 468 square mile region running from Lake Erie west to the Indiana border. Ohio had been a state since 1803, and its congressional delegation delayed Michigan’s application in response to what it perceived as a power grab for the disputed parcel of land.

Neither side was willing to back down. Militias were raised, and a military conflict seemed imminent. Michigan voters rejected a proposal to cede the Toledo territory to Ohio in return for what is now Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. President Andrew Jackson intervened later that same year, and under pressure from both Congress and the White House, Michigan’s territorial government accepted the proposed compromise thereby ending the “Toledo War.”

I grew up on my dad’s fishing boat on Lake Erie off the shores of Ohio. I now spend my summers at my wife’s family cottage in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Blessed with friends, family and fond memories on both sides of the border, I am happy to have the annual grudge match resolved on the football field, not the battlefield. Go Bucks! Go Blue! (You figure it out.)

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