Today in Michigan History

May 17, 1673

Father Marquette and Louis Jolliet set out to explore the Mississippi River.

Intrigued by rumors of a great river that lay to the west, Jesuit Jacques Marquette, explorer Louis Jolliet and five other men left St. Ignace by canoe. Paddling along the northern shore of Lake Michigan and then across present-day Wisconsin, the Frenchmen reached the Mississippi River in one month.

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Today in Michigan History

May 13, 1913

Theodore Roosevelt came to Marquette.

Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Marquette to take on Ishpeming editor George Hewitt, who publicly called the former president a drunk and a liar. Hewitt admitted his stories were false and Roosevelt settled for six cents in damages, which he claimed was “the price of a good newspaper.”

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Today in Michigan History

May 12, 1781

Mackinac Island was sold to the British.

In a grove of trees below Fort Mackinac, Lt. Governor Patrick Sinclair, British commandant at Michilimackinac, and an assortment of Ojibway (Chippewa) chiefs met to transfer the ownership of Mackinac Island to the British crown. A deed was read in English and Algonquian. The British presented a seven-foot wampum belt as a “lasting memorial” of the transaction. Sinclair signed the deed and each chief scrawled his totem on the side of the document. The Indians were given a dozen canoe loads of presents worth 5,000 pounds in exchange for the island.

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Today in Michigan History

May 10, 1865

Michiganders captured Jefferson Davis.

Fleeing the U.S. government, Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, was captured by members of the Fourth Michigan Cavalry near Irwinsville, Georgia. Colonel Benjamin Pritchard, a University of Michigan graduate from Allegan, Michigan, led the battle-hardened veterans of the Fourth. Pritchard transported Davis to Fort Monroe, Virginia, where he remained imprisoned for two years. The Fourth was mustered out of the federal service and came home. Several years later, they received part of the $100,000 reward that had been posted for Davis’s capture.

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Today in Michigan History

May 7, 1763

Pontiac’s Rebellion began.

Ottawa chief Pontiac, ten other chiefs and sixty warriors entered Fort Detroit. Pontiac had a plan to capture the British garrison. British commandant Major Henry Gladwin had been alerted to the plan and his men were ready. Pontiac and his men left the fort. They tried to reenter on the following day but were turned away. Pontiac and his followers then laid siege to the fort, which lasted until late October.

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Today in Michigan History

May 6, 1945

Bob Seger was born.

Born in Dearborn, Robert Clark Seger moved with his family to Ann Arbor when he was six years old. Seger learned to play the ukulele when he was five years old. At the age of fifteen, he began writing songs and performing locally with area bands. Between 1976 and 1984, Seger had fourteen Top Forty singles. In 2000, Detroit Free Press readers ranked him Michigan’s number-one entertainer.

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