Today in Michigan History

June 16, 1856

James Jesse Strang was assassinated.

After the murder of Mormon leader Joseph Smith in 1844 in Illinois, most Mormons followed Brigham Young west to Utah. A few Mormons accepted the leadership of James Strang, a native New Yorker, and settled in Wisconsin. Looking for a more isolated environment, Strang and his followers were attracted to Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan. Strang’s community grew rapidly and he crowned himself king in 1850. Strang ran his kingdom with a strong hand and a few disgruntled followers murdered him over the issue of women’s clothes. Left leaderless, the Mormons on Beaver Island were forced to flee when non-Mormons arrived on the island.

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Today in Michigan History

June 14, 1671

The Pageant of the Sault was held.

French officials, led by Simon Francois, Sieur de St. Lusson, gathered at Sault Ste. Marie “to extend God’s glory and to promote the king of France.” In a ceremony attended by Native Americans from fourteen different nations, Lusson raised a cross and claimed that most of the interior of North America, including Michigan, belonged to the French crown.

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Today in Michigan History

June 10, 1919

Michigan ratified the Nineteenth Amendment.

Michigan suffragists were delighted when the all-male Michigan legislature ratified the constitutional amendment ending a decades-long campaign to win equal rights at the polls. The Nineteenth Amendment was ratified by the necessary three-fourths of the states in August 1920. Michigan women voted for president in November 1920 for the first time.

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Today in Michigan History

June 9, 1881

The Soo Locks were given to the federal government.

Federal ownership of this valuable passageway at Sault Ste. Marie, ended the several-cent toll that Michigan had collected from ships passing between Lakes Huron and Superior. Today, the locks remain toll free and are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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Today in Michigan History

June 8, 1926

Babe Ruth came to Detroit.

Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees hit one of the longest home runs in the history of Detroit’s Navin Field. The homer measured 626 feet. After clearing the fence, it bounced off the tops of several cars before being retrieved a block from the stadium.

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Today in Michigan History

June 7, 1860

The Republicans nominated Austin Blair for governor.

In a meeting at Detroit’s Merrill Hall, the Republicans chose Austin Blair of Jackson as their gubernatorial candidate. Born in New York in 1818, Blair arrived in Michigan in 1837. He was elected to the state House in 1845 as a Whig. A founder of the Michigan Republican party, Blair served in the state Senate before being elected governor in 1860. Re-elected in 1862, Blair was a firm opponent of slavery and became one of the nation’s leading governors to support Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to win the Civil War.

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Today in Michigan History

June 4, 1896

Henry Ford introduced his quadricycle.

Ford and his assistant Jim Bishop prepared to drive Ford’s quadricycle. The light and small horseless carriage, which drew heavily on Ford’s experience as a bicycle maker, was too wide for the shed door where it had been constructed. Ford took an axe and knocked out enough bricks to allow the vehicle to pass into early morning darkness. With Bishop riding ahead on his bicycle, Ford started the engine, took hold of the steering lever and moved down the cobblestone alley onto Detroit’s Washington Boulevard. After a short ride, the two returned to Ford’s home on Bagley Avenue where Clara Ford served the men breakfast.

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