Today in Michigan History

June 30, 1953

America was introduced to the Corvette.

The nation’s first sports car with a fiberglass body, the Chevrolet Corvette rolled off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan. Impressed with other sports cars, General Motor’s design guru Harley Earl began work on the Corvette in 1951. Today, the Corvette remains one of the nation’s most popular sports cars. It even has its own museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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Today in Michigan History

June 29, 1863

George Armstrong Custer was appointed to command the Michigan Cavalry Brigade.

Raised in Monroe, Michigan, George Armstrong Custer graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1861. Serving as a junior officer for the first two years of the Civil War, Custer—and two other junior officers—were promoted to brigadier general in late June 1863. The unique move was intended to instill élan in the Army of the Potomac’s cavalry command, which was often bested by Rebel cavalry. Custer received command of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade, which consisted of four regiments of Michigan cavalrymen. Several days later, Custer and his command played a key role in stopping Rebel efforts to break the center of the Union line in the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

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Today in Michigan History

June 28, 1860

John S. Barry was nominated for governor for fifth time.

In 1831, John Barry arrived in Michigan, settling first in White Pigeon and then Constantine. A successful merchant and one of the organizers of the Michigan Southern Railroad, Barry served as a delegate to the 1835 convention that wrote Michigan’s first constitution. A state senator, Barry was nominated by the Democratic party to run for governor in 1841. He was elected and reelected two years later. Barry was prohibited by a constitutional restriction to two consecutive terms. In 1849 the Democrats nominated him again and he won his third term. Barry left office in 1852, but ran twice more for governor (1854 and 1860), but lost each time.

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Today in Michigan History

June 24, 1962

The Tigers played the longest game in baseball history.

The twenty-two-inning game against New York lasted seven hours. Yankee Jack Reed hit a two-run homer, the only one of his 222-game career, in the top of the twenty-second inning to beat the Tigers 9-7.

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Today in Michigan History

June 23, 1963

Thousands marched for racial equality in Detroit.

The nation’s largest civil rights gathering up to that time, an estimated 125,000 people marched down Woodward Avenue to Jefferson Avenue, carrying placards and singing “We Shall Overcome.” The march ended at Cobo Hall where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. introduced his “I have a dream” speech. Two months later, King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, and delivered a similar speech that became one of the greatest moments in American civil rights history.

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Today in Michigan History

June 22, 1937

Joe Louis won his first heavyweight title.

After training vigorously for the opportunity to take on defending heavyweight champion James Braddock, Detroit’s Joe Louis stepped into the ring at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. After biding his time in the early rounds, Louis hit Braddock with what he called the DOA, “Dead On your A–,” which consisted of a left to the body and a right to the chin. The first punch knocked Braddock off balance. The second one took him off his feet. Braddock whirled and fell on his face. He later said the punch felt like “someone jammed an electric bulb in my face and busted it. I couldn’t have got up if they offered me a million dollars.” Joe Louis was the new heavyweight champion of the world.

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Today in Michigan History

June 17, 1866

Lewis Cass died in Detroit.

Born in New Hampshire and raised in Ohio, Lewis Cass arrived in the Michigan Territory to help fight the British in late summer 1812. In 1813, he was appointed territorial governor—a position he retained until 1831 when President Andrew Jackson appointed him secretary of war. In 1848, Cass served the Democratic party as its presidential candidate, but he lost to Zachary Taylor. Besides appointments as ambassador to France and secretary of state (under President James Buchanan), Cass served Michigan in the U.S. Senate until 1857 when Republicans took control of Michigan politics.

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