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The Statehood Era as defined by staff at the Michigan History Center stretches from 1787 with the creation of the Northwest Territory via the Northwest Ordinance, to 1837 with the achievement of Michigan’s statehood. The people who lived in and came to Michigan, navigated, negotiated and generated rapid change in this time. There were different visions for what Michigan was and would become that raised unsettled questions about freedom, citizenship, and land.

From a Territory to a State

The Northwest Ordinance doubled the size of the newly formed United States in 1787 with the addition of the Northwest Territory. Over the years, this area becomes the states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Color cartoon drawing of Stevens T. Mason holding scroll of Michigan Constitution

This video shows how the Northwest Territory was split into different territories then states from 1787 to 1830.

The Compelling Question

How did people who live in and came to Michigan impact change in Michigan during the statehood era?
The stories and activities on this subject revolve around the question of how people who live in and came to Michigan impacted change in Michigan during the Statehood era.  The stories through out this subject enable students to understand how the Statehood era was a time of rapid change for Michigan and how this change was navigated, negotiated, and generated by Anishinaabe people and White and African-American pioneers.  By engaging in the activities, students can demonstrate how these rapid changes raised unsettled questions about the meanings of freedom and citizenship for Michigan’s future.

You can dig deeper into this question by investigating these stories series of supporting questions.

  • Who lived in Michigan at the start of the statehood era?
  • Who came to Michigan during the statehood era?
  • How is citizenship defined during the statehood era?