1763 Treaty of Paris Showcases Complexity of Area that Eventually Became Michigan
Before Michigan became a state in 1837, it was a turbulent stretch of time in the area that would eventually make up the Upper and Lower peninsulas.
On February 10, 1763, the Treaty of Paris, sometimes called just the Treaty of 1763 was signed by the kingdoms of Great Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal following the Seven Years' War, known as the French and Indian War in North America. That treaty had a direct impact on which nation had control over areas in North America, including what would later become Michigan. Put simply, the land was now under Great Britain's control instead of France.
Of course, it came just before the American Revolution against the British which would begin just 13 years later. It was all part of many times Michigan found itself in the center of disputes during the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century.
Prior to 1763, Great Britain and France were regularly competing for dominance in areas of central and northern North America. This included the Great Lakes region due to the massive waterways and other useful resources that were continually being discovered. Michigan was home to several Native American tribes before Europeans arrived. It was then settled by the French, including Detroit which was originally used as a fort to stave off the British from encroaching into French territory. For the time being, the French and Native Americans coexisted in relative peace. But after the British took over the land, that changed fairly quickly.
Several Native American uprisings, including Pontiac's War, sometimes called Pontiac's Rebellion took place not long after the Treaty of Paris. The uprising lasted for three years until 1766. The fighting began when Pontiac's forces attacked Fort Detroit in 1763 and the conflict eventually filtered throughout the region. Sadly, after the conflict, the British had been convinced that Europeans and Native Americans should not live side by side. And as we know, that line of thinking never reversed, especially in the decades after the United States gained independence after the Revolutionary War.
As the years went on, Michigan still saw a lot of contention related to what would become of the land. During the Revolutionary War, the area was the site of mostly smaller-scale skirmishes. After the war, Michigan remained a contested territory. Even the official boundaries were quite uncertain. Conflict with Native American groups continued to be an issue and when the War of 1812 broke out between the United States and Great Britain, British forces reclaimed Detroit as well as Fort Mackinac close to where the Mackinac Bridge exists today.
Even trying to become a state couldn't happen for Michigan without another land dispute. This time with the state of Ohio over the strip of land which led to the infamous Toledo War in 1835 and 1836. That situation was finally solved by the U.S. Government when Michigan was given the area that became the Upper Peninsula. Statehood in 1837.
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