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From a portrait hi oil In the Art Collection of the University of Michigan. 


ON several occasions I have heard Mr. Hemans 
remark, " There seems to be no work in Michigan 
covering the period from 1837 to 1845, the most eventful 
years of the State, as it was the period of her birth, 
and filled full of the trials subsequent to such an event. ' ' 
He said he could never find data on the political parties 
of that time, nor on Governor Mason and other promi 
nent men of the day, unless by consulting old newspapers 
and pioneer -collections. He determined to gather 
together all these fragments of historical knowledge, 
even if in an unsatisfactory manner to himself, place 
them together in one work and call it the "Life and 
Times of Stevens T. Mason the Boy Governor." 

"When a child, Mr. Hemans had been told that Gover 
nor Mason, the first Governor of this State, had died in 
a gutter after an evening's debauch. As he grew to 
young manhood and stood before the beautiful painting 
of the Governor in Representative Hall at Lansing and 
gazed upon that face so full of culture and refinement, 
the desire was born in his heart to try and refute this 
criticism and other calumnies heaped upon the Boy Gov 
ernor.. As he began collecting and reading, he became 
more and more convinced that many unjust remarks had 
been showered upon Governor Mason, that the beautiful, 
upright conscientious character of the man had never 
been shown in its true light, Mr. Hemans 7 desire grew 
stronger as his knowledge became deeper in his subject, 
and I really know that he had the greatest love and 
admiration for Governor Mason. We all know that if 
love fills our hearts our hardest task becomes easy. So 
Mr. Hemans, so deeply in love with his subject, put his 

life's best endeavors into collecting and putting together 
and writing this story of the Boy Governor, and it was 
his pride to think of presenting it to this great State of 
Michigan, for which State I believe Mr. Romans gave 
his life. But his last two years were filled so full of 
physical pain and suffering that he was unable to finish 
this work, and Mr. William L. Jenks has kindly written 
the last chapter. 

I remember so distinctly Mr. Hemaius entering the 
home one evening and remarking, " Governor Manon has 
a living daughter in Newark, N. J., and I must get into 
communication with her. 7 7 He immediately wrote to her 
and received a charming, helpful letter in return. The 
daughter, Mrs. Wright, suggested that Mr. Hemans 
write to Miss Emily V. Mason, a sister of Stevens T. 
Mason, who was still active and interesting at the age 
of 93. 

The friendship between Miss Mason and Mr. Hemans 
was an unusual one. She seemed almost to consider Mr. 
Hemans as a brother, and the information she gave him 
helped him wonderfully in the story of her brother 

The Governor had another sister, Mrs. Laura Chi- 
chester who lived in Virginia, and whom Mr. Hemans 
visited during his researches. Lexington, Ky. was once 
the old home of the Mason family, also other towns in 
that State, and Mr. Hemans visited all these and secured 
pictures of the old homes which are found in this work. 
Nearly all of the pictures included in this volume have 
been collected by great endeavors and at a great expense. 
Many of them were from old brooches, daguerreotypes, 
almanacs, paintings and from old things pulled from rub 
bish heaps. The pictures Mr. Hemans and myself have 


paid hundreds of dollars for. He could not content him 
self when he got on the trail of a picture unless he 
secured it, regardless of labor or expense, so deep was 
his interest in his work. His greatest regret, as I remem 
ber, was not to secure the picture of John Norvell, early 
Detroit postmaster and Michigan statesman; his labors 
in this direction were almost endless. Miss Emily Mason 
endeavored to secure this picture but the search had to 
be given up. 

Nearly all of the chapters concerning the family and 
their home life have been gleaned from letters from 
Miss Mason. In her delightful manner she wrote many 
letters of their charming home life. These letters I have 
in Mr. Hemans 7 Historical Collection and they with the 
above collection will some time be a part of the Michigan 
Pioneer and Historical Collection. 

When Mr. Hemans discovered that Stevens T. Mason 
died and was buried in New York, he began wishing that 
he might be the means of bringing the remains of the 
Boy Governor back to the State of Michigan. His 
endeavors were crowned with success and Governor War 
ner appointed Mr. Hemans as one of the three commis 
sioners to go to New York and bring back the remains 
and place them in a suitable burial spot in Detroit. Then 
began his personal acquaintance with the daughter and 
sisters of Governor Mason. The grandson, Edward 
Wright, Jr. of Newark, N. J., a young man of great 
culture and ability piloted the commission to the Gover 
nor's last resting place, pictures of which are found in 
the pages of this volume. So the friendship between 
the Mason family and Mr. Hemans grew, and also the 
interest in his work deepened and became a part of his 


This story was written entirely in the evenings after 
the hai*d day's work upon his usual daily tasks at his 
office. This for many years was his source of pleasure, 
all he seemed to yearn for; he seemed to love this Boy 
Governor and Ms life and times like a sweetheart. Page 
after page flew from his fingers only to be rewritten time 
and again; never would a page be considered to be 
perfectly right or fit until I had carefully listened to his 
reading of it; the chapters and the story became so 
familiar to me that 1 knew it almost as well as he. In 
my memory there stands out so vividly Mr, Zlcmans at 
Ms table in our old Mason home, pen in hand happily 
engaged in his work. His fear was that he would never 
see it finished or that it might not be worthy of print 
when finished, but he would remark, "Wife, it has been 
worth all the effort/ 7 

I have spent days in the Detroit Public Library read 
ing old Detroit newspapers of the years 1837-1845, care 
fully reading those old musty pages to get some inter 
esting item for him. Also I spent some time at Marshall, 
Mich, with Mr. John Patterson, a Marshall pioneer, who 
had a valuable collection of early newspapers. All my 
labors were labors of love and the delight expressed on 
his face when I would return from a search of that kind 
was a payment enough for me. 

Now if in return the people of Michigan will read this 
volume and find in it any interesting and helpful thoughts 
it will be a great pleasure to me and somehow I feel that 
Mr. Hemans from "The Beautiful Isle of Somewhere 77 
will know that his labor of love was not all in vain. 

Mason, Michigan, 
November 4, 1918. 


Chapter. Page. 

I. In the Old Dominion 11 

II. The Sojourn in Kentucky 21 

III. Life in Michigan Territory 38 

IV. Secretary Mason 56 

V. A Year of Stirring Events 73 

VI. Advancing Towards Statehood 88 

VII. The Boundary Dispute with Ohio 107 

VIII. The Boundary Dispute with Ohio (Con.) 131 

IX. The Constitution of 1835 152 

X. A Sovereign State Out of the Union 178 

XI. Organizing the State Government 201 

XII. Conditions in Michigan in 1837 218 

XIII. Michigan Admitted to the Union - 239 

XIV. Legislation of 1837 255 

XV. Financial Difficulties and the Election of 1837. . 284 

XV L Governor Mason's Second Term 313 

XVII. The Patriot War 330 

XVIJ I. Banks and Banking 362 

XIX. Internal Improvements 389 

XX. Internal Improvements and the Five Million 

Dollar Loan 423 

XX I, The Fourth Legislature 445 

XX LI. The State Pusses to Whig Control 465 

XXII L "Tippecauoe and Tyler Too" 484 

XXIV. The Closing Years 504 

Index 521 



Abbott, Robert 112 

Adam, John J 144 

Barry, John S 192 

Black Hawk 96 

Brown, Gen. Joseph W 128 

Capitol Building, Detroit 176 

Capitol Square Park, Detroit 416 

Cass, Lewis 64 ? 80 

Central Railroad right-of-way 320 

Clay, Home of Henry 48 

Clinton Canal 336 

Comstock, Oliver C 144 

Constitution of 1835 before restoration 144 

Constitution of 1835, first page 160 

Constitution of 1835, in office of Secretary of State ICO 

Crary, Isaac K 256 

Doty, James I) 112 

Edmunds, James M 384 

Erie and KaJamaxoo passenger coach 288 

Farnsworth, Elon 224 

, Pelch, Alphens 192 

First State Election, 1835, Detroit 160 

Fletcher, William Asa 224 

Fuller, Philo C 304 

Gidley, Townsend E 304 

Homer, John S 176 

Hough-ton, Dr. Douglass 272, 320 

Howard, Benjamin C 128 

Howard, Henry 352 

LeRoy, Daniel 224 

Lucas, Robert 112 

Lyon, Lucius 320 

McClelland, Robert 240 

Mason coat-of-arms 518 

Mason, Gov. Stevens T Frontispiece, 64, 176, 208, 384 

Mason, Stevens T., grandfather of Gov. Mason 16 

Mason, Mrs. Stevens T., grandmother of Gov. Mason 16 

Mason, John T., father of Gov. Mason 48 

Mason, Mrs. Julia Phelps, wife of Gov. Mason 80 

Mason, Emily Virginia, sister of Gov. Mason 48 


Chilton, Mrs. Laura Mason, sister of Gov. Mason 80 

Wright, Mrs. Dorothea Mason, only child of Gov. Mason. . 208 

Mason home on Raspberry Plain, Va 16 

Mason home near Lexington, Ky 64 

Mason home in Mt. Sterling, Ky 32 

Mason home in Detroit * 192 

Mason's commission for Oren Marsh as captain, 1838. . . . 368 

Mason, letter from Gov 256 

Mason, tomb of Gov. Stevens T 400 

Mason, commissioners at tomb of Gov 416 

Mason, Statue of Stevens T 400 

Morell, George 240 

Mundy, Edward 208 

Ohio boundary dispute diagram 130 

Pierce, John D 272 

Pitcher, Dr. Zina ( . . . . 272 

Porter, George B , 96 

Poster : "Settlers Beware" 336 

Ransom, Epaphroditus 240 

Roberts, Elijah J , * 352 

Roineyn, Theodore 352 

Rush, Richard 128 

Schoolcraf t ? Henry R 256 

Sehwarz, John E 368 

Steamer, "Michigan," 1834 288 

Stuart, Charles E 384 

Transylvania University 32 

Trowbridge, Charles C/. 288 

Vickery, Stephen , 304 

Williams, Gen. John R 9g 

William $nd Mary College 32 

Woodbridge, "William 308 




ON the 3rd of September, 1651, was fought the memor 
able battle of Worcester, where the ill-starred army 
of Prince Charles went down to irretrievable defeat 
before the onslaught of Cromwell and his " Ironsides.' 7 
"Worcester was the last battle of the Civil War, and 
Cromwell was wont to refer to it in after times as the 
"crowning mercy of God," because it crushed the present 
hopes of the Royalists for the restoration of the throne 
and crown. 

From the blood-stained field, whereon lay six thousand 
of his faithful followers, the young prince fled under 
cover of the night, a fugitive in mean disguise, to be 
the central figure in many an adventure and romantic 
escape until weeks later he was landed upon the shore 
of France. Many a cavalier of noble lineage and proud 
estate who had cast his future with the son of the be 
headed king surrendered property and estate and sought 
personal safety in voluntary banishment from the scenes 
of his native land. Many fled to Holland, France and 
adjacent countries, while still many more sought an 


asylum amid the newer scenes and larger opportunities 
of Virginia, the colony of the new world which was then 
giving new direction to the thoughts and imagination of 

Among the many who at this time and for this reason 
became emigrants to the Old Dominion was one George 
Mason of Staffordshire. The long centuries tell little of 
his life story before he landed at the primitive village 
on the James. The family name appears among the 
members of the second parliament of Charles I, and a 
family tradition has preserved the story of his having 
commanded a troop of horse among the defeated at the 
battle of Worcester. The early colonial records of Vir 
ginia contribute but meager notice of George Mason 
the emigrant. They show that as the owner of an exten 
sive estate he was a forceful character in the now com 
munity, ever active and equal to its demands; but his 
chief claim to distinction will always bo that he was a 
progenitor of one of the most illustrious families of the 
new world. A son ? Lieutenant-Colonel George Mason, in 
1700 became Commandor-in-Chief of the Jamestown 
militia, and held other offices of honor and distinction in 
the colony. A third George Mason, son of the latter, like 
wise won a reputation for exceptional attainments. Early 
in life he became a Justice of the Peace, the office at that 
time being one of first importance in the judicial affairs 
of the colony. He likewise became Sheriff of the County 
of Stafford, and when in 1716 Governor Spottswood and 
his "Knights of the Golden Horaoshoe" accomplished 
the then famous journey acrosH the Blue Ridge Moun 
tains to the Shenandoah Valley and took formal posses 
sion of the country by firing a volley and drinking to the 


health of the king: in champagne, to the health of the 
princess in burgundy, and to the rest of the royal family 
In claret, Colonel Mason was one of the number. 

In 1721 George Mason married Ann Thomson, the 
daughter of Stevens Thomson, Attorney General for 
Virginia during a portion of the reign of Queen Anne. 
Their two sons, George and Thomson, were destined 
to fill larger places during the later days of the colonial 
period and the earlier days of the republic. Five miles 
from Mount Vernon on an inlet of the broad Potomac 
stands Gunston Hall, the colonial home of George 
Mason, who in his day was the trusted friend of Wash 
ington, of Jefferson, of Patrick Henry and that galaxy 
of great Virginians who wrought so nobly in the cause 
of liberty, and for the upbuilding of a new government 
dedicated to its cause. 

In statecraft George Mason ranked with the men of 
first abilities. His great mind conceived and his hand 
penned the famous Declaration of Rights and the first 
constitution of Virginia. To tell the incidents of his 
service to his country would require the limits of a vol 
ume rather than a paragraph. To Gunston Hall went 
Lafayette as an honored guest, and there likewise went 
the patriots of the day to catch the inspiration of his 
master mind. It is not strange that the Negroes and 
simple folk of the neighborhood still believe that the sage 
who was once the master, at intervals yet returns to 
walk at night its spacious grounds, recalling the olden 
days. It is befitting the honor of the Old Dominion 
State that the form of George Mason, cast in deathless 
bronze, should stand with that of John Marshall and 
the other illustrious sons of the early day about the 


equestrian statue of Washington upon the campus of 
the Capitol at Eichmond. 

Thomas Mason, the younger brother, was likewise a 
man of more than ordinary intellectual grasp and power. 
He studied law in the Temple at London and at his death 
in 1785 ranked with the first in ability and attainments at 
the bar of Virginia. As early as 1774 he published a 
series of papers urging open resistance to the demands 
of the mother country. In 1778 he was appointed a mem 
ber of the first Supreme Court of his State, He was 
twice a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and 
served in other capacities which at once bespoke the 
reality of his abilities and the confidence of his constitu 

The home of Thomas Mason was in Loudoun County, 
Virginia, where he became the owner of a vast tract of 
land. His manor house was erected at Raspberry Plain, 
some four miles from the village of Leesburg, where the 
Blue Kidge Mountains are lost in the gentle swells of a 
yich, undulating country, which the present-day inhabi 
tant will tell you is "the garden spot of the world." 
Thomson Mason was twice married. The eldest son of 
his first marriage was Stevens Thomson Mason, born 
in Stafford in 1760. This young man, Thomson Mason 
young, for he died in 1803 had all the fire and vigor 
of his ancestors. At the age of twenty he had reached 
the rank of Colonel in the Revolutionary Army and later 
saw service in many a hard campaign. He was a member 
of the Virginia Convention of 1788 and of the United 
States Senate from 1794 to the date of his death. His 
wife was Mary Armstead, a lady who possessed a mind 


of great strength and power as well as a face and figure 
of more than ordinary charm and beauty. 

The home life of Stevens Thomson Mason had all of 
the charm that surrounded the home life of the best days 
of Virginia. Raspberry Plain and extensive lands were 
his portion of his father's estate. The old manor house 
with its spacious halls and broad veranda, its setting 
of native forest trees with the double line of locusts that 
marked the drive to the highway a quarter of a mile 
away, were all marks of a hospitality inborn and gracious 
that was there enthroned. There was even an element 
of fascination and delight in the row of whitewashed 
cabins where the numerous company of servants which 
the establishment supported were given the means of 
every physical, comfort. Slavery at Raspberry Plain 
and indeed upon the plantations of the Masons generally 
was an institution that imposed quite as many duties 
on the master as burdens on the servant. The bond 
between them was genuine and real, as both demonstrated 
on many occasions. George Mason was a member of the 
convention which framed the Federal Constitution, and 
no man of his State took more advanced ground than did 
he on the great question of human slavery; while the 
brother Thomson left evidence of the reality of his inter 
est in the form of substantial bequests insuring the future 
comfort of the servants whose fidelity he recognized as 
a claim upon his bounty. 

The Mason home, moreover, was not the home of 
either vanity or indolence. It was the home of the old 
Virginia aristocracy where pride of family, culture and 
appreciation of the true dignity of labor were all relig- 


iously inculcated. To this end the will of Thomson 
Mason contained a provision that neither of his younger 
sons "should reside on the south side of the James Eiver 
or below Williamsburg before they respectively attain 
the age of twenty-one years, lest they should imbibe 
more exalted notions of their own importance than I 
could wish any child of mine to possess.' 7 

Such were the surroundings and social atmosphere of 
the home in which Senator Stevens T. Mason lived and 
in which his children, two sons and two daughters, were 
born. The sons were Armstead Thomson Mason, mem 
ber of Congress and a general in the War of 1812, and 
General John Thomson Mason, who became Secretary of 
Michigan Territory and who was the father of Stevens 
Thomson Mason, the first Governor* of the State. 
Although Senator Stevens T. Mason died in 1803, ho 
lived long enough to impress his personality upon his 
sons, and inspire them with an aspiration for high attain 
ments. Men of learning, wit and eloquence, the leaders 
in the larger affairs of the State and Nation, were fre 
quent partakers of the hospitality of Raspberry Plain, 
imparting to the lads a degree of refinement not other 
wise obtained, while their minds were opened to the vast 
world beyond the plantation limits by occasional vitltt 
with their father to the city of Philadelphia and other 
places where official and other business called Mm. In 
1808 John T. Mason had progressed "beyond the instruc 
tions of the private tutor who in that d&y was an adjunct 
in every family of considerable estate, and was a student 
in the famous college of William and Mary at Williams- 
burg, which even then could count scores of names made 
eminent in the highest walks of life, who claimed it as 

Of Raspberry Plain, Vn,. 1700-1 SO."!, Grandfather of Gov. Stevens Thomson Mason. 

, .ruv'.i 



juitflitov of Robert Anuistead, Grandmother of Gov, Stevons Thomson Mason 
of Michigan, From a colored crayon by James Sharpless, probably in 1794, 


their Alma Mater. It was here that John T. Mason met 
Elizabeth Moir, the daughter of a Scotch family long 
domiciled upon Virginia soil. The chance meeting was 
the commencement of an attachment that a year later 
resulted in his taking her as his bride to his Loudoun 
County home. 

John T. Mason had already come into possession of his 
share of his father's estate, which portion was consid 
ered an ample fortune for that day. On a portion of 
the old plantation thus inherited he erected a model 
dwelling to which he gave the name of Moirfield, in honor 
of his bride, although it was only for a short time their 
residence. He had begun the practice of the legal pro 
fession for which he had made preparation, and for a 
time the nearby town of Leesburg, the county seat of 
Loudoun County, was his home. There are letters in 
existence which lead us to believe that it was while living 
here that the subject of this volume, Stevens Mason 
Mason, was born, much as we would like to believe, as it 
has been sometimes stated, that he was born in the old 
manor house at Raspberry Plain. The date of his birth 
was October 27, 1811, and we may be sure that the advent 
of this son, the first among the children of the Senator 
and his queenly wife, although a daughter had been 
born the year before, was the occasion of genuine 
rejoicing in the family. We can well imagine the scene 
when a little later the army of kinsfolk gathered at the 
little church for the christening of the baby with the 
name of his illustrious grandfather, Stevens Thomson 
Mason. The solemn service concluded, the company 
repaired for the concluding festivities to the old manor 
which was fittingly garnished for the important occa- 


sion; a family reunion, Christmas and a wedding were 
the only events of more importance than a christening. 
Familty tradition tells of christenings when from far and 
near as many as three hundred of the kinsfolk gathered 
to partake of the joys of the occasion, and we may be 
sure that upon this event they were equally loyal. In 
keeping with family custom the broad halls and spacious 
rooms of the old homestead were bright with the festoons 
of autumn decorations. It was a day of gaiety for the 
"quality," and long after it had passed was a theme of 
conversation among the servants. 

The career of the future Governor of Michigan on Vir 
ginia soil was destined to be of short duration, but as 
so frequently happens in human experience, accident 
rather than design was the occasion for the fact that his 
boyhood was spent in the State of Kentucky. At this 
time the two sisters of the father were in the charm of 
their young womanhood. They were, as might be 
expected, drawn to "Washington as participators in its 
social gaieties. There Catherine, the elder, met and 
became the wife of Honorable "William T. Barry, then a 
young Kentucky congressman, later Postmaster General 
in the Cabinet of President Jackson. Mary, the younger, 
became the fiancee of Honorable Benjamin Howard, also 
a member of Congress from Kentucky, who at about that 
time had become Governor of the Territory of Louisiana 
from which the Territory of Missouri was later formed. 
The mother was reluctant to give her consent to a mar 
riage that would remove her youngest daughter so far 
from kith and kin as Missouri; but the lovers had a 
strong champion in the brother Jojin, who not only was 
loyal to his sister in her love, but became a convert to 


the claim of the greater opportunities of the newer West 
where the glories of the empire were in waiting. The 
romance, if such it may be termed, ended in the marriage 
of the lovers, and they with the family of the brother 
started as emigrants to the land beyond the Mississippi. 
Such a venture in 1812 was not a matter of small moment, 
for it meant the passage of the mountains and weary 
weeks in the wilderness and upon the rivers, with a com 
pany that approached the magnitude of a caravan, for 
the family of the father had now been augmented by the 
arrival of the maternal grandparents who had come from 
"Williamsburg to make a home with their daughter. A 
lumbering coach-and-four provided for the ladies and 
children ; the gentlemen were in the saddle ; while a score 
of servants from the grandfather's estate trudged on 
afoot or rode the .wagons that conveyed the effects and 
provisions for so large a company. But fate had seem 
ingly decreed that they were not to reach their intended 
destination. Upon arriving at the city of Lexington, 
Kentucky, weary from weeks of journey, Indian upris 
ings upon the frontier and portentious war movements 
were the factors which persuaded them to make that 
place their home until both had passed away. 

John Mason at once set about the conservation of 
his moderately extensive property interests until affairs 
should permit the prosecution of his original intention. 
Governor Howard tendered his services to the Govern 
ment, which gave him a commission as Brigadier Gen 
eral. In the meantime the war continued. Congress 
created the Territory of Missouri and gave the governor 
ship into other hands. In the early spring of 1813 an 
event happened that had more to do with determining 


the intentions of the family than had either war or poli 
ties. Death entered the family circle and claimed the 
bride of a year, the sister of John Mason, the wife of 
General Howard. It is probable that all intention of 
proceeding farther westward was then abandoned; if not 
it certainly must have been when a few months later the 
broken-hearted husband was laid beside the wife and 


r I ^ O the Virginia emigrant of the early days, Kentucky 
-*- was a land of rich and varied charms. Then as now 
the gentle undulations of the central blue-grass country 
awoke enthusiasm in the "breast of the beholder. Its 
mighty forests, fertile soil and deep flowing rivers 
bespoke for it a future of more than ordinary hope and 
promise. Long before John Mason set his face west 
ward thousands of Virginians had crossed into the land 
of Boone and Kenton and had laid the foundations and 
raised the superstructure of a State. As early as 1812 
Lexington was a town that could boast of all the refine 
ments of communities long tempered by age. Schools 
and churches of high character had made their advent, 
social graces and the lighter accomplishments had many 
votaines. It was as large as Cincinnati and four years 
later a traveler said of it, "The inhabitants are as pol 
ished and, I regret to add, as luxurious as those of Bos 
ton, New York or Baltimore." 

It was natural that John Mason should have readily 
accepted the fate which had brought him hither and that 
he should have at once entered into the business and 
social life of the community. With but short delay he 
took up the practice of his profession at the bar where 
the names of Clay, Barry, Breckenridge and others were 
already famous, and soon won for himself a respectable 


clientage and the reputation of a solid and responsible 
citizen. The first three or four years of residence at 
Lexington developed little of exceptional family interest. 
Acquaintanceship was extended and the father looked 
forward with every assurance of a prosperous career. 
During the first two years' residence, two sons were born 
to die in infancy, although young Thomson continued to 
develop into sturdy boyhood. The maternal grandpar 
ents were still inmates of the home and the grandmother 
found as much delight as did the children in recounting 
the stories of the Revolution and the colonial days of old 
Virginia. Even before Tom had essayed to solve the 
mystery of books and lessons, he knew by 'heart the 
stories of the students at William and Mary's College, 
the old days at Williamsburg and the great doings at 
the Capitol before the war. The second sister, Emily 
Virginia, who in later years became the trusted confidant 
of the brother, was born in 1815. A little later the 
father purchased a large estate some three and one- 
half miles from town to which the family were removed. 
Even before this time John Mason had acquired many 
large and valuable properties both in Lexington and in 
the surrounding country and for some years thereafter 
his real estate holdings were upon a scale quite beyond 
the ordinary. The country home was located upon what 
was then known as the Boonsborough Road, now the 
Lexington and Richmond Pike, a short distance beyond 
" Ashland, " the famous home of Henry Clay. Although 
the lapse of years had swept away every old-time asso 
ciation, the old manor still stands, a sad arid silent wit 
ness of a forgotten generation. The house, built by 
Colonel Levi Todd in 1780, is said to be the first brick 


house west of the Alleghany Mountains. Many historic 
associations are connected with the old homestead, for 
Colonel Levi Todd was the ancestor of Mary Todd, the 
wife of Abraham Lincoln, and the old house in later years 
when it had passed into other hands was the scene of 
their entertainment and the home of other illustrious 
personages in Kentucky history. 

Upon its becoming the home of the Masons it was 
given the name of "Serenity Hall" after the home of the 
father's maternal grandfather, Eobert Armstead, of 
Louisa County, Virginia. The days at "Serenity Hall" 
were the joyous days of the family residence at Lexing 
ton. It was an estate of between two and three hundred 
acres of the famous blue grass. The old house at that 
time could claim an approach to the appointments and 
dignity of a palace. The old servants were again about 
the family recalling the old days and early associations. 
"Granny Peg" who had been purchased as a child from 
a slaver on the James Eiver as an act of compassion by 
William Moir, as the mother's maid, was here at liberty 
to scold while she rendered tireless, faithful service. 
Here Tishey the cook, and Jackson the coachman, in 
unconscious servitude performed their daily duties with 
pride of place and association. The home and farm main 
tained a company of more than twenty servants who in 
the homestead, spinninghouse, shop and field made a com 
munity that was quite self-supporting. Even in such a 
home, life was simple; satisfying pleasure abounded in 
field and forest and in the social intercourse with friends 
and neighbors. Sundays always found the families at 
the Episcopal Church where all were communicants and 
where each found mental and social as well as spiritual 


satisfaction. Young Tom, now a lad of six years,^with 
Ms sister Mary a year Ms senior, were now receiving 
daily instruction from Mr. January, the tutor, who had 
come out from Virginia. The monotony of the school 
days was varied by a romp about the quarters with Sam, 
Eobert, Evelena or Coty, or perhaps in listening to some 
folklore tale from the lips of old Peff or Granny Peg, 
whose store of wonders was well nigh inexhaustible. At 
infrequent intervals the family was treated to the delight 
of a journey back to the old Virginia home. The father 
did not relinquish his professional labors even when he 
assumed the cares of a farm proprietor, and time brought 
still others. In 1817 a branch of the United States Bank 
was organized at Lexington and John Mason became one 
of its directors. WMle other enterprises claimed his 
interest and attention, yet on occasions the father found 
time from his business and professional career to join 
in those trips back to his own boyhood home. 

Long years afterwards, the joys of those journeys 
remained with those who participated in * them. It 
required the better part of three weeks for the old coach 
and its four-horse team to cover the distance. The trav 
elers never tired of the changing scenes amid the hills 
and valleys that filled the way. Daily the midday meal 
was devoured beside some spring or babbling brook, while 
the nights were spent beneath the roofs of the homes 
of the pioneers where they were treated to the crude but 
unstinted hospitality of that early day. . In later years 
one of the children 'recalled that it was the custom of 
the mother on these journeys to charge the one who rode 
ahead to find the stopping places for the night, to select 
the house that had curtains at the windows, reasoning 


that curtains were a true mark of both affluence and 
gentility. The arrival at the old home at Raspberry 
Plain and the meeting of the numerous kinf oik was the 
crowning joy of the journey. At times pressing business 
required that the father should forego the companion 
ship of his wife and children and should make the journey 
hurriedly and alone. One such occasion plunged the 
family into deepest sorrow. It was when in the early 
days of 1819 a swift messenger brought the sad tidings 
that the father's beloved and only brother, Armstead 
Thomson Mason, had been killed in a duel with his cousin, 
Colonel John McCarty. At Leesburg the old inhabitants 
will still tell you the old story as it has been handed from 
the father to the son : how the quarrel started between 
Mason and McCarty, who were opposing candidates for 
congress; how they met with rifles on the famous dueling 
ground at Bladensburg, Maryland; how at the signal 
both rifles cracked with one report; how the bullet from 
Mason's weapon shattered McCarty 's arm and how the 
one from McCarty 's rifle struck the lock of the one in 
Mason's hands, split in two, one-half burying itself in 
the heart of the victim. They will tell you further of how 
because of the tragedy a beautiful young lady refused 
to become McCarty 's bride and how later they were 
brought together by the magic of a song, and they may 
tell you how years later their child and first born of their 
union, dead from a weapon in his own hands, lay in the 
same room at old Easpberry Plain that had been the 
death chamber of Armstead Thomson Mason. The death 
of this brother was a sore blow to John Mason, for the 
tie between them was of the tenderest, the only son of 
the former having been given the name of the cousin, 


Stevens Thomson Mason, destined to meet the death 
of a soldier as an officer of the Union forces in the war 
with Mexico. 

This same year an event transpired that may have 
had some bearing on the later career of the "Boy Gov 
ernor " of Michigan. James Monroe was then President 
of the United States. Years before and while John 
Mason and his young wife were still residents of Lou- 
doun County, "Oak Hill," the country home of James 
Monroe, was but a moment 7 s drive from the Mason home 
at Easpberry Plain. Between the two families there had 
long been the most cordial and friendly relations, indeed 
Monroe had stood as the godfather for the infant daugh 
ter Mary before the family had emigrated to Kentucky. 
Even then he had held many high places in the gift of 
his state and nation, having served with George Mason 
in the famous Virginia convention of 1788 ; been gover 
nor of his State, member of the United States Senate and 
minister to France. Now as President he was making 
a tour promoting "the era of good feeling. " Lexington 
was one of the cities whose fortune it was to lay in 
the course of his itinerary. Its citizens made becoming 
preparations for the reception and entertainment of 
their honored guest. "Whig sentiment was strong in Lex 
ington, as it was strong in Kentucky generally at that 
time; and one cannot repress a smile as he scans the 
columns of the Lexington Gazette of that time and notes 
the strenuous objection of the paper to the preparations 
made and especially to the company of cavalry that was 
detailed to act as the honorary escort into the city as 
being unsuited ;to that simplicity that should be regarded 
by the head of a republic; but the cavalry and other 


military companies joined in tlie reception. A public 
dinner was given the President and Ms suite at Keen's 
Hotel. A town address was delivered by a select com 
mittee of which. John Mason was a member and responses 
were made by the distinguished guests. The festivities 
lasted for three days with a Sunday intervening and 
during the time the President and his suite enjoyed the 
hospitality of his old Virginia friends. Among the com 
pany at "Serenity Hall" there was a wounded hero who 
was eyed with special veneration by the youthful Tom, 
for he was the popular idol of the hour, his fame advanc 
ing in every corner of the new republic. It was General 
Jackson, the hero of New Orleans, fresh from Ms Florida 
campaign. He was then in the full vigor of Ms years 
but somewhat weakened from the effects of the wound 
received in his duel with Dickinson thirteen years before, 
and the children of the home always remembered him as, 
resting on the sofa, he took a toddy from their mother's 
hand. In after years when Andrew Jackson had become 
president of the Eepublic and young Mason had need 
of a friend in high place, how much he owed to this chance 
meeting and to the fact that Old Hickory had once 
enjoyed the hospitality of his father's home, the records 
will never tell. 

In the latter part of the year 1819 John Mason parted 
with "Serenity Hall" and many of the servants and soon 
became interested with other gentlemen in the develop 
ment of the iron deposits in the vicinity of OwingsviUe 
and Beaver creek. He still retained considerable prop 
erty in Lexington and vicinity and from old family letters 
we find that for the next two or three years the family 
made several changes in its place of residence. Some- 


times they were at the "Swift" house and sometimes 
at the "Higgins" house. Even before they left "Seren 
ity Hall" young Tom had begun the preparatory work 
for entrance into Transylvania University where in 
later years he became a student. Daily in company -with 
young John Barry and other youthful associates he rode 
his pony into the town, returning when the day's lessons 
were learned and recited. We find that during these boy 
hood days young Mason was anything but an effeminate 
lad; he had both the spirit and the courage of youth 
and on more than one occasion seems to have been will 
ing to engage with riding-whip and fists in the contests 
that decide boyish claims of honor. It was in 1822 that 
Tom suffered his first great bereavement which came in 
the death of his sister and playmate Mary. To him the 
loss of this sister was the cause of most poignant grief 
and to the fond parents the occasion of a lasting sorrow. 
And now, as if disasters were destined never to come 
singly, the fortunes of the father, which but a few years 
before had seemed of the brightest, were beginning to 
darken. At first a material loss through the failure of 
business associates for whom he had become surety was 
borne with the belief that he might in time retrieve from 
the wreckage of them who had brought him his loss, but 
the continuing shrinkage in value of the property from 
which he sought to realize, left him but little in the equi 
ties ; and then it was that he turned his attention to his 
iron properties at Owingsville and on the Beaver and to a 
distillery 'at or near Mount Sterling. Although the 
financial reverses that had been suffered were consider 
able, John Mason was still reckoned among the men of 
affairs in the community and he went resolutely to work 


to rehabilitate Ms fortune. The Kentucky Assembly in 
1823, evidently taking notice of his efforts in the develop 
ment of the iron industry at the Beaver Forge, gave 
legislative sanction to the creation of a " lottery for the 
opening and improving of the road from the Olympian 
Springs to the Beaver Creek iron works." Lotteries of 
this character were institutions quite common in that 
day and of this particular one John Mason was made 
one of the managers. At this time the family removed 
to Jowetts Farms or " Indian Fields" that the wife and 
children might be near the father, although there is 
reason to believe that Tom remained at his books at 

These were the days of care-free joy for the children, 
especially during the long summer days when young Tom 
was free from school restraints to be the leader in their 
frolics afield. Sometimes for weeks they were at the 
Olympian Springs or Mudlicks, drinking in strength and 
vigor as much from the air of the hills as from the water 
which broke pure and sparkling from many springs. The 
incidents of the Bath County residence long continued 
a subject of delightful reminiscence and pleasant reflec 
tion. It had not been intended that the family should 
take up a permanent residence among "The Knobs" as 
the Bath County country was called, and upon the death 
of the grandmother at Raspberry Plain in 1824 the family 
returned to Lexington, which was better suited to the 
profitable employment of the servants who now came to 
the father from the mother's estate. John Quincy 
Adams, on being elected President the same year called 
Henry Clay to his Cabinet as Secretary of State, and the 
next year, 1825, John Mason became a tenant of "Ash- 


land" where the family resumed a most happy existence. 
The sister Emily was now a student in Colonel Denhani's 
school, and a little later a student in the famous French 
school of Madame Mantelli, to which she rode daily 
behind the brother on his pony, with John Jackson, the 
coachman, riding one of the carriage horses close at hand 
to see that no harm befell. Of this latter school the sister 
Emily three-quarters of a century later said: "Here 
we danced and sang and were as gay as only French 
people can make a house. Madame played the violin, 
her son Waldemar, the clarinet, and Mam'selle Marie 
danced with a grace beyond anything I ever imagined, 
while Mam'selle Louise made the best waffles ever eaten. 
It was a happy household, giving happiness to all within 
its reach, and here I got on rapidly." 

At this time the great Lafayette was on a visit to the 
nation by invitation of Congress, and in May, 1825, he 
was the guest of the town of Lexington, whose citizens 
were not outdone by those of other cities in demonstra 
tions of enthusiastic welcome with which he was every 
where greeted. It was a day that made a lasting impres 
sion upon the mind of young Tom, for the stories of the 
Revolution and the part his ancestors had taken therein 
had made its heroes all beings of special veneration to 
him. And then it was a day in which the youth and chil 
dren took an active part. Tom and his mates were in 
the gay procession, and his sister among the white 
gowned company that scattered flowers along the way. 
The ball given in the evening, upon which Tom and his 
sister were permitted to look for a time, long remained 
to them the crowning scene of gaiety and splendor. Year 


after year they would sometimes call to mind one of the 
songs composed for the occasion: 

Let Brandywine the story tell, 

And Monmouth loud acclaim, 
Let York in triumph loudly swell 

The measure of his fame. 

For Auld Lang Syne, my dear, 

We never can forget 
When dangers pressed and foes were near, 

Our friend was Lafayette. 

He crossed the broad Atlantic wave, 

And swore we should be free; 
He led the bravest of the brave 

To death or victory. 

For Auld Lang Syne, my dear, etc. 

But little less impressive than the honors paid to 
Lafayette were the solemn memorial services following 
the death of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on the 
same day, July 4, 1826. Then as on the former occasion 
there were the processions, but now instead of flowers 
they wore black sashes as a badge of mourning, the cere 
monies closing with an oration delivered from a rostrum 
in the open air by the uncle, Hon. William T. Barry. 

The family continued to reside at Ashland until 1827. 
Young Tom had now become a man of stature, tall for 
his years; his handsome face and figure and his frank 
engaging manner were the subjects of frequent mention 
in the letters of his friends and relatives. A cultured 
home and an alert and active mind had made it possible 
for him to make progress in books and education much 
beyond his years. Although Ms attainments were not 
markedly different from those of the average youth who 
were likewise fortunately surrounded, he yet possessed 


certain manly qualities which, with an absence of arro 
gance and vanity, brought him even in his youth the 
notice and friendship of men many years his senior, some 
of whom had made for themselves names of distinguished 
honor ; among whom may be mentioned the Hon. Richard 
M. Johnson, who later became Vice President, and who 
was ever willing to respond with kindly counsel in the 
days when official burdens came to the Boy Governor. 

Had it been the will of Providence that the life of 
Stevens T. Mason should be spent in old Kentucky, it 
would seem that his youthful abilities and friendly asso 
ciations might reasonably have been taken as the token 
of a bright and successful future amid the scenes and 
companions of his boyhood; but Providence had seem 
ingly decreed that the theater of his manhood activities 
was to be in a region far distant from the home of his 
early years, and that his fame was to be wrought in a 
sphere quite foreign to any that his boyhood dreams or 
aspirations had conceived. John Mason still retained 
his interest in the iron industry among the Bath County 
hills. The methods of production were necessarily crude 
and the means of transportation slow and uncertain. 
Except such as went by wagons to the more or less 
remote localities, the only means of transportation for 
the manufactured product was by flat boats floated down 
the Slate or Beaver creeks to the Licking Eiver and 
thence to the broad Ohio, from whence the comparatively 
small cargoes were distributed to the towns which at 
1 intervals had come into being upon its shores. At about 
this time Mason had intrusted to an agent such a cargo 
of bar iron and castings to be sold at the Ohio ports. 
The cargo was disposed of, but 'the agent defaulted in 

fi 3 




H sj 


accounting for the proceeds to the amount of more than 
eight thousand dollars. Although to the great iron com 
panies of today such a loss would be of small moment, 
it was far different in 1827 when such a cargo represented 
long weeks of labor and a material portion of the capital 
invested. To John Mason the loss was a financial dis 
aster. It meant inability to meet his own obligations 
and suits and resulting executions to deplete still further 
his already reduced possessions. This misfortune again 
sent the family to the Bath County "Knobs." They 
spent the summer at the Olympian Springs, and the fol 
lowing winter at the quaint village of Owingsville, which 
is still one of the most interesting towns of Kentucky. 
In the spring of 1828 they removed to Mt. Sterling, 
which was their last Kentucky home. They were now a 
numerous family, for if Providence had visited the father 
with some misfortune, He had bestowed the blessing of 
many children. It was while residing here that the eighth 
daughter and last child was born. The little life was 
doomed to be of short duration. One of the pathetic things 
of the "Mt. Sterling days," which was in after years 
recalled, was the death of the little one, and how for the 
want of a clergyman, the father stood by the open grave 
and in faltering voice read the service of the church as 
the family knelt about. 

It is one of the blessings of life that adversity cannot 
cloud the joys of childhood, and so while many a burden 
of care and trouble rested upon the heart of the father 
and the mother, who keenly felt their altered circum 
stances, the children found in the new scenes and sur 
roundings the essentials of a joyous existence. The resi 
dence was at the border of the town and in its appoint- 


ments furnished all of the comfort, and for that day, 
some of the elegance to be desired in a home. Its lawn 
studded with lilacs and roses, sloped to a green meadow 
beyond, and its spacious garden furnished the means of 
many an hour's delight. A few of the old servants still 
remained with the family, and the father strove with 
renewed energy to gather in the remnants of his fortune. 
Tom was not unconscious of the changed conditions of 
his father's affairs, and with a desire to lighten the fam 
ily burden, with true American spirit, became a grocer's 
clerk; and the sister recalled in later years that the pen 
nies, so dear to the children in those days, came to them 
from the earnings of * * Brother Tom. " For many months 
young Mason applied himself with energy in his humble 
calling, devoting the hours of night with his sister Emily 
in learning the lessons marked for them by the father, 
to be recited when he returned from the iron works or 
from some distant "circuit." The father had collected a 
choice and for that day a moderately extensive library 
of both legal and general literature, and from the latter 
both Tom and his sister read with keen avidity. It was 
then the brother began the practice he afterwards at 
times continued, of writing out the choice passages of 
the favorite authors he perused. 

Had John Mason been born to the situation and envi 
ronment by which he was now limited, or had he been a 
man of less restless energy, he might have found all of 
the essentials of comfort and contentment in his present 
station, for he still had the means of a livelihood; he 
had that satisfying pleasure that conies to a parent from 
a talented and interesting family and was a part of a 
society that was not without a good degree of the charm 


of culture and refinement. But like many another man, 
John Mason could not shut out the past; he still hoped 
to retrieve the fortune of other days. There is nothing 
to indicate that as yet -he had ever taken more than a 
general interest in things political. His ambition had 
been for professional and business success and never 
for politics as a business or profession. Years later 
when the son was the central figure in the political affairs 
of the new commonwealth of Michigan, he urged profes 
sional and business attainments rather than political 
preferment as the more worthy object of his ambition. 
All the reasons that may have influenced John Mason to 
seek a political appointment, it is not now possible to 
ascertain. Among such reasons, a desire to remove from 
the witnessing associations of his misfortune, to provide 
an assured support for a numerous family while he built 
up a business in the new community or while he turned 
his energies and attentions to enterprises of a character 
that might or might not yield immediate profit, were 
undoubtedly reasons of a more or less persuasive char 

Andrew Jackson was elected President in 1828, and 
on the 4th day of March, 1829, assumed the duties 
of his office. The following months were of more than 
ordinary political activity and interest. Not only were 
great questions engaging the attention of statesmen, but 
Jackson had assumed office with the lesser official posi 
tions of the country filled with his political enemies who 
were not averse to using their power to the detriment 
of his administration. As a matter of self defense, many 
of such officials were removed and friends of the Presi 
dent and his policies appointed in their places. William 


T. Barry was now a member of the President's Cabinet, 
being the first Postmaster General to occupy a Cabinet 
position. With such motives and under such political 
conditions, John T. Mason either sought or had tendered 
to him the office of Secretary of the Territory of Mich 
igan, which for many years had been filled by Hon. 
James Witherell, General Lewis Cass being then the 
Governor. The political prospect was an exceedingly 
pleasing one to young Tom. The contest of the preced 
ing campaign had intensified his enthusiasm for General 
Jackson, who was already the military hero of the Nation, 
and quickened his interest in those great political princi 
ples for which his ancestors had done battle for more 
than a century upon American soil. Moreover, Michigan 
and her mighty lakes had a strong hold upon his youthful 
imagination. In the war of 1812 a large number of the 
soldiers who had marched to the northern border were 
from the homes of Lexington and surrounding country. 
Many a time he had listened with rapt attention to the 
recital of the sufferings of those brave Kentuckians who 
were with Winchester at the battle of the Raisin; with 
Shelby and Harrison beyond Lake Erie, and who rode 
with Johnson at the final battle of the Thames where 
the brave Tecumseh fell with his face to the foe. 

John T. Mason received his appointment on the 20th 
day of May, 1830, but before that time both father and 
son had said good-bye to mother and sister and had taken 
their way back to the old Virginia home, where after 
hasty greetings and adieus, they hurried to Washington 
where the father concluded the duties preliminary to 
entering upon his official station in far-away Michigan. 
From Washington by the slow conveyances of the day, 


through Philadelphia, New York, Albany and the Erie 
Canal, they sought the distant village of Detroit where 
they arrived on the 18th day of July. In time a home 
for the reception of the family was procured, and as the 
as the father at the time was Acting Governor in the 
absence of General Cass, Thomson returned in the early 
autumn to bring the family to its new home. The last 
days in Kentucky were spent at Owingsville with Mr. 
Ambrose Dudley Mann, who had been a student in the 
office of John Mason at Lexington, and who in later years 
represented the Government in the diplomatic service at 
Trieste, Hanover and Berlin, closing his official career 
as a Commissioner from the Confederate States to some 
of the continental countries of Europe from 1861-65. Of 
these last days this distinguished man later wrote, "They 
were passed with my wife and myself with mingled joy 
and sorrow on all sides, joy in charming associations, 
sorrow that it could not be continued." 

In early October, when from the hilltops they looked 
across the wooded valleys resplendent in vestments of 
crimson and gold, the family took its departure, Granny 
Peg and one or two servants accompanying, faithful even 
into the land where their freedom was assured. After- 
many days of travel over hill and through vale to the 
city of Cincinnati and thence northward, the numerous 
family with their effects joined the father at Detroit; 
and no one could see, even in the dim realm of fancy, 
what the future held for them in store. 



IN 1830 Michigan Territory included not only the terri 
torial limits of the present State of Michigan but also 
that of the present State of "Wisconsin. In this vast 
territory civilization had as yet done little more than 
plant a few outposts from which to penetrate the wild 
interior. Immigration into the Northwest had been into 
Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Michigan, by the force of 
events, was compelled to await the settlement of these 
former States before the stream of emigration turned 
towards her borders. In 1830 Michigan Territory, 
although it was the land of the 'Northwest first touched 
by the foot of European, could boast a population of but 
32,531, and a little more than three thousand of these 
were in the region west of Lake Michigan, where settle 
ment had been made at Green Bay and Mineral Point, 
numbers having been drawn to the latter place by the 
lead mines discovered there. 

This territory was the remnant of the old Northwest, 
and its government had passed through various trans 
mutations from the system inaugurated under the Ordi 
nance of 1787. Under the paramount* control of the 
President and Congress, its government was now in 
trusted to executive and judicial branches appointed by 
the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, 
the legislative branch being vested in a Territorial Coun 
cil of thirteen members, chosen by the vote of the people, 


as was also the Territorial Delegate who had a seat in 
the national Congress. The Governor was the execu 
tive head of the Territory and Secretary of Indian 
Affairs within its limits. He had the power to pardon 
offences against the laws of the United States. He had 
likewise the power of appointing in the counties of the 
Territory all Justices of the Peace, Judges of Probate 
and Judges of County Courts, Sheriffs, Clerks and judi 
cial officers generally. 

The Territorial Secretary had various administrative 
duties and in the absence of the Governor discharged 
as Acting Governor the duties of his superior. The 
supreme judiciary was a court of one presiding judge 
and two associate judges who had both common law and 
equity jurisdiction, and who held their court in stated 
places in the Territory. From this court an appeal might 
be taken to the Supreme Court of the United States and 
to it appeal might be taken from the courts of lesser 
jurisdiction. At this time likewise a provision had been 
made for a District Court to provide for the needs of 
that distant region known as the County of MacMnac. 
The Territorial Council, gathered at Detroit from the 
near and distant places of the Territory, had authority 
to legislate; for territorial affairs and their enactments 
had the force of law until Congress refused approval. 
Under its authority counties were laid out, townships 
organized and the machinery of local government pro 

As late as 1818 there were but six counties in the 
entire Territory; Wayne, Monroe, Macomb and Mack- 
inac were in Michigan proper, while Brown County, with 
the county seat at Green Bay, included the eastern half 


of the present State of Wisconsin, and Crawford County, 
with county seat at Prairie du Chene, was the western 
half. Such was the growth of population that by 1830 
the country east of Lake Michigan had been carved into 
twelve organized and twelve unorganized counties; 
eleven of the number had been laid out in 1829, eight 
of which had been given names for the President, Vice 
President, members of the Cabinet, and Governor Cass. 

Highways even in the organized counties were as yet 
a rarity, the principal ones being the few military roads 
projected by the Government and paid for by appropria 
tions from the national treasury. The first of these was 
the road from Detroit 'to Perrysburg through the " Black 
Swamp " at the head of Lake Erie, a region that had 
figured so disastrously in the War of 1812, for which an 
appropriation was made in 1824. Three years later mili 
tary roads were under construction from Detroit to Chi 
cago, to Saginaw Bay, and to Fort Gratiot at the outlet 
of Lake Huron ; while still another was to connect Detroit 
with Monroe, the River Raisin and the road to Sandusky. 
From these main highways radiated the blazed trails 
which led to the isolated settlements of the border. 

Of the counties east of Lake Michigan, Wayne, Wash- 
tenaw, Oakland, Macomb and Monroe contained practi 
cally all of the population. A house or two at the Soo 
kept alive its claim to being the oldest settlement of the 
Territory; Fort Mackinac frowned from the heights of 
the enchanting island of the northern Straits, and there 
in season the traders and gay voyageurs, the Indians 
and the coureurs de bois gathered to make ready for the 
trade of another year, which was to take some of them 
as far westward as the tributaries xrf the Missouri. From 


lake to lake southward the mighty forest stood unscarred 
by the ax of the woodsman, except in a few places where 
from the older days the white man had met the Indian 
for trade or council, or upon the southern border where 
the settlers were beginning to carve their clearings. At 
Saginaw, General Cass had met the Chippewas in council 
in 1819, when the treaty was signed whereby the Govern 
ment took over the lands of eastern Michigan. At this 
place there was now little more to the "city" than the 
stockade fort erected by the General Government a year 
later, together with the buildings of the American Fur 
Company; the fort had been abandoned in 1824 because 
of the illness of the greater number of the garrison from 
the fever and ague that was contracted from the marshes 
of the region. 

Frenchtown of the earlier days had become the more 
pretentious village of Monroe. Tecumseh was on the 
extreme frontier. General Joseph W. Brown, Musgrove 
Evans and Austin E. Wing, prominent names in the later 
days of the Territory, had laid its foundations in 1824. 
Samuel Dexter and a few neighbors were at the village 
that still bears his name, while Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti 
were villages of pretentious character. Their supplies 
were packed through the woods from Detroit, drawn by 
ox teams from the same place by way of an old road 
through the village of Plymouth, or poled up the Huron 
from Eawsonville, then called Snow's Landing. Mt. 
Clemens, which had assumed the dignity of a village 
many years before, couldn't yet show more than a few 
score of inhabitants. A few clustering buildings marked 
the modest beginning of the thriving city of Pontiac, 
which was to be for some little time the northern ter- 


minus of the Detroit and Saginaw Bay Turnpike. Here 
and there a log dwelling or pioneer tavern may have 
marked the site of other places now grown to busy marts 
of trade and industry, but they differed little if any from 
the primitive habitations which were the homes of the 
far separated settlers in the isolated " clearings." 

The only place along many miles of coast where the 
eye of the voyager caught sight of the homes of men 
long domiciled upon the soil was upon the beautiful 
Detroit above and below the city of that name. From 
the river 's shore extended the ribbon-like farms of the 
French habitants, their houses and barns brought in close 
proximity, forming in many places a country street back 
of which the old orchards of the apple and the pear 
formed a charming background. In such homes dwelt 
the French habitants in Arcadian simplicity. Their care 
free gaiety had become as a proverb, and the moss-grown 
crucifix everywhere present on house and barn was the 
sign of his continuing devotion. His little farm, the 
industry within Ms home and the slow revolving wind 
mills that dotted every few miles of shore, supplied his 
every comfort as well as the luxuries of his simple exis 
tence. Detroit was the metropolis of the territory by a 
large majority, a century and quarter having raised it 
to the dignity of a city of two thousand people. Although 
old in years the town was essentially modern, for the 
fire of twenty-five years before had swept away every 
vestige of the old days with the exception of one or two 
buildings. Its business portion was well confined 
between Jefferson Avenue and the river and between 
(Jriswold and Bates Streets. At the northwest corner 
of Jefferson and Cass stood the old time hostelry known 


as the " Mansion House/' while the then famous ^Steam 
boat Hotel" where Uncle Ben Woodworth was for many 
years the host, was at the northeast corner of "Wood- 
bridge and Eandolph. At the corner of Larned and Bates 
the imposing pile of Ste. Anne's was then approaching 
completion. The territorial capitol was at what is now 
Capitol Park, at that time so far "out on the Common" 
as to occasion much criticism because of the distance. 
The Methodists, Presbyterians and Episcopalians had all 
provided places of worship. The first named society had 
begun the erection of its church edifice at Gratiot Avenue 
and Farrar Street, which time demonstrated was so far 
upon the "Common" as to be unsuited for its purpose 
and was ultimately abandoned for a site " nearer town"; 
the two latter societies had their houses of worship on 
Woodward Avenue between Larned and Congress 
Streets, the church grounds being a part of what before 
the fire had been known as "The English Burying 
Ground." The homes of the people were upon Jefferson 
Avenue east, Larned and Congress Streets, and dotted 
a district as far north as the Campus Martins. Jef 
ferson Avenue extended but a short distance to the east 
ward, and from the Grand Circus the lines of tenantless 
streets radiated into the adjacent forest. 

More than one-half the inhabitants of Detroit con 
versed in the French tongue and lived the gay, light- 
hearted existence of the French people. The conveyances 
upon the streets were the two wheeled pony carts in 
summer and the carioles in winter drawn by the sturdy 
French or Indian ponies. Old habits and pleasing cus 
toms long survived to give color and variety to the days 
of Old Detroit; with them likewise survived institutions 


of an older and less charming character. In the old 
market-place on the south side of Jefferson Avenue in 
the center of Woodward stood the stout oaken whipping 
post where the knout was vigorously applied until abol 
ished in 1831. Imprisonment for debt, afflicting culprits 
with ball and chain, and selling the poor into servitude 
were some of the survivals of those cruder times. Even 
the gallows and a public execution was exhibited to the 
populace of Detroit as late as September 30, 1830, when 
one Simmons was marched to the gibbet to the music of 
three drums and a fife with an escort of "Oakland County 
Scouts" whose distinctive uniforms were blue shirts and 
"stove pipe" hats, presenting a make-up at which it 
was said the condemned man smiled as he faced eternity. 
But even while the old survived, the new era was close 
at hand. As early as 1818 the "Walk-in-the-water," the 
first steamboat on the upper lakes, was plying between 
Buffalo and Detroit; the current making it necessary 
that the craft be towed in the vicinity of Black Rock, 
twenty yoke of sleek oxen being used for the purpose, 
which were facetiously termed "the horned breeze." 
Although this pioneer craft was wrecked in 1821, her 
machinery went into the more staunchly built Superior, 
which with the Eric, the Daniel Webster and perhaps 
others, continued for many years the means of easy pas- 
age from Buffalo westward. The opening of the Erie 
Canal in 1825 was the occasion of a rising tide of emi 
gration to the region of the Northwest, which by 1830 
had assumed proportions of considerable magnitude. To 
accommodate this growing . volume of travel there was 
organized in the year last mentioned the Great Western 
Stage Company. It supplied a line of four horse post 


coaches running from Detroit to Chicago, when the Chi 
cago highway was in condition, and astonishing the west 
ern world by making the two hundred and eighty-eight 
miles with passengers and mails in the surprisingly short 
space of five days. 

With the steamboat and stage coach, the refining insti 
tutions of the older communities were being transplanted 
even though it was to take some time for them to obtain 
a fast hold upon the soil. As early as 1809 Father Gabriel 
Richard had started a newspaper. It was of short life, 
and was followed by other journalistic enterprises of a 
more or less precarious existence; but in 1830 the North 
western Journal, and the Courier, at Detroit; the Oak 
land County Chronicle at Pontiac ; The Western Emigrant 
at Ann Arbor, and the Inquirer at Monroe, were an 
earnest of the press as a continuing factor in the pioneer 

The means of education were as yet exceedingly lim 
ited. A few primitive structures designed for school 
houses graced the pioneer settlements, and in Detroit a 
twenty-four by fifty foot, two story brick structure stood 
at the corner of Bates and Congress Streets designed 
for the 4 < University of Michigania," or "Catholepis- 
temiad," as it was euphemistically, if somewhat pedant 
ically called in the act of incorporation drawn by the 
eccentric Judge Woodward. Although this structure was 
built in 1817, it was for many years a place of experi 
ment rather than one of practical results in the cause 
of education. Private schools were common until the 
later establishment of the state system of primary 
schools ; but it should not be assumed that the Territory 
was lacking in men of ability, or that there was wanting 


a good degree of culture and refinement. The emigrant 
from New England and New York brought with him in 
many instances the best that the schools and colleges of 
the East could give, the early government of Michigan 
calling to the service of the State an unusually large 
number of men of high training and ability. Detroit 
was in that day exceptionally situated to promote among 
its people a high degree of culture and refinement. The 
fort and military establishment called many men of edu 
cation to the post, and as the territorial capitol it like 
wise became the home of the executive and judicial 
officers of the Territory, not only of those then in office, 
but likewise of those who had come out in previous years 
and who had remained after the close of official tenure 
to follow other occupations. The federal and territorial 
courts at Detroit had drawn to the city a bar of eminent 
ability, among whose members were Lewis Cass, William 
Woodbridge, Charles Lamed, Elon Farnsworth and 
others of equal prominence in that and later days ; while 
other professions were represented according to the 
needs of the community. 

As the principal means of communication with the out 
side world was by the lakes and the river, Detroit was 
practically in a state of isolation for several months in 
each year. Even the mails then came through by the 
slow medium of horse and sleigh, or in severe weather 
upon the back of the hardy carrier. It was not uncom 
mon even in later years for the city to pass periods of 
more than two weeks without a New York mail. Such 
seasons furnished the occasion for the height of social 
gaiety. The frozen surface of the river was the scene of 
almost daily contests between the fleet ponies and their 


vociferous drivers ; balls and merry makings not uncom 
monly filled the hours of night close to the coining of the 
morning. The more cultured portion of the community 
had recourse to literary and kindred societies where each 
one gave of his talents and from which all derived both 
profit and entertainment. It was in this capacity that 
Douglas Houghton was first made known to Michigan, 
who had been induced by Governor Cass and others to 
come to Detroit to deliver a course of lectures on the 
subject of chemistry during the winter of 1829. Poetical, 
prose and scientific papers were prepared and read, to 
be occasionally varied with dramatic productions by the 
Thespian Corps, an organization composed largely of 
army officers. Men of such finished scholarship as Major 
Thomas Eowland, Mr. Charles C. Trowbridge, Major 
John Biddle, General Lewis Cass, Major Henry Whiting 
and Mr. Henry B. Schoolcraft, were willing contributors 
to the Lyceum and Historical Society; the four last 
named gentlemen delivered a series of essays subse 
quently gathered into the volume entitled Historical and 
Scientific Sketches of Michigan, now so highly prized for 
its historical and literary excellence. 

Although the relation between Kentucky and Michigan 
was much closer than it is today, because of the many 
citizens of Kentucky who had participated in the Michi 
gan campaigns of the "War of 1812 of whom some had 
found homes in the Territory, yet the transition from 
Lexington to Detroit was quite as marked as they had 
been in countries foreign to each other. John T. Mason 
and his family were soon a welcome addition to the 
official and social life of the community. The first few 
days following their arrival were passed as the guests of 


Colonel Stephen Mack and his good wife of the Mansion 
House. A little later they were comfortably located in a 
commodious house on Congress Street in the rear of 
which is now (1912) the Detroit Savings Bank. 

The aged grandmother was still a member of the home, 
the evening of her life reflecting the charms of tranquil 
joys. Granny Peg, now decrepit and no longer able to 
perform her old time services, was likewise a part of 
the household, where her fidelity was remembered 
although her usefulness was passed; and well she merited 
it, for she had given to both the mother and the Mason 
children long years of watchful care exceeding that which 
she had given to her own offspring, but Granny Peg with 
all her virtues was not without her failings, and one of 
the most grievous was her love for the dram. The 
family would gladly have shut off the source of tempta 
tion and supply, but the young idlers about Detroit tav 
erns soon became acquainted with the mirth provoking 
loquacity and volubility of the old Negress when her 
tongue was properly loosened by liquor, and so it some 
times happened that Granny Peg would return with much 
more than the day's marketing for which perchance she 
had been sent. Such incidents were always followed by 
reprimand and apparent repentance accompanied by the 
most solemn promise that it would never occur again; 
but to the end of her life Granny was occasionally obliged 
to seek new forgiveness and renew her promise. 

The family were not long in fitting into the ways of 
their new associations. Thomson continued his studies 
with the father, working with him in the discharge of his 
official duties as Territorial Secretary, and occasionally 
performing the duties of private secretary to the Gov- 


Of Raspberry Plain, Va. 17S7-1S">0. father of Governor Mason. Secretary and 
Acting Governor Michigan Territory. is:',0-is:!l. 

Sister of Stevens Thomson Mason. 


'A ^ 

L/l , 


ernor, Lewis Cass. During the fall and winter of 1830 
the Governor was called from the Territory and at such 
times the father became the Acting Governor, as a result 
of which the son gained a considerable familiarity with 
the routine of the office filled by the father. It has 
already been said that the winter months of these years 
in Detroit were times of unrestrained gaiety and social 
pleasure ; it would have been more than strange if such 
features had not had some attraction to the handsome, 
spirited son of the Secretary. If not a leader in social 
conviviality, he at least joined willingly in those youthful 
gatherings where exuberance of spirit was sometimes 
exhibited. He found passing pleasure in the balls and 
other functions of a social nature, and may at times have 
joined with boon companions in more boisterous gaieties 
at the tavern or other places of meeting; but such inci 
dents were far from indicative of his general character, 
which had in it even in youth much serious purpose and 
future promise. So that while he had the love of a circle 
of vivacious companions he did not forfeit the good will 
and kindly interest of by much the larger portion of his 
elders. The two older sisters were soon attending the 
school of some Belgian sisters, and some two years later 
took lessons in French and special subjects from Father 
Kundig, a Swiss, and Father Bowdoel, an elegant French 

More than seventy-five years later the elder sister, 
Emily, set down in a style of youthful exuberance her 
reminiscences of the later school day experience, which 
we are safe in assuming is a typical portrayal of the 
satisfying pleasures which the society of that day 
afforded. "What charming recollections of those days 


of simple pleasures crowd upon me," she wrote. "Good 
Father Kundig made for us a theater in the basement 
of the Cathedral where we acted Hannah Moore's and 
Miss Edge worth's pieces to admiring audiences of par 
ents and friends. My sister Kate as Mrs. Battle in 'Old 
Poz' and Josie Desnoyer as ' William' in hat and cravat 
of her father, a world too wide, and his brass buttoned 
coat, the tails of which reached to the floor, produced 
peals of laughter. My youngest sister Laura with gilt 
paper crown and scepter and long white gown was Canute 
the Great, bidding the waters retreat. Seized with stage 
fright after the first scene she refused to return to the 
'boards/ when Father Kundig gravely announced the 
* indisposition on the part of King Canute 7 and prayed 
the audience to excuse his further appearance. Between 
acts he played the piano, was candle snuffer, proprietor, 
scene shifter, everything, with unfailing interest and 
good humor." 

Of both the pleasures and refinements which the com 
munity offered, the family took its share ; but so far as 
young Thomson was concerned there was a third source 
from which he may have drawn the inspiration of later 
years, a source that reflected a state of public mind which 
it is quite necessary to understand if we would compre 
hend the history of the time and his connection there- 
with; and that is, the thought of the people as expressed 
through the legislative body of the Territory, the Terri 
torial Council. The meeting of the Council, although it 
was composed of but thirteen members, was a matter 
of quite as much importance to the people interested 
as might be the meeting of a numerous legislative body 
of a pretentious commonwealth. The messages of Gov- 


ernor Cass to this small body were prepared with quite 
as much, care and covered quite as important topics as do 
the like documents of the present day. The second ses 
sion of the fourth Council convened at Detroit, Janu 
ary 5, 1831, and did not conclude its labors until March 4 
following. The Governor's message dwelt at consider 
able length upon the attempts of Indiana and Ohio to push 
their boundaries northward onto the rightful Territory 
of Michigan, thus early bringing to the attention of young 
Mason the question which four years later was to become 
the occasion of his greatest popularity. 

The enactments of the Council, although in the main 
sensible and proper, nevertheless contain some matters 
that disclose the inability of the legislator of that day 
to forecast the great developments of the future. Among 
such matters may be mentioned a memorial addressed 
to Congress asking for the grant of four townships of 
land from the National Government with which to aid the 
establishment of a silk industry within the Territory. 
The memorial recited as the reason for the desire to estab 
lish such an industry, that "the Peninsula on account of 
its locality requires that its inhabitants should be engaged 
in some branch of industry the products of which will 
warrant an inland transportation to a very distant mar 
ket, so distant from this Territory are the great marts 
of commerce that the common productions of the agri 
culturist poorly pay for the labor which they cost after 
deducting the cost of transportation." Little could they 
then conceive that before the close of the lives of many 
of the men who gave their votes to the memorial, the 
products of farms thousands of miles still further west 
ward would be passing in an almost unending procession 


to the eastern markets, and that in that mysterious West 
there would soon be " marts of commerce" surpassing 
in population and industry anything that the East to that 
time had known. 

"With great railway systems crossing the southern lim 
its of our State bringing New York and Chicago almost 
as close together as the limits of a day's stage-coach 
journey in the olden times, we are apt to smile in derision 
at the men who in 1837 sought to construct a system of 
canals connecting the waters of Lakes Michigan and 
Huron. Sometimes writers with a wrong perspective 
have pointed to the effort as proof of the limited abilities 
of the men who then directed the affairs of State. But 
in 1831 when Lewis Cass was Governor and the names of 
Henry Schoolcraft and Elon Farnsworth appear among 
the members of the Council, a memorial was adopted 
addressed to the Congress of the United States asking 
for a topographical survey of the country lying between 
the waters of the "Sogona" (Saginaw) and Grand Eiver 
of the Michigan peninsula preparatory to the construc 
tion of a canal joining these waters. The memorial 
recited that "Nature appears to have pointed out this 
connection by the deep indentation of Sogona and its 
recipient, Sogona Eiver; and by the copious waters of 
Grand Eiver which take their rise in the secondary table 
lands of that country," following with a statement of the 
feasibility of the canal's construction, and closing with 
the statement that " whoever examines the peninsula of 
land drawn upon the maps, with Lake Michigan upon the 
west and the arable farming and mining country extend 
ing from Green Bay to the Mississippi, must led to per 
ceive that whenever that area of country settles and fills 


up, as it is now in process of doing, its products must 
seek a market through, the Lakes, and how this market 
can be attained without passing through the Straits of 
Michilimackinac closed with ice six months in the year 
will assume a character of deeper interest. ' 7 The records 
indicate that when a few years later the people formed 
a Constitution and sought to inaugurate a system of 
internal improvements, the idea was not the caprice of 
the day, but was in response to a public opinion that had 
been years in forming and which had been championed 
by many, if not most, of the leading men of the Territory. 
During the year 1830 John T. Mason began the per 
fecting of arrangements that were to take him to Mexico 
and that were to absorb his energies for the remainder of 
of his life. He had inherited from his father certain 
land claims which had accrued to the father as a Colonel 
in the Eevolutionary War. "With failing fortune John T. 
Mason sought to convert these claims into a more tan 
gible asset. Texas was now known to be a country rich 
in possibilities. Colonists from the southern States had 
flocked across the border in large numbers and companies 
were being formed to acquire lands and take out colonists 
under contract. General Mason succeeded in exchanging 
his Eevolutionary land claims for an interest in such a 
company and soon became associated with others in the 
ownership of a vast tract of land upon the Eed Eiver. 
The prosecution of this venture soon made it necessary 
that he surrender his official position and reside for con 
siderable lengths of time in Mexico and at other places 
far distant from his family. 

There has always been a belief among those associated 
with General Mason that his mission to Mexico and Texas 


was of more than a personal character. It is known 
that at this time President Jackson was anxious for the 
acquisition of Texas and was making use .of both open 
offer and secret diplomacy to secure that end. It is quite 
probable that the President was at least willing to render 
such assistance as might result from continuing the son 
in the office of the father while the latter became a factor 
in the Texas situation. The support of the family at 
Detroit was certainly a matter of much importance to 
the father whose mission whether personal or confidential 
was to take him to a far distant land. 

It was such practical considerations coupled with a 
worthy ambition that prompted the son to aspire to the 
office about to be vacated by the father. It is impossible 
to say when the subject was first canvassed between 
father and son, or to tell who of the many partisans of 
the President in Detroit were consulted as to the con 
templated change in the secretaryship of the Territory. 
No notice of the pending matter reached the public, 
although it must have been known to certain individuals 
for a considerable time. Governor Cass was called to 
the President's Cabinet in July, 1831, and long previous 
to his appointment he had visited the President; it is 
not too much to presume that the whole subject of Mich 
igan politics was then thoroughly canvassed ; it was sig 
nificant that soon after his return John T. Mason and 
his son Stevens T. repaired to Washington to lay the 
matter before the President and his advisors. There 
was little need of the father calling to the assistance of 
the son the powerful political support that through rela 
tionship and association was at his command. Either 
the claim of friendship started twelve years before, or 


the anticipated services of the father in other fields, or 
the spirited but frank engaging manner of the young man, 
quite readily won the favor of the President, who on the 
12th day of July signed his commission as Secretary of 
Michigan Territory^ When young Mason took his 
departure the President gave him many assurances of 
his kindly interest and requested him to apprise him fre 
quently of the trend of events in the distant region where 
he was to exercise his official duties. He arrived in 
Detroit on the 24th and on the day following was sworn 
into office, his superior, Lewis Cass, administering the 
oath of office. 




T T is quite impossible at this day accurately to portray 
*- the ungracious feeling which in 1831 had become a 
marked characteristic of the political life of Detroit and 
to a less extent of the other communities of the Territory. 
The average citizen of the time rendered a loose allegiance 
to the principles either of the Democratic-Republican or 
of the Whig party; but the most strongly marked division 
was between the personal followers of Henry Clay and 
Andrew Jackson. Then, as has always been the case, 
the division on the personality of the leader was a source 
of more bitter controversy than would have arisen from 
serious political issues. Quarrels of a personal and semi- 
political nature became distressingly common, and there 
were few men in public positions so fortunate as to wholly 
escape being drawn into one of another of the factions 
thus created. The condition was rendered even more 
anomalous by the birth and growth of the Anti-Masonic 
party, which during its short existence exerted a con 
siderable influence in the political affairs of the Terri 
tory, being exerted generally against the men and meas 
ures of the Democratic-Republican, or Jackson party. 

If Stevens T. Mason had had to Ms credit long years 
of practical experience and residence in the Territory, 
his appointment to so responsible and honorable a posi 
tion as Territorial Secretary would not have passed 
under the conditions that then existed without more or 


less opposition directed against himself as an individual 
or as the representative of someone in superior author 
ity. When, with such conditions existing Young Mason 
embodied both youthful inexperience and subordination 
to a hated political superior, it was not surprising that 
his appointment should have been the occasion of more 
than ordinary protest and opposition. 

The news of Mason's appointment to the secretaryship 
preceded his arrival at Detroit by a day. It was not long 
in circulating to every home in the little city and was 
soon the topic of general comment. The word for a pub 
lic meeting was at once passed, and when it assembled 
in the evening, Colonel David C. McKinstry was chosen 
to preside over its deliberations. At the meeting, little 
more was done than to appoint Colonel McKinstry, 
Andrew Mack, Shubal Conant, Oliver Newberry and John 
E. Schwarz as a committee to wait upon the young Secre 
tary and authoritatively learn the facts as to his minority 
and such other disqualifications as might form the basis 
of a remonstrance to be adopted by the assembly on the 
following Monday evening, to which time the meeting 
was adjourned. The committee was courteously received 
by young Mason, who frankly admitted his minority, but 
informed them that none of the information which they 
sought had been kept from the President, who had 
appointed him with a full knowledge of it all. The com 
mittee reported at the adjourned meeting, when a second 
committee consisting of Eurotas P. Hastings, Henry S. 
Cole, David C. McKinstry, Oliver Newberry and Alex 
ander D. Eraser was appointed to prepare resolutions 
indicative of the sense of the meeting, and a memorial 
to the President to be signed by the meeting and circu- 


lated in the Territory asking the Secretary's removal. 
The meetings were the occasion of considerable excite 
ment, and, there is no doubt that many citizens acted 
from a belief that their rights and interests had been 
jeopardized by what they considered the unwise action 
of the President; but there is evidence that political 
motives were not entirely wanting. There was evident 
desire .that the meetings should have the appearance of 
being non-partisan in character, and to that end a friend 
of the administration, Colonel David 0. McKinstry, was 
honored as chairman of the meeting and a majority of 
Jackson men were placed upon the committee to inter 
view young Mason; but upon the committee which should 
draw the resolutions and memorial, and which was to be 
the medium of its circulation, the Clay men were in 

"The remonstrance," as the resolutions and memorial 
were generally termed, set forth the fact of the minority 
of the appointee, his lack of the freehold qualification 
required by the statute creating the office, and concluded 
by declaring that the signers viewed the appointment as 
"a violation of the principles of our fundamental law 
and of the genius and spirit of the Constitution ; and in 
the highest degree derogatory to the freemen over whom 
he is thus attempted to be placed;" concluding with the 
declaration that ' ' we hold it to be our duty to take prompt 
measures with a view to his removal from office." At 
the meeting and by subsequent circulation the paper 
received one hundred and sixty-two signatures, Shubal 
Conant heading the list in which appeared the names of 
many men prominent in the business affairs of the com- 


munity, but containing few if any name of the men then 
connected with, the professional or official life of the city 
or Territory. The proceedings of the Detroit meeting 
were sought to be copied at Pontiac and one or two other 
places, but the attempts met with small response. The 
press of the Territory, especially that portion which had 
Whig or Anti-Masonic leanings, was unsparing in its 
criticism of both the Secretary and the President, while 
the incident was the occasion for much comment by the 
leading journals of the country generally; few defended 
the propriety of the appointment, although some, like the 
"Washington Globe, the official organ of the administra 
tion, contended that as the appointment had been made, 
the appointee should not be removed except for actual 

While the opposition were thus engaged, it must not be 
assumed that young Mason was idle. Knowing that the 
action of the Detroit meeting would be at once forwarded 
to Washington, he on the day following the meeting pre 
pared and mailed to the President the following letter, 
which in its diplomatic handling of the subject marks 
him as no ordinary youth : 

"Detroit, July 26, 1831. 
' ' General Andrew Jackson 
"President of the United States 

" Washington, D. 0. 
"Dear Sir: 

"The announcement of my appointment as Secretary 
of the Territory preceded me by one day, and I found 
on my arrival that certain persons had gotten up an 


excitement which will result in a remonstrance against 
my continuance, by a meeting held in this place. The 
motives which originated this course are obvious here. 
The agitation of the recent election had not subsided 
and the confidence given to the Clay and Anti-Masonic 
parties by their success, the first in getting a delegate 
to Congress of their choice and the latter by obtaining 
a majority in the Legislative Council, has emboldened 
them to assail anything coming from the administration. 
Some men calling themselves friends of the administra 
tion, from jealousy at my promotion or from other pre 
texts, which restless spirits have always at command, 
have had the weakness to unite in the censure of an act 
which they themselves would have recommended had 
they been flattered by a previous consultation. 

"In this state of things, I have been beset with a sort 
of inquisitorial scrutiny, and finding nothing to rest upon 
but the fact of my minority, I have been asked to relin 
quish my office. To this I replied that having received 
my appointment from you, no power but that of the con 
stituted authority of the country should drive me from 
my place; nor would I yield it except to your wishes; 
that no concealment was practiced toward you and that 
what your judgment approved I should maintain calmly, 
but firmly; that I should consider it even a disparage 
ment of yourself to be persuaded to undo what you had 
done ; and that you could not approve any act done under 
intimidation, were I capable of submitting to it. 
. "In this representation I give to the excitement a force 
and character which it may not merit, for in truth it is 
local and partial in its localities, confined to men who 


delight in noise and strife, and who have sinister objects 
in view. That it is temporary, the history of similar 
ones in this place on occasions equally unworthy, gives 
a perfect assurance. For myself I apprehend nothing from 
it, nor can it affect any permanent interests here or else 
where. That it is designed to strike higher than one so 
unimportant as myself, is clear. The bare circumstance 
of my being allied to one close in your confidence, is an 
incentive to the factions who are in the opposition. That 
their objection to me cannot reach you is certain, for that 
objection rests upon a fact that forms no disqualification, 
and is merely a computation of months and days as to 
my age. 

"It has happened unfortunately for me that I enter 
upon my office when the public mind is in an unusual 
state of agitation. The recent warm contests in the elec 
tions, the retiring of the present Governor, doubts and 
anxieties about his successor; and the duties of Governor 
devolving on me so immediately, my opponents have 
made their objections as if I was in fact appointed Gov 
ernor, or would continue to discharge the duties for 
years. This difficulty I trust will soon be removed by the 
appointment of a Governor, nor should I have appre 
hended the slightest objection to my appointment had the 
present Governor continued or his successor been here to 
assume the government. 

"! write you this as due to the confidence you have 
reposed in me ; and especially due to the expression of a 
wish (equal to a command with me) to hear from me fre 
quently. I desire not to convey the idea that I am in 
trouble or difficulty. I see my way clear and feel a confi- 


dence in maintaining myself against all opposition, if sus 
tained by you, of which I feel a perfect assurance. 

"With sentiments of high estimation and filial regard, 
I have the honor to be 

"Your obt. servant 


"P. S. I should be pleased to learn that you had 
received this." 

In the succeeding issue of the Free Press, young Mason 
published a statement under the title "To the Public," 
which was at once both so temperate and free from arro 
gance that it went far towards turning feelings of oppo 
sition to kindly sympathy. In simple language he 
recounted his father's emigration to the Territory, the 
duties that were now to take him on a "long and hazard 
ous journey in a precarious climate 77 leaving to him, his 
only son and oldest child, the care of a numerous family 
"to whose comfort, 77 he said "it was well known that 
even the petty emoluments of this office were essential. 77 

His own demerits were frankly admitted in the state 
ment, "That there are many in the Territory of higher 
qualifications, on whom the appointment might have been 
conferred, is broadly and fully conceded. 7? In answer to 
the claim that his office at times required its occupant 
to discharge the duties of Governor, he appealed to the 
generous impulses of his constitutents by saying, "But 
suppose those high duties to occur for a momentary 
space? Is there any difficulty of getting the advice of 
wiser and abler men? The oldest ask advice; and no 
man in that respect is independent of the society in which 


he lives. The difference is, youth yields to advice; but 
age, seldom or never. " 

The appealing character of the communication was 
so strong that some of the papers most active in Ms 
opposition paid it the compliment of having emanated 
from an older and wiser head than the Secretary's, an 
insinuation that the many communications from Gover 
nor Mason's hand in later years show to have been false. 
The Journal conveyed its intimation by saying that 
another than the Secretary "may at least have given to 
the production some finishing touches," while the Adver 
tiser said that if the Secretary were willing to call to Ms 
assistance the advice and counsel of older and wiser 
men, "why not their pens also?" But the people gener 
ally were inclined to accept the reasoning of the appeal, 
and with the generosity of a new country to "give the 
boy a chance." In a few localities, as at Green Bay, 
where Mason's friend, James D. Doty, was the control- 
ing spirit, at Auburn, Oakland County, and one or two 
other places, the people gathered and passed resolutions 
in his favor, which gives color at least to the claim that 
at most there was but a division of sentiment. The great 
body of the people, busy with their own affairs, soon 
forgot their antagonism, and the subject was only kept 
alive by occasional notices in the papers. 

But Mason knowing that his appointment would come 
before the United States Senate for confirmation the fol 
lowing year, was continuously alert to strengthen Ms 
cause both with the people of the Territory, the Presi 
dent, who had given him the appointment, and the Sen 
ate, which must confirm it. He secured a copy of the 
names appended to the remonstrance against Mm, and 


after each name wrote the business and political affilia 
tion of the particular individual. It was thus made to 
appear that so far as known, with some ten or fifteen 
exceptions, the memorialists were the partisans of Henry 
Clay, or members of the Anti-Masonic party. This docu 
ment, with an explanatory letter, he forwarded to the 
President, while to each member of the Senate upon 
whose support he had reason to believe he could count, 
he sent a modest letter, after having first submitted its 
contents to the approval of his uncle, William T. Barry, 
and to the old family friend Richard M. Johnson; the 
father before this time having taken his departure for 
Mexico, where he continued for a year. 

If the practical details were looked after, so likewise 
was no opportunity lost by the young man to demon 
strate to the people of the Territory that he possessed 
capacity for his position. On the 6th of August, George 
B. Porter was appointed Governor and was soon at 
Detroit to discharge the duties of his office. Governor 
Porter was a native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where 
he was a leading lawyer and one of an eminent family; 
his father, General Andrew Porter, had served on the 
staff of General Washington during the Eevolution, while 
a brother, David R. Porter, was Governor of his State. 
Governor George B. Porter was twenty years the senior 
of the Young Secretary, having been born February 6, 
1791 ; his arrival did much to relieve the Secretary of an 
embarrassing position; but on the 13th day of October 
business recalled him to Lancaster, and from that date 
until the llth of the following June, Mason, as Acting 
Governor, was the executive head of the Territory. The 
absence of the Governor in a measure revived newspaper 

Prom painting owned by Mrs. Samuel Carson, Detroit. 


Governor of Michigan Territory 1813-1881. Appointed Secretary of War by 
President Jackson IS'Jl 


comments, but they were of a character which indicated 
waning sentiment. The Detroit Journal in December called 
attention to the matter editorially under the heading, 
"What has become of the Remonstrance?"; while in Feb 
ruary following, it voiced a bit of sarcastic humor by say 
ing, "Our Territory is left in rather a novel predicament 
just now. We have one Judge and one ' Acting Governor' 
who if he lives until next October and no accidents befall 
him will be twenty-one years of age. " 

The Western Emigrant of Ann Arbor which had be 
come the most pronounced advocate of the Anti-Masonic 
party in Michigan, was likewise a paper that made fre 
quent use of its columns in derogatory comments on "the 
stripling," as it habitually referred to the young Secre 
tary. On one occasion as Mr^ George Corselius, the edi 
tor, was passing upon Jefferson Avenue, he was accosted 
by Young Mason who, either to give a practical demon 
stration that he was "no stripling" or as he later claimed, 
to resent a remark from Corselius questioning the charac 
ter of his father, proceeded to administer to the newspaper 
man a most vigorous cuffing. For this assault Corselius 
procured the Secretary's presentment by the grand jury, 
although there seems to be no record that the case made 
further progress. The affair seems to have occasioned 
but little more than passing comment and was soon for 
gotten by everyone save the ruffled editor, and even he 
might have done so had not the Ann Arbor Argus, an 
opposing paper, at intervals called his attention to the 
time when young Mason "warmed his ears." 

It was impossible that Mason should have escaped the 
many quarrels with which the community was rife. The 
very fact that he was opposed by some brought him the 


support of others; and that some were his friends was 
sufficient reason for others being his enemies. Yet his 
own conduct was quite unoffending. Generally passive, 
he yet on occasions retorted in kind. A few articles from 
his pen signed "Aristides" published in the Detroit 
Courier during the winter of 1831-2, written in that caustic 
personal vein which characterized articles appearing all 
too frequently in the papers of Detroit at this time, were 
the cause of much speculation as to their authorship, and 
many an angry expostulation from the individuals who 
were singled out for a blistering sting; for while the 
characters were given more or less fanciful names, they 
were sufficiently descriptive to leave little doubt in the 
public mind as to the identity of the individual. In the 
case of Augustus S. Porter, subsequently for a short time 
Whig Senator from Michigan, his designation as the 
"Knight of Black Bock" was seemingly specific enough 
to warrant the gentleman in seeking a personal encounter 
with the editor of the Courier. 

With the younger members of the community "Tom" 
Mason, as he came to be familiarly known, was a com 
panion of growing popularity. His warm generous 
nature made him many friends, and their number con 
stantly increased as those of more mature years discov 
ered in him real abilities coupled with the polish of a 
gentleman and the geniality of youth. If Mason had any 
traces of autocracy in his composition, they never showed 
in his manner, which was ever wholly democratic and 
sympathetic, winning to him, first of all, those whose fate 
it was to labor in the harder ways of life. 

Early in February, as there were changes impending 
on the bench, Judges Woodbridge, Sibley and Chipman 


were tendered a dinner from the bar at the Mansion 
House. The wit and eloquence of the Territory was 
seated at the board. Such banquets in the old days were 
not the perfunctory affairs of the present, when a multi 
tude of events claim interest and attention. In the thir 
ties they were the subject of extensive space in the 
pioneer newspapers and the theme of conversation both 
before they arrived and after they had passed away. At 
the banquet in question, 'among the score of toasts and 
addresses which followed, by such men as Witherell, Sib- 
ley, Farnsworth, Whiting, Whipple, Rowland and Saw 
yer, few commanded more critical attention than did the 
address of the Secretary and Acting Governor, who 
responded to the toast, " Party Spirit." It was his first 
public appearance where he was to voice his own senti 
ments with many of his opposers seated about him. So 
well did he acquit himself that even the press that had 
opposed to him was free to admit that his address was 
both "interesting and well received." But the greatest 
interest in the bar dinner followed a few days later when 
one Ebenezer Eeed, who had formerly been associated 
with John P. Sheldon in the publication of the old Detroit 
Gazette, sent a vitriolic communication to the Free Press 
on both bench and bar. Eeed's production, which was 
signed "Consistency," was not wholly dispassionate, for 
Charles Larned, a leading member of the bar had once 
instituted a suit in libel against the editors of the Gazette, 
while Judge Woodbridge had incurred their enmity by 
committing Sheldon to jail for the publication of deroga 
tory reflections on the judge 's actions. At the banquet a 
member of the bar had spoken in complimentary terms 
of the retiring members of the bench, while Judge "Wood- 


bridge had spoken with some show of feeling at being 
forced from his judicial position, which he termed "a 
contemptuous ejection." The opportunity which the sit 
uation afforded was used by Eeed without stint. In a 
long article filled with trenchant thrusts, among other 
things he said, "Can it be possible that all this honeyed 
adulation on the part of the lawyers was sincere? Did 
the reformed judges really look serious when they per 
formed their parts in this pompous melodrama? Can 
we believe the toasters sincere and earnest in their flat 
tery, or the toastees so dull as not to perceive the ridicu 
lous light in which the public must have viewed it? Mr. 
Woodbridge in his speech said he hoped to find something 
in his past official life that would make him a wiser and 
a better man. Had he been a wise man and consequently 
a better one, he either never would have been a judge on 
the bench or he would still have been there, secure in the 
respect and affections of the people and reaping the 
reward of that genuine goodness and honesty of purpose 
which is true wisdom. But he has chosen to depend upon 
the semblance of virtue instead of its substance and his 
fate is like that of all others who have based the fabric 
of their reputations upon mere shadow." 

This article was followed by others and from them it 
was made to appear that certain anonymous communica 
tions of former years wherein the same judges had been 
flayed for their official actions were from the pens of 
some of the attorneys who, now that the judges were 
retiring from the bench, were loud in their praise. The 
articles were highly sensational and in the interest and 
excitement which they occasioned, the Acting Governor 
enjoyed a valued respite from public discussion. 


With the coming of St. Patrick's Day a splendid gath 
ering assembled at the Mansion House to do honor to the 
patron saint of Erin. It was a large and enthusiastic 
assemblage and everyone who felt the claim of Irish 
blood left the banquet with a growing friendship for the 
young Secretary, who as the executive head of the Terri 
tory honored their festivity with his presence and in mod 
est eloquence paid a tribute ,to their patriots and their 
storied isle. But such events were hardly of frequent 
occurrence; the protracted absence of the Governor 
imposed many official cares of more than an incidental 
nature upon the Secretary and in addition he had already 
begun serious study with the hope that some future day 
might see him a'member of the legal profession, a pro 
fession that had been adorned by so many of his ances 
tors. Official duties received his careful thought and 
attention, while nights were occupied in the father's 
library where unaided and alone he diligently studied 
the principles of law. If at times he indulged in social 
pleasures and other relaxations incident to youthful 
years, they were events that marked the exception rather 
than his general course of conduct. As all offices con 
nected with the administration of judicial proceeding 
were filled by executive appointment, it sometimes hap 
pened that the factional quarrel from a neighboring 
county was transferred to the Governor. Such was the 
result of the appointment of one Oanfield over a Mr. 
Douglass as sheriff of the County of Macomb. This 
appointment brought forth an attack upon Mason by 
"Citizen of Macomb" too scurrilous to find publication 
in the newspapers to which it was offered and so was 
printed and scattered about the streets as a hand bill. 


Explanations, attacks and recriminations followed, from 
which some thought with ill success to revive the waning 
opposition to the Secretary; for Providence held in the 
immediate future more than sufficient to turn the thoughts 
and attentions of the people from the trivial affairs of 
county politics. 

Interest was soon centered in the meeting of the fifth 
Legislative Council which was to assemble for its first 
session at Detroit on the first day of May. The meetings 
of the Council were ever the occasion of more than ordi 
nary interest, and this session was looked forward to 
with special interest because of the unusual political con 
ditions by which the people of the Territory were con 

Upon the convening of the Council, Governor Porter 
was still absent from the Territory, and it became the 
duty of the Secretary as Acting Governor to transmit his 
message to that body.* It was a document well calculated 
to inspire confidence in its author and allay the reason 
able fears of such as had opposed him from the honest 
conviction that his youth was an insurmountable obstacle 
to the discharge of the higher duties incident to his 
official station. With tactful modesty he prefaced his 
communication by saying, "The temporary absence of 
the Governor of the Territory, having devolved upon me 
the duties of the Executive Department of the Govern 
ment, I have with the diffidence of conscious inexperience 
and inability, endeavored to discharge in a satisfactory 
manner such of those duties as required indispensable 
action. These have been few; and if their execution has 
not been attended with any distinguished benefit to the 
public interest, I may flatter myself with the hope that 


no great injury has resulted from it. The virtue and 
intelligence of the people have happily supplied all 
defects and rendered it unnecessary for the Executive 
to attempt to discharge much more than the formal rou 
tine of ordinary official business." 

There may have been diplomacy as well as conviction 
in the language employed whereby he paid a compliment 
to the Council: " Under our limited form of Territorial 
Government, " said he, "one of the greatest blessings we 
enjoy is the possession of a Legislative body, elected by 
the people and responsible to them alone, for the faithful 
care ; and our fellow citizens must derive confidence and 
performance of the important trusts committed to their 
satisfaction from the reflection, that without your con 
currence no measure seriously or extensively affecting 
their interests can be adopted or changed. To you then, 
gentlemen, coming from the different counties of the Ter 
ritory, and thoroughly acquainted with the wants and 
wishes of your constitutents, is committed the important 
task of legislating for their benefit, of enacting new 
laws to promote their welfare $nd of applying the appro 
priate and adequate remedy to existing defects." 

The recommendations of the message were timely and 
conservative, relating in the main to the correction of 
defects in the judicial system, the taking of a census pre 
paratory to an application for admission as a State in 
the Union, and to the question of the encouragement and 
support of common schools. As the school system of 
Michigan was destined to become one of the chief institu 
tions of State pride, and the debt for its founding to 
continue forever among the claims of the Boy Governor 
upon the gratitude of its people, it may be well to remem- 


ber that in Ms first message, written before he had< 
attained the rights of the elective franchise, he took occa 
sion to say, "To no object therefore can the public funds 
raised by taxation or otherwise, be more judiciously or 
advantageously applied than to the establishment and 
support of common free schools, with a view to the exten 
sion of the blessings of education to all classes of the 
community. 7 ' 




PITH the advancing days of May events were in 
progress that were destined to make the year 1832 
a memorable one in the history both of the Territory of 
Michigan and of its metropolis. The first was the upris 
ing of a band of Sac Indians in the vicinity of Rock River 
in northern Illinois, under the leadership of a renowned 
warrior of the tribe known by the name of Ma-ka-tai-she- 
kia-kiak, or Black Hawk, the name of the leader giving 
to the uprising the name of the Black Hawk war. Few 
border forays in the history of the country embodied 
more of national interest, for by some strange cast of 
fate, in the forces brought against the doughty warrior 
were Zachariah Taylor and Abraham Lincoln, both of 
whom were to become President of the United States; 
Jefferson Davis, to be later President of the Confederacy, 
and Robert Anderson under whose order the first cannon 
was to be fired in the war between the states ; while the 
list of Governors, Senators and Congressmen who par 
ticipated is sufficiently long to be a wearisome recital. 

Black Hawk was at this time in the sixty-fifth year of 
his age. Although not a chief, he was a warrior of more 
than ordinary influence among his people. He had served 
with the British in the War of 1812, was at Maiden and 
at the battle of the Raisin, and with the great Tecum- 
seh at the disastrous battle of the Thames. His hand 
had been reddened in many a murderous attack not only 


upon the white settler of the western border, but upon 
the neighboring tribes of his own race as well. 

In keeping with treaty stipulations the Sacs and Foxes 
had removed to the western bank of the Mississippi; but 
Black Hawk soon tired of inactivity, and against the 
councils of his chiefs gathered a body of several hundred 
-malcontents about him and crossed to the vicinity of 
Rock River to harass the whites and provoke a border 
war ; they soon left a trail of rapine and murder in their 
wake. The settlers fled to their stockade forts and barri 
caded houses for defence. The first troops dispatched to 
the scenes of disorder, underestimating the task before 
them, were defeated and driven back in dismay. Intense 
excitement followed and the news spread like wildfire 
before a gale. Colonel Henry Dodge of the Wisconsin 
portion of Michigan Territory, with a force of volunteers 
organized to protect the frontier, hurried to the vicinity 
of the lead mines to protect the settlements in that country 
and hold in check the Winuebagoes who were the natural 
allies of the Sacs and Foxes as were likewise the Pota- 
watomis of southwestern Michigan proper, and who 
might both be swept from their positions of neutrality by 
the success of Black Hawk and his band. On May 15, Gov 
ernor John Reynolds of Illinois issued a call for troops 
stating therein that it was his opinion that the Winne- 
bagoes and Potawatomis had joined the Sacs, a statement 
which if true meant that the entire northwestern fron 
tier would be overrun with marauding bands bent on 
rapine and murder. Immediately General Hugh Brady 
of Detroit, Commander of the Department of the Lakes, 
with Lieutenant Elector Backus of his staff, proceeded 
overland to join General Henry Atkinson who had moved 


up from St. Louis with a force of regulars. On May 18, 
T. J. V. Owen, Indian agent at Chicago dispatched a 
special messenger to Detroit confirming the report of 
depredations in that vicinity and requesting the aid of a 
" force of some magnitude/' giving color to the fear that 
the Indians might strike the southern border of the penin 
sula in an attempt to reach Maiden. At this time General 
John R. "Williams was the Major General in command 
of the Territorial militia. General Williams was one of 
the solid citizens of the Territory, having been born at 
Detroit in 1782, elected the first Mayor of that city under 
the charter in 1824, and made a Major General by 
appointment" of the President and confirmation of the 
Senate in 1829. 

As public apprehension seemed to increase with each 
vague rumor from the border, Acting Governor Mason, 
as Commander-in-Chief, on May 22 issued an order 
directing General Williams to raise such a number of vol 
unteers as in his opinion might be necessary to co-operate 
with a force under Brigadier General Joseph Brown 
which was to rendezvous at Jonesville. As volunteers did 
not readily respond to the call, on the day following Act 
ing Governor Mason issued the further order to General 
Williams to call out such troops of the Territorial militia 
as he might require, concluding his order by saying, 
"You cannot but be aware that delay is only calculated 
to give rise to false and unfounded reports which may 
possibly have an injurious effect upon the emigration to 
this Territory. It is expected that you will use every 
exertion to meet General Brown f orthwith and that you 
will not return to this place until every shadow of danger 
from hostile Indians on the frontier is removed. " 


On the 23rd General Williams accordingly issued an 
order for that portion of the Territorial militia near 
Detroit, consisting of the first regiment, a battalion of 
riflemen and the city guards, to assemble at Ten Eyck's, 
as Dearborn was then known, it being the site of that 
much frequented old time tavern of Conrad Ten Eyck, a 
talented and genial gentleman who had graduated in the 
same class with Martin Van Buren. Here a force of 
three hundred men was made up, organized, officered and 
furnished with arms. By one o'clock on the afternoon of 
the 25th the force was marching westward on the old 
Chicago Turnpike. At the same time five companies 
from the eighth regiment, one each from the towns of 
Clinton, Adrian, Tecumseh, Blissfield and Palmyra were 
assembling at Tecumseh to march westward under the 
command of General Joseph Brown, while a company of 
forty-two men and officers organized in Kalamazoo county 
were at about the same time mustered into the service. 

After the departure of General Williams and his com 
mand, a messenger arrived from Chicago bringing to Act 
ing Governor Mason the intelligence that the dangers 
upon the Michigan frontier had been much exaggerated, 
while from another source he was informed that regular 
troops from the East, passing byway of the Lakes, would 
soon be upon the scene of disturbance. He therefore 
issued an order for the recall of the troops, which were 
overtaken by the messenger at Saline, from which point 
the infantry turned back, while General Williams accom 
panied by Colonel Brooks, Major Charles W. Whipple 
and Major M. Wilson and a troop of horse known as 
Jackson's dragoons pushed forward. 

The receipt of such information as caused the Acting 


Governor to recall the militia was at once made tlie occa 
sion of a public meeting in Detroit, at which the wise 
ones adopted resolutions deprecating the " groundless 
apprehensions " by which the people had been excited 
and asserting that "but one opinion prevails among 
our best informed citizens, that there exists not the slight 
est cause of alarm. " Conflicting messages to the Acting 
Governor from Chicago and other points subsequently 
received were the occasion of not a little confusion in 
the movements of the militia, and afforded some basis 
for the written statement of General "Williams to the 
Secretary of War, Lewis Cass, that "The orders of the 
Acting Governor are contradictory, inconsistent and 
incompatible with military rules. ' ' The Acting Governor 
likewise disclosed his state of mind in a letter to General 
Williams on the first of June wherein he observed that, 
"Should we have to march again from this quarter, the 
gentlemen who fight the battles of the country at public 
meetings will have to march, if it can be effected. 7 ' 

General Williams with his troop of cavalry which was 
increased by an addition from General Brown ? s command 
pushed on to Chicago, where with the exception of an 
excursion to the Naper settlement they remained until 
June 22. They were then taken by boat to the mouth of 
the St. Joseph, from whence they were marched to Niles 
and honorably discharged, the mounted men being 
ordered to Detroit under the command of Colonel Brooks. 

The people of Chicago and Cook County were deeply 
grateful to General Williams and the Michigan militia, 
and on the 18th of June at a large and representative 
meeting of the citizens of Cook County, resolutions were 
adopted indicative of their gratitude to their "patriotic 


fellow citizens of the Territory of Michigan under the 
command of Major General Williams. ' J 

The war terminated on the 2nd of August at the battle 
of Bad Axe. Black Hawk and the Prophet escaped to 
the Dalles of the Wisconsin Eiver where they were subse 
quently captured, and on the 27th of the month they were 
delivered to General Joseph M. Street, the Indian agent 
at Prairie du Chien. Black Hawk was to be sent later 
down the river to Jefferson barracks under an escort 
in charge of Lieutenant Jefferson Davis, there to be held 
as a prisoner of war until a year later when he was given 
a tour of the principal cities of the country that he might 
be impressed with the magnitude of the power he had 
attempted to defy. 

If the returning members of the Detroit militia could 
have looked into the immediate future, they would have 
been conscious of exhibiting greater courage in returning 
to their homes than in marching against the foe of the 
frontier ; for a foe more insidious and more to be dreaded 
than the lurking Indians was about to bring terror to the 
hearts of the community. ; 

For some years the westward course of Asiatic cholera 
had been noted. In the fall of 1831 it had appeared in 
England and with the early days of the following June 
broke out for the first time upon the American continent 
at Quebec and Montreal. Inside of sixty days from its 
first appearance it was destined to spread to Detroit and 
the pioneer cities of the West, in some instances to mark 
the course of its fatal progress at the remote settlements 
of the interior. In Detroit the news of its steady 
approach was not unheeded. Among the last acts of the 
Legislative Council, approved June 29th, was one for tht 


preservation of the public health in the city of Detroit 
and other places in the Territory of Michigan, whereby 
it was designed to give to the local authorities power to 
fight the terrible scourge. 

President Jackson, with characteristic impatience at 
the slow progress being made for the termination of 
Indian troubles of the western frontier, ordered General 
Winfield Scott to proceed to the seat of disturbance with 
nine companies of the eastern troops and put an end to 
the war. On June 28th Scott and his command took their 
departure from Fortress Monroe, and without event 
arrived a few days later at Buffalo where four steam 
boats, the Sheldon Thompson, Henry Clay, Superior ana 
William Penn were chartered as transports for the expe 
dition. General Scott with the first detachment of two 
hundred and twenty officers and men led the way in the 
Sheldon Thompson, Colonel Twiggs following in the 
Henry Clay, which with the William Penn had commands 
of three hundred and seventy strong, the last detachment 
under Colonel Cummings being in the Superior. The 
voyage across Lake Erie was without incident, the second 
detachment under Colonel Twiggs arriving at Detroit on 
the fourth day of July as the people were joyously cele 
brating the birth of the nation, a celebration that was 
to be followed by panic and consternation. As the Henry 
Clay lay moored to the wharf two cases of cholera devel 
oped among the troops it carried, one of which proved 
fatal before the night. The ship surgeon, terror stricken, 
under the plea of illness repaired to a hotel while two 
Detroit physicians, Doctors Eandall S. Rice and John L. 
Whiting, with courage surpassing military prowess, went 
to the succor of the afflicted. Under their directions six- 


teen cases showing symptoms of the disease were at once 
removed from the ship to an improvised hospital in the 
quartermaster's stores which confronted "Woodbridge 
Street not far east of its junction with Jefferson Avenue. 
Of the sixteen cases, eleven proved fatal during the night, 
and in the morning as the citizens of the town beheld the 
lifeless forms ranged side by side just without the build 
ing, they awoke to the full realization of the awful afflic 
tion that like a pestilential cloud had settled in their 

Under the law which had been recently enacted the 
board of health had already provided a corps of assis 
tants, three for each of the four wards of the city, among 
the twelve members being such well known names as 
Shubael Conant, James Abbott, Peter Desnoyer, Solo 
mon Sibley and John Palmer. The people had likewise 
gathered and voted authority to the common council to 
raise by tax such sums as might be required by the exigen 
cies of the situation, and a committee was chosen to 
accept such contributions as citizens might wish to make 
for the purpose of the erection of a hospital. The board 
of health at once ordered the transports to Hog Island 
(now Belle Isle Park) where they were furnished sup 
plies from the city. The Henry Clay soon proceeded on 
her way but was compelled to again land when near Fort 
Gratiot to care for the stricken soldiery. The ship had 
become almost a floating charnel-house. Captain "Walker 
in a later letter described the conditions among the men 
upon the Henry Clay in the following graphic language : 
"The disease became so violent and alarming that noth 
ing like discipline could be observed; everything in the 
way of subordination ceased. As soon as the steamer 

Wife of Gov. Mason. 

Sister of Gov. Mason. 

Governor of Michigan Territory 1813-1831. 


came to the dock, each man sprang on shore, hoping to 
escape from a scene so terrifying and appalling. Some 
fled to the fields, some to the woods, while others lay 
down in the streets and under the cover of the river bank, 
where most of them died unwept and alone." Of the 
command of three hundred and seventy, but one hundred 
and fifty remained. The story of their fate will never 
be written for many died in the depths of the forest, the 
victims of disease and the wild beasts that infested the 
region. The detachment under Colonel Cummins after a 
short encampment at Detroit were embarked upon the 
William Penn, but had only proceeded a short distance 
when they were compelled to return and go into camp at 
Springwells, where after a short time their condition was 
much improved. Only two of the transports proceeded 
beyond Fort Gratiot. Of the eight hundred and fifty 
men who left Buffalo in the early days of July, not more 
than two hundred were fit for the field when less than 
two weeks later the wasted remnant was landed at Fort 

Before the transports had left the sight of Detroit, 
the ravages of the disease had spread to the people of 
the city. On July 6 two cases' appeared, one of which 
resulted fatally. The upper story of the capitol building 
was at once put into use as a cholera hospital. The 
streets and alleys of the city were filled with the odor of 
burning pitch, from which the smoke arose to hang like 
a pall over the stricken town. Up to the 18th of July 
there were fifty-eight cases and twenty-eight deaths 
among the people of the town. The dread specter entered 
the home of the Masons, claiming the old nurse Granny 
Peg as its victim, the old soul breathing her last in the 


arms of the daughter Emily, whose courage was as strong 
as her love, and who, when the spark of life had fled from 
the body of the aged servant, went alone into the night 
to call the cart to bear away the lifeless form. Many 
fled panic stricken from the city. The people of neighbor 
ing villages caught the infection of terror and sought 
by every means to keep back the travelers from Detroit. 
Pontiac placed sentinels in the road to refuse passage to 
all who sought to pass their way. At Ypsilanti, Colonel 
Clark called out the militia and posted a guard under 
Captain Josiah Burton and Lieutenant Chester Perry 
three miles east of the village with orders to intercept 
all travel from that direction. On the 10th of July the 
stage coach from Detroit bearing passengers, mail and 
dispatches for the West attempted to pass the Ypsilanti 
quarantine, when one of the leaders of the four-horse 
team was shot by the guard. At first it was thought the 
horse was killed, but such did not prove to be; after a 
time of angry expostulation, in view of the fact that the 
stage carried the mail it was allowed to proceed. A few 
days later Secretary Mason, bearing messages to the 
southwestern border to be delivered at Mottville, was 
hurriedly passing along the Chicago highway, and wish 
ing to avoid trouble with the quarantine, sought the serv 
ices of Samuel Pettibone who resided still east of the 
guard to guide him by a circuitous route to a point 
beyond the village. The object was nearly accomplished 
when a stalwart deputy in the person of Eliphalet Turner 
appeared upon the scene and placing Mason under arrest 
conducted him before the Sheriff, Dr. Withington, where 
after a somewhat stormy interview the Secretary was 
allowed to proceed. This act of official authority on the 


part of the Sheriff cost him his office, for he was promptly 
removed by Governor Porter who had returned to Detroit 
on the llth of June. In the meantime the disease had 
spread to other places. At Marshall it appeared with 
special virulence. Here out of a community of seventy 
people, eighteen were severely attacked and eight did, 
all within a period of eight days ; among the deceased was 
the wife of John D. Pierce, a Congregational missionary, 
later to be heard from as one of the great names in the 
early history of the State. 

At Detroit the disorder continued unabated. So fre 
quent were the deaths that the custom of ringing the pass 
ing bell was discontinued, as its solemn tolling only 
tended to add to the panic of the people. On July 19th 
many of the people joined in special prayer and supplica 
tion in response to the recommendation of the Detroit 
Presbytery which had asked that the day be observed 
"as a day of humiliation and special prayer to G-od, that 
He would avert the pestilence from our land, and inthe 
midst of deserving wrath, remember mercy." But amid 
the panic and despondency, there were many heroic souls. 
Several young men organized themselves into a nursing 
band; and the physicians were busy with skill and kindly 
ministrations. Among such, the name of Dr. Marshall 
Chapin, who through weary days and weeks without 
money or other reward, gave his services to the poor, will 
deserve well from the memory of men. The greatest 
affliction and mortality was among the poor, the dissi 
pated and the lower classes of the community. As might 
have been expected, the good priest Father Gabriel Rich 
ard was day and night among the scenes of the suffering 
and death, everywhere ministering to the physical and 


spiritual wants of the needy. With the closing days of 
July the disorder abated, although it continued into Sep 
tember. On the 13th of the month Father Richard was 
claimed by the Grim Eeaper to the grief of all the people. 
For forty-four years he had been the shepherd of his 
flock. He had served as the third delegate to Congress 
from the Territory, and had brought the first printing 
press to Detroit in 1809. He was a noble soul, his life 
one of helpful sacrifice. Death came to him not from 
cholera, but from physical exhaustion incident to his 
unremitting sacrifice for others. The whole community 
followed his remains to their last resting place and his 
memory still lingers amid the scenes of his labors as one 
of the earth's worthy. 

"With the excitement of a border war and the terror 
of pestilence in their midst, the people of Detroit were 
inclined to pay but little attention to either their own 
political interests or the political prospects of others, 
although events affecting both were transpiring. In the 
latter days of May, John Norvell of Philadelphia arrived, 
to become by appointment of the President, the successor 
of James Abbott as Postmaster of the city. John Nor 
vell became not only a wise counselor and warm friend 
of the Boy Governor, but his commanding abilities made 
him a leading figure in the community and a helpful fac 
tor in guiding the destinies of the Territory, and later, of 
the State. "With the return of Governor Porter, likewise 
came George Morrell of New York and Boss Wilkins of 
Pennsylvania to supersede Judges Woodbridge and 
Chipman on the Supreme Bench of the Territory. -These 
men were destined to become prominently identified with 
the early history of the State, and active agents in the 


development of its jurisprudence. It was at this time also 
that Kintzing Pritchette, a talented young lawyer of 
Philadelphia, came to Detroit as the Private Secretary 
of Governor Porter, Providence holding in store for him 
a close association with many of the stirring scenes of the 
State 's history, and later a life of romance and adventure 
seldom equalled. 

Young Mason was now Territorial Secretary by higher 
title than recess appointment. The opposition, so strenu 
ous in the beginning, in one short year had quite faded 
away. The people had discovered that although a youth 
in years, he nevertheless displayed many of the qualities 
of maturity. Opposition of ^a kind was still continued, 
and even carried to the Senate, but he had a year of satis 
factory service to his credit, and this with powerful 
friends could not be overcome ; it was nevertheless joyful 
tidings when in the latter days of June he received the 
following letter from Austin E. Wing, the Territorial 
Delegate : 

"Washington City 
" June 21, 1832 

"I am just informed by one of the Senators that 

your nomination as Secretary has been confirmed 

by the Senate. 


"A. E. WING 

"S. T. Mason, Esq." 

The commission from the President, forwarded from 
the office of the Secretary of State, arrived in due time. 
His official tenure was thereby extended until June 21, 


1836, unless sooner terminated by act of the Chief Execu 

The question of statehood had now become a topic 
of frequent discussion. The Ordinance of 1787 under 
which the Northwest became subject to government, had 
provided that whenever any of the States to be carved 
from that Territory " shall have sixty thousand free 
inhabitants therein, such State shall be admitted by its 
delegates into the Congress of the United States. " Emi 
grants had been coming into the peninsula in great num 
bers, and it was believed that by the time a Convention 
could be called and a Constitution formulated the pro 
posed state would have more than the required sixty 
thousand population within its borders. There was 
some opposition to a State government among the people 
because of the economy of the Territorial government, 
which entailed an expense of only about ten thousand 
dollars annually and was paid for from the national 
treasury; while it was estimated that the State govern 
ment would cost from two to three times as much and of 
course would have to be paid by the people of the State. 
The newspapers and men who led in public thought were 
quite generally in favor of the State proposition; the 
Legislative Council shared in the same sentiment, and 
on the 29th of June it passed an Act submitting to the 
voters of the Territory the question "whether it be expe 
dient for the people of this Territory to form a State 
government or not. ' ? 

At the election on the proposition, which was held on 
the first Tuesday of the following October, only 3,007 
voters registered their preference; 1,817 were in favor 
of forming a State government and 1,190 were against 


it. The counties of Michilimackinac, Chippewa, Iowa 
and Crawford took no part in the election, and as 4,435 
ballots had been cast at the election for delegates to 
Congress two years before, there were many who did 
not look upon the vote as decisive ; even Governor Porter 
suggested in his message to the Legislative Council which 
convened the following January, the propriety of resub- 
mitting the question. The Council, however, treated the 
vote as decisive, and very early voted a memorial to Con 
gress asking the passage of an Act authorizing the people 
of Michigan Territory to assemble by their delegates and 
form a Constitution and State government. This 
memorial received the votes of all the members of the 
Council, except Morgan L. Martin, who filed a protest 
against it because it sought to include Mackinac Island 
within the limits of the proposed State, to which Mr. 
Martin as the representative of the country west of Lake 
Michigan objected. 

With the coming of the winter the people rallied in a 
measure from the terrifying experience of summer and 
gave their attentions to the numerous demands of daily 



THE autumn days days of 1832 were happy ones in the 
Mason household. Early in August the father had 
returned from his absence of a year in Mexico, and with 
his return the fears and anxieties of many a dismal day 
were forgotten in the joys of the reunion. From the old 
letters that passed between the family and their friends 
and relatives, we catch glimpses of the home life that is 
always filled with simple charm. The evenings are spent 
in study or delightful reminiscences; to be varied on 
occasions when Colonel Norvell and his beautiful wife, 
or Major Rowland, or other intimates of the family were 
present to speed the hours over a glass of wine and with 
the fragrance of a cigar; and, at times, as participators in 
the broader social life of the community. The winter 
of 1833 proceeded with all the old time gaiety of previous 
seasons ; parties, balls and weddings soon engrossed the 
minds of belles and beaux, and even weaned the minds 
of the more sedate from the memories of the sad days 
recently past. The sister Emily, although but now eight 
een years of age, was nevertheless a woman in heart 
and mind, talented and beautiful. She had become the 
ardent sympathizer with, as well as the trusted confidant 
of the brother Tom; while he, to use her own language, 
"was the faithful guardian of all my love secrets and 
my best adviser." As might be expected, there was a 
degree of fascination in the social gaiety of the metrop- 


oils for the charming sister, and for the brother as well ; 
although the sister has given us the statement that, "He 
had little time and never much inclination for affairs of 
the heart, though so handsome, gay and amiable as to be 
much admired by the ladies." Had he been less inclined 
to social pleasures, still his official position, combined 
with inherent grace and polished manners, would have 
been the occasion of considerable demands upon his time 
and attention. These conditions and personal character 
istics led some people in Ms time, generally those, be 
it said, who were out of sympathy with his political prin 
ciples, to ascribe to him the character of a social votary 
and one given to an excess of conviviality; some, indeed, 
going to the extent of charging him with excesses beyond 
the limits of propriety. These phases of character have 
suited the purposes of modern romance where it has 
touched the life of the Boy Governor, and have thus 
found repetition to his discredit. The falsity of such 
imputations is sufficiently attested by the high sentiments 
he so frequently uttered, by his connection with the 
church and kindred societies, and by the confidence of 
the people, which he retained through many trials. Three 
years later than the time of which we write, the Adver 
tiser, although not in political accord with the young 
Governor, yet in a spirit of fairness was constrained to 
say of the insinuations that have lived until this day, 
that they wer$ without foundation, and that speaking 
from intimate knowledge of his official career, during such 
time he had been "a gentleman in every sense of the 
word. ' ' 

The Legislative Council continued in session until the 
23rd day of April ; its action resulted in little of special 


interest, aside from the steps taken that looked towards 
the formation of a State government. The early days of 
spring were days of nrnch political interest, for the time 
of naming a Territorial delegate and member of the Coun 
cil was at hand. The factions were still pronounced 
and active, and long before the conventions there was 
an air of suppressed excitement in the community which, 
as is usually the case, was in inverse ratio to the size of 
the community. Young Mason was not of the tempera 
ment to view the contest from the standpoint of nonparti- 
san interest. Austin E. Wing had been his friend and 
he was zealous for his renomination as Delegate to the 
national Congress; he could but ill conceal his cha 
grin when the opposing faction triumphed in the Con 
vention. He took no active part in the contest, but to 
the father who in February had been again called to 
Mexico he wrote without reserve: "The approaching 
contest for the election of Delegate bids fair to be warm 
and bitter, but not closely contested. The Democratic- 
Republican Convention, as they style themselves, which 
met at Ann Arbor, as was anticipated nominated Lucius 
Lyon as their candidate and intend making the support 
of him the test of every man's faith and principles. The 
presumption -of this little faction would almost provoke 
one if it were not that their assumption of consequence 
has made them ridiculous. The unfortunate people have 
set over them a Eegency more formidable than the 
famous Albany Eegency itself, and have only to bow 
their necks and be trampled on by Andrew Mack, David 
0. McKinstry, John P. Sheldon and Elliott Gray. 

"The Ann Arbor Convention has constituted those gen 
tlemen a committee to regulate all appointments whether 


coming from the Executive of the United States or of 
the Territory, and have proclaimed to the world that no 
man can receive an office in this Territory without first 
receiving the sanction of this committee and procuring 
from them an endorsement that he is a true Democrat 
dyed in the wool. 

" 'Tis said that governments are Republican only in 
proportion as they embody the will of the people and 
execute it, but if these gentlemen are to be our dictators 
and their decisions in all cases (as they contend) should 
be considered the will of the people, deliver me from 
New York politics. I shall not say aught against them 
for I firmly believe that the intelligence of the people 
will always in time be found a panacea for every evil 
affecting their rights." 

He was still in hopes that an independent convention 
would be called which would nominate Mr. Wing, and 
that the nomination of an Anti-Masonic candidate would 
so divide the vote as to insure his election. These antici 
pations were in a measure realized, but not in a manner 
to bring about the desired result. Austin E. "Wing was 
nominated by a series of county meetings, while the 
Anti-Masons nominated William Woodbridge. Mason 
recognized the strength of this latter nomination, and 
in a letter to his father on the 16th of April he gives 
voice to some observations which indicate that he had 
profited by his short political experience : 

"We have three candidates, but only two regularly 
organized parties. The Anti-Masons have taken up 
Woodbridge. This is a strong nomination and has 
injured Wing more than any other nomination which 
could have been made. Woodbridge does not run as an 


Anti-Mason, and the convention did not require it of 
him; 'he is to represent the people, not the party; 7 to 
use his own langugae, which is pretty much the language 
of an individual who means to represent any one rather 
than those who elect him. I am satisfied that parties must 
exist under our government; and I would be the last to 
discourage party spirit when properly controlled. It 
is the surest plan of keeping the people awake to their 
rights, and when I see a man declaiming against party 
spirit and professing to be for the people alone, I always 
begin to suspect him and think that he is for slipping 
quietly along, serving his own interests and flattering 
himself that no one can see it. 7 ? 

He closes the subject by saying, "The result of the elec 
tion is doubtful but am afraid that Wing cannot be 
elected. ' ' 

Eesults showed that the fear was well founded. Austin 
E. Wing had been elected as a Whig, and later became 
a supporter of the administration; consequently he had 
no compact organization behind his candidacy, although 
but for the nomination of Woodbridge by the Anti- 
Masons he could have counted on the Whig support; but 
this he could not take from Woodbridge, who it appears 
was given the Anti-Masonic nomination without being 
asked to surrender his Whig principles. 

Lucius Lyon, who henceforth became a prominent 
figure in Territorial and State affairs, had elements of 
strength that did not depend upon party fealty or regu 
larity. Born in Vermont in 1800, he became a citizen of 
Detroit in 1822. After one year spent as teacher he took 
up the vocation of a surveyor, which he followed until 
1832. This calling had taken him to every portion of 


the vast Territory of Michigan. There was hardly a 
community either in the peninsula or in that portion of 
the Territory west of Lake Michigan that did not count 
among its inhabitants some who had sought the advice 
of this man as to locations or such other facts as he 
was able to impart from his vast store of information. 
During the canvass, Mr. Wing and Mr. Woodbridge con 
fined their efforts to the older portion of the Territory, 
along the southern border of the peninsula; Mr. Lyon, 
while he continued in the discharge of numerous duties, 
found time during such to serve a banquet to the miners 
at Mineral Point, in the Wisconsin portion of the Terri 
tory; when the election was held and the votes counted, 
to the surprise of many he was elected by a substantial 
plurality. He had received the whole six hundred votes 
from the sparsely settled region of the lead mines, and 
this number insured his election. 

The election of Lucius Lyon proved a fortunate event 
for Michigan, for few men of the Territory possessed so 
large an acquaintance with its people or such accurate 
information as to the character and extent of its 
resources as he; and the time soon came when Michigan 
was to profit by all of the talent he brought to her service. 

With the first days of May young Mason started for 
the East as the traveling companion of his sister Emily 
and the sister Catherine, who was three years Emily's 
junior. Lack of school facilities at Detroit had per 
suaded the father to send the two daughters to the famous 
school of Miss Emma Willard at Troy, New York; and 
it was towards this point that they took their way. The 
brother evidently believed that education was acquired 
as w r ell from travel as from the study of books, for he 


altered Ms course so as to include a visit to the cities 
of Philadelphia and New York, where wonders and sur 
passing luxury were for a brief season spread before 
the astonished vision of the young ladies. With the 
sisters landed safely at Troy, the brother hurried back to 
Detroit where the duties of the governorship awaited 
him, as Governor Porter had gone beyond Lake Michigan 
to superintend some Indian affairs that were to necessi 
tate his absence for the summer. 

In a small community, public interest is ofttimes 
aroused by trivial affairs, and satisfying pleasure found 
in simple things. Detroit was no exception to this rule. 
The arrival of the big church bell, its almost ceaseless 
clangor, the new clergyman, and the prospect of a visit 
during the summer from Lewis Cass, Mr. Barry, and 
possibly from the President, were topics of much dis 
cussion in the homes of Detroit during the spring days 
of 1833; but events were in shaping that were destined 
to rank as of the first magnitude in the interest of the 
people. One such event transpired on the 16th day of 
June, and that too with but slight warning of its 

Long before this time, Detroit by reason of its prox 
imity to Canada had become an important terminal of 
the " underground railway, " as the route and means of 
assistance were called over and by means of which slaves 
were assisted in their flight from servitude in the states 
to the southward. There were two hundred and sixty- 
one negroes in Michigan in 1830, and it is probable that 
there were not far from four hundred in 1833. A large 
number of these were fugitive slaves, for while Canada 


offered a more secure asylum, Detroit offered the better 
opportunities for remunerative labor, and it was there 
that by far the greater portion of the race in Michigan 
resided. Among them was a stalwart Negro by the name 
of Thornton Blackburn who with his wife, Rutha, had 
first appeared in Detroit three years before. As a 
laborer for Thomas Coquillard he had attracted no more 
attention that was given generally to the members of 
his race; people were not a little surprised when they 
were informed that both he and his wife had been placed 
under arrest as fugitives from the service of a gentle 
man of Louisville, Kentucky, and that the master was 
.then in the city to claim his property. A hasty trial was 
had before Judge Chipman, in which Blackburn and the 
wife made little defense and w^ere summarily committed 
to the county jail to await delivery to the alleged master 
who designed their return to Louisville by the steamer 
Ohio, which was to leave Detroit at four o'clock on the 
afternoon of the following Monday. That evening there 
was a gathering of the colored people at the house of one 
of their number ; the meeting attracted no attention, and 
its purpose was jealously guarded. The next day, being 
Sunday, two of the female friends of Mrs. Blackburn, 
a Mrs. Lightf oot and a Mrs. French, paid her a visit in 
the county jail. The visit was protracted until the dusk 
of evening. In the meantime Mrs. French and Mrs. 
Blackburn had exchanged clothing; and when the fare 
wells were said, Mrs. French was left as the inmate 
behind the bars, while Mrs. Blackburn lost no time in 
crossing to the Canadian shore. The deception was not 
discovered until the following morning, when an effort 


was straightway made to take Mrs. French in the place 
of the woman she had liberated; this purpose was at once 
frustrated by habeas corpus proceedings. 

As the hour approached for taking Blackburn to the 
bSat, a few people congregated at the jail, and soon Sher 
iff John M. Wilson with Blackburn, his master's son, 
and a deputy appeared, at the doorway. A few Negroes 
were in the crowd, and these at once assumed a menacing 
attitude. Blackburn volunteered to quiet their excite 
ment, and as he was manacled he was allowed to step 
forward as if to address the people; as he did this he 
wrenched his hands to his side, and drew a murderous 
pistol and turned with fury on his captors, who all save 
the Sheriff retreated within the jail. At once from the 
bushes that grew near the jail, from barns, and from 
every means of cover scores of Negroes rushed towards 
the jail armed with every conceivable kind of weapon. 
The Sheriff courageously stood his ground and used his 
pistol to effective purpose, but he was soon felled to the 
ground, his skull fractured by the blow of a missile tied 
in a handkerchief. The blind horse and creaking dray 
of "Daddy" Walker, which as if by the merest chance 
was standing by, was backed to the jail porch, and an 
old negress known as "Sleepy Polly" performed the only 
dexterous feat of her existence by grabbing Blackburn 
by the collar and jerking him unceremoniously upon the 
dray of his countryman, which at once started down the 
Gratiot road with all the speed that could be developed 
by the sightless nag. The speed may have been somewhat 
accelerated by the shouts of 'the multitude, which now 
numbering several hundred, gave pursuit. When near 
the present Eussell Street, the Negro left the conveyance 

Governor of Michigan Territory 1831-18:14. 


In command of Michigan militia that marched overland from Detroit to Chi 
cago to take help to Fort Dearborn and aid in protecting the frontier during the 
Black Hawk War of 1832. 


Chief of the Sacs and Foxes and leader in the "Black Hawk" War, 1832. 


and plunged into the forest. The manacles were soon 
severed and before nightfall Blackburn and his friends 
emerged from the woods near the River Eouge where a 
boatman was procured, who for the gift of a watch landed 
the fugitive on the Sandwich shore. Long before this 
time the excitement had risen to fever heat in Detroit. 
Bugles were blown, the fire bell was rung, and every 
where the cry went "The niggers have risen and the 
Sheriff is dead." At once a score or more of Negroes 
were placed under arrest, under an old statute requiring 
people of their race to give security for their good 
behavior. During the night one or two buildings and a 
large amount of wood piled by the jail were set on fire 
and the word was circulated that the Negroes from the 
Canadian side were attempting to burn the town. The 
militia was called out and for a week nightly patrolled 
the streets. 

For a time many Negroes sought the Windsor side of 
the river because of the hostile feeling aroused. Black 
burn was arrested and placed in the Sandwich jail, and 
an effort was made to extradite him on the charge of con 
spiring for the murder of Sheriff "Wilson ; but the Sheriff 
ultimately rallied from his injuries, although he died 
from the effects of them a few years later, and after a 
few weeks Blackburn was released. Thus ended the 
"Negro Riot," which long continued to be a theme of 
conversation, and which was the cause of an excitement 
that did injustice to many people who were altogether 

Long before the "Negro Riot" had distracted people's 
attention from the common routine of affairs, the people 
of Detroit had been planning for the celebration of the 


Fourth of July, with all the enthusiasm and interest that 
characterized the celebration of Independence Day in 
earlier days of the Eepublic. From the letters of the 
mother, Mrs. Mason, Mrs. Norvell, and the younger sis 
ter, to the absent ones at Troy, we gather an interesting 
account of this old time celebration. The festivities opened 
on the night of the 3rd by a grand ball at the Mansion 
House, given by the gentlemen of the city, where accord 
ing to Mrs. Norvell there were more ladies present than 
she had ever seen before at a ball in Detroit. The morn 
ing was ushered in with the ringing of bells and the firing 
of cannon. A little later Major Rowland marched a 
procession composed "of drummers and fifers, a company 
of infantry, and a company of light dragoons, together 
with the turnout of a strolling circus temporarily in the 
city, up and down Jefferson Avenue, whence all 
adjourned to the Capitol to listen to an oration " which 
was very well done, 77 by Jacob M. Howard; although this 
was a little too long, the defect was compensated by its 
patriotism; Thomson read the Declaration of Independ 
ence "with uncommon propriety 77 ; and Franklin Saw 
yer read a poem that was "exceedingly tiresome. 77 
Adjournment was then taken to a grand dinner served to 
the leading inhabitants of the city, which was concluded 
by "General Williams and Charley Whipple making 
speeches to each other as tedious as you can well 
imagine 77 ; after which Major Eowland again marched 
his men a turn on the avenue, as Mrs. Norvell observes, 
"to aid their digestive organs. 77 The events closed with 
the fireworks and a balloon exhibited to the whole city 
on the Common near the Capitol. 
But the greatest event of the day came when at about 


three o'clock in the afternoon the steamship Superior 
arrived with the old warrior Black Hawk, his son, The 
Thunder, and a few members of his band under the escort 
of Major John Garland, in whose suite was young Lieu 
tenant Jefferson Davis. Black Hawk had been held a 
military prisoner long enough to feel the hand of govern 
mental authority, and now after a trip through "Washing 
ton, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, Albany and Buf 
falo, he was on the way to his people beyond the Mississ 
ippi. Black Hawk's arrival had been heralded, for he 
had taken his departure from Fortress Monroe a month 
previous ; before the steamer touched the wharf the whole 
population was wedged into the restricted limits of its 
approach; so great was the crowd that it was not until 
the lapse of a considerable time that the carriages con 
taining the party were able to proceed. On the morning 
of the 5th Black Hawk and his party made a call upon 
Acting Governor Mason at the Mason home; the mother's 
description of Black Hawk is not without interest : 

"He is one of the most benevolent looking men you 
ever saw and has a face that resembles the bust of Frank 
lin more than anyone else. He dresses in imitation of 
General Jackson, a blue surtout coat, a white hat, cane 
and spectacles. The others of his party are dressed and 
painted in Indian style. His son of whom so much has 
been said is a most splendid fellow, his form and carriage 
a model for a sculptor. But he has been so much admired, 
particularly by the ladies, that he appears to require 
every attention wherever he goes. His fingers are cov 
ered with rings which have been presented him by m#ny 
ladies of distinction. He has a gold box given him by 
Kimble while in New York." 


Black Hawk had not been at Detroit since the "War of 
1812 and he was greatly amazed at the change which 
twenty years had wrought. Two decades had changed 
the place from a street of a few scattered houses to a com 
munity that was daily taking on the dignities of a city. 
Nowhere did the old Indian see more abundant proof of 
the irresistible westward advance of the white invader 
than here, where but a few short years before the white 
men had been so few that he had believed it possible to 
drive them away forever. Now he felt the full truth of 
his statement to Colonel Eustis at Fortress Monroe when 
he said, " Brother, your houses are as numerous as the 
leaves upon the trees and your warriors like the sands 
upon the shore of the big lake. ' ' 

Black Hawk's departure did not leave the community 
destitute of themes and incidents of interest. Immigra 
tion, which had been almost wholly suspended during the 
cholera epidemic of the year before, was now in a degree 
resumed. Daily, strangers were arriving and gathering 
equipment for a start into the interior. Leisurely mov 
ing ox teams yoked to heavy wagons loaded with heroic 
mother and perhaps a numerous brood of children, with 
the absolute necessities of the pioneer home and farm, 
were scenes upon the streets of Detroit too familiar to 
attract even passing notice. Not unfrequently the rear 
of such an outfit was brought up by the sturdy father 
and perhaps an elder son leading a cow or two and driving 
a half score of sheep whose wool was to make the warm 
woolen socks that were to busy the housewife and daugh 
ters, during the long evenings of the winter. 

As Detroit had now become an important point in the 
journey of those who passed from Buffalo to points con- 


tiguous to the Great Lakes, it was frequently the stopping 
place, for days, of many gentlemen eminent in official 
and commercial life. Young Mason had been nurtured 
in a home and atmosphere where hospitality was one of 
the cardinal virtues, to be discharged as a pleasure and 
not as an obligation. The exclusiveness of many Detroit 
homes was quite beyond the understanding of the young 
Virginian and his mother, who seemingly felt it to be a 
duty to take up and discharge a social obligation that 
they believed to be incumbent upon the community. So 
it was that sometimes for a considerable space, not a 
week passed without a special dinner at the home, 
arranged for the entertainment of one or more honored 
guests and a few congenial spirits, the spice of whose wit 
added flavor to the viands. Many a distinguished visitor, 
as well as many a man of influence in the Territory 
cemented bonds of friendship with the young Secretary 
in the geniality of the paternal home and the hospitality 
of its board. 

Although the people, of Detroit were continually appre 
hensive of the reappearance of cholera during the sum 
mer of 1833, it did not develop, the town continuing to be 
as free from pestilential disorders as the year previous 
had been afflicted; but it raged in many places, among 
others being the town of Louisville, Kentucky. One of 
the effects of its appearance at this place was to. drive 
a theatrical company from there to Detroit, which nightly 
for three or four weeks rendered Shakespearian and 
other productions to admiring audiences. So enthusias 
tic was the reception of this company and so liberal the 
public patronage that the question of subscribing funds 
for a theater received much consideration. The perform- 


ance was the occasion of not a little amusement at the 
expense of Major Whipple, who, it was claimed, had gone 
nightly, and by arrangement with the manager was 
favored with a seat "behind the scenes," he alleging 
that as he was a "church member " and preferred not 
to be seen too often in the audience. 

At about this time the Negroes of the city were again 
the occasion of some uneasiness. Several of their num 
ber had been subjected to short terms of imprisonment 
and small fines for the disturbances of some weeks pre 
vious, while a few were held awaiting the possibility of a 
more serious charge, dependent upon the fortunes of the 
Sheriff. The ones at liberty were now demanding their 
friends' immediate release. As a moral influence, it is 
said, an old Negress bearing a white flag on a pole 
marched at the head of a motley procession of her race, 
through the principal streets of the town in defiance of 
the civil authority. As rumors of threats to do -violence 
were again rife, Mayor Ohapin issued a proclamation 
ordering all colored people who could not exhibit proof 
of their freedom or give security for their good behavior 
to leave the city. As General Cass, Secretary of "War, 
was then in the city, the Mayor applied to him on the 
25th of July for a detachment of United States troops 
to be stationed in the city to act under municipal author 
ity. The day following, a company from Fort Gratiot 
were brought to the city and placed under command of 
General Hugh Brady, to be retained as long as he might 
deem necessary. As there was at once a scurrying of the 
disorderly element to the opposite shore, the troops were 
soon ordered back to Fort Gratiot, and public tranquility 
was once more established. 


One of the acts of the Legislative Council of 1833 had 
been to reorganize the Territorial militia ; by one of the 
provisions the various companies were to meet "in their 
respective beats, on the first Tuesday in May in every year, 
at nine of the clock in the forenoon, for the purpose of 
improving in martial exercise ; and also once in each year 
between the first and last days of October by regiment 
or separate battalion, at such time and place as th& com 
manding officer of the brigade shall direct for the purpose 
of inspection, review and martial exercise." These were 
the old time general training days, or " muster days," 
when the pioneer came accoutered, in the language of the 
statute, "with a good musket or fire lock, a sufficient 
bayonet and a belt, two spare flints and a knapsack, a 
pouch with a box therein, to contain therein not less than 
twenty-five cartridges suited to the bore of his musket 
or fire lock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity 
of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot- 
pouch and powder horn, twenty balls suited to the bore 
of his rifle and a quarter of a pound of powder." Gen 
eral training served as the safety valve to pent up ener 
gies in pioneer vigor, even if it did not produce finished 
soldiers. The provisions of the law would seem to indi 
cate that every precaution was taken to make the occa 
sion one of superior military education; but many a remi 
niscence from the aged pioneer indicates that they were 
times when some military maneuvers were varied with 
some excesses and much of the rough but harmless jollity 
of the period. As Commander-in-CMef , in the absence of 
Governor Porter, it fell to young Mason to be present 
with his staff at the General Musters at Monroe, Ann 
Arbor and the other places of rendezvous, and thus the 


early days of October were employed. He made small 
pretense of great military knowledge, but of geniality 
and good fellowship he had an inexhaustible store, and 
his greeting by the backwoods private was far more cor 
dial than would have been extended to a general in gold 
braid and epaulets; many a friendship which lasted to 
the end of his short life had its beginning in the days 
of the general trainings. 

Young Mason was now in company with several other 
young men, making unusual application in hope of secur 
ing admission to the bar before the father's return, which 
was expected in February. By much industry he and 
his friends Isaac S. Rowlands and George N. Palmer 
were able to comply with the requirements, and received 
their certificates of admission on the llth day of Decem 
ber. 1 It was an event of more than passing importance ; 
and they celebrated it, in the language of the mother 
later written to the daughters, "by a tremendous supper 
and wine party at Woodworth's to which all the gentle 
men in town were invited." This party was followed 
a few nights later by one of like character given by Jacob 
M. Howard and Franklin Sawyer to celebrate their own 
admission as members of the Wayne County bar. The 
congenial character of these gatherings may be inferred 
from the fact that they resulted in charges being pre 
ferred before the Detroit Temperance Society against 
one of its members, Mr. George Hand, who was then a 
young member of the bar, charging him with having 
indulged too freely in the wine portion of the banquet. 
The report of the committee appointed to investigate 
this charge forces the conclusion that the pledge of a 

1. His admission to the territorial supreme court was on July 23, 1834. 


Detroit Temperance Society in the thirties had relation to 
the quantity rather than the quality of the beverage ; for 
the report finds "that while Mr. Hand did in a sportive 
humor so conduct himself as to cause the belief in the 
minds of some of the gentlemen who testified that he was 
inebriated, this was nevertheless not the fact," although 
the report admits that the behavior indulged in was "well 
calculated to excite suspicion." The report closes with 
the wholesome observation that in view of the reflection 
cast upon the society, its members "cannot be too careful 
to abstain even from the appearance of evil." Of Mr. 
Hand it should be said that he was a graduate of Yale, 
in the class of '29, and later a most eminent member of 
the Detroit bar. 

With the formalities of his admission to the bar 
attended to, young Mason made hasty preparations for 
his departure for "Washington, where he went to confer 
with those in authority as to Territorial affairs, and from 
whence he was to repair to Troy to bring home the sisters 
so long absent. Starting with a team and sleigh, on 
December 16, he found his conveyance useless in Ohio 
for want of snow; but nothing daunted, he took the mail 
bags before him upon one horse, while the driver took Ms 
trunk upon the other, and thus burdened they pursued 
their way. Because of this delay the month of January 
was well advanced before, weary from the days of travel 
by the slow going stage which floundered in the snow 
drifts of New York and the mud of Ohio, and many nights 
spent beneath the roofs of the primitive taverns by the 
way, they landed at their Detroit home. The home-com 
ing of the daughters was the occasion of mingled joy and 
sorrow; joy at the glad reunion, and sorrow because in 


their absence the family circle had been broken ; late' in 
October, after a few days' illness, death had claimed the 
sunshine of the family, Mary, the youngest. It was the 
occasion of a pungent grief to each member of the family, 
and to the mother a blow from which she never wholly 



Territorial Council convened on January 7, 1834. 
Its assembling was an event looked forward to with 
more than ordinary interest by the people of Michigan, 
because the commencement of a period of transition was 
forcing many problems to the fore for discussion and 

The people of the peninsular portion of the Territory 
had expressed their preference for a state government, 
and a considerable number were anxiously awaiting each 
step in the program that was to confer the rights and 
privileges of sovereign power. Immigration into the 
Territory had been unprecedented, and there was every 
reason for its people to expect its speedy admission into 
the Upion. Under the ordinary progress of such a pro 
gram there would have been exceptional interest in the 
doings of both Council and Congress; but in Michigan 
this interest became much intensified by the development 
of conditions of a most unusual character, growing pri 
marily out of the question of the southern boundary of 
the Territory and proposed State. As the boundary con 
troversy developed into a question of first importance, 
in both the history of Michigan and in the career of Stev 
ens Thomson Mason, it is necessary that a somewhat 
comprehensive review be made of the facts and circum 
stances connected with its commencement, progress and 
final termination. 


The commencement is to be found in the fifth article 
of the famous Ordinance of 1787, enacted for the govern 
ment of the Northwest Territory. This article, so far as 
it related to boundaries, provided in substance for the 
positive creation of at least three States from the Terri 
tory for which government was then provided. These 
three States would have corresponded with the present 
States of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, except that their 
lines of division would have extended northward to the 
national boundary. Provision was however made "that 
the boundaries of these three States shall be subject so 
far to be altered, that, if Congress shall hereafter find 
it expedient they shall have authority to form one or 
two States in that part of the said Territory which lies 
north of an east and west line drawn through the south 
erly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan/' This same 
articles likewise provided that "whenever any of the said 
States shall have 60,000 free inhabitants therein, such 
State shall be admitted by its delegates, into the Congress 
of the United States on an equal footing with the original 
States in all respects whatever and shall be at liberty to 
form a permanent Constitution and State government." 

The action of Congress with respect to the Territory at 
first seemed to indicate that it contemplated the three 
State plan, for in 1800 the Territory was divided into two 
Territories; approximately the present State of Ohio, 
and the eastern half of Michigan continuing the North 
west Territory, while all the western portion including 
the western half of the Michigan peninsula was organ 
ized as the Territory of Indiana. The eastern portion 
of Michigan was at once organized into the County of 
Wayne, with representation in the Territorial Council 


which met at Chillicothe. At this time the eastern Terri 
tory had a population of 45,916, of whom 3,757 were 
inhabitants of the County of Wayne. Two years later, 
in 1802, an enabling Act was passed by Congress for the 
formation of the State of Ohio. The people of Wayne 
County at this time were in close sympathy and relation 
with their neighbors to the south and desired to be 
included in the new State about to be formed. They were 
considerably angered and chagrined when they discov 
ered that Ohio influence had shut them out of the pros 
pective State by prescribing in the enabling Act that the 
northern boundary of such State should be the Ordinance 
line, which we have seen was a line running due east 
and west " through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake 
Michigan." Wayne County citizens protested at being 
thus excluded, but they were mostly Federalists, and as 
Ohio politicians were Bepublicans, their protests fell 
upon deaf ears. The enabling act provided that Wayne 
County might be attached to the new State if Congress 
saw fit, but its people were excluded from all partici 
pation in the formation of its Constitution or from voic 
ing an expression on the subject. It was a matter of 
political good fortune that Wayne County did not become 
a part of Ohio, but that it was attached to Indiana Terri 
tory instead, for the peninsula was thus united in one 
natural subdivision. 

In 1803 Governor William Henry Harrison created a 
new Wayne County, comprising the territory east of a 
north and south line drawn through the center of Lake 
Michigan ; this included all of the lower and the eastern 
half of the Upper Peninsula. The Chillicothe convention 
in forming the Constitution of Ohio evidently became 


suspicious that the northern boundary as prescribed in 
the enabling Act might intersect Lake Erie at a point 
so far south that the Maumee or Miami Bay which they 
coveted would be found to be outside of the State. For 
that reason they embodied in their Constitution as the 
northern boundary of the proposed State, the boundary 
of the enabling Act coupled with the proviso that, "If 
the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan should 
extend so far south that a line drawn due east from it 
should not intersect Lake Erie or if should intersect 
the said Lake Erie east of the mouth of the Miami River 
of the Lakes, then with the assent of Congress of the 
United States the northern boundary of this State shall 
be established by and extended to, a direct line running 
from the southern extremity of Lake Michigan to the 
most northerly cape of the Miami Bay.' 7 

When the Ohio Constitution came before Congress for 
the admission of that State into the Union, the congres 
sional committee to whom the matter was referred 
refused to consider the proviso ; they advanced the very 
natural objection, first, that it depended upon a fact not 
yet ascertained, and secondly, that it was a matter not 
submitted to the consideration of the Convention. Con 
gress accepted the view of the committee, and on Feb 
ruary 19, 1803 passed an Act extending the laws of the 
United States over the State, without mention of the pro 
viso of its Constitution. As soon as the congressional 
delegation of Ohio was seated, it began efforts to secure 
formal congressional recognition of the line set forth in 
the boundary proviso, but to no 'purpose. Congress 
could not be induced to take action in the matter. 

In the meantime, Michigan was becoming ambitious 


for an independent Territorial government ; and in Janu 
ary 1805, this ambition was achieved by the creation of 
the Territory of Michigan. At this time Ohio again 
sought for recognition of the line extending its northern 
boundary; but Congress was evidently impressed with 
the inviolable character of the line as fixed by the Ordi 
nance of 1787, and so Michigan Territory was created 
with its southern boundary "a line drawn east from the 
southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan, until it 
shall intersect Lake Erie, 9 ' etc. Michigan now not only 
went into actual possession of the territory extending to 
this line, but began a series of acts of authority and juris 
diction over it. For a time the question was dormant, 
except for an occasional resolution of the Ohio Assembly 
instructing their Congressmen to use their efforts to 
secure the passage of a law defining the northern bound 
ary. These appeals brought no results until 1812; then, 
as the Indian title to the land had been extinguished and 
settlers were going into the country, it became necessary 
that Congress take some action; now again the action 
taken was not in accord with the desires of Ohio, for the 
bill which became a law provided for the survey of the 
line as established in the enabling Act and which had 
been given as the southern boundary of Michigan Terri 
tory. Indian hostilities and war with Great Britain soon 
absorbed public attention, and the proposed survey was 
postponed for three years more; the president then 
directed the Surveyor General of Ohio to proceed with 
the work in accordance with the provision of the law of 
1812. The Surveyor General, December 31, 1816, com 
missioned William Harris to run the line; instead of 
instructing him to run the line as provided by the law 


authorizing the survey, lie gave instructions for the run 
ning of the line in accordance with the Ohio proviso, from 
the southerly bend of Lake Michigan to the most north 
erly cape of the Maumee Bay; Harris proceeded to do so, 
the line thereafter being known as the Harris line. 

This line as run by Harris, immediately brought 
inquiry from Governor Cass of Michigan Territory to 
the Surveyor General as to the authority for such a sur 
vey, and when the Assembly of Ohio sought by their 
declarations to settle the question according to their 
desires, the Governor and Judges of Michigan in 1818 
not only adopted a strong memorial to Congress, but sent 
a committee to Washington to press the claims of the 
Territory; so successful was Michigan that the President 
gave orders for the marking of the northern boundary 
of Ohio according to the provisions of the Act of 1812. 
John A. Fulton was commissioned to run this line ; which 
he did, intersecting Lake Erie at a point about seven 
miles south of the point of intersection by the Harris 
line ; the line took the name of its surveyor, and became 
known as the "Fulton line." Two years before this time, 
and on the llth day of December 1816, Indiana quite 
unopposed had sought and obtained admission into the 
Union with her northern boundary ten miles to ike north 
of the Ordinance line. As the district thus included was 
in an uninhabited portion of the Territory which was 
then without a delegate in Congress, Indiana's action 
passed unchallenged, if not unnoticed; but it did not 
escape notice in the later memorial of the Governor and 
Judges, who mentioned it, as they stated, "that it might 
not hereafter be supposed they have acquiesced. " When 
in 1820 Ohio sought to extend her jurisdiction into the 

First Auditor General of Michigan, Treasurer of Michigan Territory 1S13-1S36. 

Member of the Territorial Council of Michigan. 

Governor of Ohio at the time of the boundary dispute. 


disputed territory, her acts "brought a strong exposition 
of Michigan's claims from the then Acting Governor, 
William Woodbridge, to the Governor of Ohio, and to the 
President through John Quincy Adams, Secretary of 

For the time being the question became quiescent, if 
not settled. Occasionally Ohio brought forward some 
measure relative to the northern boundary, but they did 
not receive legislative sanction, nor was Michigan dis 
turbed in her possession or jurisdiction. In 1827 the 
Territorial Council organized the disputed territory into 
the Township of Port Lawrence, where they later col 
lected taxes, built roads and enforced the civil and crim 
inal law of the Territory. In 1831 it became apparent 
to all the parties concerned that a speedy termination 
of the controversy was much to be desired. Governor 
Cass in his message to the Council of that year gave 
a succinct review of the situation and suggested the 
expediency of a renewed expression, by a memorial to 
Congress, of the views of the Council and the expecta 
tions of their constitutents. Such a memorial was sent, 
but not until after a futile effort on the part of Michigan 
to adjust the difficulty had been made by Michigan offer 
ing to accept from Ohio, territory west of the Maumee 
Eiver as compensation for such as was yielded by Mich 
igan to the east of it. 

As the Fulton survey, owing to the failure to establish 
the latitude of the southern extreme of Lake Michigan 
and the point where the line intersected the Maumee 
Eiver and Lake Erie was unsatisfactory the national Con- 
gress in 1832 provided for the taking of these observa 
tions which were to be completed by December 31, 1835. 


The work was intrusted to Captain Talcott of the United 
States Army; the actual work of the observations was 
largely performed by a brilliant young graduate from 
West Point, later to become known to the world as a 
great military genius, the hope of the Confederacy in the 
war between the states, Eobert E. Lee. 

The "Talcott line 77 practically coincided with the 
" Fulton line/ 7 for they intersected the Maumce not more 
than three hundred yards apart. Toledo, or its prede 
cessor Port Lawrence, was founded in 1832. It was pro 
moted by Ohio capital and its people were ambitious that 
it should become the northern terminus of the canal by 
which the waters of Lake Erie should be connected with 
those of the Ohio at Cincinnati. On January 8, 1833, the 
Legislative Council of Michigan adopted a memorial to 
Congress asking authority for the people of the Territory 
north of the line drawn east from the southerly extreme 
of Lake Michigan to assemble by their delegates to form 
a State Constitution. On December llth following, 
Lucius Lyon, the Territorial Delegate, presented the 
first formal petition of Michigan for admission into the 
Union. Henceforth the admission of Michigan and the 
boundary controversy became inseparable. Ohio insisted 
that it was a question which should be settled by Con 
gress before the admission of Michigan ; while Michigan 
was equally insistent that she should be granted state 
hood, and that the question of boundary was the proper 
subject of judicial inquiry for the highest court of the 
land. As Ohio based her claim on an appeal to what 
her representatives termed the "plenary, equitable and 
political discretion' 7 of Congress, it is apparent why they 


desired the decision of Congress rather than of the 
Supreme Court. 

Following Michigan's demand for admission, Ohio pro 
posed a bill to establish her northerly boundary on the 
"Harris line." This bill which passed the Senate, but 
failed in the House, drew from the Territorial Council 
a most emphatic memorial in which it recited the history 
of the facts upon which, it based its claim and declared 
that "upon the authority of these Acts, the Territory of 
Michigan demands, as the right of the State of Michigan 
that the fundamental line running east and west through 
the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan and no 
other 77 should be recognized as their southern boundary. 
To the House committee having in charge the bill for 
the admission of Michigan, the Territorial Delegate, 
Lucius Lyon, submitted an exhaustive argument on the 
boundary question which for perspicuity and logical 
deductions could not have been surpassed, and which 
from the standpoint of legal right remained unanswered. 

Such was the status of this famous controversy in the 
early days of 1834. Interested as the people of Michigan 
were in the question it involved, it did not absorb their 
attention to the exclusion of many matters of domestic 
concern. The fact that statehood at the very farthest could 
be delayed but a short time, was directing the minds of 
men into new channels and crystalizing thought about 
issues that were to be prominent in the early history 
of the State. The Territory now had many men of keen 
foresight and sound judgment who were more or less 
actively forecasting the material development that was 
to follow the creation of State institutions and the 


increase of population. It is probable that at this time 
more than one-half of the inhabitants of the Territory 
in their passage hither had traveled by the Erie Canal for 
some portion of their journey. They had been eye wit 
nesses of the great development in western New York 
which had resulted from the construction of this great 
means of transportation. Michigan had many inhabi 
tants who had been residents of Ohio when Marietta was 
an outpost of civilization. They had seen the immigrants 
swarm to its fertile lands and cities and villages rise as 
if by magic. A million people had found homes in Ohio 
within the memory of many men who were still in the 
fresh vigor of their activities. Thousands of home seek 
ers had passed on to near-by States on the prairies of 
Indiana and Illinois. Now the tide had turned toward 
Michigan, and it required but little imagination to con 
ceive for it a future of equal if not surpassing glory. 
Ohio had now for nearly ten years been at work upon a 
program of extensive internal improvements. A system 
of canals was now in course of construction that it was 
confidently believed would bring to that State an era of 
unexampled prosperity. The practicability of steam as a 
motive power in transportation was now beginning to be 
realized, and even in distant Michigan there were those 
who were ambitious for the early inauguration of the 
" railway age." Within nine months after the successful 
trip of the " Rocket" in England and before there was a 
mile of track in use for general traffic in the United 
States, an Act was passed in the Michigan Legislative 
Council to incorporate the Pontiac and Detroit Eailway 
Company, the Act bearing date July 31, 1830. This was 
followed by the chartering of the Detroit and St. Joseph 


Eailroad Company, January 29, 1832, designed to connect 
Detroit with the month of the St. Joseph Eiver; and of 
the Erie and Kalamazoo Eailroad Company, April 22, 
1833, to connect Port Lawrence, now Toledo, with Adrian 
and ultimately to be projected to some point upon the 
Kalamazoo Eiver. In his message to the Legislative 
Council, January 8, 1834, Governor Porter said: 

"Permit me to call your attention to the laudable exer 
tions now making by our citizens in different sections of 
the Territory, to procure the aid of the General Govern 
ment in the construction of a railroad through the penin 
sula. A liberal provision has heretofore been made for 
works connected with the internal improvement of the 
Territory. Is there any subject more worthy of their fos 
tering care than the construction of this railroad? A 
large revenue is derived from the sale of the public lands 
within this peninsula. Nature has prepared the ground, 
and the small expense 'which would be incurred in con 
structing a railroad would be soon reimbursed by the 
increased amount of the sales and the numerous other 
advantages that would result as well to the government 
as to the individuals/' 

The Governor's message likewise suggested improve 
ments to the St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, Grand and Clinton 
Eivers and to the St. Glair Flats, recommending a 
memorial to Congress praying governmental aid for these 
worthy objects. These recommendations were undoubt 
edly in accord with the ambitions of the people and in 
keeping with their judgment and forecast of develop 
ment as well. These recommendations of the Governor, 
acts of the people and previous memorial of the Legisla 
tive Council, are important as bearing on later events in 


the history of the State when internal improvement 
became a matter of State policy, in place of formative 
suggestions and discussion. Not a few who have written 
on the history of Michigan have treated the question of 
internal improvements as though it was a policy peculiar 
to Michigan, and even there inaugurated and prosecuted 
in opposition to the sound judgment of the people; 
whereas it was a policy common to many States, in 
accord with the sentiments of the people then entertained 
and as had been repeatedly expressed through the legis 
lative and executive branches of their governments. 1 

At this session the Council passed Acts incorporating 
the Shelby and Detroit Kailroad Company, both com 
panies being empowered to "transport, take and carry 
property and persons, by the power and force of steam, 
of animals, or of any mechanical or other power or of any 
combination of them.' 7 Incorporation was likewise pro 
vided for a company to construct a canal connecting the 
waters of the Fox and "Wisconsin Eivers, at or near the 
place known as the "Wisconsin Portage. " Otherwise 
the legislation of the Council was of the routine and ordi 
nary nature. 

On the 6th day of July the people were shocked to learn 
of the sudden death of Governor Porter. He had been 
but a short time among the people of the Territory, but 
the association had been such as to earn him their confi 
dence and high esteem. He had entered heartily into 

State activity in the matter of internal improvements both in 
Michigan and other States of the Northwest was no doubt 
much accelerated by the fact that the making of internal 
improvements at Federal expense was a question at this time 
upon which political parties were far from agreed and over 
which now and at later times great congressional contests 
were waged. 


their hopes and aspirations, and the large concourse that 
gathered at the capitol for the ceremonies of his funeral 
was more than a mark of respect to his official station. 

Stevens- T. Mason, as Acting Governor, was now again 
the executive head of the Territory. Three years had 
served to remove most of the animosity occasioned by 
his appointment. His courtly manners and real abilities, 
his disposition to advise with men of judgment had made 
many of his early opposers his staunchest supporters. 
At the charter election in April previous, he had been 
chosen one of the aldermen at large of Detroit, and had 
proceeded with the discharge of the office with commend 
able diligence and attention. As drunkenness had become 
disgracefully common upon the streets of the city, Mason 
took advantage of his official position in an effort to 
correct the condition by preparing and having enacted an 
ordinance whereby all dispensers of intoxicants were 
required to pay an annual license fee of fifty dollars and 
were prohibited from selling liquors in quantities of less 
than one gallon. The ordinance marks one of the first 
restrictive measures for the control of the liquor traffic 
within the Territory. 

On the first of August the people of Detroit were sud 
denly horrified by the dreadful intelligence that the spec 
tre of Asiatic cholera was again active in their midst. 
Almost without warning it began its ghastly work of 
decimation. Two years before it wrought its fearful 
havoc in the homes of the poor and among the desolate ; 
now it was an impartial scourge, visiting with especial 
fatality the homes of culture and refinement. Seven per 
cent of the population of Detroit died in the single month 
of August. It again spread to various places of the 


interior, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti being special sufferers. 
More than a qnarter of the population of Detroit fled 
from the town; for weeks an air of desolation hung over 
the stricken city ; day after day the August sunshine beat 
down in almost deserted streets. Many of the stores 
were closed and but one or two small schooners swung 
lazily at their moorings upon the river. In regular runs 
the Henry Clay and one or two other steamboats touched 
the port, but more often to take away than to discharge 

Father Gabriel Eichard now had a worthy successor in 
the person of Father Martin Kundig, who rightfully 
became known as "The Apostle of Charity. " The local 
authorities again sought the use of the Capitol as an 
emergency hospital, but were refused ; then it was that 
Bishop Eese tendered the use of the edifice subsequently 
known as Trinity 'Church, then undergoing repairs to fit 
it for church uses. The building was hurriedlv put in 
condition for a temporary hospital, and Father Kundig, 
the tall, handsome Swiss priest, placed in charge. Of 
the work of this good man no better recital can be Driven 
than to quote the words of that other eminent citizen, 
Charles C. Trowbridge, at that time Mayor of the city: 

" Amidst the panic which ensued, a few stood calm and 
resolute. Among these no one w r as more distinguished, 
none so much admired as Father Kundig. Fearless and 
serene, he seemed to be ubiquitous among the stricken 
of the plague. At his personal expense he provided an 
ambulance, he went forth from morn till night on his 
errand of mercy, cheerful and cheering everyone. When 
some victim of the plague was found who was without 
friends or medical care, he carried the unfortunate to 


his ambulance and drove to the hospital in the old church. 
When the church was reached, he carried the sufferer on 
his shoulders to the ward of the hospital where a band 
of young physicians, who had volunteered as nurses (and 
by the way not one of these young heroes was attacked 
by the plague) took charge until recovery or death 
decided the case. ' ' 

Before the commencement of the epidemic, General 
John T. Mason had returned from Mexico, to be apprised 
of the death of his youngest born. The mother had suf 
fered serious illness, which with the mental strain inci 
dent to her months of sorrow had greatly impaired her 
health. With the coming of the cholera, the father fear 
ful of the shock to the delicate mother from the scenes 
that must ensue, and not unmindful of the violent con 
tagion of the disease, took the wife and daughters to 
New York and the old Virginia home; Thomson alone 
of the family remained, and with one or two servants 
maintained the home while he manfully discharged the 
duties intrusted to his care, joining with others in allevi 
ating the suffering, sorrow and distress incident to the 
direful situation. This was done not only by active 
effort, but by example of cheering fortitude and courage. 
With the approaching days of autumn the cholera plague 
subsided, and so far as was possible affairs assumed 
f their normal status. 

On the 28th of June, 1834, by Act of Congress, all the 
country north of the north line of the State of Missouri, 
west of the Mississippi and east of the Missouri and 
White Earth Eiver was for the purposes of temporary 
government attached to and made a part of the Territory 
of Michigan; thus under Michigan Territory was com- 


prehended the Territorial limits not only of the present 
State of Michigan, but of the present States of Wiscon 
sin, Minnesota, Iowa and the eastern portion of North 
and South Dakota, The preceding Legislative Council in 
view of the anticipated attachment of the vast extent of 
country to Michigan and the necessity of appropriate 
legislation to bring it within the pale of civil government, 
as well as the need of attention to matters of special 
interest to Michigan proper, had petitioned Congress for 
the authority to hold a special session. This authority 
was granted, and in conformity therewith Acting Gov 
ernor Mason convened the body in extra session at 
Detroit on September 1 ensuing. 

The message of the young executive delivered on the 
day following the assembling pf the Council had the ring 
of energy and action that ever after characterized his 
public utterances. Public sentiment in Michigan was 
becoming somewhat aroused. State feeling as distin 
guished from national feeling was strong. The people 
of the. Territory believed that they had certain rights 
guaranteed to them by the Ordinance of 1787, and that 
these rights were as sacred as though guaranteed by the 
provisions of the Constitution itself. Among these was 
the right to the southern boundary as prescribed in the 
Ordinance and the right to formulate a Constitution and 
create a State government when they should have sixty 
thousand free inhabitants; which they now had. The 
petitions and memorials from the Legislative Council to 
the national Congress asking what the people believed 
to be their rights had been treated by that body as though 
they were petitions upon the grace of Congress for that 
which, it was within their power to grant or withhold at 


pleasure. Weary from entreaty, the people of the Terri 
tory resolved upon a program of aggression, and the 
message of Acting Governor Mason to the special session 
of the Council disclosed that it was a program with which 
he was in full sysmpathy and accord. 

"The leading purpose of your present session/ 7 said 
he, "contemplates the speedy admission of Michigan into 
the Union." After recommending the taking of a census 
as a step in effecting the desired object, he proceeded 
to say, "The time has arrived when Michigan is called 
upon to act for herself. She has petitioned Congress 
again and again to extend to her the same measure of 
liberality and justice winch has been extended to all the 
Territories admitted into the Union as States. None of 
these Territories had at the time of their admission a 
population equal to sixty thousand souls, a population 
on the attainment of which we are authorized by the 
Ordinance of 1787 to claim an incorporation with a 
Republican constitution into the Union, on an equal foot 
ing with the original States. All, or most of the Terri 
tories have been admitted when they possessed a num 
ber of inhabitants equal to their ratio of representation 
in their House of Representatives of the United States. 
Congress, under the influence of the policy which at present 
guides its deliberations, has failed to accede to the reiter 
ated applications of Michigan, with a population greater by 
far than that of any other favored Territory for power 
to form a Constitution and State government. She has 
but one course left for the assertion of her equal rights. 
It is to ascertain her population, which is beyond doubt 
more than sixty thousand ; to proceed in that event to the 
calling of a Convention for the institution of a State 


government and to the election of a Representative and 
Senator to Congress. The State of Michigan will then 
have a right to demand admission into the Union ; and it 
is not to be anticipated that the Congress of the United 
States will hesitate to yield as a matter of right what 
they have heretofore refused to grant as a favour." 

Continuing he said, "It has become manifest, that as a 
Territory, we have but little weight in the deliberation 
of Congress on subjects connected with a view to other 
interests than our own.' 7 Surely much that had pre 
ceded and much that was to follow was proof of this 

AnTong other things, the message called attention to 
the country beyond the Mississippi that had been added 
to the Territory for the purpose of temporary govern 
ment; pleaded for the abolition of imprisonment for debt, 
"a flagrant violation of personal liberty, entirely at war 
with the spirit and genius 'of our institutions and a stain 
upon the legal code of the country;" and mentioned that 
the Secretary of "War had detailed competent engineers 
from the army to make surveys for one or more rail 
roads across the peninsula; "in view of its vast impor 
tance to the interests of Michigan," he suggested the 
propriety of paying for the same by an appropriation 
from the Territorial treasury. 

It was at this time that Lieutenant John M. Berrien 
became associated with the railway projects of Michigan 
in the capacity of a civil engineer, an association that 
lasted for many years, first for the State and later for the 
Michigan Central Eailroad Company when it had taken 
over its properties from State control. 

The Council in accordance with the recommendations 


of the Acting Governor promptly passed an Act to pro 
vide for the taking of a census of the inhabitants of the 
Territory east of the Mississippi River, the same to be 
taken between the first Monday of October and the first 
Monday of November following. 

Previous to this time the Territory now embraced 
within the State of Wisconsin had been laid out into the 
counties of Michilimackinac, Brown, Crawford and Iowa, 
the first named also including the northern portion of 
the peninsula of Michigan. Milwaukee County was now 
created and made to contain some 2,500 square miles of 
territory bordering upon Lake Michigan and the north 
ern boundary of Illinois. Of the territory west of the 
Mississippi, to which the Indian title had been extin 
guished, all south of a line drawn west from Rock Island 
to the Missouri River and north of the State of Missouri 
was constituted the County of Des Moines, while all north 
of such line was constituted the County of Dubuque, said 
counties respectively being given corporate existence as 
the townships of Flint, Hill and Julien. This work being 
completed during the first week of the session, at the 
expiration of that time the Council adjourned to the 
llth of November ; by that time it was expected the cen 
sus would be completed and it was hoped that the cholera 
epidemic would have subsided so that the public business 
might be attended to under conditions less gruesome 
and distressing. Adjournment was not taken, however, 
until the Council had given expression by resolution to 
its convictions on the question of the southern boundary 
and its right to form a Constitution and State govern 
ment whenever there were sixty thousand free inhabi 
tants in the Territory; and inasmuch as such provisions 


were a part of the Act of cession by which Virginia 
had ceded the Northwest to the Confederacy, the Council 
authorized the Acting Governor to communicate the reso 
lutions adopted to the Governor of that State to be by 
him laid before the House of Delegates with the request 
that they " require of the Government of the United 
States a strict compliance with the said Act of Cession 
and Ordinance, more particularly by abstaining from any 
legislation upon the subject of the northern boundary of 
Ohio, and that she will aid our inhabitants in maintain 
ing the integrity of the limits of the State or States 
to be formed north of the east and west line aforesaid." 

On September 10th Acting Governor Mason communi 
cated the resolutions to Hon. Littleton W. Tasewell, Gov 
ernor of Virginia, accompanying them with a personal 
letter giving a history of the controversy from its incep 
tion, and closing his review of the facts by saying : 

"Michigan feels justified in making an appeal to Vir 
ginia, in the fact that she is as it were, her offspring; 
springing from an act of disinterested and noble gener 
osity on the part of Virginia, she looks up to her as a 
parent, and feels a strong degree of confidence in the 
belief that her rights will be protected. 

"It is with pleasure, Sir, that I address you on this 
subject; from whom candor, impartiality and justice can 
confidently be expected, and if permitted in addition to 
my duties to the people of Michigan, I might allude to 
my own feelings, as a native of Virginia, in justifica 
tion of the zeal with which I urge a full examination and 
consideration of the subject by your Excellency, under a 
conviction that you will recommend to the Legislature 


of your State the adoption of such measures as will be 
consistent with -the rights of those interested." 

Governor Tasewell responded to the letter with a suav 
ity characteristic of the time. Writing of the letter 
received from Mason, he said : 

"In it you appeal to the justice of Virginia, and found 
your appeal a strong representation of the merits of the 
case. I could say nothing more and nothing half so well. 
It is due not less to you than to the cause of Michigan 
therefore that her claim should be presented in the very 
words of her own powerful advocate. 

"If I transcend the prescribed forms of official duty, 
to thank you for the spirit in which your letter is written, 
you, who feel that spirit, will excuse me. You style 
yourself 'a native of Virginia' and in the sentiments 
you utter, I not only recognize you as such, but as a 
descendant of those to whom we are indebted for much 
of that spirit which we still feel. When Virginia forgets 
a Mason worthy of his name, she will dishonor herself, 
and when a native Mason of that class forgets Virginia, 
he will do no less." 

The resolutions and some of the correspondence found 
their way into the journal of the Virginia House of Dele 
gates, but aside from the fact that they served as the 
occasion for the passage of some stilted compliments, 
they served no special purpose, for they brought no legis 
lative expression on the subject of the controversy. 

The cholera epidemic ended almost as abruptly as it 
began. From the 5th of August to the 1st of September, 
three hundred and nineteen victims had been claimed by 
the scourge; and on Wednesday, the 24th of the latter 


month, the people of the city observed a day of Thanks 
giving and prayer "for the mercy that had stayed the 
visitation. ' ' 

Acting Governor Mason with a couple of servants was 
still the sole tenant of the Mason home. To the absent 
sisters he wrote frequent letters in a half serious, half 
humorous vein that disclose characteristics at variance 
with those he was reputed to possess. To the younger 
sister Catherine, he wrote : 

"I suppose you have a surfeit of a fashionable city 
life and long once more to enjoy the quiet and comfort 
of your own home, which is at last the only place where 
true happiness is to be found. As for myself, give me 
the ease and simplicity of nature unalloyed by what are 
called the improvements in society, But what are to me 
the heartless and arbitrary regulations of men, made to 
play off ' such fantastic tricks as would make the angels 
weep. 7 The longer I live, the more I hate good society 
as it is now rated. Had I an empire of my own, I would 
as strictly quarantine the approach of fashion as I would 
that of a contagious fever; both are equally dangerous 
and one case of either thrown into a community, will soon 
spread over it, unless in the former instance the constitu 
tions of the citizens are strong enough to withstand dis 
ease, and in the latter, their heads sufficiently sound to 
resist the contagion of fashion. So recollect, you and 
Emily are to bring none of the exquisites of fashion con 
cealed in your frock sleeves, or I shall follow the recent 
example of Governor Hayne of South Carolina and con 
sider it my duty as Chief Magistrate of Michigan to issue 
a proclamation against your landing in the Territory. 


Commander of Michigan militia in the Black Hawk War. 

versity 1839. 

Regent of the Uni- 

Member of the National Commission to adjust the Ohio boundary dispute. 

Member of the National Commission to adjust the Ohio boundary dispute. 


He railed against the cholera and would have none of it. 
I'll have none of fashion modernized." 

The distinguished English author, Harriet Martineau, 
who was now in New York City, soon met the family of 
General Mason, by whom she was cordially invited to 
include Detroit in her itinerary and to make the Mason 
home her abiding place while there sojourning. This 
information communicated to Thomson brought a prompt 
letter to the sister Emily in which he says: "I have 
been daily standing in dread of the arrival of Miss Mar- 
tineau, who I am informed has been invited to take up 
her quarters with us during her stay in Detroit. I wish 
her no harm, but pray heaven she may never arrive. 
Imagine to yourself, Miss Martineau amongst us with our 
present household, Jemmy the dining room servant, and 
Ann, her waiting maid. An earthquake would not pro 
duce more terror amongst us than her presence. Every 
body about the house trembles at noise of a steamboat. 
Even the old gobbler in the yard seems frightened, for the 
knock of Miss Martineau at the door of our mansion is 
the knell of Ms departure 'to the place from which tur 
keys never return.' If a master's hopes, his servants 7 
petitions, and a gobbler's prayer will avail anything, 
heaven will send adverse winds to the vessel that bears 
Miss Martineau to our port. 7 ' 

Whether there was potency in the hopes, petitions, 
and prayers, to which reference was made, will never be 
known ; but from some cause the visit of Miss Martineau 
was delayed until the following June, when from her sub- 
sequently published work Society in America and Retro 
spect of Western Travel, it would seem that the impedi- 



ments in the way of her proper entertainment had passed 
away, and that from the home of the genial General she 
took away memories of the kindliest and most pleasing 




ON November llth the Council reconvened, and on 
the 18th the returns of the census of the counties 
east of Lake Michigan being completed, they were com 
municated to the Council in a special message from the 
Acting Governor. The completed census showed a popu 
lation of 85,856 within the Lower Peninsula, a number 
almost a third greater than that which the Ordinance 
of_ 1787 had fixed as a prerequisite for statehood and 
admission into the Union, and much larger than that 
possessed by any of the States that had previously been 
admitted to statehood from the Northwest. The message 
went fully into the question of the propriety of calling a 
Convention to frame a Constitution, and detailed at length 
the arguments in support of their right to do so. Now that 
Michigan proper had a population of sixty thousand, the 
Acting Governor in common with a large body of her 
citizens was firm in the belief that Congress would impose 
no objection to the admission of the State. To the mind 
of the Acting Governor, Michigan was now in position 
to avail herself of that provision of the fundamental 
Ordinance which said that * ' Such State shall be admitted 
by its delegates into the Congress of the United States on 
an equal footing with the original States, in all respects 
whatever, and shall be at liberty to form a permanent 
Constitution and State government/' This provision was 
quoted in the message with the emphasis indicated. The 


executive sought to make clear that the only discretion 
left for Congress to exercise is, to determine that our 
Constitution is republican. 

That Michigan might be free to work out her scheme 
of state building, the Acting Governor urged the impor 
tance of memorializing Congress to set off the country 
west of Lake Michigan under a separate and distinct 
Territorial government. The message closed with a par 
agraph indicating that its writer was not unmindful of 
the gravity of the program he was recommending, should 
it be followed. In his words : 

" * Constitutions are the work of time, not the invention 
of ingenuity,' and too much deliberation and reflection 
cannot in its formation be bestowed upon an instrument 
on which the future prosperity of our Territory and the 
happiness of her citizens may depend. When a nation is 
about to make a change in its political character, it 
behooves it to summon to its aid the experience of ages 
which have passed and the wisdom and talents of the 
present day, and to ascertain clearly those great princi 
ples of equal rights and sound policy which effectually 
secure the liberties and properties of the people. Such 
is the situation of Michigan at present. She is about to 
change her political character. Her citizens should 
reflect upon the important step they are about to take; 
and with the view of bringing before them the numerous 
questions of importance which the measure will involve, 
I most earnestly recommend the passage of such a law as 
I have suggested to your consideration. " 

On the day following, the 19th, Acting Governor Mason 
sent a second message to the Council in executive session, 
from which it appears that his program for " breaking 


into the Union' 7 was not the product of that youthful 
audacity that has been sometimes charged; but was 
rather in furtherance of a calculating and well-considered 
policy. Stevens T. Mason, young though he was, was not 
without a keen appreciation of the odds that were against 
the Territory of Michigan in the contest with Ohio. He 
realized not only the great power of Ohio alone, but that 
Indiana and Illinois were in sympathy with her cause; 
for they had projected their northern boundaries much 
further north of the Ordinance line than Ohio was now 
attempting, jealousy for their own. interests made them 
partisans of Ohio. He had observed enough of politics 
to know that the simple consciousness of standing for the 
right is a very unattractive reward in a contest of poli 
tics and expediency; and as Michigan was a Territory 
without electoral votes or political prestige, she had but 
little more than this reward of conscience to offer. In 
his message he said : 

"The general rights of Michigan to admission to the 
Union are fully understood by you. The only question 
of doubt in your minds can be whether you will immedi 
ately call a convention to form a Constitution and State 
government, or petition Congress at their next session to 
admit us into the Union as a sovereign and independent 
State. Under ordinary circumstances, the latter course 
would certainly be most to be preferred and should 
unquestionably be followed. It would prevent all col 
lision with the General Government, and could but be 
calculated to increase the common feeling of sympathy 
which is entertained by the different States of the Union. 
But when the dispute with Ohio is called in question, 
we have but one course to pursue. It is our policy to 


avoid, and if possible prevent all legislation whatever 
on the part of Congress on that important subject. Under 
present circumstances we must be satisfied that Congress 
if brought to the test, will decide the question against us. 
Our only hope of success is to delay their action until 
we become a State, when we can appeal for justice to 
the supreme judicial tribunal of the country and maintain 
the rights which are secured to us by the Ordinance of 
July 13, 1787. 

"No bill connected with the admission of Michigan can 
be carried through Congress without having cut off from 
us the country claimed by Ohio. This state of things 
would compel our delegates in Congress to turn about, 
and as a matter of duty to his constituents, endeavor 
to defeat the very act which you yourselves would ask 
to be enacted." 

It was in furtherance of this program that Elon Farns- 
worth, on November 21, introduced and later had passed 
a "resolution asking Congress in the interest of the emi 
grants settling west of Lake Michigan, to declare its 
intention towards that Territory, whether it purposed 
to erect it into an independent State or to admit it as a 
part of one State to be formed north of the Ordinance 
line. Likewise James D. Doty, member from Green 
Bay, submitted a report from the committee on Terri 
torial affairs, intended for the United States Congress, 
in which he graphically described the conditions west of 
Lake Michigan and made representations well calculated 
to induce that body to take action looking to the establish 
ment of an independent government in that region. Upon 
the adoption of this memorial a few days later, Mr. Doty 
made an ineffectual attempt to have the islands of Mack- 


inac and Bois Blanc included in the Territorial limits 
of the government sought to be created in the region west 
of Lake Michigan; the proposition commanded the sup 
port of only two western delegates and one from the 
county of Oakland. 

There were some members of the Council who still 
believed that it was possible to reach an amicable adjust 
ment of the perplexing boundary question. Through 
the efforts of Mr. Doty as the mover, a bill was framed 
giving authority to the Governor of the Territory to 
appoint three commissioners, with power to enter into 
negotiations with such commissioners as might be 
appointed by either of the States of Ohio, Indiana, or Illi 
nois, or with the Governors of such States, "to adjust 
and finally settle the northern boundary of such States 
or either of them." The bill ultimately became a law, 
but not until after a somewhat spirited contest/ Acting 
Governor Mason gave the measure his approval, not 
because he believed it would be the means of bringing 
about the adjustment contemplated, but because he knew 
that nothing would be lost thereby, and that some moral 
support might accrue to the Territorial cause by the 
refusal of Ohio to accede thereto. In this proffer of 
adjustment, Governor Lucas on the part of Ohio, refused 
to join, as he held, that inasmuch as Michigan was a 
Territory, her commissioners would be powerless to make 
an award that would be binding upon the State that would 
later supersede her temporary government. 

On December 31, the special ses&ion of the Council 
adjourned sine die, the second session of the sixth Legis 
lative Council convening on the 12th of January follow 
ing. On this occasion the message of the Acting Gov- 


ernor entered more exhaustively into the legal and his 
torical basis of the boundary controversy and the right of 
the people of the Territory to form a Constitution and 
State government, than had any previous communication 
to the Council. It likewise reiterated his well known views 
on the question of imprisonment for debt, which he stig 
matized as a " remnant of barbarity. 77 It suggested the 
propriety of memorializing Congress for an appropria 
tion for the erection of a marine' hospital at Detroit, a 
need which the National Government recognized in 1854, 
by the erection of the hospital which is still in use at that 
port. Mason had been tutored in the political school of 
Jelfersonian democracy and he looked with scant sym 
pathy upon legislation that tended to restrict the indi 
vidual initiative or confer special privileges. He looked 
upon corporations as sometimes being subject to both of 
these political evils, and so we find his message calling 
attention to the subject in the language of his school and 

"I would with diffidence, 77 he proceeds to say, "but 
with a conviction of the importance of the subject, call 
your attention to the impolicy of granting of private 
incorporation. By a reference to our statute book it will 
be seen that this system has been already carried to such 
an extent, that if persevered in, it cannot fail to fill our 
Territory with an innumerable multitude of irresponsible 
companies. It must be admitted that individual enter 
prise is greatly embarrassed and discouraged by a too 
general and indiscriminate creation of corporate privi 
leges. Individual enterprise and capital should be left 
free to operate, without having to contend against the 
consolidated wealth and power of oppressive moneyed 


monopolies. I respectfully suggest the importance of 
confining your legislation on this subject to such cases 
of enterprise originating for the public good as individ 
ual effort and capital would be inadequate to accom 

It was bills extending corporate privileges to partic 
ular companies that brought the only clash between the 
Council and the Executive. All acts of incorporation 
under the Territorial and early State period were special 
in their character; corporations were not incorporated 
under general laws until after the adoption of the Con 
stitution of 1850. Some of the Acts of incorporation 
passed by the Territorial Council sought to grant to the 
companies so incorporated exclusive privileges for long 
terms of years. All of such acts were vetoed by the 
Acting Governor, and he stated in a somewhat extended 
message on the subject that he considered such Acts "a 
departure from the principles of republican govern 
ment. ' ' 

As would be expected, the time of the Council was 
largely occupied with the issues presented by the contro 
versy with Ohio and the formation of a State govern 
ment. On January 26, after extended discussion, the 
Act to enable the people of Michigan to form a Constitu 
tion and State government became a law by receiving 
the signature of the Executive. Michigan was thus pro 
ceeding to do, without the consent of Congress, that 
which she had twice asked the consent of Congress that 
she might do. The act was preceded by a preamble 
which recited the historic facts upon which the Council 
predicated its right to proceed. It provided for a Con 
vention of eighty-nine delegates to be elected from six- 


teen districts. Wayne County, as the first district, led 
with seventeen delegates, while sixty-three of the dele 
gates were from the counties of Wayne, Monroe, Lena- 
wee, Washtenaw and Oakland and the counties attached 
to the two last mentioned counties for judicial purposes. 
The only qualifications required of a delegate were that 
he should be a citizen of the United States and twenty- 
one years of age. The right to vote at the election, which 
was fixed for Saturday the fourth day of the following 
April, was extended to all "the free white male inhabi 
tants of said Territory, above the age of twenty-one 
years, who shall reside therein three months immedi 
ately preceding " the date of the election. 

The delegates were to meet in convention at the Cap 
itol in the city of Detroit on the second Monday of May 
following, and the Territorial limits of the proposed 
State for which they were to provide a Constitution was 
declared to have its southern boundary at the i ' east and 
west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme 
of Lake Michigan " and its western boundary at a "lino 
drawn from said southerly bend through the middle of 
said lake to its northern extremity and thence due to 
the northern boundary of the United States." These 
were the original southern and western boundaries of 
Michigan Territoy as constituted in 1805. 

Ohio was now far from a disinterested observer of 
what was transpiring in the Michigan Council. If the 
ambitions of the people of Michigan were to be realized 
and they were to achieve statehood without first obtain 
ing congressional permission, then the question of bound 
ary would become a question for the courts rather than 
for Congress, and this Ohio did not desire. On February 


6 when Governor Bobert Lncas transmitted to the OMo 
Legislature the intelligence of the action of the Michigan 
Council in passing an Act providing for the appointment 
of commissioners to adjnst the controversy, together 
with his reasons for refusing to accept the offer, he at 
the same time recommended to the Legislature the pass 
age of an Act declaring "that all counties bordering on 
the northern boundary of the State of Ohio shall extend 
to and be bounded on the north by the line running from 
the southern extreme of Lake Michigan to the most 
northern cape of the Maumee Bay." On the 23rd of 
February the Ohio Legislature passed an act in con 
formity with the Governor's recommendations, extend 
ing the northern boundaries of Wood, Henry and Wil 
liams counties, to the " Harris line " and created 
the townships of Sylvania and Port Lawrence in the 
disputed Territory. Thfs Ohio was proceeding to 
take that which for thirty years she had, by ask 
ing Congress to give it to her, admitted was the 
territory of another. At the same time the Ohio Legis 
lature made provision for a commission to remark the 
"Harris line," while it adopted resolutions declaring 
among other things that "It ill becomes a million of free 
men to humbly petition, year after year, for what justly 
belongs to them, and is completely within their control." 
But Michigan statesmen were equal to the occasion. 
The news of Governor Lucas 7 recommendations to the 
Ohio Legislature no sooner reached Detroit than a bill 
was introduced in the Council which became a law on the 
12th of February, making it unlawful for any person to 
exercise official functions within the Territory or any 
county therein as then organized, or to accept office within 


the limits of tlie Territory other than from the authority 
of the Territory of Michigan or the United States; the 
penalty for the violation of this law was fixed at a fine 
not exceeding one thousand dollars or by imprisonment 
not exceeding five years. 

Upon the passage of this law, the Territorial Council 
took a recess until March 16 to await developments and 
to allow a select committee time to formulate such legis 
lation as might be necessary to facilitate the change from 
the Territorial to the State government. 

In the interim, no man in Michigan was more active 
than the young Acting Governor. He was in almost daily 
conference with the officials of the Territory and in corre 
spondence with the President and those in high authority. 
As early as February 28, General Joseph Brown, who 
at the time was an officer under the authority of the 
United States, was given a coftimission as Brigadier Gen 
eral of the Territorial militia and instructions as to 
action to be taken, when he should learn of the passage 
of the contemplated law on the part of Ohio, extending 
her northern boundary. 

Two days later, the news of such action being com 
municated, Acting Governor Mason, as Commander-in- 
Chief, issued a circular to the brigade commanders, 
ordering them to hold themselves in readiness to obey 
the orders of Brigadier General Brown. Orders from 
General Brown now followed in quick succession, and 
the Territorial militia was soon in readiness for the fray. 
As the Executive and Legislature of Ohio proceeded in 
the prosecution of their plan, the young Acting Governor 
of Michigan promptly forwarded notice of their acts, 
with copies of proceedings to the President at Washing- 


ton, and asked Ms counsel and instructions. But the 
authorities at the Capitol were slow to act. Ohio now 
had twenty-one electoral votes, Indiana and Illinois had 
fourteen more, Michigan had none. This made it neces 
sary to approach the case with the utmost caution. 

On March 21 Acting Governor Mason, having received 
no reply to his numerous communications, dispatched 
his aide, Colonel Norvell, as a special messenger to Wash 
ington to request of the President his interposition and 
defense of the rights of the Territory. He was followed 
on the 25th by an extended memorial from the members 
of the Council addressed to the President in person, 
wherein they temperately reviewed the claims of Mich 
igan and the aggressions of Ohio and pledged themselves 
to "cheerfully submit" their rights to the " decision of 
the Supreme Court of the United States, and not only 
endeavor not to procrastinate its action, but to use all 
in their power to obtain the earliest decision/' the 
memorial closing with a personal appeal to the President, 
that in style is strongly indicative of the fashioning hand 
of the Acting Governor. "We are aware, Sir," it con 
cludes, "of all we ask and of the high responsibility it 
involves. But we are aware also that we appeal to a 
Chief Magistrate, who during a long life devoted to the 
public service, has, by splendid examples of patriotism 
and firmness, shown that he shrinks from no duty which 
the Constitution and laws impose upon him; and satis 
fied we are that if our cause is right, and if our views 
of Executive obligations are correct, you will not look 
to the relative strength or weakness of the parties, but 
to an impartial performance of the high functions com 
mitted to you." 


On March 28 the Territorial Council adjourned, and 
five days later Acting Governor Mason repaired to Mon 
roe to be near the scene o'f action. The Michigan parti 
sans at Toledo had petitioned the Territorial Council 
and a law had been passed changing the place of holding 
the township meeting from Port Lawrence or Toledo to 
the " school house on Ten Mile Creek Prairie. 7 ' Here 
the Michigan partisans met on the 1st of April and 
elected Michigan officials, while the Ohio partisans which 
were more numerous assembled at Port Lawrence and 
elected officials to act under the laws of Ohio. Governor 
Lucas and staff arrived at Perrysburg on the 2nd of 
April. General John Bell in command of the Ohio militia 
at once began active operations for the organization of 
his force. A few companies had arrived from a distance 
and volunteers were sought to make up the numerical 
strength desired. For many years the citizens of Perrys 
burg recalled the stirring scenes of this military experi 
ence; and more prominent in memory than the forms 
of generals in gold braid and tinsel was that of "Big 
Odle," a local character, of giant-like proportions, who, 
arrayed in a rifleman's green cloth coat, homespun, and 
bark-dyed trousers, each trimmed in black lace, marched 
up and down the one long street of the village, vigor 
ously beating a drum which seemed a toy in contrast 
with his exceptional size; while the purpose of his activ 
ity was told by a sign pinned to his tall narrow rimmed 
white hat, which bore the ominous legend, "Recruiting 
for war." 

The Michigan authorities with less demonstrations but 
with equal determination, were preparing to resist any 
attempts on the part of Ohio to exercise jurisdiction 


nor tla of the Fulton line. General Brown had at first 
called out a numerous force of the Territorial militia, 
but Acting Governor Mason had urged the necessity of 
first exhausting the powers of the civil authority before 
calling upon the militia and so the greater part of the 
force that had been called to Monroe was allowed to 
return home. Mason was of the opinion that the posse 
comitatus would answer the preliminary stages of the 
contest, and he had hopes, as he wrote General Brown, 
that a small force on the part of the Territory might 
induce "Old Governor Lucas" to enter the disputed terri 
tory and exercise some official function that would sub 
ject him to prosecution under the law of February 12; 
then the civil officers of Monroe County, with a sufficient 
posse, could effect his arrest, a coup that would cer 
tainly have given great pleasure to the people of Mich 
igan, even though it would have had no influence in 
the settlement of the controversy. 

Public interest in the contest was now at high pitch. 
The press of the country was giving extended space to 
the controversy, and the President was now seemingly 
impressed by the gravity of the situation. Early in 
March he had laid the matter before Benjamin F. Butler, 
the Attorney General, for his opinion as to the power 
and duties of the Executive to interfere therein. The 
Attorney General, after a careful examination of the 
question, had rendered an opinion which practically sus 
tained the position of the Territory of Michigan, and 
denied the right of Ohio to exercise jurisdiction north 
of the Fulton line until Congress, or some competent 
tribunal, should extend the boundary to the line desired. 
The opinion likewise, held that the act of the Territorial 


Council, in penalizing the attempt to exercise a foreign 
jurisdiction within the limits of the Territory, was within 
the power of the Council, and had the binding force of 
law until annulled by Act of Congress. "In any prose 
cutions which may be instituted, there is danger that 
forcible resistance may be made to the due execution of 
process," proceeds the opinion. In that case, said the 
Attorney General, "contingencies may occur which 
would demand the active interposition of the President." 
To avert these contingencies, the Attorney General gave 
direction to the thought that the President might have 
recourse to persuasion and remonstrance with Ohio 
"until some act shall be committed on their part, involv 
ing a practical violation of the Constitution or laws of 
the United States," while it was pointed out that the 
execution of the laws of the Territory of Michigan could 
in a measure be controlled by superseding the official, 
active for their enforcement, for one less zealous and 
energetic. Such a suggestion was quite extrinsic of exec 
utive duties in the premises, and was what John Quincy 
Adams styled the "perfume" of the thirty-five electoral 
votes of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. The President evi 
dently thought to try the powers of persuasion and 
remonstrance as the first palliative, and to this end on 
March 24 he named Richard Bush of Philadelphia and 
Benjamin C. Howard of Baltimore, both gentlemen of 
eminent abilities, as mediators between the contending 
parties. Acting Governor Mason received prompt notice 
of the action of the President as well as a copy of the 
opinion of the Attorney General. On April 2 he wrote 
Governor Lucas a respectful letter, assuring him that the 
people of Michigan would surrender no portion of their 


Baptist minister, Chaplain to Congress, Superintendent Public Instruction for 
Michigan 1843-1845, Member of State Legislature in 1849, 


Member of first State Constitutional Convention. Member of the State Legis 
lature 180941, and later held various State offices. 



rightful jurisdiction and added "I feel confident that you 
must personally know the character of the people of 
Michigan and will do them justice to believe that this 
determination has not been made from passion or with 
out reflection." The letter likewise conveyed informa 
tion as to the appointment of mediators by the President, 
and suggested that it was due to the country, to the Presi 
dent, and to the parties themselves, that all operations 
should be suspended by Ohio until their arrival. This 
message was delivered to Governor Lucas by Colonels 
John Winder and Isaac S. Rowland, special messengers, 
but the irascible Governor made no reply, other than to 
verbally inform the messengers that Ohio would accept 
no mediation, as her course was determined and that 
he had written the President the true statement of the 
situation which he had no doubt would induce the United 
States Government to desist from any interference in 
the controversy. But the commisisoners were near at 
hand; by traveling night and day they were enabled to 
reach Toledo on the 3rd of April. In diplomatic fashion, 
they at once set about the performance of their mission. 
The results they achieved were anything but satisfactory. 
They found Acting Governor Mason willing to give 
assurance of peaceful conduct so long as the authorities 
of Ohio kept out of the disputed territory; but when 
they sought to persuade Governor Lucas to be satisfied 
with such action as his State had already taken and to 
leave the question to the final determination of Con 
gress, they were met with his firm refusal. He was 
insistent that the "Harris line" should be re-marked as 
the northern boundary of the State. 
Eeluctantly the commissioners returned to Acting Gov- 


ernor Mason, to say what they had hoped not to be 
obliged to say, that the President desired the non-enforce 
ment of the Territorial Act of February 12. The inti 
mation was couched in the most diplomatic language, 
but it brought a most prompt and spirited answer from 
the young Acting Governor, who characterized the propo 
sition of using the removing power to prevent the 
enforcement of the law as an "act of executive usurpa 
tion and tyranny which would place every department of 
the government within the despotic control of a single 
officer." Mason was a great admirer of the President, 
and it was not without some effort that he took a position 
in opposition to what he believed was his desire. On 
April 18 he wrote General Cass saying: "I owe much 
to General Jackson, and it pains me to think I may be 
adopting a course of policy contrary to his wishes" but 
his letter made it plain that if the President deemed it 
imprudent to carry out the views of Messrs. Rush and 
Howard, it would be necessary for another to be 
appointed to his place; in which event, said he, "I will 
submit to my fate without a murmur, and indeed even be 
satisfied with the result." It soon became evident that 
as long as he remained Acting Governor, the law would 
be rigorously enforced. Governor Lucas disbanded his 
army, but the commissioners and surveyors made ready 
to re-mark the Harris line; while the local officials, 
elected under Ohio laws, qualified for the discharge of 
their official functions. The authorities of Monroe 
County were soon on the ground armed with warrants 
and backed with a numerous posse, and such Ohio officials 
as did not betake themselves to the south of the Fulton 
line were promptly marched off to jail. The commission- 


ers and surveyors were proceeding eastward from the 
northwest corner of Ohio on the Harris line and were 
allowed to get well within the County of Lenawee when 
Under-Sheriff William McNair appeared upon the scene 
accompanied with a posse approaching the size of a com 
pany of militia. Nine of the party were placed under 
arrest and taken to Tecumseh to answer to the complaints 
against them. The three commissioners and the surveyor 
found safety in flight; and someone of the Michigan 
party, to increase their speed, fired a gun above their 
heads, which had every effect that could have been 
desired. The arrival of this party at Perrysburg with 
a tale of hair-breadth escape was the cause of intense 
excitement throughout Ohio. The President, upon the 
complaint of Governor Lucas, called for a report of the 
proceeding, which in time was made by Under-Sheriff 
McNair. He denied that he was accompanied by the mili 
tia, and concluded by saying, "I am also happy to inform 
your Excellency that the commissioners made good time 
on foot through the cotton-wood swamp and arrived safe 
at Perrysburg the next morning, with nothing more seri 
ous than the loss of hats, and their clothing, like Gover 
nor Morey's breeches, without the patch." 

Of the parties arrested, two were discharged, six 
admitted to bail and one, Colonel Fletcher, refusing to 
give bail, was committed to the custody of the Sheriff, 
it being claimed at the time that he acted under instruc 
tions of Governor Lucas so that it might be claimed to 
the citizens of Ohio that their brethren were languishing 
in the jails of Michigan. 

The news of the arrest of the surveying party, supple 
mented in Ohio with all the details of a murderous attack, 


even with the slow means of communication, soon spread 
over the country, and in the communities most interested 
the greatest of excitement prevailed. Messrs. Rush and 
Howard sharing in the belief that civil war was immi 
nent, renewed their efforts for a pacific adjustment of 
the difficulty that should preserve the public peace until 
the assembling of Congress when the matter could again 
be submitted to its deliberation. 

The terms proposed by the commissioners to Governor 
Lucas were : 

1. That the pending prosecutions under the Act of Feb 

ruary 12, 1835 should be discharged and discon 

2. That no prosecutions should be commenced. 

3. That Harris' line should be run and re-marked by the 

authorities of Ohio without interruption from 
those of Michigan. 

4. That no forcible opposition be made by the authori 

ties of Ohio or Michigan to the exercise of juris 
diction by the other upon the disputed territory 
within the time specified; the citizens residing 
upon the territory in question resorting to one 
jurisdiction or the other, as they might prefer. 

As would be expected, Governor Lucas was willing to 
accept this proposition. The first three propositions con 
ceded to Ohio all that she should claim, while the fourth 
proposition granted to that State a concurrent jurisdic 
tion in the Territory, where, under existing conditions, 
she was unable to support one. For the very reasons 
that the proposals were acceptable to Governor Lucas 


and the people of Ohio, they were highly unacceptable to 
the people of Michigan and Acting Governor Mason, who 
styled the terms "dishonorable and disreputable." He 
was willing to withdraw all opposition to the re-marking 
of the Harris line, and the Constitutional Convention 
then in session on June 1 received from a committee of 
which John Norvell was chairman, a resolution expres 
sive of that position and the famous "Appeal from the 
Convention to the People of the United States, elabo 
rately presenting the claims and arguments of the Terri 
tory upon the question of the southern boundary. 

Governor Lucas now called a special session of the 
Ohio Assembly which convened on the 18th of June. An 
intimation from the President to the effect that he 
"might find it necessary to interfere with the power of 
the United States, if Ohio persisted in running the line 
with an armed escort " had rendered the old Governor 
just a little uncertain of his ground, and to the Assembly 
he sent the correspondence with special recommenda 
tions. The Assembly proceeded to create the county of 
Lucas, including Toledo in its limits and made provisions 
for the meeting of the Court of Common Pleas at that 
place on the 7th of the following September and for the 
election of county officers in October. It voted to 
abide by the proposals of Messrs. Eush and Howard on 
condition that the General Government would compel 
Michigan to do .the same; but evidently distrusting Michi 
gan's acquiescence in a scheme that required all the sac 
rifice to be made by her and giving all the benefits to 
Ohio, it enacted a law against kidnappers, designed to 
offset the Michigan law against the exercise of foreign 
jurisdiction. It likewise appropriated $300,000, subject 


to the discretion of the Governor, with which to main 
tain the supremacy of their laws in the disputed terri 
tory. The calling of this special session of the Assembly 
did not tend to the quieting of the apprehension which 
existed both at home and at Washington, and Governor 
Lucas found it expedient to send commissioners to Wash 
ington to assert his own pacific intentions. Ohio soon 
began to carry out the proposed concurrent jurisdiction; 
and Michigan began more rigorously to enforce the law 
against the exercise of foreign jurisdiction. Major 
Stickney was an ardent partisan of Ohio and as an officer 
under the laws of that State, he was placed under arrest 
and the story was long told of how refusing to walk, 
he was placed astride a horse while a stalwart Wolverine 
held on to either leg, tiring of which they finally tied 
his legs beneath the horse's body and thus brought him 
a captive to Monroe. About the same time the attempted 
arrest of Two Stickney a son of Major Stickney, resulted 
in his stabbing the Deputy Sheriff, Joseph Wood. Two 
fled to Ohio, and when indicted by the grand jury of 
Monroe, Governor Lucas refused to deliver him on requi 
sition, as he claimed that the offense was committed 
within the territorial limits of Ohio. 

This affair was the occasion of renewed excitement, 
and on the 18th of July the Sheriff of Monroe with a 
posse of two hundred and fifty armed men proceeded to 
Toledo and placed eight officials under arrest; while 
others made haste for Perrysburg, where Ohio's jurisdic 
tion was more efficiently maintained, if not so vehem 
ently proclaimed as at Toledo. Letters from the Secre 
tary of State at Washington now persuaded Acting Gov 
ernor^ Mason to convene the Territorial Council and lay 


the proposals of Messrs. Rush and Howard before that 
body. It assembled on August 17 and as promptly 
rejected the proposals as had the Acting Governor. The 
people were now looking forward to the approaching 7th 
of September when the Ohio Court of Common Pleas 
was to convene for its first session in the newly formed 
county of Lucas. Rumors of military preparations on 
the part of Ohio to sustain the Court were soon rife at 
Detroit and only aroused the people to a more firm deter 
mination to uphold their own jurisdiction and to prevent 
what to them was the insolence of power. 



FOLLOWING the death of Governor Porter, the posi 
tion of Governor was never filled. Henry D. Gilpin 
of Pennsylvania was nominated by the President for the 
place; but there was at the time a breach between the 
President and the Senate growing out of the removal of 
the public deposits from the United States Bank, and as 
Mr. Gilpin at the time of that difficulty was United States 
Attorney of Pennsylvania, some of his acts in connection 
with the matter made him obnoxious to the Senate and 
his nomination ^as rejected. There were many poli 
ticians ambitious for the appointment, and perhaps their 
very number was a factor in no one's being appointed 
and young Mason's being left as the executive head of the 

During the winter of 1834-5 General John T. Mason 
had been' in Washington in frequent conference with the 
President and other gentlemen connected with the admin 
istration. In early March he was in Cincinnati ready to 
take the first boat that would bear him to New Orleans 
on another journey to distant Mexico. With him this 
time was the wife and mother whose failing health had 
made it expedient that she seek new scenes and a change 
of climate. While the father was yet at Cincinnati, the 
son wrote him frequently for advice and counsel in the 
boundary controversy, both as to the legal principles 
involved and the policy to be pitrsuecl. The father 


answered in letters filled with, helpful suggestions always 
counseling moderation in the means to be employed and 
firmness in the manner of execution. At this time the 
Territorial governorship was still undecided and among 
those who were being urged upon the attention of the 
President f jom the Territory were Colonel Mack,, at that 
time Marshal of tlje Territory, and young Mason. The 
father in writing of the subject made use of observations 
that find application to many a case in this day as well 
as to the particular case to which they were addressed, 
"I must repeat,'' wrote the father, "the maxim 'Save 
me from my friends, I can take care of my enemies. 7 
Your friends from various motives, and some very inter 
ested, urged you upon the President, and placed him in 
a very embarrassing attitude. He was doubtful of the 
propriety of nominating you on account of your age, and 
from apprehension of the Senate seizing hold of that 
pretext to reject you, which in my opinion they would 
have done in order to mortify the President, knowing 
his partiality and fondness for you.". The father 
adverted at length to the advantages of his position as 
Secretary from which he could step into any position in 
the coming State government without feeling that he had 
been superseded by another. He also emphasized the 
desirability of professional success and the danger of 
losing sight of that attainment in the love of political 
preferment, and put in succinct form an observation that 
unhappily has been common in all history: 

" Politics," said he, "are very fascinating, but alto 
gether delusive; and I think a poor broken down poli 
tician the most miserable of society. Even one honorably 
retiring is soon forgotten, and he sickens from neglect. 


I have seen so much of this unprofitable life that I look 
upon your course as full of hazards and disappointments, 
as that of every politician must be. But take cure not 
to progress too rapidly and be not ambitious of promo 
tion. When it comes regularly and unsought for, it has 
some stability and secures a foundation to build on." 

"You stand infinitely higher as Secretary and Acting 
Governor," he concluded, "than if you were Governor 
because less is expected from you. y ' 

The sister, Emily Virginia, a belle of twenty years, 
was now the mistress of the house, entertaining the 
brother's guests and doing the honors of the home. Not 
a little of the brother's growing popularity in these days 
could be traced to the graces and accomplishments of this 
talented sister. She had just returned from a season at 
Washington, where she had found delight in the debates 
participated in by Webster, Clay, Calhoun and the other 
congressional celebrities of that day; and where to use 
her own language, "I came to know the lovely Madame 
Servier of the French Legation, Sir Charles Vaughan 
and Mr. Pakingham of the English Embassy and Mr. 
Calderon de la Barca, whose charming wife T found again 
in Paris and Madrid after many years." 

No brother ever had a sister more loyal to his ambi 
tions than did Tom Mason. She entered into the ques 
tions of politics with an interest that was almost per 
sonal, and many a document of his compiling gained 
in perspicuity from her criticism and suggestion, for she 
says, "I was always saying to Thomson, 'Use fewer 
words.' " 

At the conclusion of the cholera outbreak of the year 


previous, the good Father Kundig was persuaded by the 
Wayne County Board of Supervisors to remove the poor 
creatures that fortune had left under his charge, to the 
Wayne County Poorhouse, which was then approaching 
completion two miles out on the Gratiot road, and to 
likewise become the Superintendent of that institution, 
the first of its kind in the Territory. Under the foster 
ing care of this kindhearted and esthetic priest, this 
abode of misery was transformed into a place of many 
charms. "We made it our frequent drive," wrote the 
sister Emily, "to take clothing and dainties to his sick 
poor, and obliged our beaux to buy the bouquets intended 
for us from his garden." 

Political activities within the Territory had heretofore 
been largely individual in character; the most potent 
single influence being centered in the person of Hon. 
Lewis Cass whose sagacity, broad tolerance and strong 
personality had done much to win favor for the princi 
ples of the Democratic-Republican party; but as yet no 
strong central organization had arisen to give unity of 
effort in support of the principles of either party. How 
ever, the growth of population and the prospect of 
enlarged political responsibilities were now making such 
organizations both desirable and inevitable. Most of 
the offices of the Territory were filled with Democratic- 
Republicans, and they quite naturally took the initiative 
in the formation of an organization that would be in touch 
with, the most distant parts of the Territory. A prelim 
inary gathering at Detroit was followed by the first Terri 
torial Convention, which assembled on the 29th and was 
continued to the 30th of January, 1835, At this Conven- 


tion Democrats paid eloquent tribute "to tlie rights of 
freemen/ 7 selected the machinery of a central organiza 
tion, and put it in motion. 

The Whigs were prompt in following the example of 
their adversaries. They soon had a series of county 
meetings called at which later delegates were chosen 
and the Democrats roundly denounced for doing what 
the Whigs were themselves about to do, namely, hold a 
Territorial Convention and perfect a central organiza 
tion. The Whig Territorial Convention was held on the 
4th and 5th of March following, at which time after 
effecting their own organization they proceeded after the 
custom of the time to speak their mind through a series 
of resolutions, among which the following is not without 
interest : 

"Resolved, That we have witnessed with regret the 
premature and unnecessary introduction into this Terri 
tory, by the officers and stipendiaries of the General 
Government, of a system of party organization in per 
fect subserviency to the plain of executive control in 
advance of our becoming a State, with no other object 
that we can perceive, than to secure the selfish nomina 
tion of political managers and to entail upon the future 
State of Michigan the perpetual control of party disci 
pline and party leaders. 7 ' 

The political forces were thus marshaled for the April 
election when delegates to the Constitutional Convention 
were to be chosen. The Whig press from the first had 
taken the position that the calling of the Convention was 
wholly without warrant of legal authority and conse 
quently the Whigs entered the contest with the handicap 
of a lack of enthusiasm added to a normal majority 


against them. The Democrats on the other hand were 
enthusiastic for the convention program and succeeded 
in electing a large majority of the delegates. On the llth 
of May the Convention assembled at the Capitol, the 
largest representative body that had ever assembled in 
the history of the Territory. The personnel of the Con 
vention was of a high order. Among the names of the 
delegates are seen those of many men who became well 
known in State and Nation, among them Edward Mundy, 
Eandolph Manning, John S. Barry, John Norvell, John 
E. Williams, William Woodbridge, John Biddle, Robert 
McClelland, Eoss WilMns, Isaac E. Crary, and Lucius 
Lyon, while the names of two score more of those who 
achieved lesser fame could be given whose abilities were 
in no measure second to their most distinguished col 
leagues. Although the Democrats, as has been said, 
strongly predominated in its membership, the Conven 
tion, organized by selecting John Biddle, a Whig in poli 
tics, as its president, and Charles W. Whipple and Mar 
shall J. Bacon were chosen as secretaries. On the 13th, 
on motion of Edward D. Ellis of Monroe, the president 
appointed a committee of 'nineteen to prepare the draft 
of a Constitution. When this committee convened, it 
was beset with the same difficulty that had confronted 
the full Convention ; and so it was that Ellis, the chair 
man, Townsend E. Gidley, and two or three others, 
secretly met and prepared the draft of a Constitution 
which was accepted by the whole commitee and presented 
to the Convention on the 19th. That body in the mean 
time, having- formally organized, selected its various 
committees and spent considerable time in discussing the 
advisability of opening the daily session with prayer, a 


proposition that was at once defeated by a vote of 43 to 
42, but ultimately was adopted by a vote of 45 to 37. 
The work of the Convention from day to day was ani 
mated and earnest, but the journal discloses that the Con 
vention was not without members who had evolved ideas 
both quaint and curious, which they desired to incorpo 
rate in the Constitution of their State, such as prohibit 
ing all ministers of the gospel from holding office ; pro 
hibiting the collection of debts by process of law; making 
all debts, debts of honor, etc. William Woodbridge was 
at the same time the most active of what might be termed 
the opposition members of the Convention. Isaac Crary 
of Marshall was chairman of the committee on education, 
and from his hand came the draft of the constitutional 
provisions which were the basis of the excellent school 
system of the State. 

The cherished provision of Acting Governor Mason, 
abolishing imprisonment for debt, was lost by a vote of 
43 to 37, while a provision offered by "Woodbridge, evi 
dently with more intent to forestall the ambitions of 
young Mason than to accomplish any general good, to 
the effect that no man should be eligible to the office of 
Governor who had not reached the age of thirty years, 
was defeated by a vote of 59 to 19. 

The question of most bitter contest in the "Convention 
involved the proposition of the elective franchise. Michi 
gan had but recently become the home of many people 
of foreign birth who had not yet become citizens of the 
United States. Such immigrants were almost wholly 
from England,- Ireland and Scotland. They had been 
allowed to vote for members of the Convention, which 
was considered no innovation, as the Ordinance of 1787 


had not required voters to be citizens. There were many 
who believed that they should be given the right of fran 
chise in the new government, as they had enjoyed it in the 
old; but there was perhaps a stronger reason for the 
contest than any other question of principle. The British 
immigrant was inclined to the principles of the Demo 
cratic or Eepublican party as opposed to those of the 
Whig party, and therefore his cause was championed by 
the one and opposed by the other. The original draft 
of the Constitution had contained restrictive provisions 
on the right of franchise and numerous amendments had 
already been proposed, when -with the purpose of recon 
ciling divergent views a secret meeting was called for 
the evening of May 26 at the home of John Norvell. 
At the time appointed John Norvell, Issac Crary, Ross 
Wilkins, John McDonnell and John J. Adam attended as 
did also Acting Governor Mason, who was far from a 
disinterested observer of the proceedings of the Conven 
tion, and who attended by invitation of the other gentle 
men to give his views on the question in controversy. 
After extended discussion, it was Mason who suggested 
the proposition in the form in which it went into the 
Constitution, that is, giving the rights of an elector "to 
every white male citizen above the ages of twenty-one 
years, having resided in the State six months next pre 
ceding any election" and "to every white male inhabi 
tant of the age aforesaid who may be a resident of this 
State at the time of the signing of this Constitution." 
These suggestions were finally accepted and it was 
agreed that both Norvell and Wilkins should withdraw 
amendments which they had pending and that all should 
stand for the amendment embodied in Mason's sugges- 


tions which was accordingly done. This action awoke 
the vigorous opposition of the "Whig press, and William 
Woodbridge. Michael Dousman, Bela Chapman and 
Townsend E. Gidley on June 4 had their solemn protest 
against the provision entered in the journal of the Con 

At about this time the Secretary of War, Lewis Cass, 
was the guest of his old home, and on June 2 presented 
to the forthcoming State through its Convention a seal 
which he had had engraved for the purpose. The pic 
torial design was undoubtedly suggested by the design of 
the seal of the old Northwest Fur Company, while the 
inscription, "Si Quaeris Peninsulam Amoenam Circum- 
spice" (If you would see a beautiful peninsula look 
around you) was unquestionably suggested by the con 
cluding words of the inscription in St. Paul's Cathedral, 
to the memory of Sir Christopher Wren, its great 
designer and builder, "Lector, si monumentum quaeris, 
circumspice" (Eeader, if thou seekest his monument, 
look around). 

Perhaps quite as important in the estimate of the Con 
vention at the time as the shaping of the Constitution 
itself was the preparation and adoption of a report of a 
committee of which John Norvell was chairman which 
was given the title of "The Appeal by the Convention 
of Michigan to the people of the United States." It 
was a document of 176 pages designed to give the Presi 
dent and Congress full information of the issue involved 
in the boundary controversy and to likewise serve as an 
appeal to the moral sense of the nation. 

The Convention adjourned without day June 24, hav 
ing been in session thirty-eight days. The law creating 







From a painting- in Detroit Art Museum, 


the Convention had left the question of compensation 
to the discretion of the Convention, and the members 
modestly voted themselves three dollars per day and 
three dollars for each twenty miles traveled by each mem 
ber in coming to and returning from the seat of govern 
ment. The completion of the Convention's work was sig 
nalized at the capital by the boom of cannon and by a 
display of fireworks in the evening; but evidently all 
were not pleased, for the leading Whig journal of the 
Territory said editorially, "If such a Constitution so 
manifestly repugnant to the safety of the Union and to 
the spirit of our National compact shall receive the sanc 
tion of Congress, then may our country with all her glori 
ous institutions be soon numbered with those unhappy 
Eepublics ' whose glory has departed. ' ' ' 

Aside from the fact that the Constitution gave the 
right of voting to all free adult white male inhabitants 
who were residents of Michigan, as heretofore stated, 
the instrument contained no peculiar political features. 
It contained the usual bill of rights; legislative power 
was vested in a Senate and House of Eepresentatives, 
the latter to contain never more than one hundred nor 
less than forty-eight members and the former in number 
always to be composed as near as might be of one- 
third the membership of the House. Executive power 
was vested in the Governor, or Governor and Senate, 
with a veto power in the former over the acts of the 
Legislature. The judiciary was to consist of one 
Supreme Court and such other courts as the Legislature 
might from time to time establish; except that express 
provision was made for probate courts and justices of 
the peace. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor were 


each elected for terms of two years. State officers were 
made appointive by the Governor to be confirmed by 
the Senate except the State Treasurer who was to be 
selected by the two houses in joint session, while the 
Superintendent of Public Instruction was to be chosen 
by the two houses in joint session on the nomination of 
the Governor. County and township officers, both judi 
cial and ministerial, were made elective. 

State officers were subject to impeachment for criminal 
and corrupt conduct ; and in case of judicial officers where 
the misconduct was not such as to support impeachment, 
they were to be removed by the Governor upon the 
address of two-thirds of each branch of the Legislature. 

Slavery and involuntary servitude were forbidden, 
except as punishment for crime, of which the party had 
been duly convicted. Acts of incorporation required the 
assent of at least two-thirds of each house of the Legisla 
ture. Lotteries were forbidden, as was the granting of 
divorce by the Legislature. The prevailing opinion on 
the subject internal improvements was emphasized by a 
provision enjoining it as a duty on the Legislature "as 
soon as may be, to make provision by law for ascertain 
ing the proper objects of improvement in relation to 
roads, canals, and navigable waters. 7 ' 

Judge James V. Campbell, whose name will ever stand 
well towards the top among the names of Michigan jur 
ists, has paid the Constitution of 1835 the highest compli 
ment by saying that it "was very simple and very much 
better adapted to the changing necessities of a growing 
State than the present one. While it restrained such 
abuses as it thought would be dangerous, it left the 
Legislature broad discretion. All who have had much to 


do with studying and construing the two instruments, 
have discovered that, while a few restrictions concerning 
finances and internal improvements have been found 
beneficial an necessary, the bulk of the special legislation 
contained in the Constitution of 1850 has been a hind- 
drance, and not an advantage." 

By the schedule of the Constitution, the instrument was 
to be submitted for ratification or rejection of the people 
on the first Monday of October next ensuing and on the 
succeeding day, at which time there was to be elected a 
Governor, Lieutenant Governor, members of the State 
Legislature and a representative in the Congress of the 
United States. The Legislature was to meet on the first 
of November following, and the Governor and Lieutenant 
Governor were to hold their respective offices until Janu 
ary 1, 1838. 

Politics had as yet caused no division in public senti 
ment in the Territory on the boundary question. Parti 
sans of all shades of political belief had found common 
ground in the issue presented by the controversy; but 
the "Whig press, while supporting the main proposition, 
was grudging in its commendation of the men and means 
by which it was forwarded. When the Acting Governor 
sent his message to the special session of the Council 
on the 17th of August, one of the leading Whig papers 
paid it the compliment of being "on the whole a very tol 
erable production/ 7 and then proceeded to intimate that 
because of its excellence it must have been the produc 
tion of another than the Executive. The Constitutional 
Convention and the Constitution produced were likewise 
either actively opposed or "damned by faint praise " by 
the press of the opposition, although an overwhelming 


sentiment for statehood compelled support of the main 

Stevens T. Mason was now the popular idol of the 
Territory, and it was anything but gratifying to those 
who had ridiculed, slandered and maligned him to see 
that his popularity was based upon a continuing course 
of prudent official conduct, and that circumstances were 
now conspiring to place him at the head of the affairs 
of the forthcoming State. 

The situation in Michigan was not without embarrass 
ing features for the President and his administration. 
The proposed State had every lawful and Constitutional 
claim for admission. Her population, already much more 
than sufficient, was daily growing from an almost con 
tinuous stream of homeseekers from the East. The most 
prominent lawyers in Congress had already declared 
the subject of the southern boundary to be a question for 
the courts rather than for Congress. The Attorney Gen 
eral had given it as his opinion that the Territorial Exec 
utive was within his rights and consequently within his 
duty in the enforcement of laws of the Territory, among 
which was the law forbidding the exercise of foreign 
jurisdiction. But the assertion of these claimed rights 
by Michigan in all their detail meant the humiliation 
of Ohio, with a precedent to be used against the States 
of Indiana and Illinois. Expediency therefore dictated 
that the matter be adjusted by Congress, and until that 
should be done, Michigan should be the one to yield. To 
this end the administration was desirous that in some 
manner the Territorial law against foreign jurisdiction 
should be nullified. Mason had made it clear that he 
would use neither his power to remove officials nor a 


sweeping pardoning, power to consummate that end, and 
so the repeal of the law was next attempted. Although 
Governor Lucas later charged that the Secretary of War, 
Lewis Cass, had used his position and influence against 
the interests of Ohio, nothing could have been farther 
from the truth. As early as the 9th of May, Secretary 
Oass wrote Acting Governor Mason a letter which he 
said had "been seen and approved by the .President," 
in which while he styled the proceedings instituted by 
Ohio to obtain forcible possession of what he believed 
to be part of Michigan as "among the most unjustifiable 
executive and legislative acts which have taken place in 
our country during my time/' he yet advised but the 
mildest opposition on the part of Michigan, and closed 
with the admonition that Mason, as Chief Executive of 
the Territory would "temper the firmness of the com 
munity with a due share of moderation." On the 18th 
he suggested the propriety of having the Constitutional 
Convention repeal or suspend the Act of February 12, 
and cited precedents to support the propositions of its 
power in the premises. The - Convention having 
adjourned without taking the desired action, the propo 
sition was later urged by General Cass as the proper 
action to to be taken by the Council at its special session. 
In this communication which was of the 18th of August, 
the intimation was conveyed to Acting Governor Mason 
that while "the President feels as friendly as a father to 
you, I judge he thinks himself committed to supersede 
you, if the Act of February is enforced. ' ' 

But the sentiment of the people was beyond the control 
of any one man and Stevens T. Mason was too wise to 


attempt that control to suit the expediency of the national 
administration; much less was he to be influenced by 
intimations of his removal from official station. The 
action of Acting Governor Mason and the authorities of 
the Territory had been and continued to be in keeping 
with the principles of men of spirit. In the language of 
the illustrious Campbell, they had done "no more than 
every civilized government is bound to do, when her 
peaceable possession under the law of the land is sud 
denly invaded. 7 ' When Acting Governor Mason advised 
the Secretary of State that he had convened the Terri 
torial Council for the 17th of August, he closed with a 
sentiment worthy to be the guiding principle of every 
man in official position. " While I will endeavor to dis 
charge my duty faithfully as a public officer of the Gen 
eral Government," said he, "I feel that I am not to forget 
that I have the rights of a high minded and patriotic 
people committed to my hands. Those rights are not to 
be hazarded until the people themselves cease to value 

On the 20th of August, while the Council was yet in 
session, a Convention of the Democratic-Republican 
party assembled in the village of Ann Arbor to nominate 
State officers an$ a member of Congress under the pro 
posed Constitution. The Convention was large, and rep 
resentative, the citizens of the Territory of the dominant 
party assembled with enthusiasm to exercise what they 
considered to be their new-born political rights. The 
result of the deliberations of the Convention was the 
nomination of Stevens T. Mason for Governor, Edward 
Mundy of Ann Arbor for Lieutenant Governor and Isaac 


Crary of Marshall for member of Congress. Four days 
later a committee of the Convention delivered to the 
gubernatorial nominee the following notification: 

< 'Detroit, August 24th, 1835 

"At a convention of the Democratic-Republicans of 
Michigan, assembled at the village of Ann Arbor on the 
twentieth instant, for the purpose of nominating a Gov 
ernor, Lieutenant Governor and member of Congress, 
you received the vote of that body, as the candidate of 
the Democratic party for the office of Governor; and 
the undersigned have been appointed a committee to 
advise you of the nomination and to request your accept- 
tance of the same. 

"In discharging the duty reposed on us by the Con 
vention, we avail ourselves of the occasion to assure you 
that the utmost of harmony and unanimity prevailed; 
the undivided vote of the Convention having been 
expressed in favor of your nomination. * 

"It may not be regarded as exceeding the power with 
which we are clothed for us to express to you the great 
satisfaction we derive in being able to state that your 
official conduct generally, and especially the wisdom, 
energy and prudence displayed by you in resisting the 
efforts of a powerful State to strip Michigan of a portion 
of her soil, has met with the unqualified approval of the 
members of the Convention and of those whom they 

"The undersigned are happy in being made the 
medium of communicating to you ? Sir, this expression 


of the confidence of your fellow citizens, and indulge 
the hope that you will accept the proffered nomination. 
"We have the honor to be 
' "Sir 

"Very Respectfully 
"Your Ob. Servants 

"Stevens T. Mason" 

On August 28 Governor Mason addressed to the com 
mittee a brief and simple letter of acceptance. Adverting 
to the fact of his having been elevated to a position of 
public responsibility in early life, he said, "I should 
have shrunk from the undertaking had I not been sus 
tained by the hope, that by a determined adherence to 
the interests of the public whenever committed to my 
charge, I should in time remove all preconceived preju 
dices and ultimately obtain the confidence of my fellow 
citizens. To accomplish this, has been the highest object 
of my ambition. Your letter assures me I have done so, 
and it affords me the richest reward I could have 

The letter closes with the simple statement that, "If 
elected to the responsible office to which I have been 


nominated, all I dare promise is, that I will endeavor 
to discharge its duties with fidelity to the public. But 
whatever may be the fate of my nomination, I shall ever 
remember with feelings of gratitude the obligations I 
owe to the Eepublican party of the Territory of Mich 

The Ohio Act creating the county of Lucas had fixed 
September 7 as the date for holding the Court of Com 
mon Pleas at Toledo and the date was now near at hand. 
There was grim determination in Michigan that Ohio 
should neither hold the court or exercise any other act 
of jurisdiction within the contested territory. These 
facts were reviewed with not a little apprehension at 
"Washington, especially when it was learned at the Cap 
itol that the Council had refused to suspend the act of 
February 12 or to accede to the compromise proposed 
by Messrs. Eush and Howard. The President was now 
forced to show a strong hand to Ohio or to weaken the 
resistance of Michigan, and he chose to weaken Mich 
igan. A Governor would have been appointed long before 
but for the fact that the office could not be filled by a 
recess appointment. There was no course left but to 
supersede the Acting Governor, and this was done on 
the 29th by the appointment of Mr. Charles Shaler of 
Pittsburg, Pennsylvania as Secretary of the Territory. 
On the same date a letter was addressed to Acting Gov 
ernor Mason by Hon. John Forsyth, Secretary of State, 
apprising him of his removal and informing him that the 
President had been "brought with regret to the conclu 
sion that your zeal for what you deem the rights of 
Michigan has overcome that spirit of moderation and 
forbearance which in the present irritated state of feel- 


ing prevailing in Ohio and Michigan is necessary to the 
preservation of the public peace." 

General Cass at the same time hurried forward a letter 
to Mason in which he sought to make the removal accep 
table, if not pleasurable, assuring him that he had taken 
the pains to see that the matter was set right in Tlie 
Globe, which at that time was the recognized organ of 
the administration. 

But Michigan and her young "Hotspur Governor/' as 
Jackson is said to have referred to Mason, were already 
moving the militia towards Toledo with the serious pur 
pose of putting their previously expressed declarations 
into active execution. 

The interval of years that separate us from the days 
of 1835 gives a touch of humor to the last "campaign" 
of the Toledo war that it did not have at the time when 
the actors were thoroughly in earnest. The Ohio militia 
was expected to arrive at Perrysburg on the evening of 
Saturday, the 5th of September, prepared tfc give support 
to the Ohio authorities in organizing and holding the 
court on the following Monday. Pursuant to the orders 
of Brigadier-General Joseph Brown, the Michigan troops 
were preparing to oppose it, Governor Mason was at 
Monroe upon the third and there is an element of firm 
ness in his letter to his aide, Colonel Isaac S. Rowland, 
of that date, in which he says : "Have all the ammunition 
forwarded by tomorrow's boat. Do not forget the six 
pounder. We have balls here." By Sunday, the 6th, 
about one thousand officers and men were quartered in 
and about Toledo, ready and anxious for the fray. On 
the south side of the Maumee were stationed the invad 
ing forces less in number and' not at all anxious to invade. 


Neither officers nor men were anxious to force a contest 
that had every aspect of seriousness, and so the Ohio 
authorities resolved to be satisfied with the form of juris 
diction in view of the difficulties of obtaining the su- 
stance. As the hour of midnight approached, a small 
body of horsemen rode out from Perrysburg towards 
Toledo. It was the judge and the officers of the proposed 
court with their escort. In the quiet of the night they 
stealthily entered the sleeping village and before the hour 
of three o'clock the court had been organized and 
adjourned and the clerk had written the meager record 
by the fitful glare of a tallow dip. To celebrate their 
achievement they repaired to a friendly tavern and were 
about to drink a bumper to the occasion, when a wag: 
rushed in and broke the startling intelligence that the 
Michigan troops were apprised of their presence and 
were then close at hand. It is said that the company 
made a mad rush for their horses and rode away with a 
precipitancy that indicated that speed was more to be 
desired than either valor or judicial dignity. For some 
four days the Michigan "boys" camped on the plains 
about Toledo quite unconscious of the fact that the court 
they sought had come and gone. In the meantime, Mr. 
Shaler of Pittsburg declined the appointment to the sec 
retaryship. He evidently found little to attract him in 
an office whose tenure would terminate in a few months 
at the longest, and in w^hich he would be expected, to 
perfom a service at once disagreeable to himself and 
odious to the people among whom he would be required 
to live. It was not until the 8th of September that the 
President was able to confer the office upon a gentleman 
willing to serve in a position so ill rewarded with profit 


and honors. On this date the appointment was given 
to Mr. John Scott Homer of Warrenton, Virginia, who 
at once started for the city of Detroit taking with him 
the letters of the Government of the 29th of August to 
Governor Mason apprising him of his dismissal from 

Governor Mason and the Michigan militia were still 
at Toledo when the letter of General Cass bearing con 
dolence to the Governor arrived at Detroit ahead of the 
notice of dismissal from the Government. A swift 
courier hurried forward with the message and delivered 
it into the Governor's hand as the troops are said to 
have been going through the evolution of a dress parade. 
Calling an orderly, the Governor gave the bridle rein 
into his hand and in a few words announced -to the troops 
that he was no longer the Commander-in-Chief . General 
Brown at once issued orders for the disbanding of the 
troops. The war was over even if peace had not been 
declared. To the infinite relief of the citizens of Toledo, 
especially to such as were the violent partisans of Ohio, 
the troops took their departure. The Governor and his 
staff, with many of the troops from the counties of 
Wayne and Oakland, took passage by the steamer Brady 
for Detroit. It was the 10th of September, the anni 
versary of the battle of Lake Erie, which was celebrated 
by many a speech, and many a toast drank within the 
cabin where small companies of privates sang by relays 
during the journey. 

Although there was serious purpose back of the expedi 
tion to Toledo and had a force attempted to take forcible 
possession of the territory there would undoubtedly have 
been scenes of blood shed and disaster, and although the 


people abated none of their resistance to the claims of 
Ohio, they soon caught the humor of the situation. Songs 
were sung of how 

"Old Lucas gave his orders all for to hold a court, 
But Stevens Thomson Mason he thought he'd have some sport ; 
He called upon the Wolverines and asked them for to go 
To meet the rebel Lucas, his court to overthrow,'' 

and every community that sent a company to the "front" 
was enlivened by jokes and stories told by the wags at 
the expense of their more sedate companions, General 
Brown having at times to bear the designation of the 
"Modern Caesar," while of a surgeon attached to the 
Ypsilanti company it was claimed that one night he was 
discovered sitting up in his sleep tearing his shirt into 
bandages. Major Stickney had been one of the most 
active in the furtherance of Ohio's cause, and during the 
short stay at Toledo the Michigan boys found much 
delight, contrary to the command of their officers, in teas 
ing the worthy Major either by "sampling his honey," 
stealing his ducks, or "drafting his potato vines to make 
volunteers of the bottoms." The stories of such doings 
were long remembered by the depredators as well as by 
the embittered Major, although his feelings were perhaps 
somewhat mollified and his loyalty to Ohio increased by 
an Act of the Legislature of that State which granted 
him ample compensation for the damages he had sus 

The removal of Acting Governor Mason, as might 
be expected, only tended to increase his popularity and 
prestige. Many people of the Territory felt that he had 
been punished because he had championed their interest, 
and the friends and neighbors of Ms home city, through 


a very representative committee, tendered him a public 
dinner at the Mansion House for the afternoon of Wed 
nesday, the 16th of September; the invitation reciting 
that it was extended on behalf "of a large number of the 
citizens of Detroit desirous of testifying their high sense 
of gratitude 77 to him for carrying out their wishes in 
relation to the Ohio controversy and for the "able and 
satisfactory manner in which he had discharged his office 
since his appointment. Of more value to Stevens T. 
Mason than the present honor which the invitation car 
ried, was the fact that appended to it were the names 
of men who had been loud in their protests against him 
when a few years before he had assumed his official sta 
tion, the name of David C. McKinstry who had been 
chairman of the meeting of remonstration now heading 
the list in his praise. 

The dinner was in keeping with the style and sump- 
tuousness of the old days. It was a large gathering of 
the business and political elements of the community, 
and many a toast was responded to with wit and elo 
quence. When Mr. Mason, as the Ex-Secretary, 
responded he spoke at length upon the conditions which 
had led to his removal, charging the Hon. John Forsyth, 
Secretary of State, with being the controlling influence 
in the policy that was caressing Ohio to the detriment 
of Michigan. This address, which found its way into 
the public press, brought a hot retort from the Honorable 
Secretary and a still hotter rejoinder from the deposed 
Acting Governor. On the 19th of September, Mr. Horner, 
the new Secretary, arrive to take charge of affairs and 
soon thereafter Mr. Mason took his departure for Wash 
ington on a political mission connected with the, as he 


hoped, forthcoming State. On the 5th of October he was 
an invited guest and speaker at the banquet in honor of 
the old family -friend, Richard M. Johnson, which was 
tendered him in New York at Tammany Hall, it being the 
anniversary of the battle of the Thames in which he had 
taken so conspicuous a part. On the same day and the 
day following, the people of Michigan adopted the Consti 
tution submitted for their approval and elected Stevens 
T. Mason to the governorship, Edward Mundy to be 
Lieutenant Governor, and Isaac Crary to be the State's 
first representative in the National Congress. 

The Constitution was adopted by a vote of 6,299 to 
1,359, a total vote on the proposition of 7,658. One gets 
an idea of the limits of population at the time by know 
ing that of the votes cast, 3,227 of the affirmative and 974 
of the negative were cast in the counties of Wayne, Wash- 
tenaw, and Oakland, while of -the balance, 2,474 of the 
affirmative and 286 of the negative were from the coun 
ties of St. Glair, Macomb, Monroe, Lenawee, Hillsdale, 
St. Joseph, Cass, Berrien and Calhoun. The combined 
counties of Clinton, Ionia, Kent and Ottawa contributed 
but 90 votes, six only being in the negative. 

The "Whigs had made no nomination for officers under 
the Constitution, the tone of their press seeming to be 
one of distrust of the power and authority of the people 
of the Territory to set up a State government without 
first having obtained from Congress authority to do so. 
It was quite evident, however, that their criticisms arose 
more from the fact that the Democratic party had taken 
the initiative in the actions criticised than from any 
convictions on the subject. Of the votes cast for the 
governorship, Stevens T. Mason received 7,508. Scatter- 


ing votes were given to several gentlemen. Mr. John 
Biddle who had been placed in nomination by a body of 
citizens who styled themselves Independent Republicans 
of Oakland County received 814 votes, which was more 
than the number received by all others. At this time 
members of the Legislature were likewise chosen in pur 
suance with the provisions of the schedule to the Consti 
tution, which had provided for the selection of a Senate 
of sixteen and a House of forty-nine members pending 
legislation on the subject under the Constitution when the 
Legislature should assemble. 

Wisconsin and the country to the westward was still 
a part of Michigan Territory, but the people of the penin 
sula were doing all in their power to facilitate her 
advance to the rank of an independent Territory to 
escape the complications of a dual government. The 
Legislative Council at its. special session in August had 
made provision for receiving the vote of the electors of 
the new counties that had been created, as a congressional 
delegate was to be elected in October. It was the pro 
gram of the Democratic-Republican party that the dele 
gate should be selected from the country west of Lake 
Michigan so that when Michigan was admitted as a State 
the delegate would be a resident of the Territory he rep 
resented. In pursuance of this plan the Democratic- 
Republicans of the peninsula allowed their nomination 
to be made by their brethren to the west who selected 
George W. Jones of Mineral Point, Wisconsin. The 
Whigs, with nothing to lose through complications, 
especially as they had had very little to do with bringing 
them about, nominated as their candidate William Wood- 
bridge of Detroit. The early returns from the election 


Built in 1S23-28. Used by the State Legislature until 1S47. 

From oil painting in University of Michigan. 

Appointed by President Jackson Secretary and Acting Governor of Michigan 
Territory 1S35. Driven to Wisconsin by citizens of Michigan. 


seemed to show a majority for Woodbridge, and that 
gentleman at once became Insistent that he be given the 
certificate of election, which he finally obtained. The 
arrival of delayed returns from the west disclosed that 
Jones and not "Woodbridge had the majority, and a sec 
ond certificate was issued and Mr. Jones allowed to 
assume his seat without contest. 



JOHN SCOTT HOBNER was nearly nine years the 
senior of the young Secretary whom he superseded, 
having been born December 4, 1802. He had graduated 
from Washington College in the class of 1819, had 
acquired some reputation in his profession as a lawyer, 
and was possessed of abilities which, had he come among 
the people of Michigan under more happy conditions, 
would have gained for him a position of respect and influ 
ence. It was the misfortune of Mr. Horner to be cast 
among the people of Michigan under circumstances that 
gave each an unworthy estimate of the other. The peoplo 
quite naturally looked upon Mr. Horner as embodying a 
purpose to reverse a policy that, aside from the antagon 
isms of party politics, had been eminently satisfactory 
to the people at large. Had the task of reversing this 
policy been intrusted to a man known to the people for 
his integrity and judgment, or to one who approached 
the difficulties of the situation with tact and at least a 
show of desire to enter into the aspirations of the com 
munity, it is possible that the one so entrusted would 
have gained the confidence of the people. But, either 
through natural inclination or through consciousness of 
the hostility of the community, Mr. Horner from the 
first assumed a peremptory and assertive manner, little 
calculated to modify preconceived opinions. Mr. Horner 
arrived at Detroit on the 19th of September. The same 


night he wrote to Mr. Forsyth, Secretary of State, say 
ing : i i Late this evening I called on Mr. Mason, to whom 
I delivered the communication from the Department." 
As the letter proceeds, it discloses a temperament ill 
suited to induce conciliation. "On Monday morning 
next," it proceeds, "I contemplate taking charge of the 
Territorial government, and should have insisted on it 
this evening had the emergency made it necessary." 

The first week of the new Secretary's sojourn was so 
uneventful that he might well have believed all troubles 
to be passed; and indeed so it might have proven had he 
been content to abide the course of events, but conscious 
of his mission, he soon issued pardons for all offenders 
against the act of February 12, except Two Stickney. 
He wrote to the Secretary of State on September 28 of 
such contemplated action, disclosing that he was not 
entirely unaware of the results that might be anticipated, 
for he says, "I fear, however, it will be unsavory to some 
extent." It was soon apparent, however, that the 
"extent" was much beyond his anticipations. The act 
confirmed in the minds of the people the belief that his 
only purpose was to further the interests of Ohio in the 
controversy then pending. At a meeting at the Detroit 
City Hall, Mr. Horner appeared and addressed the peo 
ple. It may be assumed that the address was neither 
tactful nor conciliatory, for the assemblage at the conclu 
sion of the speech proceeded to organize and adopt reso 
lutions of a deprecatory nature, one of which was as 
follows : 

"Resolved, That if our present Secretary of the Terri 
tory should find it beyond his control, either from the 
nature of his instructions, his feelings of tenderness to 


those who had for a long period of time set at defiance 
as well the laws of the Territory as those of the United 
States, or any feelings of delicacy entertained towards 
the Executive of a neighboring State, who have in vain 
endeavored to take forcible possession of a part of onr 
Territory, to enable him to properly carry into effect the 
existing laws of this Territory, it is to be hoped he will 
relinquish the duties of his office, and return to the land 
of his nativity. " 

Emboldened by these proceedings the officials of the 
putative County of Lucas began the exercise of official 
functions. The result was that the Sheriff of Monroe 
with the posse of the county were soon upon the ground 
and the ambitious officers were soon pulled from their 
official pedestals and started for the Monroe County jail. 
That "the views of the Government/' as Mr. Horner 
expressed it, might be carried out, he hurried to the scene 
of difficulty where he was subjected to an experience that, 
to ay the least, was unique in the annals of government, 
and as a matter of reminiscence is not wanting in an 
element of humor, especially when we contrast the report 
of what transpired as subsequently reported in the 
Wheeling (Virginia) Gazette, a paper friendly to Mr. 
Horner, and that gentleman's own letter to the Secretary 
of State. The Gazette, after detailing that Mr. Horner 
had gone to Michigan after Messrs. Rush and Howard 
"had utterly failed to make an impression upon the semi- 
barbarians whom they went out to pacify and subdue, 
and immediately after another distinguished citizen, 
Judge Shaler had declined the appointment," proceeded 
to relate how the valiant Horner had gone among the ex 
cited Wolverines at Monroe and from a stump had made a 


speech, "which turned the lion of their nature into the 
gentleness of the lamb." Mr. Horner in his letter to 
the Secretary of State on October 19 gives a somewhat 
different view of the matter, for he says, "My condition 
was this : at Monroe the seat of strife, amidst a wild and 
dangerous population, without any aid, a friend, servant, 
or bed to sleep in, in the midst of a mob excited by the 
enemies of the administration and bad men, I could not 
enlist a friend as an officer of the Territory. How was 
my authority to be enforced or the government in my 
hands respected under the circumstances? A design was 
formed against my honor and my life. The district 
attorney had the effrontery and timidity to say that if he 
acted, the mob would throw him and myself into the 
river. ' ' 

In another place he says: "I tried conciliation, 
entreaty, appeals to their patriotism, indeed every resort 
but force which I should not have been able to obtain had 
I desired it," and he adds, "There never was a govern 
ment in Christendom with such officers, civil and military, 
and filled with such doctrines as Michigan." For more 
than a week Mr. Horner was at Monroe and Tecumseh, 
where the Lenawee court was in session. He issued par 
dons and placed them in the hands of attorneys for the 
persons charged under the February Act. When the 
pardons were pleaded, it was the complaint of the Secre 
tary that the judge at Monroe held the papers In all such 
cases under the pretense of curid vidt adrisare; and that 
when he urged the prosecuting attorney to enter nolle 
pro seguis in the cases he adds that "all his advice and 
even persuasion were entirely lost." 

In one letter Mr. Horner mentions that the district 
attorney, Mr. James Q. Adams of Monroe, tendered his 


"but no counselor in Michigan would accept the office 
in either court, for the obvious reason that every man 
is looking forward to office under the new government 
on the first day of November next." 

At last the people wearied of the excitement, and quiet 
once more obtained. Mr. Horner, * ' the views of the gov 
ernment effected/' now returned to Detroit. While on 
his homeward journey he stopped for the night at Ypsi- 
lanti, where the rough element gathered and when the 
respectable portion of the community we're abed, pelted 
his lodging place with stones and other missiles, treating 
the distinguished occupant to the indignity of an old-time 
charivari. The people generally deprecated such con 
duct, and the Whig papers seized upon the occurrence as 
one of the direct results of Democratic' precepts and 

At Detroit, Mr. Homer was accorded the courtesies 
due his character and station. Here his talented and 
agreeable wife, the bride of a year, did much in a social 
way to remove what otherwise might have been political 
estrangements. Although he continued at Detroit the 
sole surviving embodiment of the Territorial govern 
ment, his official activities were quite solitary. In Novem 
ber the Ohio Commissioner re-marked the Harris line 
without molestation and peace reigned in the valley of 
the Maumee. Mr. Horner communicated the successful 
completion of this work to the department, with the 
further intelligence that he anticipated no complications 
with the new State government. He did not recognize 
the State government, with which all the people were 
doing business, as existing, and when, on November 13, 
a resolution was introduced in the House of the Michigan 


Legislature expressive of regret for the treatment 
accorded the Acting -Governor in certain parts of the 
State, the consideration of the resolution was promptly 
and indefinitely postponed by a vote of 31 to 5. In May, 
1836, Mr. Horner removed to the new Territory of Wis 
consin of which he became the Secretary. Here he 
founded the city of Bipon, where he died, February 3, 
1883. In Ms new environment, he became a forceful and 
helpful character, his long life being identified in many 
ways with the upbuilding of the great State of Wisconsin. 
On Monday, the second day of November, 1835, the 
newly elected Legislature assembled and the State gov 
ernment went into operation. The Governor was sworn 
into office, and on the day following he delivered to the 
Legislature and people assembled a short but impressive 
inaugural address. Seldom or never in the succeeding 
years of the State history has there been enacted within 
its borders a scene of more contemplative interest than 
the doings of this November day. Although simple in 
ceremony, there were doings full of the ideas of con 
summation and of prophecy. The peninsula of Michigan, 
although first to feel the press of the foot of Europeans, 
was destined to be next to the last of the regions of the 
great Northwest to come into the realization of sovereign 
power as a State of the Union. Within sight of the very 
building where the representatives of the people were 
now assembled, the Lilies of France and the Cross of St. 
George had each in their time waved as the emblems of 
authority. In the assemblage were many who had suf 
fered the trials and hardships of the war 1812, and who 
knew from intimate relation of the prior contests in the 
great cause of liberty by which the sovereignty of their 


soil had been transferred from race to race and from 
government to government. All were pioneers in whom 
the elements of hope and courage were full and strong. 
There was a singular appropriateness, to the minds of 
many, in the fact that the youthful commonwealth had 
selected for its chief executive a man who had demon 
strated his power and capabilities and who yet had life 
before him. Certain it was, that as Stevens T. Mason 
ascended the canopied rostrum of the old capitol to 
deliver his inaugural, he typified the new State, whose 
destinies, in a measure, had been committed to his keep 
ing. In his lineage were generation of worthy honor, 
while his presence bespoke a confidence of the present 
and an abiding hope in the future. He was now but four 
days past his twenty-fourth birthday. His face was 
singularly strong and handsome; his eyes in animation 
seemed to change from gray to brown, while from a fore 
head broad and high was brushed at times in seeming 
aimless fashion a mass of wavy dark brown hair; the 
blush of youth was in his cheeks, and the vigor of young 
years was disclosed in the alert and active movement 
of his well-nourished frame, which on this occasion was 
clad in the close-fitting lace-trimmed evening dress of the 
old days. In a full rounded voice which had the charm 
of persuasion, if it lacked the command of eloquence, he 
proceeded to express his appreciation and gratitude for 
the distinguished honor that had been conferred upon 
him by saying : 

' ' Summoned by the general voice of my fellow citizens 
to the station of chief executive magistrate of the State 
of Michigan, it is with feelings which language is inade 
quate to express, that I embrace the occasion to convey 


to them my cordial thanks for the distinguished testi 
mony of their approbation and confidence. If, under 
ordinary circumstances, the suffrages of this enlightened 
people had confided to me the exercise of the important 
and responsible functions of the first office in their gift, 
the sensibilities awakened by so signal a favor could 
only have found vent in the silent overflowing of the 
heart. But to have realized the honor thus bestowed 
upon me by them, at a time when a blow had been received 
from another source, to which it would not become me 
to refer in a spirit of dissatisfaction, adds to the lively 
and deep sense of gratitude, which I will cease to cherish 
towards them only with the expiring pulsations of life. 
The emotions with which these reflections oppress my 
mind are greatly enhanced by the anxiety induced by a 
sincere consciousness that the cares before me are above 
my ability, and that in venturing upon them, I have con 
sulted my capacity less, probably, than the impulses of 
a premature ambition. But if the hazardous task has 
been undertaken without a sufficiently rigid scrutiny into 
the qualifications requisite for its satisfatcory perform 
ance, I derive consolation from the reflection that the 
deficiencies of the executive Mill be amply supplied by 
the talents, the rectitude and patriotism of the coordi 
nate branches of the State government. These with the 
intelligence and virtue of the people, afford the surest 
pledges that the foundations of the policy of this new 
and rising State will be laid in the immutable principles 
of morality, justice and benevolence; and that, in its 
legislation, a comprehensive and correct view will at all 
times be taken, of the various interests embraced within 
its range. To these sources then, I look with confidence 


for that direction and support which may bear us tri 
umphantly through the difficulties and embarrassments 
incident to the new positions in which we are placed." 

The address proceeds to discuss in general terms the 
merits of the Constitution which the people by their 
suffrages had approved; the delicate relation which by 
reason of the continuance of the Territorial authority 
now existed between the State and National government, 
whose difficulties, he predicted, would "readily disappear 
before the light of examination and precedent and that a 
course of forbearance and respect to the rights and pow 
ers of others will smooth our advancement to the high 
destiny before us. ' 7 

He recommended the choosing of the senators to repre 
sent the State in the National Congress, and the enact 
ment of authority to fill vacancies in local offices whose 
powers and authority had been carried over into the 
new government until superseded by legislative enact 
ment "All other interests," said he, "which come 
within the province of legislation, for the advancement 
of the happiness and prosperity of our beloved State, 
may perhaps, be safely and judiciously postponed to a 
future, yet not distant day." He said in conclusion: 

"It remains, fellow citizens, that faithful to ourselves 
and to our rights and liberties, we frequently supplicate 
that Divine Being who holds in His hands the chain of 
events and the destiny of States, to enlighten our minds, 
guide our councils, and prosper our measures so that 
whatever we may do shall result in the welfare and tran- 
quility of the people of Michigan, and shall secure to us 
the friendship and approbation of the nation." - 


The policy of doing little in the way of legislation, 
so as to avoid collision between State and Federal author 
ity, as recommended in the Governor's address, was a 
policy that the Governor may have taken from the coun 
cils of others, for it was known to be the desire of the 
President; and a week after the session had convened, 
General Cass, writing to the Governor, took occasion 
to say, "You know the President's views. They remain 
the same. Try and have as little legislation as possible, 
so as to avoid all collision. This should be a cardinal 

The Legislature as constituted by the schedule of the 
Constitution provided for a House of forty-eight mem 
bers and a Senate of sixteen members. The House upon 
completing its organization proceeded to the election 
of Ezra Oonvis of Calhoun County as speaker, and 
George R Griswold of Detroit as clerk. Mr. Convis 
had been a resident of Michigan since 1832, a Vermonter 
by birth and for many years a resident of Chautauqua 
County, New York, where he had received the rank of 
General in the State troops. He was re-elected to the 
Legislature of 1832, when he was again chosen speaker 
of the House. He died suddenly in 1838 and was long 
remembered as a man of commanding abilities and force 
of character. 

Edward Mundy, by virtue of his office as Lieutenant 
Governor, became President of the Senate, while John 
J. Adam of Lenawee was chosen Secretary, a position 
he filled during two subsequent sessions. Both gentle 
men were men of more than ordinary attainments, Mundy 
having graduated from Rutgers College, New Jersey, 


his native State, in the class of 1812, while Adam was 
a graduate of Glasgow College, Scotland, in the class 
of 1826, he emigrating to America in the same year. 

Te Legislature had a large Democratic-Republican 
majority in both its branches, and when the two Houses 
convened on the 10th of November for the nomination 
of candidates for the United States Senate, the House 
cast forty-seven votes for Lucius Lyon for the long term, 
while for the short term, twenty-seven votes were for 
John Norvell and twenty for John Biddle. In the Sen 
ate Lucius Lyon received the total sixteen votes, while 
on the first ballot for the short term Biddle received 
eight votes and Norvell eight. "On the third ballot, the 
vote stood ten for Biddle and six for Norvell. When 
we remember that John Biddle was made President of 
the Constitutional Convention and that the votes he 
received for United State Senator were cast in greater 
number by men of an opposing political faith, it 
bespeaks his great popularity and personal worth. In 
the joint convention, John Norvell received thirty-five 
votes and John Biddle twenty-eight, Lucius Lyon and 
John Norvell thus became the first members from Mich 
igan in the national Senate. 

The Legislature, at the time, agreeable to the recom 
mendation of the Governor, did little in the way of legis 
lation. . Even the Governor made but one of the appoint 
ments he was empowered to make under the Constitu 
tion, that of Secretary of State, to which position he 
appointed Kintzing Pritchette, his nomination being con 
firmed by the Senate on the thirteenth, on which day 
they likewise chose John S. Barry President pro tempore. 
John S. Barry's long and distinguished service to Mich- 


igan makes little more than the mention of his name 
necessary to show the high character of the selection. 
A few bills of minor importance were passed and on 
November 14th an adjournment was taken to February 
1st ensuing, by which time it was believed the State would 
be admitted to the full employment of all the rights and 
privileges of a sovereign State in the Federal Union. 

With the approaching days of winter came the recur 
rence of those social gaieties which have ever been 
among the most delightful subjects of reminiscence con 
nected with the history of the old capitol. The social 
graces had ever claimed many votaries at Detroit and 
they were now increased rather than diminished by the 
changing incidents of commerce and politics. The popu 
lation had increased sufficiently to greatly enlarge the 
social circle, but not sufficiently to change the costumes 
which w r ere the charm of tile social functions in which 
the people found delight. 

The Mason household was now again united, the father 
and mother having returned by way of New York in the 
early autumn. The first poignant sorrow at the loss of 
loved ones had passed away for the time, and Christian 
resignation had wrought for this family circle what it 
does for all. Entertainment and hospitality was again 
the order of the Mason home. From vagrant sources, 
old letters, stray newspapers, and the memory of an occa 
sional octogenarian, we catch glimpses of the simple but 
wholesome social pleasures of the period; of the house 
parties where the evening hours were spent in simple 
games and blitheful conversation; of the balls where 
belles and beaux executed the quadrille, the schottische 
and the stately minuet; of the holiday festivities and 


especially New Year's day when the leading gentlemen 
of the community, always including the members of the 
bar, in faultless evening dress made the round of the 
homes of their friends and associates to extend and 
receive a word of friendly greeting. The New Year's of 
1836 was made especially memorable by the fact that its 
festivities began with the Governor's reception at the 
American Hotel, where in the spacious hallway the genial 
Tom, his sweet faced mother, the charming sisters and 
the ubiquitous Charles Whipple stood in line to greet 
with honest friendship the assembled friends and neigh 
bors. With the increase of duties and responsibilities, 
Governor Mason entered less into the social features 
of the community than from his years and tempera 
ment he would otherwise have been tempted to do; 
but neither duties nor responsibilities prematurely 
imposed took the jovial, youthful spirit from his nature. 
Major "W. 0. Ransom has given us a story of the Gov 
ernor that is more or less characteristic. It was in the 
early winter of 1835 when, in the language of the narra 
tor, the Governor "chanced to be down by the Detroit 
River, where a number of rollicking boys were coasting 
in a jumper down the steep banks for a slide on the 
smooth ice beyond. The Governor, inspired by the spirit 
of the occasion, sought and obtained the high honor of 
piloting the frail craft for a model trip. Down sat the 
Governor, on piled the boys, and, with a whoop and a 
cheer, they started on their swift career. Now, unfor 
tunately for the success of their voyage, it happened 
that a Canuck huckster and wife with pony and pung 
were just winding their way to market along the road 
that threaded the foot of the river bank. Down went 


Governor and jumper, on came Canuck and pony, and 
before either were fully aware of the situation, there 
was a crash, a smash, and a wreck. Disastrous to execu 
tive dignity, the Canuck came on top, and, in the twink 
ling of an eye, sent His Excellency spinning, head first, 
into a snow-drift a dozen feet away. ? ' 

Although by no means an enthusiastic sportsman, the 
Governor at infrequent intervals, found relaxation in the 
company of a few companions who sought the pleasures 
of the chase in the forests which could be found in almost 
any direction in less than a day's travel, and it was the 
statement of his friends that the crack of his rifle quite 
as often brought down the quarry as did the shots from 
the weapons of more experienced sportsmen. As a horse 
man, the Governor was far less indifferent, and in this 
regard he was of a mind with the sister Emily. Each 
loved a good horse and not infrequently they could be 
seen returning from a ride beside the beautiful Detroit 
Eiver, sitting upon their steeds after the manner of 
accomplished horsemen. 

But the Governor derived his greatest pleasure from 
the problems and associations that were furnished by 
questions of state and the exigencies of politics. He was 
an eager student of the government and institutions of 
the country and of the biographies of the men who had 
been important factors in their development .and 
progress. General Cass was frequently procuring and 
forwarding to him from Washington the documents and 
debates of previous times, especially such as related to 
the Northwest and the admission of the various States 
since the adoption of the Federal Constitution. These 
he carefully studied, as his messages and addresses 


clearly indicate. But Ms interest in political subjects 
was not confined to their historical and philosophical 
phases. He was not long in learning that government 
and politics have a practical as well as a philosophical 
sideband he was frequently among the gatherings of gen 
tlemen which on occasions assembled at "Coon" Ten 
Eyck's Tavern, where campaigns were planned and poli 
cies of state matured, while the bonds of friendship were 
strengthened in many an act of good fellowship. 

Congress convened on the 7th of December, 1835, and 
from thenceforth the questions of the southern boundary 
of Michigan and the admission of the State were insep 
arably connected. 

Lucius Lyon and John Norvell were already in Wash 
ington ready to assume their senatorial duties, as was 
Isaac Crary to take up his labors as a member of the 
House of Representatives. All were hopeful and expec 
tant, for the speedy admission of the State. The Presi 
dent and others high in authority, gave encouragement 
to the belief that it would be but a matter of a few weeks 
at the longest before Congress would pass the appropri 
ate Act to extend the laws of the United States over 
Michigan. On December 9, the President sent a message 
to Congress accompanied with a copy of the Constitution 
adopted by the people of Michigan and such other docu 
ments as were necessary to make complete the record of 
their right to admission. Almost immediately the pros 
pects of statehood became less promising. On December 
13, Lucius Lyon, who but a few days before had written 
his Michigan friends that they might expect admission 
by February, wrote that "It is doubtful whether we shall 
not be delayed until June next, perhaps longer. " 


Member of the Constitutional Convention of 1885. Member of the first and sub 
sequent State Legislatures, Governor of Michigan 1842-46. 

Member of first State Legislature and Democratic Governor of Michigan 1846-47. 


It was No. 303 Jefferson avenue, between Beaubien and St. Antoine streets. 
Twenty-live or more years a#<> tlie third story was added to the building. 


A presidential election was now near at hand. Each 
of the great parties was maneuvering for political 
advantage and the boundary controversy gave to both 
Whig and Democrat the opportuiaity to court the elec 
toral support of Ohio. While the question of the bound- 
dary was the main issue in the contest, it was complicated 
with other questions whose importance were no doubt 
magnified for effect upon the main proposition. As with 
the admission of every other State in those days, so with 
Michigan; the slave power complicated it with the admis 
sion of a slave State to balance its political influence 
in Congress, Arkansas being the State with which Mich 
igan was paired in the fortunes of admission. The liberal 
franchise provision that had brought a protest from the 
Whigs in the Constitutional Convention was seized upon 
by the opposition in Congress, who urged it as an impedi 
ment that should require the convening of a second Con 
stitutional Convention and the framing of a new Con 
stitution, a program that was much desired by many of 
the leading Whigs of the new State. But these matters 
were of secondary consideration and would have been 
readily adjusted, but for the question of boundary. 
There is some reason to believe that Congress would 
have willingly disposed of the boundary question so as 
to have left it to the decision of the judiciary, had the 
proposed Constitution of Michigan been so framed as to 
facilitated such action without at the same time antagon 
izing the States of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. But the 
makers of the Michigan Constitution had been positive 
and definite, where it would have served their purpose 
better to have been in a measure indefinite. Had they 
made the southern boundary, the northern boundaries of 


the States of Ohio and Indiana, the question of where 
such northern boundaries were might have been left 
open ; but, as if determined to hold what they considered 
their own, they had fixed in positive terms the southern 
boundary at a line running due east and west through 
the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan. This 
needlessly antagonized Indiana and Illinois, for it could 
not be said that their northern limits were irrevocably 
fixed, while Congress was being asked, in effect, to 
declare that the Ordinance line was their true northern 
boundaries. Whatever might have been urged against 
the claims of these States at the times of their admis 
sion, it was true that Congress had passed upon them, 
and for twenty years Michigan had slept upon her rights. 
No one should have expected a reversal of conditions so 
long established, and the result of raising the question 
was to array the delegations of both States in sympa 
thetic accord with the purposes of Ohio, with no com 
pensating benefits to Michigan. As in previous years, 
a bill for the admission of Michigan and one to settle 
the northern boundary of Ohio was given to the Judiciary 
Committee. For weeks the questions involved were con 
tested in committees. All the arguments were reiterated 
and all the evidence produced anew. Select committees 
on the admission of both Michigan and Arkansas were 
appointed; and singly, and jointly with the Judiciary 
and Territorial committees of both Houses, they can 
vassed the situation with every outward appearance of a 
sincere desire to reach a decision that should be in accord 
with the legal rights of the parties. But long before 
the committees were ready to report, it was evident that 


their deliberations were for little more than "outward 

"While there were many in Michigan who were saying, 
"The Toledo strip or nothing, " there were a very few 
who were saying that if they could not get what they 
wanted they would take what they could get. Lucius 
Lyon was of this number. No man in the Territory had 
done better service for the southern boundary than he, 
but when he say the inevitable, he sought to retrieve from 
the territory adjacent to Lake Superior. 

The credit for obtaining the Upper Peninsula to Mich 
igan has been accorded to Mr. Preston, of South Caro 
lina; but, unquestionably, the honor in larger degree 
belongs to Lucius Lyon. As early as February 4, answer 
ing a suggestion of like import from Daniel Goodwin 
of Detroit he had said, that if Congress should break 
up the southern boundary, "I for one shall go in for all 
the country Congress will give us west of the Lakes." 
"If that doctrine is to prevail," he says later, "we will 
take advantage of it and let the * Devil take the hindmost' 
as gamesters say." Two weeks later the proposition had 
taken such form that the Senator could say with a certain 
degree of assurance, that "the Committee will probably 
give us a strip of country along the south shore of Lake 
Superfor, where we can raise our own Indians in all time 
to come and supply ourselves now and then with a little 
bear meat for delicacy." But this facetious statement 
was far from representing the Senator's true estimate 
of the value of the Upper Peninsula. Lewis Cass and 
Henry E. Schoolcraft, each of whom knew the upper 
country with a fairly intimate knowledge, were then in 


Washington and there is reason to presume that the 
Senator availed himself of their more extensive informa 
tion. At any rate three days after the Senator had written 
of the Upper Peninsula as a land of bears and Indians, 
he wrote to Colonel Andrew Mack of the possible acces 
sion, saying, " My- opinion is that within twenty years the 
addition here proposed will be valued by Michigan at 
more than forty million of dollars, and that even after 
ten years the State would not think of selling it for that 
sum." On the same day he wrote to Hon. Charles C. 
Hascall, a member of the Michigan State Senate, saying, 
among other things, "This wiH give Michigan about 
twenty thousand square miles of land, together with 
three-fourths of the American shore of Lake Superior, 
which may at some future time be esteemed very valu 
able. A considerable tract of country between Lake 
Michigan and Lake Superior is known to be fertile and 
this, with the fisheries on Lake Superior and the copper 
mines, supposed to exist there, may hereafter be worth 
to us many millions of dollars/' 

In his view of the upper country, Lucius Lyon stood 
quite alone among Michigan statesmen. The people gen 
erally were watching the contest in Congress with una 
bated interest, and the proceedings and speeches on the 
question in that body found extended notice in the daily 
papers of Detroit. The great majority of the people of 
the putative State met every suggestion of seeking Ter 
ritorial compensation on the Lake Superior shore, even 
when there was a reasonable certainty that Congress was 
going to yield to the claims of Ohio, with the most vigor 
ous protest, as being in effect a compromise of the rights 
of Michigan. Senator John Norvell and Congressman 


Isaac Crary both, either partook of this sentiment or were 
influenced by it to the extent that they at first opposed 
any addition to the State in the region of the Upper 
Peninsula. Indeed, there seems to have been a general 
lack of harmony in the Michigan delegation on all sub 
jects, Norvell and Crary being generally opposed to Lyon 
on the several questions arising from policies and 
appointments and the feeling thus engendered was soon 
communicated to the politicians at home. One of the 
offices that was much in quest was that of postmaster at 
Detroit, a position to be made vacant when Norvell 
should be admitted to the Senate. There were some six 
or seven patriotic aspirants for the office, with Sheldon 
McKnight, editor of the Free Press, in the lead, sup 
ported by Senator Lyon and opposed by every other can 
didate and his friends. The method pursued to thwart 
the realization of McKnight ? s ambition gives an insight 
into the bitter political spirit of the time. Some time 
before, McKnight had had a personal altercation with a 
man by the name of Avery whom he was said to have 
struck with Ms open hand, the man dying soon thereafter 
from cause which there seems to have been no reason to 
believe were connected with the blow he had received from 
McKnight. No action was taken in the matter until 
McKnight became the leading candidate for the position 
of postmaster, when certain of his personal political ene 
mies obtained control of the grand jury, DeG-armo Jones 
a leading Whig politician being foreman and Benjamin 
B. Kercheval an opposition Democrat being secretary; 
when, to the surprise of McKnight as well as the com 
munity, he was indicted for manslaughter. The news was 
at once hurried to Washington to stop McKnight 7 s 


appointment. Lyon came to Ms aid with the statement 
that it was "undoubtedly a cool-blooded, black-hearted 
attempt to prostrate and ruin him and through him to 
injure Ms friends. " If such it was, it failed in its pur 
pose, for a speedy trial brought McKnight an acquittal, 
and his appointment and confirmation followed. 

There was likewise lack of agreement in the Michigan 
delegation on who should be favored with appointment 
to the judiciary, the State Legislature not yet having 
attempted to set up a judiciary under State authority. 

With these conditions existing, it was to be expected 
that when Senator Lyon suggested the propriety of 
obtaining an extension of territory to the northwest, 
there would be those ready to charge him with bartering 
away the rights of MieMgan for a "mess of pottage/' 
even though he was acting with a clear discernment of 
inevitable results. Lyon foresaw that Michigan was to 
lose; for, as a little later he wrote his friend Austin E. 
Wing, "An honest man after looking on here a month or 
two would laugh at himself for having ever supposed 
that the merits of a question like this could have any- 
tMng to do with the decision of Congress upon it." 

On the 1st of March, the Committee of the Senate, 
and a day later the Committee of the House, made reports 
on the boundary question wMch confirmed every fear 
that the people of Michigan had entertained. Ohio was 
conceded her full demands. The news of this action was 
speedily transmitted to Detroit, where a considerable 
excitement at once followed. A public meeting was *at 
once called, which assembled on the evening of March 8. 
The veteran Colonel Andrew Mack was chosen president, 
John S. Barry and General John Stockton vice-presi- 


dents, and Jacob M. Howard and George B. Martin sec 
retaries. Stirring addresses were made by John Biddle 
and Benjamin F. H. "Witherell. A numerous committee 
was appointed to solicit signatures to a memorial against 
the proposed congressional action; while lengthy resolu 
tions were adopted to the effect that, "the people of 
Michigan have given to no man or body of men authority 
to alter by bargain or compromise the boundaries to 
which they have uniformly asserted a right ; ' ' asserting 
that the evils of the proposed legislation were not "to be 
remedied by attaching to Michigan any extent, however 
great, of the sterile region on the shores of Lake Supe 
rior, destined by soil and climate to remain forever a 
wilderness.' 7 

For weeks the controversy in one form or another was 
before Congress. Thomas Benton in the Senate and 
John Quincy Adams in the House led the fight for Mich 
igan, but their efforts, although masterly and vigorous, 
were of no avail when urged against the exigencies of 
politics. At times it seemed that even if the State 
obtained admission, it would be without the addition of 
the Upper Peninsula, and as week succeeded week with no 
result, even Senator Lyon at times was persuaded that 
Congress would adjourn without providing for admis 
sion upon any terms ; but the end was near at hand. On 
June 15, 1836, Acts for the admission of both Arkansas 
and Michigan were approved, Arkansas being admitted 
unconditionally, while the admission of Michigan was 
made to depend upon the assent of a duly elected con 
vention to a change in boundary whereby the' territory in 
dispute was given to Ohio while compensation was given 
upon the north by fixing the boundary between Michigan 


and Wisconsin in that region by a line drawn through 
Green Bay, the Menominee Biver, Lake of the Desert, and 
Montreal Biver. The news of this action, although no sur 
prise to the people of Michigan, was anything but agree 
able to them. There were loud cries of tyranny and 
oppression. Much eloquence was expended and ink 
wasted upon the desirability of the State's remaining out 
of the Union rather than to enter it "mutilated, humbled 
and degraded. ' ' Few men had made more effort to retain 
the disputed territory to Michigan than had Governor 
Mason; but now, realizing that they were defeated he 
took no part in the campaign of denunciation which fol 
lowed, although his declarations were not such .as to 
drive from Tnm friends who had followed his lead, but 
were now less inclined than he to acknowledge the wis 
dom of submission. His influence, nevertheless, was dis 
creetly used in favor of accepting the terms imposed, a 
position the wisdom of which was to be demonstrated 
in the development of future years and the details in the 
attainment of which were to form another chapter in the 
history of the commonwealth. 



ON February 1, 1836, the Legislature convened pur 
suant to adjournment. The members had separated 
on the 14th of the previous November hopeful, if not 
confident, that upon their reconvening it would be as 
members of a State within the Federal Union. In this 
they were destined to disappointment and they were 
far from one mind as to the proper course to pursue. A 
conservative element more or less closely allied with men 
in touch with the Federal administration were in favor 
of again adjourning to await congressional action. The 
more radical element were for proceeding with the regu 
lar course of legislative procedure. The Legislature hav 
ing convened, the two houses at once met in joint assem 
bly and the Governor delivered his message. It was a 
document prepared with much care and deliberation. As 
it was intended for the perusal of Congress as well as 
to guide a coordinate branch of the State government, 
more than one-half of the space it filled was devoted 
to a review and discussion of the historical and legal 
phases of the boundary and statehood questions then 
uppermost in the public mind. It was a strong presenta 
tion of Michigan's side of the controversy, but was diplo 
matically prefaced by a sentence no doubt intended to 
render the vigor of his argument more palatable to Con 
gress: "We can but believe, " said he, "the motives 
which may govern that distinguished assemblage of 
American citizens, the Congress of the United States, in 


the decision they may arrive at, will be pure and patri 
otic; neither ought we to doubt but that that decision 
when made, will be favorable to our interests and 


Aniid the arguments of the message, the reader meets 
passages that may well stand as guides in the science of 
government. The following are interesting examples: 
"A vigilant regard for our rights should teach us that 
power once surrendered is seldom, if ever recovered, and 
that although exercised with forbearance at first, it may 
become ultimately oppressive." 

"The essence of freedom is self-government. Of no 
rights should the people be so tenacious as those which 
are political.' 7 

4 'The confidence of the people is the greatest security 
by which the government can act. It rests for its support 
upon their affections, not their fears; its strength is 
moral, not physical." 

On the several questions of the internal policy of the 
State, his views were set forth with characteristic clear 
ness and vigor. The interest of the people in the ques 
tion of internal improvement had increased rather thar 
diminished since the days when the subject had received 
attention in the communications which Governor Porter 
had made to the Legislative Council. The impression 
has sometimes been conveyed that the financial crisis 
through which the State passed during the years of its 
early history was the outgrowth of policies matured and 
exploited by the Governor, especially with respect to its 
experience with schemes of internal improvements and 
banking institutions. That the Governor partook of the 
general ambition of the people is true ; but a perusal of 


Hs message clearly indicates that lie had a purpose to 
carefully limit and prescribe the State's activities to safe 
and beneficial projects. On the general subject of 
internal improvements, the Governor said: 

"The natural advantages of Michigan for the pur 
poses of commerce and agriculture are not exceeded by 
any State in the Union, and too much of your attention 
cannot be bestowed in maturing a prudent and judicious 
system of legislation for the development of those 
resources of wealth. The Constitution enjoins upon the 
Legislature the encouragement of this branch of our 
State policy; and it is made their duty *as soon as may be 
to make provisions by law for ascertaining the proper 
objects of improvement in relation to roads, canals, and 
navigable waters.' The spirit and enterprise, which has 
arisen among our citizens, if fostered and encouraged by 
the State, cannot fail to lead to lasting prosperity. Your 
liberal legislation should embrace within its range every 
section of the State. No local prejudice or attachment 
should misdirect the equal liberality with which you 
should guard the interest of your constitutents. The 
wealth of the State must be composed of the individual 
wealth of its citizens, and in this respect no portion of 
them are independent of the other. 

"In obedience to the constitutional provision, which 
requires you to provide for an equal systematic and eco 
nomical application of the funds that may be appropri 
ated to objects of internal improvement, I would suggest 
for your consideration the propriety of the appointment 
of a competent Engineer, Commissioner or Board of 
Commissioners, as may be most conducive to the end con 
templated, whose duties shall be regulated by law, and 


who shall be required at each session of the Legislature 
to report the result of such investigation as may have 
been previously directed. The appointment of the first 
named officer would probably meet the object in view, 
and would certainly prove most economical, as Ms duties 
might be diversified as the interests of the State should 
require. Through this medium, the most desirable and 
practicable works of internal improvement will be 
brought before the Legislature, matured for their action, 
preventing the hasty undertaking of useless, if not 
impracticable projects, and directing the energies and 
resources of the state in such channels as will be pro 
ductive of the greatest good to the greatest number of 
our fellow citizens. " 

Attention was directed to the necessity of at once pro 
curing grants of public lands from the National Govern 
ment to the State which he predicted "will afford a fund 
ample to give effect to our plans of internal improve 
ment/' thus indicating that he neither contemplated or 
recommended schemes as extensive as those upon which 
the State subsequently embarked. 

Likewise as to the railroads being then projected in 
the State, it was not the opinion of the Governor that 
the State should become the sole owner and proprietor 
of its railroads, but that the State should become inter 
ested as a stockholder, that it might be in position to 
obtain information and able to exert a measure of control 
that otherwise might be denied it. ""While it is the duty 
of the Legislature/ 7 said the Governor, "to afford every 
aid in their power to facilitate the construction of these 
important works, it is also desirable that they should 
never be beyond at least the partial control of the State. 


So important is their construction to the permanent 
interest and prosperity of the State, that I would recom 
mend the passage of a law, authorizing a subscription 
in behalf of the State, to a large amount of the capital 
stock vested in the companies which have these roads In 
the progress of completion." 

As we shall see, this policy was not the one which 
the Legislature pursued, although many who have given 
much thought to the subject have expressed the belief 
that it w r ould have been a wise and beneficial policy to 
have followed. The. message reflected its author's well- 
known views on the subject of corporations; he closed 
his reflections on the subject by saying, "It is a question 
in my mind whether corporate powers should ever be 
extended to associations in ordinary trade. That branch 
of industry may be considered most thriving when left 
free to individual enterprise/' 

His recommendations as to banks of issue left little to 
be desired in the way of statement of the fundamental 
principles that should govern their organization and limit 
their operations. On the subject of banks he said: 

"In all cases of applications for charters for banking 
purposes, the most prudent care should be exhibited by 
the Legislature. It is a difficult point to arrive at in legis 
lation on this subject, where the issue of paper as a cir 
culating medium, will answer the convenience and 
demands of the public, without deranging the currency, 
and endangering the prosperity of the community for 
whose benefit it is intended. Gold and silver have by 
common consent been made the representatives of every 
species of property. Bank notes are but the representa 
tives of gold and silver and derive their valtie from this 


basis. Excessive issues of notes are calculated to engen 
der over-trading in the community, drive the metallic 
basis from our country, and are apt in case of sudden 
emergencies in the money market to be attended with 
consequences disastrous to the public. In arriving at 
just conclusions on the subject, we need not consult the 
theories of political economists, but refer to the practical 
history of the country as it is presented before us." 

This excerpt is quite sufficient proof that the Governor 
was no* a believer in fiat money, and that so far as he 
was officially connected with the subsequent passage of 
the general banking law under which the ill-famed "wild 
cat" banks had an ephemeral existence, his error in 
approving the measure arose not from a misunderstand 
ing, of the true basis of sound finance, but from sharing 
in a general lack of knowledge as to the details neces 
sary to maintain that basis. 

Governor Mason had already evidenced his deep inter 
est in the cause of general education. As yet there was not 
a free school within the Territorial limits of Michigan; 
but looking forward with an enthusiastic hope, the young 
Governor said of this important subject: "Ours is said 
to be a government founded on intelligence and morality, 
and no political axiom can be more beautifully true; 
here the rights of all are equal and the people themselves 
are the primary source of all power. Our institutions 
have leveled the artificial distinctions existing in the 
societies of other countries and have left open to every 
one the avenues to distinction and honor. Public opinion 
directs the course which our government pursues; and 
so long as the people are enlightened, that direction will 
never be misgiven. It becomes then your imperious duty 


to secure to the State a general diffusion of knowledge. 
This can in no wise be so certainly effected as by the per 
fect organization of a uniform and liberal system of com 
mon schools. Your attention is therefore called to the 
effectuation of a perfect school system, open to all 
classes, as the surest basis of public happiness and pros 
perity." He followed with recommendations as to the 
conservation of the lands derived from the General Gov 
ernment for the purposes of education; venturing the 
prophecy that with the careful husbanding of resources, 
the University of Michigan which as yet was little more 
than a contemplation, would become "an ornament and 
honor' to the West." The dream of the young enthusiast 
has long since become a reality, and his sentiments for 
the great cause of education are worthy to be remem 

Space in the message w T as likewise devoted to the State 
finances, the simplification of the judiciary, and the crea 
tion of a penitentiary system. 

Even at this early date, the question of human slavery 
was raising its frowning front and threatening the peace 
and stability of the nation. The executives and legisla 
tures of Southern States were transmitting to the 
authorities of the North protests and memorials against 
the pronouncements and activities of the parties demand 
ing the abolition of this institution which they conceived 
to be purely of domestic concern. Taking notice of the 
frequent communications from Southern States, he 
expressed bis sentiments in his message saying in part: 
"The Federal Constitution has left its regulations among 
the reserved rights of the States, and it cannot by any 
implication of power be delegated to the General Gov- 


eminent If slavery be a curse to the States in which 
it exists, time and their own experience will correct it; 
if a blessing, it is their right and cannot be taken from 
them. But in a government like ours, where public senti 
ment directs its conrse, it becomes the duty of the people 
through their representatives, to manifest their senti 
ments upon all questions of public interest, and more 
especially upon those which agitate and interrupt the 
tranquility of the country ;" adding his appreciation of 
the seriousness of the question and its possible conse 
quences by saying, "It is with this view, fellow citizens, 
that I call your attention to this alarming subject; a sub 
ject perhaps involving our permanent existence as a 
united Nation. " 

As a question of ethics, Governor Mason was known to 
be opposed to human slavery; but one catches a vein of 
hesitancy in the above that reflected the responsibility of 
official position. Much more might he have hesitated 
could he have discerned the future, have witnessed the 
realization of his fear, and seen his own blood and kin 
dred upon the opposing sides in a war which staggered 
the Nation with the horrors of its strife. 

The members of the Legislature were far from one 
mind as to the propriety of proceeding with general legis 
lation until the State should be fully recognized as a 
member of the Federal Union. This was especially true 
of the members of the Senate, where John S. Barry led the 
conservative element, which desired an adjournment from 
time to time until Congress should have taken the desired 
action. Resolutions to that effect, to know the mind of 
the executive, and solemn protest, were all alike unavail 
ing. The more radical element prevailed and the Legis- 


Onlv fhiltl Of <H.V. Mason. 

Governor of Michigan 1S35-1S41. 


Member of the fim Constitutional Convention and first Li'Utenjint Governor 

!>f Micfem. 


lature proceeded to enact laws of general application to 
the State government. Acts were passed providing for 
the election of county officers ; for the selection of presi 
dential electors, and for members of the Legislature. 
The duties of the Auditor General and State Treasurer 
were defined, and the salaries of State officials fixed; 
the Governor being given an annual salary of two thou 
sand dollars; the Secretary of State, eight hundred; 
Auditor General, two hundred; Attorney General, two 
hundred; and the State Treasurer, two hundred; all to 
be paid quarterly. The boundary controversy was still in 
evidence through the passage of an Act to pay the militia 
for "supporting the supremacy of the laws of Michigan 
at Toledo, 77 which patriotic service by the report of a 
committee was found to involve the expenditure of the 
sum of $19,341.05. An act was also passed in the form 
of an offer on the part of Michigan to submit the question 
of boundary between Michigan and Indiana for the deci 
sion of the United States Supreme Court, an offer in 
which it is needless to say, Indiana never saw fit to 
co-operate. Governor Mason was also empowered to 
employ counsel to conduct the defense to the Supreme 
Court of the United States of one Lewis Brown, a col 
lector of taxes in the township of Whiteford, Monroe 
County, who in the prosecution of the duties of his office 
within said township, but upon territory claimed to be 
within the jurisdiction of Ohio, had made distress upon 
the gray inare of one Jonathan H. Jerome for taxes due 
under the laws of Michigan; and who had been uncere 
moniously pounced upon by the constable and posse of 
the hated county of Lucas as he was about to sell the 
mare to the highest bidder and borne before a magistrate 


at Maumee, and was later incarcerated for a space of 
twenty-four hours in the common goal at Perrysburg. 
But long before the journey of the case to the Supreme 
Court of the United States could be well started, Con 
gress had made it apparent that it would be a proceed 
ing devoid of both profit and honors. 

The creation of a system of State courts was a question 
upon which the leaders had exhibited a considerable hesi 
tancy; because, with State courts in operation, conflict 
between such courts and the Territorial courts operating 
under Federal authority would be inevitable, and this 
no one desired. The Legislature soon hit upon the 
expediency of enacting the required statutes, leaving it 
to the Governor to bring them into operation by the 
appointment of the judges, at a time when the danger of 
conflicting jurisdiction was removed. The Act to organ 
ize the Supreme Court and establish Circuit Courts and 
an Act to establish a Court of Chancery, were both 
approved on March 26, 1836. By the terms of the first 
Act, the Supreme Court was to be composed of three 
judges, the first named of whom was to be the Chief 
Justice. The State was divided into three circuits. The 
first circuit was composed of the counties of Wayne, 
Macdmb, St. Clair, Lapeer, Michilimackinac, Chippewa' 
and the counties attached to such counties for judicial 
purposes. The second circuit comprised the counties of 
Monroe, Lenawee, Washtenaw, Oakland, Saginaw, Jack 
son, Hillsdale, and likewise the counties attached to such 
counties for judicial purposes; and the third circuit was 
formed from the counties of Branch, St. Joseph, Cass, 
Berrien, Kalamazoo, Allegan, Calhoun and Kent and the' 
counties that had been attached to them for judicial pur- 


poses. The judges were to be appointed for the term of 
seven years each and were to meet quarterly as a 
Supreme Court at Detroit, Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo. 
Provision was made for the election of two side or county 
judges in each county with terms of office of four years 
each. Two terms of court were to be held in each county 
yearly. One judge of the Supreme Court was to reside 
within each of the three circuits and was to be the pre 
siding judge, sitting with the two side or associate judges 
in the several counties of his circuit. Provision was like 
wise made for justice and probate courts and methods 
of appeal provided from lower to higher jurisdiction. 
The chancery jurisdiction of the State was by the provi 
sions of the Act before mentioned given into the charge 
of a Chancery Court to be presided over by a Chancellor, 
who was required to hold two terms of court yearly in 
each of the judicial circuits of the State. The Chancellor 
and Judges of the Supreme Court were prohibited from 
practicing in the courts of the State, and, with the excep 
tion of the Chief Justice, were granted salaries of fifteen 
hundred dollars each per year, the Chief Justice being 
granted one hundred dollars additional. 

Upon the passage of the Act defining the duties of 
State Treasurer and Auditor General, the legislature in 
accordance with the constitutional provision met in joint 
convention and elected Levi Cook, former Territorial 
Treasurer, to the corresponding position under the State 
government. Mr. Cook declined the position, and the 
Legislature on March 1 elected Henry Howard of Detroit, 
who accepted the position and became the first State 
Treasurer, a position that he continued to hold until 
April 27, 1839. Governor Mason had likewise on the 


23rd of February nominated Eobert Abbott for the office 
of Auditor General. Two days later the Senate con 
firmed the nomination, and Mr. Abbott at once took up 
the duties under the State government which for a con 
siderable time he had performed for the Territory. 

While the Legislature at this session enacted many 
laws of a salutary character, and while none could be 
classed as either obstructive or vicious, yet there was con 
siderable legislation that indicated ambitions enter 
tained by the body of the people which a little later were 
to contribute to a period of panic and disaster. Hope 
and enthusiasm were in the ascendancy. The future 
seemed bright with promise; the wave of prosperity 
which had swept westward, raising as if by magic the 
proud commonwealths of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, was 
now setting full and strong toward the country of the 
Great Lakes. The contagion of speculation was in the 
air, and the people sought eagerly for the vantage points 
from which to gather the increment which they reasoned 
would soon result from increasing population. Henry 
B. Schoolcraf t ? as a Commissioner of the General Govern 
ment, was even then negotiating a treaty at Washington 
with the Ottawa and Chippewa nations of Indians, which, 
with the exception of a few reservations, was to extin 
guish the Indian title to the greater portion of the Lower 
Peninsula and as far west as the Chocolay River (about 
Marquette) in the Upper Peninsula. On March 31, 
Lucius Lyon, writing from Washington to the editors 
of the Free Press, took occasion to say, "Of the country 
purchased, about 4,000,000 acres extending from the 
Grand Eiver north is known to be fine land for settle 
ment, and within a very few years we shall no doubt see 


towns springing up at the mouths of all the rivers flow 
ing into Lake Michigan, for a hundred miles north, if 
not all around the Lower Peninsula. The "Upper Penin 
sula is known to contain vast forests of the very best 
pine, which is even now much wanted in Ohio, Indiana 
and Illinois and the southern part of Michigan and Wis 
consin, and must very shortly furnish the material of a 
highly valuable trade." 

Governor Mason was not uninfluenced by the general 
spirit of elation which pervaded the community, and 
with characteristic energy set about spreading, in true 
American fashion, the news of the great opportunities 
that were awaiting home seekers in the new State of 
Michigan. The boundary dispute and the contest for 
admission were calling the attention of the Nation to the 
State, and the Governor supplemented their advertising 
by other of a more positive character in the newspapers 
of Albany and other cities of the East and by printed 
circulars which detailed in glowing terms the advantages 
of the country. 

The enactments of the Legislature, the newspapers and 
the correspondence of the public men all show that the 
public at large were anxious to emulate Ohio and New 
York in works of internal improvement. As early as 
January 16, the settlers from the remote clearings of 
Cass and Berrien Counties gathered for a Canal meeting 
and other localities followed. "Railroads and canals 
will one day make one broad garden of Michigan >? was 
the enthusiastic prophecy of the Free Press of March 
23rd, a sentiment in which the papers of both political 
parties seemingly acquiesced. The Legislature, almost 
without division, enacted charters for banking institu- 


tions bearing names which sufficiently designate their 
location, as the Bank of St. Glair, the Bank of Clinton, 
the Bank of Calhoun, the Bank of Oakland County, the 
Bank of Manhattan, the last named being in the County 
of Monroe. 

The appointment of a Banking Commissioner was pro 
vided for, to receive three hundred dollars annually for 
making examinations of the various banks every four 

Xew York had recently enacted a so-called "Safety 
Fund" Act for the benefit of the creditors of banks and 
other moneyed corporations, and it was used as the model 
for a like enactment for Michigan. It gave to the Court 
of Chancery jurisdiction over insolvent banks, and pro 
vided that each bank should annually on the first of Jan 
uary, pay to the State Treasurer one-half of one per 
cent on its capital stock paid in, until a total of three 
per cent had been paid in. This fund was to be invested 
by the Auditor 'General, and the interest arising there 
from was to be used to pay the salary of the Banking 
Commissioner, and the balance to be paid to the banks 
which had contributed the principal. The "Bank Fund, ' > 
as it was denominated, was to be used to make good 
the debts of insolvent banks, and was to be replenished 
from time to time as demands might be made upon it. 
No one seems to have urged that such an Act was not suf 
ficient to furnish adequate protectiori against any finan 
cial stress through which the banks might be required to 
pass, for a condition of crisis and general panic was 
neither within their experience or conception. 

The Legislature at this session, likewise, gave author 
ity for sixty-six State roads in various parts of the State 


connecting up so far as legal enactments could, the raw 
settlement of the interior. Powers to construct dams 
upon every considerable stream of the lower portion of 
the State was granted to persons eager to harness their 
currents to productive industry; but it was in railroad 
promotion that the imagination of the enthusiast of 1836 
found freest play. The Legislature at this session 
granted charters for the Shelby and Belle River, the 
Monroe and Ypsilanti, the Allegan and Marshall, the 
Clinton and Adrian, the St. Glair and Romeo, the Pal 
myra and Jacksonburg, the Kalamazoo and Lake Mich 
igan, the Constantine and Niles Canal and Railroad, and 
the River Raisin and Lake Erie, while the previously 
chartered Detroit and Maumee was given authority to 
construct the Havre branch, and the Erie and Kalamazoo 
which was nearing completion from Toledo to Adrian 
was granted divers amendments to its act of incorpora 
tion. These companies clearly indicate that their pro- 
motors were yet far from divining the centers of indus 
trial development or the course of the great commercial 
movements of the region, for the proposed roads varied 
from but fifteen to fifty miles in length while the names 
Havre, Palmyra, Shelby, and Belle River have long since 
passed from the list of even prospective railroad ter 

On March 28 the Legislature adjourned sine die with 
many measures pending and unconsidered. That the 
adjournment had relation to the boundary question there 
is no doubt. The opposition to the action of the Legisla 
ture in proceeding with general legislation before the 
formal admission of the State had increased, as Congress 
had seemingly shown no indication of being influenced 


by it. The hesitance of some member as to the propriety 
of such action during the first days of the session took 
definite form on the 21st of February when John S. Barry 
and four other members of the Senate spread their formal 
protest against the " advisability " and "expediency" of 
legislation at the time upon the Senate Journal. The 
drift of congressional action upon the boundary question 
from day to day was clearly against Michigan, and there 
was a growing feeling that the independence of the legis 
lature was intensifying the situation. Lucius Lyon was 
writing frequent letters from Washington to his political 
friends in Detroit predicting the result that was to be 
expected. The Free Press joined in the demand for an 
adjournment, and was commended by Senator Lyon in a 
letter to John S. Bagg, its editor, wherein he said among 
other things, "I say to you in strictest confidence, that 
the course pursued by the majority of our Legislature 
has had the effect to create a prejudice against us here." 
the letter concluding with the statement, "We shall lose 
the disputed country, and by a much larger majority 
than I had ever supposed. I understand the bill has 
passed the Senate today with but three dissenting votes. 
The political influence, together with the prejudice 
excited against us is so strong that nobody will open his 
mouth in our favor. " 

That Senator Lyon in those statements was but stating 
what he foresaw was inevitable, and not Ms desire (as 
Ms Michigan enemies argued) is shown by his letter of 
two days later (March 12) to Dr. Zina Pitcher in wMch 
he says, "All parties are courting the electoral votes of 
Ohio, Indiana and Illinois and poor Michigan must be 


sacrificed. "We shall probably be allowed to come into 
tlie Union if we surrender our rights, but the Union of 
gamblers and pick-pockets, to a poor traveller who has 
just been robbed, is hardly to be desired." 



A LTHOIIG-H the ambitions of the people for statehood 
*** had not been gratified, the faint blush of spring 
found Michigan with every outward promise of a highly 
prosperous season. The border contest had at least one 
beneficial result for the State ; it had advertised its pros 
pects and possibilities ; it had created an interest through 
out the East in the State's resources and people, and 
with the departure of winter's barriers from roads and 
streams the tide of immigration, set in with unprece 
dented volume. It seemed as though there was hardly a 
hamlet of New England or New York that was not send 
ing its delegation of pioneers. Everywhere people heard 
the crude song of ' i Michigania,' ' the first lines of which 
ran as follows : 

"Come all ye Yankee farmers who wish to change your lot. 
Who've spunk enough to travel beyond your native spot, 
And leave behind the village where Pa and Ma must stay, 
Come follow me, and settle in Michigaiiia. 
Yea, yea, yea, in Michigania." 

Overland through the dismal stretches of Upper Canada, 
the white covered wagons of the immigrant moved in 
slow procession: three hundred and eighteen such con 
veyances passed westward through the town of Chat 
ham in ten days. So frequent was the passage of their 
wagons from Windsor to Detroit, that the Free Press on 
May 24, chronicled the fact that the ferry boat Argo had 
brought over twenty such outfits between the hours of 


nine and twelve o'clock; while on June "2, it contained a 
notice to the effect that "the receipts from the sale of 
public lands taken at the three land offices in the penin 
sula of Michigan during the month of May amounted 
to rising of one million dollars." There were ninety 
steam-boat arrivals at Detroit during the single month 
of May, seven hundred passengers disembarking on the 
one day of the 23rd. An estimate made at the time 
showed that in the month of June on an average, a wagon 
left the city of Detroit for the interior every five minutes 
during the twelve hours of daylight. 

Miss Harriet Martineau who was now (June 14th, 
1836) a guest at the home of Governor Mason, and who 
on the following day took her departure overland for 
Chicago, has left us in her interesting work Society in 
America, a graphic description of the scenes and condi 
tions that beset the pioneer on the best highway in Mich 
igan, the "Chicago road. 7 ' 

"Starting westward in the early morning/' she says,, 
"the brimming river was bright in the morning sun; and 
our road was for a mile or two thronged with Indians. 
Some of the inhabitants of Detroit, who knew the most 
about their dark neighbors, told me that they found it 
impossible to be romantic about these poor creatdres. 
We, however, could not help feeling the excitement of 
the spectacle, when we saw them standing in their singu 
larly majestic attitudes by the roadside or on a rising 
ground; one, with a bunch of feathers tied at the back of 
his head; another, with his arms folded in his blankets; 
and a third, with her infant lashed to a board, and thus 
carried on her shoulders. Their appearance was dread 
fully squalid. 

220 STEVENS T. MASON " " ' 

"As soon as we had entered the woods, the roads 
became as bad as, I suppose, roads ever are. Something 
snapped, and the driver cried out that we were 'broke 
to bits/ The team-bolt had given away. Our gentlemen, 
and those of the mail-stage, which happened to be at hand, 
helped to mend the coach; and we ladies walked on, gath 
ering abundance of flowers, and picking our way along 
the swampy corduroy road. In less than an hour the 
stage took us up, and no more accidents happened before 
breakfast. We were abundantly amused while our meal 
was preparing at Dannersville. One of the passengers 
of the mail-coach, took up a violin and offered to play for 
us. Books with pictures were lying about. The lady of 
the house sat by the window fixing her candle-wicks into 
the moulds. On the piazza sat a party of emigrants who 
interested us much. The wife had her eight children 
with her; the youngest, puny twins. She said she had 
brought them in a wagon four hundred miles, and if they 
could only live through the one hundred that remained 
before they reached her husband's lot of land, she hoped 
they might thrive; but she had been robbed the day 
before of her bundle of baby things. Some one had 
stolen it from the wagon. After a good meal we saw 
the stage passengers stowed into a lumber wagon; and 
we presently followed in our more comfortable vehicle. 

"Before long something else snapped. The splinter- 
bar was broken. The driver was mortified but it was 
no fault of his. Juggernaut's car would have been ' broke 
to bits' on such a road. We went into a settler's house, 
where we were welcomed to rest and refresh ourselves. 
Three years before, the owner bought Ms eighty acres 
of land for a dollar an acre. He could not sell it for 


twenty dollars an acre. He shot, last year, a hundred 
deer and sold them for three dollars a piece. He and 
Ms family need have no fears of poverty. We dined well 
nine miles before reaching Ypsilanti. The log houses, 
always comfortable when well made, being easily kept 
clean, cool in summer and warm in winter, have here an 
air of beauty about them. The hue always harmonizes 
with the soil and vegetation. Those in Michigan have 
the bark left on, and the corners sawn off close ; and are 
thus both picturesque and neat. 

"At Ypsilanti, I picked up an Ann Arbor newspaper. 
It was badly printed; but its contents were pretty good, 
and it could happen nowhere out of America, that so 
raw a settlement as that at Ann Arbor, where there is 
difficulty in procuring decent accommodation, should 
have a newspaper. 9 ? 

So the author proceeds through many pages to describe 
the scenes and impressions gained from bad roads, set 
tlers ' homes and the primitive villages through which 
they passed, and where nightly they sought shelter. 
Sleeping sometimes, as she says " ranged like walking- 
sticks or umbrellas on the shop-counter/' she catches the 
spirit of the occasion and is unmindful of the discom 
fitures that are ever present. The park-like forests, the 
rolling prairies, the ever present flowers and the songs of 
the birds lead her to exclaim, "Milton must have trav 
elled in Michigan before he wrote the garden parts of 
'Paradise Lost.' " Even the following of the blazed trail 
and toiling over bottomless roads was relieved from tedi- 
ousness by the wit and humor of the immigrant and fellow 
traveler, for she says, "Their humor helps themselves 
and their visitors through any 'Sloughs of Despond/ 


as charitably as their infinite abundance of logs help them 
through the swamps and over the bad roads. ' ' 

If such was the experience of the traveler in comforta 
ble conveyance over the best highway the State could 
boast, we may well imagine the experience of the sturdy 
pioneer who with valiant wife and a numerous brood of 
children loaded in a ponderous wagon behind leisurely 
moving oxen, sought the locations in the still newer and 
more remote counties to the north and west. 

But not all the people drawn to Michigan by the fever 
of emigration sought homes in the interior; many identi 
fied themselves with Detroit, and the boom of the metrop 
olis exceeded, if possible, that which came to interior 
localities. There were insufficient dwellings to accommo 
date the new accession of population, and everywhere 
were to be seen the evidences of the growth incident to 
the new order of things. Originally, and in a state of 
nature, the Cass farm at the intersection of Jefferson 
Avenue and Second Street, fronted the river with a high" 
bank To render the land suitable for building pur 
poses necessitated the grading off of more than a hun 
dred thousand yards of soil To accomplish this, a large 
force of laborers were employed in the early spring of 
1836. But for some cause unknown, but which was 
undoubtedly supplemented by liberal potions of strong 
drink, the laborers to the number of more than a hundred 
fell into a fierce fight of such a character that the officers 
were unable to quell it. This circumstance emphasized 
what had long been considered, namely, the need of a 
military organization that would respond to local author 
ities. This led to the organization in the month of May, 
of the justly famed Brady Guards, named in honor of 


General Hugh Brady, the memory of whom still lingers 
as of a man of more than ordinary virtues and attain 
ments. Alphens S. Williams was chosen captain, and for 
many years the company not only rendered efficient serv 
ice in the line of its duty, but became one of the helpful 
social adjuncts of the community. 

Another organization that exerted a most potent influ 
ence in the social and intellectual life of Detroit, the 
Detroit Young Men's Society, received its corporate 
existence from an Act of the Legislature approved 
March 26. This society composed of the younger men of 
talent and character in the city, had already had an 
independent existence of some four years, and was soon 
possessed of the only considerable library in the city that 
could be considered public in character. During the 
winter months the society held weekly meetings, when 
literary exercises and debates were furnished as the 
entertainment to large and appreciative audiences. Upon 
the platform of this society at this time and in later years, 
appeared some of the foremost men of the nation. 
Detroit furnished few men in the larger affairs of busi 
ness, professions, or politics in the earlier years of the 
State J s history who had not been actively affiliated with 
the Detroit Young Men's Society. Governor Mason 
earlier became a member of this society, a relation he 
continued to the end of his life. He frequently partici 
pated in the society debates, and upon one occasion, not 
far from this time, delivered an extended and carefully 
prepared address before the society, taking for his sub 
ject "The Northwest," showing in his treatment of the 
theme a knowledge of the historic incidents involved that 
was quite unusual. 


Historians have devoted considerable space to that 
article of the Ordinance of 1787, which provided among 
other things, " there shall be neither slavery nor involun 
tary servitude in the said Territory, otherwise than in 
the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have 
been duly convicted. " Its authorship has been claimed 
for many eminent men of that day and various motives, 
all praiseworthy, have been ascribed for its inclusion in 
the organic law for the great Territory from which five 
States were subsequently formed, States which became 
the determining factor, when in subsequent years the 
struggle came that settled the question of human bond 
age. Dr. Hinsdale, in his admirable work The Old North 
west, writing on the subject says, "The first draft of the 
Ordinance of 1787 did not contain the prohibition; but 
Mr. Dane, who was a member of the committee of July 
9th and who wrote that draft, brought it forward on the 
second reading apparently on the suggestion from Vir 
ginia." Inasmuch as Governor Mason was a Virginian 
and intimately related to many of the men of power and 
influence in the Dominion of that day, his statement as 
to the reason that prompted Virginia to desire such a 
provision in the Ordinance, is of more than passing inter 
est. In this connection, in his address, Governor Mason 
said, " Slavery was forbidden forever. It may not be 
unimportant to mention in reference to this provision, 
that Virginia made the provision a condition of her act 
of cession. The object and policy of Virginia in requir 
ing such a condition was for a long time unknown to me, 
and is not disclosed by the records of the country of that 
day. She was a slave-holding State herself and prohib 
ited the increase of slaves States five in number. I find 

Member of the Territorial Or^-il ls'!0-i!l. Fir^r Attorney GeDcral of Michigan, 


...t" the State of Miehigii 


First Chief Justice of Michigan. 


upon inquiry, however, that it arose from jealousy of 
her own strength in reference to the old States in the 
Confederacy. Her delegation in Congress at the head of 
which was Mr. Monroe, apprehended that emigration to 
the Northwest would diminish her population and thus 
lessen her strength in the Federal Councils. By prohib 
iting slavery in the States to be formed, her own people, 
the holder of slaves would be compelled to remain at 
home. Thus whilst New England and New York would 
be drained of their population, Virginia would retain 
her ascendancy. How short-sighted the policy of man 
when the hand of God seems to direct the affairs of this 
world. By this narrow act of Virginia an empire of 
States has sprung into existence, released and freed from 
the blighting course of a system, which we all deplore 
though we cannot now remove it." 

If such be the true explanation of the motive which 
prompted Virginia to assist in the adoption. of this impor 
tant provision in the Ordinance of 1787, well may we say 
with Governor Mason, "How short-sighted the policy of 
man," for had Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois become slave- 
holding States, as but for the prohibition of the Ordinance 
they would have been, the issue of the great conflict of 
1861-65 must have had a far different termination. 

News of the congressional action of June 15, which con 
ceded the demands of Ohio and gave to Michigan terri 
torial compensation in the Upper Peninsula with right 
of admission into the Union conditioned upon the accep 
tance of the boundaries as fixed by Congress through the 
assent of a convention of delegates elected by the people 
of the State, was received with evidences of extreme dis 
pleasure. Had Congress passed an Act of admission giv- 


ing to Ohio the strip she claimed, and leaving to Michigan 
the right to judicial determination of the question 
involved in her southern boundary, there would have 
been small complaint; but to have the lines fixed and 
determined and then to foreclose to appeal to the courts 
by making admission depend upon assent through repre 
sentatives duly chosen, was to the minds of many, heap 
ing insult upon injury. As a sugar coating to the pro 
visional Act of admission, Congress passed an Act which 
received approval on the 23rd of June, granting to the 
State, lands for the following" purposes: 

First, Section number 16 in every township of public, 
lands ; and where such section had been sold or dis 
posed of, then other lands of equal value to the State 
for the use of schools. 

Second, seventy-two sections of land that had been 
granted to the Territory for a seminary of learning 
were regranted to the State for the support of the 

Third, five entire sections of land to be selected in legal 
divisions of not less than one quarter section for the 
purpose of public buildings. 

Fourth, all salt springs within the State not exceeding 
twelve in number with six sections of land adjoining. 
Five per cent of the net proceeds of the sale of all 
public lands lying within the State, which have been 
or shall be sold by Congress from and after the first 
day of July 1836, to be appropriated for the making 
of roads and canals within the State. 

This grant of public lands was not materially different 
from the grants of lands to other States by the General 


Government at the time of their admission, but in Mich 
igan the grant being supplemental to the Act of admis 
sion, it was urged as an inducement by those who favored 
acquiescence in the terms proposed, a by no means con 
siderable number of the people. 

The most important thing in connection with the grant 
of the lands for school purposes was, that instead of the 
lands being granted to the various townships for the sup 
port of the schools within such townships and being dis 
sipated by the various townships of the State, they were 
granted to the State, and so became the basis of the 
State's primary school fund. This highly beneficial 
departure from, the system of granting lands to town 
ships as had been done previously, was the fruit of the 
wise forethought of Hon. Isaac E. Crary, then awaiting 
the privilege of a seat in Congress to which he had been 
elected by the people of Michigan. 

Another event that had a direct bearing upon the 
status of Michigan was to be found in the fact that on 
April 20, 1836, the Territory of Wisconsin had been cre 
ated, to begin her career of independence on the 4th of 
July following, so that there was to be no Territorial 
appendage to keep Michigan from accepting the terms 
proffered. Then as though to give to a few of the lead 
ers in the State an incentive for at least not being over- 
zealous in their sentiments of opposition to the high 
handed program of the Government, Congress on the 1st 
of July made due provision for the courts and officers 
of the United States, the law to become effective when 
the State was admitted. To the offices thus created the 
President at once nominated and the Senate confirmed, 
Eoss WilMns as District Judge, Daniel Goodwin as Dis- 


trict Attorney and Conrad Ten Byck as Marshal, their 
respective commissions to issue upon the contingency of 
the State J s admission into the Union. 

As soon as Governor Mason received official notice of 
the action taken by Congress, he issued his proclamation 
convening the Legislature in extra session on Monday, 
the llth day of July. Upon the assembling of the Legis 
lature, the Governor submitted a message, which very 
ably presented the conditions imposed upon Michigan by 
the action of Congress, while it clearly argued their injus 
tice and diplomatically called attention to the futility of 
resistance; although he specifically disclaimed any pur 
pose to suggest a policy which should be personal because 
the matter had been submitted to the decision of a con 
vention to be selected by the people. In view of his past 
experience and the state of public feeling, the message 
was a document of exceptional dignity and temper well 
calculated to at least pave the way for the acceptance 
of the inevitable. He did not, however, alienate the con 
fidence and support of the friends with whom he had 
labored by a spiritless acquiescence in the program that 
superior power had dictated. * i I find it difficult, ' ' said the 
Governor, "to express the feelings which are naturally 
excited upon this occasion, or to allude to this dismem 
berment of our Territory in that respectful language, 
which is perhaps due to those whose hands it has been 
effected. I feel as every citizen of Michigan must feel, 
that the decision of Congress has been made in violation 
of every principle of justice, and that to put censure 
where it is due is the prerogative of the people; that 
the result of their labors is but the triumph of might 
over right, based upon considerations of temporary 


expediency; and that the stamp of its legitimacy is to be 
wrung from the unwilling assent of a patriotic and high 
minded people. In fact, the question of right between 
the parties has been avowedly disregarded by Congress, 
and their action placed upon the exclusive ground of 
expediency." Speaking further of the injustice of the 
action of Congress he said, u However much the people 
of Michigan may doubt the power of the General Govern 
ment to alter the constitutional boundary of their State, 
they would have yielded respect to their legislation from 
patriotic consideration, had Congress been content with 
the simple exercise of their power. They would have 
declared as they now do, the legislation to be unconstitu 
tional, but as citizens of the United States, they would 
have silently acquiesced in it, appealing to another 
tribunal for the peaceable and constitutional redress 
secured to them by the institutions of their country. But 
they are denied such an alternative, and are driven to 
other extremes, resistance or unqualified submission. 
We are told that we shall not question the proceedings 
of Congress, that unless we give our assent to a system of 
legislation which we believe to be oppressive, illegal and 
unjust, we shall be denied admission into the Union on an 
equal footing with original States. Thus are we to be 
deprived of one right, unless we surrender another equally 
sacred, the right of an appeal to the federal judiciary; 
a right sacred to the humblest individual, who may desire 
to approach a tribunal, framed to protect him against 
injustice and oppression, and intended to check the dif 
ferent departments of our Government in the exercise of 
arbitrary and unconstitutional power." 
But however correct the Governor's statement of the 


situation and their violated rights, he was not led into a 
recommendation that their rights be maintained at any 
cost. He showed rather that he foresaw the ultimate 
outcome when he said, "I trust my fellow citizens will 
credit me when I declare, that no one can feel more deeply 
than myself the humiliation of the sacrifice we are called 
upon to make. The preservation of the integrity of our 
Territorial limit, has always been the highest object of 
my ambition. The boundaries claimed by us are our 
sacred rights, secured by an instrument as binding and 
sacred as the wisdom of man could frame it ; and could 
we now calculate upon maintaining those boundaries with 
any hope of success, it would be our duty still to hazard 
the undertaking. In that hope I cannot be sanguine. I 
indulge in the reflection that I have shown heretofore, 
that no personal interest could govern me in my official 
conduct when the rights of those with whom I am identi 
fied demanded the sacrifice ; and when I am reminded of 
the favor with which that sacrifice has been received by 
my fellow citizens, and how much I owe to it my present 
elevation, I would prove recreant to my own reputation 
and an ingrate to the people, could I now advise an unnec 
essary abandonment of their cause. Were I to consult the 
first impulse prompted by the feelings which every citizen 
in Michigan must acknowledge, I might be led into a de 
termination to resist the legislation of Congress ; but as a 
public officer, called upon to discard excited feelings, 
and warrant that the permanent interests of the State 
are not to be overlooked, I should violate my duty did 
I recommend to my fellow citizens to embark in a con 
troversy, offering so little hope of gain, but the certainty 


of permanent loss and lasting injury to ourselves and to 
the nation." 

It is needless to say that many people did not view 
the matter with that judicial temper which the Governor 
exhibited. Many were exasperated by what they believed 
to be an unwarranted assault upon the rights of Mich 
igan, and, not being charged with responsibility, were 
for remaining out of the Union forever rather than to 
enter at the cost of justifiable State pride. There were 
others, Whigs in politics, who a few months before were 
characterizing the actions of the Governor in the bound 
ary question and on the formation of a State government 
as lacking in wisdom and constitutional warrant who now 
were equally free with their criticism of the "hero of the 
bloodless plains of Toledo," as they saw fit to call the 
Governor, for his * ' surrender of the sacred rights of free 
people. ' * 

The bill or ordinance for the calling of the Convention 
as required by the Act of Congress became a law by 
the Governor's approval on the 25th of July, but not until 
it had been subjected to all manner of previous amend 
ment and subjected to committees of conference and other 
parliamentary procedure ; for there was a great diversity 
of opinion among the members as to how the Convention 
should be constituted and as to how the expression of the 
people should be taken. The law provided for a Conven 
tion of fifty delegates, to be distributed among the coun 
ties according to population; the counties of "Wayne, 
Monroe, Oakland, Washtenaw, Livingston and Lenawee 
absorbed twenty-nine of the number. The election was 
provided for the second Monday of September and the 


Convention was to meet on the fourth Monday of Septem 
ber next ensuing, at the court house in the village of 
A Tin Arbor. The Legislature considered a few other mat 
ters of minor importance and adjourned on the 26th of 
July. As the law creating the State judiciary, by its 
terms went into effect on the 4th of July, and as with the 
creation of the Territory of Wisconsin there was no 
longer danger of conflict of authority, the Governor on 
the 18th of July nominated and the Senate confirmed 
the members of the Supreme Court; William A. Fletcher 
of Ann Arbor and the second circuit was the first named, 
and consequently was Chief Justice; George Morell of 
Detroit and the first circuit, and Epaphroditus Ransom 
of Kalamazoo and the third circuit, were associate jus 
tices. On the same day Daniel LeEoy of Pontiac was 
likewise nominated and confirmed as Attorney General ; 
while Elon Farnsworth, by the same forms was made 
Chancellor. On July 26, the day of adjournment, John 
D. Pierce was nominated for the office of Superintendent 
of Public Instruction and unanimously confirmed by the 
votes of the members of House and Senate in joint 

William Asa Fletcher, the first Chief Justice of Mich 
igan, was born at Plymouth in the State of New Hamp 
shire, June 26, 1788. His father, Joshua Fletcher, was 
an intelligent farmer of the community, who while not 
an ordained clergyman, yet frequently filled the pulpits 
of the Congregational Church of his village and the 
neighboring town of Bridgewater. The mother, Sarah 
(Brown) Fletcher was of a prominent New Hampshire 
family. William A. was the sixth son of this sturdy New 
England family, and the culture which he received under 


the paternal roof was supplemented by the best educa 
tional advantages the parents were able to give. In 
early life Fletcher embarked in the mercantile business, 
residing, as the records would seem to indicate, at both 
Salem and Boston. Later he removed to Scoharie 
County in the State of New York. It was while a resident 
of this place that he took up the study of the law. 
Equipped for its practice, he journeyed to Detroit where 
he opened an office and soon had a respectable clientage. 
The biographical material left by Judge Fletcher is not 
extensive, but enough exists to show that he was a man 
of more than ordinary talents. At the laying of the cor 
ner stone of the old Territorial capitol on the 22nd of 
September, 1823, he was selected as the orator of the 
occasion, and the same year was selected as Chief Justice 
of the Wayne County Court, a position to which he was 
again chosen the following year. He also served the Ter 
ritory as Attorney General, and in 1830 represented 
Wayne County on the Territorial Council. Upon the 
creation of the circuit courts in 1833, Judge Fletcher was 
appointed to the circuit comprising the territory outside 
of Wayne County, and because of that appointment took 
up his residence at Ann Arbor, his spacious log house 
standing upon land that now forms a part of the Uni 
versity campus. He was a member of the Michigan His 
torical Society, and generally interested in the various 
movements of community progress. In 1836 he was 
chosen by the Legislature a commissioner to prepare and 
arrange a code of laws for the State. This work was 
completed and was ultimately adopted by the Legislature 
as the Revised Statutes of 1838. It was Judge Fletcher 
who, more than any other judge of the early day, 


traversed the Micliigan wilderness astride Ms faithful 
steed, his saddle-bag the repository of his library and 
personal necessities. In many of the court journals of 
that day the signature of Judge Fletcher can still be seen 
testifying to his presence in counties far remote the one 
from the other. Judge Fletcher served upon the Supreme 
bench until 1842 when he resigned. The last years of Ms 
life were unfortunately spent under conditions that weak 
ened his hold upon the people. His wife became hope 
lessly insane and the judge became addicted to intoxi 
cants to a degree that was beyond the tolerance of the 
time when even a large degree of conviviality was 
allowed. Before his death, however, he rallied from the 
habit that had been his undoing, but never to regain 
Ms former eminence. He died at Ann Arbor September 
19, 1852, without child or relatives in MicMgan to mark or 
care for the place of his interment. A few years ago, labor 
ers in laying a waterpipe through an abandoned cemetery 
in Ann Arbor, which is now Felch Park; came upon a 
metallic casket in an unmarked grave. An aged resident 
identified the casket as the one in which Judge Fletcher 
was buried. The casket and remains were re-interred 
and it would be to the honor of Michigan if she marked 
in simple style the last resting place of her first CMef 
Justice who, though he yielded to some of the weaknesses 
of humanity was, nevertheless, an able and incorruptible 
judge. 1 

1. In 1918 under the auspicies of the Michigan Pioneer and Histor 
ical Society, the State Bar Association, the University of 
Michigan, and the city of Ann Arbor, the remains of Judge 
Fletcher were disinterred and and removed to Forest Hill 
cemetery, Ann Arbor, where later an appropriate marker will 
be placed, JE. 


George Morell of Detroit, the associate justice of the 
second circuit, was a native of the State of Massachus 
etts, having been born at Lenox in that State March 22, 
1786. He was a man of refined tastes and liberal educa 
tion, having been a student at Lenox Academy and a 
graduate of William's College in the class of 1807. His 
legal education was obtained in the city of Troy, New 
York, where with Reuben H. Walworth and William L. 
Marcy he was a student in the office of John EusseL 
Admitted to the bar in 1810, he took up his residence at 
Cooperstown, New York, which continued to be his home 
until 1832, when, by appointment of President Jackson, 
he was made one of the United States Judges for Mich 
igan. His political activity is evidenced by the fact that 
during his residence at Cooperstown he became Clerk of 
the Court of Common Pleas for Otsego County, and 
Master in Chancery and Judge of the Court of Common 
Pleas ; while in 1828 he was elected to a seat in the New 
York Assembly. Judge Morell during his New York 
residence took a keen interest in military matters and 
rose through all the ranks of the State service to the 
position of Major General. His son, George Webb 
Morell, evidenced the same tastes and was graduated from 
West Point in 1835, lived to fill an honorable position at 
the bar of New York and to serve with distinction as 
a brigade and division commander in the Army of the 
Potomac. Judge Morell, although a man of fine ability 
and courtly bearing, did not escape the ruthless attack 
of the personal and political brigades, who in Michigan 
from the years 1830 to 1840 held no name or position 
sacred. Upon charges once preferred against Mm by 
certain citizens of Macomb County, while they were given 


the dignity of legislative investigation the investigation 
resulted in his exoneration. Judge Morell was ambi 
tious for reappointrnent to the United States judgeship 
upon the admission of the State, as were both Judge Wil- 
kins and Daniel Goodwin; Wilkins being from Pennsyl 
vania and having the indorsement of his personal friend, 
James Buchanan, won, and the Attorney Generalship 
going to Goodwin left Morell to be cared for in the State 
administration. Upon the resignation of Judge Fletcher 
in 1842, he became Chief Justice, holding that position 
at the date of his death which occurred at Detroit March 
8, 1845. His funeral was attended by the State Legisla 
ture and the Detroit bar, which testifies to the fact that 
he was a man of rare social graces and one who, as a 
judge, presided with great dignity and brought to the 
discharge of his judicial duties high legal attainments 
and untiring industry. 

Epaphroditus Eansom of Bronson (later Kalamazoo) 
in the third judicial circuit was likewise a product of 
Massachusetts, having been born at Shelburne Falls in 
February, 1797. His father, Ezekiel Ransom, had seen 
service as a Major in the Revolutionary War, while his 
mother was the daughter of General Fletcher of Town- 
shend, Windham County, Vermont, It was here that he 
grew to manhood, his time being employed either upon 
the rugged hillsides of the grandfather's farm, teaching 
or attending school. After graduating from Chester 
Academy, he determined to become a lawyer, and return 
ing to Townshend entered the office of Judge Taft of 
that place, having for his fellow student the son of his 
preceptor, Alphonzo Taft, later Attorney General of the 
United States and father of President William H. Taft. 


After two years In the office of Judge Taft, lie entered 
the law school at Northampton, Mass., and graduated 
with the class of 1823. Following his admission to the 
bar he began to practice law, and enjoyed for some years 
a successful business. Although a Democrat in politics, 
and thus of the minority party, he was returned several 
sessions to the lower house of the Vermont Legislature. 
In the fall of 1834 the rising tide of Eastern emigration 
drew him to Michigan, and no doubt the glowing accounts 
from that other Vermonter, Hon. Lucius Lyon, of the 
rich prairies of Kalamazoo County determined him to 
locate at Bronson, which he did in October when some 
twenty houses and not to exceed one hundred souls con 
stituted what was to be in time the city of Kalamazoo; 
thus he had been hardly two years a resident of Mich 
igan when made a member of the Supreme Court. But 
Judge Eansom soon impressed Ms personality upon those 
beyond the immediate circle of Ms pioneer acquaintances. 
Tall and straight, of strong physique, approachable and 
simple in his habits, he soon became a man of more than 
ordinary popular regard. He was made CMef Justice 
in 1843 by appointment of Governor John S. Barry, a 
position he continued to hold until elected Governor in 
1847. Although elected Governor by a majority of the 
vote of every county in the State, he held the position but 
one term, his position in support of the Wilmot proviso 
raising an issue that defeated him for renomination. 
His experience was unique, in that after having served the 
State as its chief executive, he served in the State Legis 
lature as the representative of Kalamazoo County, Gov 
ernor Eansom took a deep interest in agricultural pur 
suits; the MicMgan Agricultural Society was organized 


during Ms administration and he became its first presi 
dent. Governor Eansom suffered serious financial 
reverses in the later years of his life as the result of which 
he was led to accept the appointment of receiver of the 
Osage Land Office in the Territory of Kansas from Presi 
dent Buchanan. He died at Fort Scott, Kansas, Novem 
ber, 1859, his remains being subsequently returned for 
interment in Mountain Home Cemetery of that place. 



election for delegates to the Convention of Assent 
was duly held in the various counties of the State 
in accordance with the provisions of the law which the 
special session of the Legislature had enacted. The issue 
did not pass, however, without comment and heated dis 
cussion. The Democratic papers generally, except a few 
upon the southern border, were in favor of giving assent 
to the conditions imposed. The Free Press offered con 
solation in the form of yielding to "preserve the har 
mony of the Union ; ' ' offered hope that the Upper Penin 
sula might after all be of some value and that it might 
be possible to get territory at the expense of Wisconsin. 
The Whig press was more inclined to expend rhetoric 
on wrongs imposed and rights withheld; and on the 
night of September 2nd, the forces of dissent in [Detroit 
held a meeting to voice one more protest against yielding 
to Ohio. The election passed, and the delegates assem 
bled at Ann Arbor on Monday the 26th with forty-nine 
delegates present; every county or district was repre 
sented excepting only the county of Miehilimaekinac, 
whose one representative, if elected, did not appear. 
Upon the assembling of the Convention on the following 
day to effect the permanent organization, there was an 
evident test of strength on the election of officers, the 
Dissenters winning by substantially the same vote with 
which they carried every proposition in the Convention, 


William Draper, a reputable attorney of Oakland County, 
was chosen President, while Chas. A. Jefferies of Washte- 
naw and Samuel Yorke Atlee of Kalamazoo were chosen 
Secretaries and Martin Davis was made Sergeant-at- 
Arms. Austin E. Wing and Edward D. Ellis led the fight 
for the Dissenters, and the Assenters went down to defeat 
under Ross Wilkins (of Lenawee) and John McDonald 
of Wayne. Communications were received as to the 
boundary survey from the engineers conducting the same 
and from residents upon the disputed territory, solemnly 
protesting against the power that would surrender them 
to Ohio. Wilkins and his followers sought to have 
adopted a preamble and resolution agreeing to the terms 
imposed by Congress, coupled with a mild protest against 
the power exerted ; but by vote of twenty-eight to twenty- 
one the resolution of dissent was adopted. This action 
brought a signed protest upon the records from the 
Assenters, as it did an "expose" from the same gentle 
men when the majority selected Messrs. Andrew Mack 
of Wayne, and Austin E. Wing and Robert Clark of Mon 
roe as delegates to visit Washington on the part of the 
Convention to co-operate with the Senators and Repre 
sentatives of this State in " advancing its rights. " 

The Convention finished its labors and adjourned on 
September 30. In accordance with instructions, Austin 
E. Wing addressed a lengthy communication to President 
Jackson explanatory of the majority position, and 
Edward D. Ellis and four other delegates, under like 
instruction from the Convention, issued a lengthy 
address to the people again reviewing the history and 
injustice of the boundary contest. The address closed 
with a rhetorical flourish which, while it may have been 

Member of the Staf- Su 


' four! from is,;*;, liir 

iit; a Hiitl Justin in 1S42, 


Member first State Supreme Court, Chief Justice in 1843. and elected Governor 

in 1847. 


Member of the IIN Siu<** ^institutional rmaviition. Hiirii,:' liuv. Ma>kN 
member of *h* StJin* L<^islatur*\ Lat^r <'hi'l' spo'iit'siu;,'! of t!i 4 ;i! s ti 

slaverv ^aiiM- iu XIi<*hi^nn, and iivi : nc 4 ilu* Sf;jt*\ ls'1 "'! 


impressive then, is humorous now. "When we reflect, 
fellow citizens, " it concluded, "upon the fearful array 
with which you had to contend for the choice of your 
delegates to the late Convention, the official influence 
exercised, the power of the press enlisted, in short every 
argument urged which could effect your avarice, your 
ambition, your fears, or your hopes to influence you to 
plainly assent to the surrender of a portion of your soil, 
we think we have reason to most cordially congratulate 
you; and well, fellow citizens, may we be proud of the 
name of Michigan! and safely may we say that the 
struggle which has just closed, perhaps but for a moment, 
has been one of the most glorious triumphs of principle 
over the intrigues and management of selfish individuals 
that has been achieved since the adoption of the Federal 

"Finally, fellow citizens, we solemnly call upon you 
to stand upon principle; abandon this and what have 
you left? We have addressed you not as the heralds of 
a party but as citizens of one and the same community 
as yourself, seeking nothing at your hands. Our only 
desire is that you unite, like a band of brothers upon 
the great question of your Territorial rights, forgetting 
minor differences and compromising opinions ; and as far 
as the united efforts of more than two hundred thousand 
freemen can do, extricate your new State from the diffi 
culties and injuries of the past and forever preserve 
inviolate its integrity, its character, and its sover 
eignty. ' 7 

When we reflect that the chairman who penned this 
soul-stirring address but a few weeks before as a member 
of the State Senate had joined with others in a signed 


protest against all legislative action because of appre 
hended conflict with the national authorities and for fear 
their action would be construed as lacking in respect to 
the "President of the United States and the able and 
worthy men who compose his Cabinet," we can imagine 
that it failed to convince those gentlemen who were 
impatiently awaiting the day when they would be officers 
of a State within the Union and those other gentlemen 
appointed to federal positions within the State, whose 
emoluments were contingent upon the same event. In 
the Convention, of the twenty-one votes in favor of 
assent, twelve were from the counties of "Wayne and 
Lenawee. The Dissenters, by combining the seven votes 
of Washtenaw and Livingston with the six from Oaklan 1 
and the four from Monroe commanded a majority of five, 
while in the division of the twenty votes of the counties 
that had from one to two votes each as in some instances, 
but one vote for from two to four counties, they received 
eleven votes while the forces of assent could rally but 
nine. The action of the Convention again precipitated 
public discussion and people as usual began to give the 
matter the benefit of their second thought. The more 
impulsive had freed their minds ; they had entered their 
most vigorous protest against a law that was to bring 
them into the Union "mutilated, humbled and degraded," 
and had answered in the negative their own question as 
to whether they would be sold "like Joseph into Egypt," 
as the price of admission into the Union. They had 
written into the records of the State their solemn con 
viction that "Congress cannot deprive us of representa 
tion, nor can they bestow upon Ohio a part of our domain 
without our consent, consistent with the Constitution 


and the Ordinance of 1787," and they had insisted that if 
such things could be done "then our liberties would 
indeed be held by a frail tenure." But after it \vas all 
said, their sober second thought told them their terri 
torial limits had been mutilated and that Ohio was in 
actual possession of the strip carved off and would 
be maintained there if need be by the forces of the United 
States, and that whether they were to be humbled or 
degraded depended largely upon how they looked at it. 
It was well enough to say when the excitement was on 
that they would remain a State out of the Union but 
when the excitement was over there was no one to give 
any assurances as to how long they might remain out or 
w T hat was to be gained by remaining out, while there were 
many showing where the State was to suffer very sub 
stantial losses by not submitting to the inevitable at once. 
The National Government was about to try the experi 
ment of distributing the surplus revenue of the Govern 
ment among the States. The newspapers now renewed 
the assertion that unless Michigan secured formal admis 
sion by January 1, she would not share in the distribu 
tion and would likewise lose her share of the five per 
cent on the sales of public lands, a sum that was variously 
estimated at from four hundred thousand to six hundred 
thousand dollars. The President was said to have given 
extra official confirmation to this statement, and to give 
it further evidences of verity, the Secretary of the Treas 
ury, Hon. Levi Woodbury, was induced to write a letter 
to the effect that the money could not be paid to State 
until its admission ; the limit of January l t or any other 
time was not specified by him, but of course, readily sup 
plied by the imagination of those whose purpose the claim 


best served. Many other considerations were advanced, 
but the loss of the money was the proposition upon which 
greatest emphasis was placed, for it involved the post 
ponement of many cherished projects of internal 
improvement. The combined causes unquestionably pro 
duced a marked change in public opinion and when on the 
29th of October following, the Wayne County Democratic 
County Convention assembled, it by unanimous vote of 
its one hundred and twenty-four delegates adopted a 
preamble and resolutions favoring "prompt acquies 
cence" in the terms proposed for admission, and 
requested the Governor to issue a proclamation recom 
mending an election of delegates to another Convention 
to consider the question of assent, when he should be 
satisfied that the people of Michigan so desired. 

Elections for members of the State Legislature soon 
followed, and in many districts the electors expressed 
themselves upon the statehood question in a manner to 
indicate a marked change in sentiment. Numerously 
signed petitions were soon received by the Governor 
from places as new and remote as Bellevue'in the County 
of Eaton and from counties still farther to the westward 
praying for the calling of a second Convention. On 
November 9 a Convention assembled at Ann Arbor and 
adopted resolutions in effect apologizing for the position 
taken by the delegates from the County of Washtenaw 
in the former Convention, and requested the calling of 
another Convention that Washtenaw might "wipe off the 
stain " fixed upon them by the decision of the September 
body. A representative committee was appointed to wait 
upon the Governor and convey to him the action of the 
Convention, On November 13 Governor Mason addressed 


a lengthy communication to Ezekiel Pray of Superior, 
Washtenaw County, who had acted as president of the 
recent county Convention. The letter acknowledged the 
receipt of the proceedings of the Convention through the 
committee appointed for that purpose, while the Gover 
nor made plain that, as an official of the State, he was 
empowered by neither the Constitution nor the laws to 
call such a body, and that even if such power was inherent 
in the Legislature there was not then sufficient time for 
the assembling of that body and the calling of a second 
Convention before the 1st of January. The Governor 
then proceeded through much space to argue that if the 
people were dissatisfied with the decision of the Septem 
ber Convention, "the remedy was with themselves/* 
that they had the "inherent and indefeasible right in 
all cases or propositions coming before them in their 
original capacity to reverse the acts of their agents if 
found prejudicial to their interests, and decree such as 
accord with their welfare and happiness, 77 and he forti 
fied his position by reference to incidents connected with 
the history of Pennsylvania when it became necessary 
to form a constitution upon its separation from the 
mother country, which was drafted by a Convention hav 
ing its inception in the recommendation of a self -consti 
tuted committee of the city of Philadelphia. However 
well such an exposition of the law may have been suited 
to the exigencies of a particular occasion and however 
plausibly it may have appealed to the lay mind, the 
student of government and legal forms is hardly per 
suaded that in a government of constitutions and laws 
their decrees and established forms can be thus lightly 
set aside. The Governor did not go into the merits of 


the controversy which had been so long discussed; but 
he did not forget to call attention to the fact that, by not 
being a State within the Union, they would not partici 
pate in the distribution of the surplus revenue soon to be 
handed to more favored neighbors, adding that "the 
loss of this to the people of Michigan, struggling as they 
are, under all the embarrassments incident to the com 
mencement and early operations of the government of 
an infant State mil prove unfortunate. The benefits to 
the State, resulting from its use in the public improve 
ments of the country will readily accrue to every citizen. ' ' 
The Governor's letter gave a hint that a Convention 
assembled by the people in their so-called "primary 
capacity,' J if it should adopt a resolution assenting to the 
fundamental conditions, improved, would be acceptable 
to Congress. The leaders were looking for an excuse for 
their action, and not for a profound legal opinion upon 
its regularity; and we may well imagine that the Gover 
nor's letter was not put forth until it had received the 
most careful consideration by his party associates as to 
whether it furnished the best way out of the difficulty. 
This opinion is given credence by the fact that on the 
morning following the appearance of the Governor's 
letter, David C. McKinstry, Marshall J. Bacon, Ross Wil- 
Mns, John McDonald and Charles "W. Whipple, as the 
committee of the "Wayne County Democratic Convention, 
issued a circular recommending that the electors of the 
various counties meet on the 5th and 6th of December in 
their respective townships and elect twice the number of 
delegates that they had representation in the lower 
branch of the State Legislature; that in the election 
all legal formalities respecting elections be observed and 


that the delegates so elected assemble at Ann Arbor on 
Wednesday the 14th of December to consider "the 
expediency of giving the assent of the people of Michigan 
to the fundamental conditions, prescribed by Congress 
for their admission into the Union." 

The Whig press, which a few weeks before had referred 
to the Michigan Legislature as having the power of a 
temperance society, now looked upon it as a very respec 
table organization, and were sure that the convention 
called by it was the only legal body, and that the second 
one was altogether lacking in every legal requisite. It 
was said that at the election for delegates, a great many 
electors refused to participate because of the alleged 
illegal character of the proceeding. It is probably true 
that the Dissenters did refuse to name opposing candi 
dates, but it is equally true that the vote at the second 
election was six hundred larger than was polled at the 
first. Although in some quarters derided as the "Frost 
bitten Convention," the delegates assembled at Ann 
Arbor on the appointed day and their Journal shows 
eighty-four delegates in attendance, representing every 
organized county in the State that had been represented 
in the first convention excepting Chippewa, Macomb, and 

The delegates were naturally of one mind and quite 
unanimous in their proceedings. There were several 
delegates who had served in the first Convention, and 
among the list of the entire membership, the names of 
the men who were active in the Democratic politics of 
the State are quite conspicuous. 

The Convention proceeded, with little time wasted in 
preliminaries, to the election of John R. Williams of 


Detroit as president, Kintzing Pritchette of Detroit and 
Jonathan E. Field of Washtenaw secretaries, and John 
Haston sergeant-at-arms. The president accepted the 
honor of presiding officer with a brief address, stating 
his own and the Convention's mind when he said, "The 
period has arrived, when we can no longer postpone 
efficient measures to secure to our rising political Star 
of the confederacy, those advantages inseparable from, 
and to be attained only by our admission into the 

A committee selected for that purpose, with equal dis 
patch digested resolutions introduced by delegates Eoss 
WilMns of Detroit and Peter Morey of Lenawee and 
reported a substitute wherein they argued the legality 
of their assemblage, expressed doubt as to the constitu 
tional power of Congress to impose the condition and 
ended by giving the assent required, which report was 
unanimously adopted without amendment or qualifica 

A committee likewise prepared and submitted a letter 
to the President which was promptly accepted. No voice 
was now raised in opposition to the selection of a special 
messenger to bear the letter to "Washington, and John E. 
Williams was selected for the mission. One cannot read 
the letter without feeling that when read by "Old Hick 
ory " it must have made a decided appeal to his sense 
of humor ; for in arguing the regularity and legality of 
their Convention they said, "The condition prescribed 
as a preliminary to the admission of Michigan into the 
Union had not until now been complied with, and no 
absolute recognition of our State authorities had been 
made by any branch of the National Government ; ' ' and 


then, as if explaining the unfortunate plight they were 
in, the letter proceeded, "The Territorial Executive had 
been withdrawn, the Territorial Legislature had ceased, 
and no power remained, as recognized by Congress, 
but, the People of Michigan in their Sovereign Capacity, 
by which the Convention of Delegates should be called, 
to yield a compliance with the fundamental condition of 
admission as provided in the second section of the Act 
of Congress. Had the third section of said Act desig 
nated by whom or by what power the said Convention 
should be ordered, the whole would have met the cheerful 
compliance of the People of Michigan." 

One is tempted to believe that in this letter, Judge 
WilMns took the opportunity of laughing at the President 
and. Congress, who were asking legal formalities from a 
body of people from over whom the Territorial govern 
ment had been withdrawn and whose State government 
was refused just and f uU recognition. 

By the provisions of the law providing for the condi 
tional admission of Michigan, the State was to be 
admitted by proclamation of the President as soon as 
the required assent was given. On September 26 the 
President received the official proceedings of the first 
Convention and on December 24, the official proceedings 
of the second Convention ; Congress being then in session, 
the President transmitted both communications to that 
body with an accompanying message, saying that had the 
proceedings of the latter Convention reached him during 
a recess of Congress, he would have felt it his duty on 
being satisfied that they had emanated from a convention 
of delegates elected in point of fact by the people of the 
State for the purpose required, to have issued his procla 
mation thereon as required by law. 


Again Congress took up the question. The old issue 
of the boundary was dead beyond resurrection, but it 
still furnished the subject of much futile oratory. The 
principal contention, howeved, was upon the regularity of 
the last Convention, but even Congress was not inclined 
to draw too fine distinctions; Ohio was in possession of 
the coveted strip of territory; Indiana and Illinois had 
had their titles confirmed; the election was over; and as 
one author has said ? * * The political life of the State had 
been for nearly two years too irregular and revolutionary 
to make any one over-particular regarding the regularity 
of admission.'' After a month of debate and considera 
tion, Congress on January 26, 1837, passed a law for the 
formal admission of the State ; she thus becoming within 
the Union w r hat, for more than a year, she had been out 
of the Union, a State in fact. 

The news of the State's admission was received at 
Detroit, and on February 9 was celebrated with every 
demonstration of real joy. The Brady Guards paraded 
and twenty-six guns were fired, while in the evening the 
event was celebrated by what was then termed "a grand 
illumination,' 7 a tallow candle being placed behind each 
window in nearly every residence in the city, while a 
column of revellers, merry makers, and staid citizens 
paraded the streets and serenaded the homes of the 
prominent residents. 

Some historians have devoted considerable space to 
showing how the action of Congress was based upon an 
illegal proceeding on the part of the so-called ''Frost 
bitten Convention," but the discussion never had more 
than academic interest. The questions involved were 
as effectually settled as though all had been agreed. Gov- 


ernor Mason advised acceptance of the result. The 
Legislature which a few months before had railed at its 
representatives In Congress for "bartering away a part 
of the State," now passed resolutions thanking them 
"for the untiring zeal and unremitting fidelity with which 
they had tried to sustain its rights," and appropriated 
the public money to pay the delegates and officers who 
had participated in the December Convention. Now and 
then for the next two or three years, some one brought 
forward the question by legislative resolution or written 
statement indicating a lingering hope that the disputed 
territory might still be regained for Michigan ; but state 
hood was bringing new cares and new problems, and the 
incident of the southern boundary soon became little 
more than a subject for good-natured reminiscence. 

The conventions of Dissent and Assent while engross 
ing public attention, were not engrossing it to the exclu 
sion of all other matters. During the interval between 
the two conventions, in response to a numerously signed 
petition a considerable body of citizens assembled at 
Ann Arbor on the 10th and llth of November and 
effected the organization of the Michigan Anti-slavery 
Society to affiliate with the national society. Eobert 
Stuart of Wayne County was chosen as the first president 
of the society, while its numerous list of vice-presidents 
and other officers shows that its membership included 
men of all shades of political belief. 

Of quite a different character was the consideration 
that was being given to the Indian. The flow of immi 
gration was daily making it more apparent that the 
Indian must be removed to the Northwest from the land 
where for untold ages he had been the undisputed tenant 


of its forest-glades, its shimmering lakes and sylvan 
streams. By the treaty of Chicago,. September 26, 1833, 
the Potawatomis, excepting Pokagon and his band, had 
parted with their reservations in southwestern Michigan 
and had stipulated to remove from them within three 
years. Governor Mason in his message of February 1, 
1836, had called attention to the importance of the imme 
diate extinguishment of the Indian title within the penin 
sula, and as he stated, " Their removal to a quarter where, 
secure from the encroachments of the whites, they may 
be left free to follow their own pursuits of happiness." 
Alas ! the place where they were to be free from encroach 
ments was beyond the grave ; but this was as unforeseen 
by the committee which drafted the memorial to Con 
gress on the recommendation of the Governor, as by the 
Governor himself, for the memorial after depicting in 
words of honest sympathy the unfortunate condition of 
the Indians, suggested their removal to a forest country 
as best suited to their experiences and life habits, saying, 
"In seeking for a country more congenial to their habits 
and feelings these tribes have for some time directed 
their expectations to the source of the Mississippi a 
region clearly beyond the scope of our future settlements, 
and which yet affords advantages in its lakes, savannahs 
and rice-fields for an Indian population." 

In accordance with if not as a result of these sugges 
tions and recommendations, Henry E. Schoolcraf t acting 
as a commissioner on the part of the United States, on 
March 28, 1836, concluded a treaty with the chiefs of the 
Ottawa and Chippewa nations whereby they relinquished 
their title to all lands in western and northern Michigan 
excepting certain specified reservations. The treaty 


embraced as estimated, ten million acres in the Lower 
Peninsula and six million acres in tlie Upper Peninsula, 
for which the Government agreed to pay in annuities and 
other stipulated items the sum of $1,601,600. Upon the 
conclusion of this treaty, Senator Lyon, ever enthusiastic 
for the advancement of the State, wrote to his Detroit 
friends: "Of the country purchased about four million 
acres extending from the Grand Kiver north, is known 
to be fine land for settlement, and within a very few 
years we shall no doubt see towns springing up at the 
mouths of all the rivers flowing into Lake Michigan for 
a hundred miles north of Grand Eiver, if not all around 
the Lower Peninsula. The Upper Peninsula is known to 
contain vast forests of the very best pine, which is even 
now much wanted in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and the 
southern part of Michigan and Wisconsin, an$ must very 
shortly furnish the material of a highly valuable trade. 77 
It was shortly after the completion of this treaty, that 
Congress passed the act of conditional admission of the 
State with the stipulated grants to the State of lands for 
universities and other purposes. It was in pursuance of 
these grants that the Legislature passed, and the Gov 
ernor, on July 25, approved the bill for the appointment 
of commissioners to locate the salt springs and contigu 
ous lands, as well as the lands to be appropriated for 
university and building purposes. As settlers were rap 
idly appropriating the valuable lands, Governor Mason 
at once selected the commissioners, and had the selections 
of the State made and certified. Of the lands thus 
selected, not a few descriptions, especially on the Niles 
reservation and in the Grand Eiver region, were in the pos 
session of " squatters" or settlers who had without legal 


right or authority gone upon the Indian lands with the 
design of becoming possessed of the legal title to the same 
when the Indian title should be extinguished and the 
lands should be placed upon the market. This action of 
the Governor, although clearly in the interest of the 
State, led to complications that were before the Legisla 
ture for several sessions for adjustment, and were sought 
to be used, as we shall hereinafter see, to the political 
disadvantage of the Governor in his campaign for 
re-election to the Governorship. 

The general election of 1836 had not been allowed to 
pass without exhibitions of interest in its outcome, 
although as the Whigs had taken the position that the 
State government was illegal in its inception, they had 
not been in a position to prosecute a campaign for their 
own principles. A Democratic majority had therefore 
been returned to the State Legislature and the Demo 
cratic electors chosen to vote for Martin Van Bureii for 
President and Richard M. Johnson Vice President. 
Although Michigan's three electoral votes were not 
counted in the election, there will always be a query as 
to what the result would have been had Michigan's votes 
been the determining factor in the contest. 


year 1837 opened with dark clouds visible on the 
4- horizon of both State and Nation. Yet few seemed 
to see or comprehend the storm they portended. For four 
years the country had enjoyed almost a bewildering pros 
perity and the people could not understand that the omin 
ous mutterings were from conditions that would not soon 
pass away. The people of Michigan with strong faith 
and eager purpose were impatiently awaiting the task 
of emulating the achievements of sister States, that to 
them it seemed were less favored than they by natural 
position and resources. There were many in the State 
who had known Ohio when its scattered thousands of 
population were struggling for a foothold upon its soil; 
they had watched them multiply until now there were 
upwards of a million and -a half in her thriving cities 
and country homes. They had seen the same transforma 
tion in the States of Indiana and Illinois, and none of 
them in the same space of time had received such an 
influx of immigrants as had come to Michigan, and the 
people had faith that they would continue to come if they 
but held fearlessly to the path wherein New York, Ohio, 
Indiana and other States had found and were still finding 
such unprecedented prosperity. But the statesmen of 
Michigan could not see that their efforts were to be prose 
cuted in a time of transition. They could not look into 
the future and see that the canals built by the States of 


New York, Pennsylvania and OMo were soon to be super 
seded by other and better means of communication ; they 
could not see that even a railroad was to be developed 
to a degree of efficiency, that was to make it the chief est 
marvel of man's invention; or that the ideas of combina 
tion were to be so developed, or that individual or corpo 
rate wealth was to so increase, that these means of com 
munication were literally to cover the earth with their 
network of steel. Neither could the statesman of Mich 
igan see that in ways foreign to his experience, financial 
depression was to come, and that he was destined to 
prosecute efforts for his State amid the wreck of fallen 
fortunes and well-nigh universal panic. Because they 
were not wise beyond the wisdom of their time, not a few 
writers on the period have, with the benefit of their 
experience, been inclined to write in a vein of unjust 
depreciation and censure of the men who in the early 
days of statehood assumed the responsibilities and 
labored for the up-building of its institutions. 

The second Legislature assembled at Detroit on Mon 
day, the 2nd day of January, 1837. In the Senate were 
such men as John S. Barry, later to become three times 
Governor of the State. Calvin Britain, a man of more 
than ordinary public experience and later Lieutenant - 
Governor during the first administration of Governor 
McClelland; Randolph Manning, later to serve as Chan 
cellor and still later as Associate Justice of the Supreme 
Court. Of the sixteen members of the Senate, two-thirds 
were men of by far more than average culture and public 
and business experience. In the House of Representatives 
there were likewise many men of high talents and com 
manding abilities. In the membership of that body one 


ls22 Indian Ai^nt for the Northwest: 182S-lS'lii nifinlT "f th- Michijraw Terri- 

turinl Council; geologist, vxplor^r, authir. 




Member of first State Constitutional Convention, and first meml*: > Con 
gress from Michigan, !So5-lS41. 


finds the names of Kinsley S. Bingham, who afterwards 
became Governor and United States Senator; Alplieus 
Felch, who was later to succeed to the governorship, the 
senatorship, and to a highly creditable career upon the 
Supreme Bench; "Warner Wing, lawyer of distinguished 
ability; George W. Wisner, who four years before 
had established and become the editor of the New York 
Sun; Edwin H. Lathrop, Ezra Convis, and a score of 
others who had become and who continued to be leaders 
of recognized ability, not omitting Charles W. Whipple, 
who was chosen speaker of the House and in later years 
became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. 
Attention is called to the personnel of the two houses 
of the Legislature of 1837, because the fact that there 
was a Legislature is sometimes seemingly overlooked and 
the enactments of the session accredited to the Governor 
as though his influence had been the all determining fac 
tor. As a matter of fact, the Governor in common with 
many other students of government in his day held to the 
proposition that the Governor was not warranted in 
interposing a veto where the question was one of legisla 
tive policy or discretion ; that such questions were solely 
within the legislative branch of the government. The 
Governor in his message to the Legislature went fully 
into the various questions then uppermost in the public 
mind. He anticipated the receipt of the surplus revenue 
from the National Government and recommended that it 
be deposited in various banks upon adequate security, 
the interest received to be applied to the purposes of 
the State. The perfecting of a penitentiary system of 
which the State now stood in grievous need received his 
careful attention, and he again urged the abolition of 


imprisonment for debt. The question of the State's rev 
enue and the -militia likewise received thoughtful and 
extended notice. Perhaps of the minor questions pre 
sented to the Legislature he treated of none which for 
the time embodied more of originality than did his recom 
mendations for a geological survey of the State, a pro- 
ject in which his interest was unquestionably enlisted by 
that eminent young scientist, Douglass Houghton, .then 
in the twenty-eighth year of his age. At the previous 
session of the Legislature the newly appointed Superin 
tendent of Public Instruction, John D. Pierce, had been 
authorized to investigate and report to the Legislature 
on the question of the establishment of a school system. 
With characteristic pioneer energy, he had sold his house 
and lot at Marshall, and with the means thus secured 
had started by lumber-wagon for Detroit and the East 
in quest of information that might supplement his own 
rare judgment and well-stored mind. Before his return, 
he had conferred with prominent educators of New York, 
Massachusetts and Connecticut, and had attended the two 
most important teachers' gatherings of the time, the one 
at Worcester and the other at Cincinnati. Thus fortified, 
he proceeded to prepare his report to the Legislature, 
which was submitted to that body during the first days 
of its session. It is within the truth to say that in no 
State of the Union before this time had there been sub 
mitted a document embracing a more comprehensive 
scheme of education nor one so well calculated to meet the 
requirements and effectuate the purposes desired. Mr. 
Pierce frankly admitted that in the perfecting of his 
system, he had drawn from the educational system of 
Prussia as expounded by the celebrated Victor Cousin, 


who as an authority he frequently quoted. It is needless 
to say more of Mr. Pierce J s report than that as its recom 
mendations were almost wholly adopted by the Legisla 
ture, it made John D. Pierce the father of the Michigan 
school system and the pioneer in the scheme whereby a 
State placed the means of education within the reach of 

Governor Mason, always enthusiastic in the cause of 
education, seldom sending a message to the Legislature 
without a plea in its. interest, now ably seconded the 
report and recommendation of the Superintendent of 
Public Instruction, saying among other things upon this 
subject, "The State fund for the support of common 
schools, with prudent husbandry, will equal our utmost 
wants. The University of Michigan will also possess 
an endowment which will enable the State to place that 
institution upon an elevation of character and standing 
equal to that of any similar institution in the Union. I 
would, therefore, recommend the immediate location of 
the University at the same time the adoption of a system 
for its government as well as a system for the govern 
ment of your primary schools. In the organization of 
your common schools, which are the foundation upon 
which your whole system of education must be based, 
the first measure essential to their success and good gov 
ernment is the appointment of teachers of the highest 
character both moral and intellectual. Liberal salaries 
should be allowed the instructors, as without this, you 
may rest assured you must fail in your object, as indi 
viduals in all respects competent to the charge of your 
schools will be excluded from them by the parsimonious- 
ness of their compensation, " 


Inasmuch as Michigan was to have a State banking 
experience which was destined to Eve as one of the 
unpleasant memories of 1837-38 and was to be one of the 
enactments that was to be charged to the Governor's 
administration, it is but proper that the Governor's mes 
sage utterances on the subject should be reproduced; for 
they are not only interesting as showing his soundness 
on the fundamentals of the subject, but they show his 
view of the duties of an executive officer with respect 
to the exercise of his veto power. 

"I find/ 3 said he ? "by reference to the notice of appli 
cations to be made to you for legislation at your present 
session that you will be called upon to legislate exten 
sively upon applications for bank charters. 

"This subject involves the currency of the country, 
and cannot be regarded with too much interest and care. 
The question involved in all legislation upon the subject, 
is one of simple expediency and the responsibility 
involved, in a great measure, rests upon the Legislature. 
The executive officer, strictly construing his veto power, 
should confine its exercise to constitutional questions, 
unless it be in flagrant cases where facts come before 
Mm which have been withheld from the knowledge of the 
legislature. Questions of expediency, as a general rule, 
should be left to the immediate representatives of the 
people. The country, it is true, is laboring at present 
under an unprecedented pressure in the money markets. 
But it is a mistaken idea that extensive issues of bank 
paper mil remove this evil. Banks are rather the effect 
than the cause of the prosperity of a State. They may 
afford facilities in trade but they are not the foundation 
of the public wealth. The wealth of the State has a 


deeper source ; it springs from the agricultural industry 
of the country; it emanates from the labor of the people. 
The cause of the existing pressure does not arise so much 
from the want of banking capital as from an unnatural 
state of trade produced by the wild and reckless spirit 
of speculation which has overrun the land and has with 
drawn capital from its usual channels. This capital must 
return to the channels when it properly belongs before 
the entire relief to the community can be experienced; 
and as it is generally invested in real estate, its return 
will be found to be gradual in its operation. A wise 
and prudent economy accompanied by a cessation of 
extravagant speculation can alone restore a proper state 
of trade and relieve the embarrassment of the country. 
Without this a multiplication of banks and bank paper 
will but increase the evil" 

Passing from a discussion of the fundamental causes 
that to his mind had produced the financial stress under 
which the country was then laboring, he proceeded to 
say, "We must recollect that bank notes are not money, 
but merely its representative. Gold and silver are the 
basis of our currency, and when your bank notes are not 
convertible into this medium at the will of the holder 
they must depreciate in value. " He concluded with the 
caution, " Every guard should, therefore, be thrown 
around your bank charters, which may have a tendency to 
satisfy the public mind of the solvency of the institutions 
and of their ability to redeem their paper at the will of 
the holder." 

Governor Mason, as already appears, was outlining 
legislation commensurate with a liberal State policy, and 
unquestionably the policy in which he in common with the 


people generally entered with the most enthusiasm was 
the policy of internal improvement. But enthusiastic as 
he was, his utterances and recommendations upon the sub 
ject were of a practical and, if the policy was to be entered 
upon at all, of a very reasonable nature. Said the Gov 
ernor, ' i The first measure to be adopted in carrying into 
successful effect this branch of our State policy is imme 
diate organization of a board of internal improvement. 
Under the direction of this board, the surveys essential 
in legislating safely with reference to contemplated 
works of improvement should be made during the present 
year, so that at the next session of the Legislature meas 
ures may be adopted for the immediate commencement of 
such canals, railroads, and other public worts as may 
then be sanctioned and designated. Competent engineers 
should be employed under the direction of the State 
board, for without the evidence of their estimates and 
investigation no important work should ever be ordered 
by the Legislature. " 

At the previous session of the Legislature, that body 
had authorized the Governor to negotiate for the sur 
render to the State of the charters of certain railroad 
companies that had been granted incorporation. Of the 
companies solicited, only the Detroit and St. Joseph, 
later to become the Central, and the St. Clair and Eomeo 
responded. Adverting to the offers made, the Governor 
repeated liis former suggestion, saying, that in ease "the 
Legislature should determine not to receive the exclusive 
charge of the public works of the above character, I 
would again suggest that the State take such an amount 
of stock in the chief routes which have or may be ordered, 


as will secure to the people a controlling influence over 

Kecognizing the great possibilities of the newly 
acquired Upper Peninsula, he recommended the construc 
tion of a ship canal around the Falls of the River St. 
Mary, and inasmuch as it was a work of national charac 
ter, he suggested that Congress be memorialized for an 
appropriation to that end. For the carrying out of the 
general scheme of public improvements he recommended 
a foreign loan thus indicating the general lack of appre 
ciation of the extent of the work in contemplation, or, 
what is possible, not contemplating the extensive works 
that were ultimately ordered, by recommending a loan 
of five million dollars "as sufficient to accomplish all the 
important public improvements demanded by the State 
for the present/' 

If there was criticism of the Governor's position as 
outlined in his message, it was not shown by the press. 
Even the Whig paper quite generally commended its 
main features, and expressed disapprobation only of the 
treatment accorded the statehood and boundary question. 
The Legislature at once applied itself to the duties at 
hand, following the matters of general interest to the 
consideration of the topics suggested in the Governor's 
message. The Governor was at once authorized to 
appoint a private secretary, the position being given to 
Calvin C. Jackson, a young man but recently from New 
York. A few days later, a resolution was passed which 
marked the beginning of the State Library; placing it 
in charge of the Governor's secretary, to be conducted 
under such rules and regulations as he, under the direc 
tion of the Governor and the approval of the Legislature, 


might establish. For this purpose the Legislature later 
made an appropriation of two thousand dollars and pro 
vided for an appropriation of one thousand dollars annu 
ally for the next five years. The expenditure of this money 
was placed in the hands of the Governor, the president 
of the Senate and the speaker of the House. Although 
Jackson became the official librarian, and as such drew 
fifty dollars the first year for his services, a large portion 
of the actual duties of the position was performed by 
Oren Marsh, a young man who for three years or more 
had been connected with the education efforts of the .city 
of Detroit. 

The first measure of importance to receive legislative 
attention was the act creating the office of State Geol 
ogist and providing for a geological survey of the State, 
which received executive approval on February 23. This 
act provided for annual reports to the Legislature and 
carried appropriations of three thousand dollars for the 
year 1837, six thousand for 1838, eight thousand for 
1839, and twelve thousand for 1840. That the pioneer 
Legislature was brought to see the value of a project of 
this character speaks as highly for the diplomacy of Dr. 
Houghton as his subsequent achievements did for his 
scientific abilities. For years afterward, stories were 
told of certain members who were at first emphatic in 
their protests against the expenditure of money for what 
they denominated " foolishness/ 7 after an evening spent 
at the home of the genial doctor where no word was said 
as respects the pending bill but where they were enter 
tained by the well-stored mind of the scientist and made 
to see the manifold advantages to be derived from Ms 
knowledge in the discovery of the natural resources 


of the State, left his home not only the doctor's warm 
friends but as the supporters of the bill for a geological 
survey. Needless to say that on March 3rd, following 
the approval of the act, the Governor nominated, and 
four days later the Senate confirmed. Dr. Douglas Hough- 
ton as State Geologist, a position in which he was 
destined to render most signal service alike helpful to 
Ms State and Nation. 

In conformity with the Governor's recommendation, 
provision was made by resolution for the selection of 
three commissioners to study the question of prison man 
agement and discipline, and to receive and examine pro- 
posals for the location of such an institution and later 
to report their conclusions to the Legislature. It was a 
year later in pursuance of the report of this commission 
that the State Prison was located at "Jacksonburg." 
Envious competing localities insisted that they had 
offered inducements for the location to the State, while 
the citizens of Jacksonburg had been wise in offering all 
inducements to the commissioners. 

At this session through the personal effort of the Gov 
ernor, the good priest Martin Kundig received a belated 
and insufficient recognition for his financial sacrifice in 
relieving the poor and distressed during the cholera 
scourge of three years before, in the form of a gift of 
three thousand dollars. This is said to be the single 
instance in our history of a reward or pension for philan 
thropic service, and surely the State chose a worthy and 
exceptional example; for even after the receipt of the 
gratuity, his obligations in the care of the poor and needy 
which fate had committed to Ms charge, were such that 
Ms entire property and personal effects were sold bv the 


the Sheriff to satisfy debts he had contracted through 
the prompting of Ms charitable instincts. It was nearly 
twenty years later before the good shepherd could say 
that he was free from the debts he had contracted while 
giving care and comfort to the poor and friendless of 

The law for the organization and support of primary 
schools received approval on the 20th of March, and car 
ried into effect the recommendations of Superintendent 
Pierce ; in substance it is still the law of the State in its 
application to primary education. On the same day the 
University was by action of the Legislature located at 
Ann Arbor ; but not until the ambitious village of Palmer, 
then the county seat of St. Clair County (now city of 
St. Clair), had filed with the Legislature a numerously 
signed petition and had exerted all the influence within 
its power to secure its location at that place, which could 
then boast the possession of three stores, two sawmills, a 
gristmill, a chartered bank, a newspaper, a lawyer, four 
physicians, and strong hope in all the people that the 
town would be made the eastern terminus of one of the 
lines of the railway which it was likewise hoped would be 
projected westward across the peninsula. The law for the 
organization and government of the University had been 
approved two days before. The Act and its subsequent 
amendment at the same session made provision for three 
departments; the department of literature, science and 
art, the department of law, and the department of medi 
cine. The government was vested in a Board of Regents 
to be appointed by the Governor, he being ex-officio pres 
ident of the board; the Lieutenant Governor, the Judges 
of the Supreme Court and the Chancellor of the State 


were by virtue of their offices likewise members of the 
board. Three of the appointed members were to vacate 
their offices yearly. Besides being the governing body 
of the University proper, the Board of Begents, with 
the Superintendent of Public Instruction, was empow 
ered to establish branches of the University, or acade 
mies, in diff erent parts of the State. The branches were 
prohibited from granting degrees, but were required 
each to maintain a department for instruction in agri 
culture and a department for the education of teachers 
for the primary schools. The branches were, in fact, 
designed to fill the place of preparatory schools or of 
high schools, by which they were subsequently super 
seded, Governor Mason indicated his hearty interest 
in the University, which was as yet without buildings 
or professors, by the Board of Eegents he appointed; the 
twelve were John J. Adam, John Norvell, Boss WilMns, 
Seba Murphy, Isaac E. Crary, Lucius Lyon, Jonathan 
Kearsley, Henry B. Schooferaft, Samuel W. Denton, Gor- 
den C. Leach, George "Whittemore, and Zina Pitcher, 
aU men of the highest character and first abilities. The 
board, upon its organization, decided to establish sev 
eral branches, rightfully assuming that for a few years 
their instruction would necessarily precede the work of 
the central University. The University branches author 
ized were to be established at Detroit, Pontiac, Centre- 
ville, Niles, Grand Bapids, Palmer, Jackson, Monroe, 
Kalamazoo, and MacMnac. Several of these institutions 
went into successful operation and for many years ren 
dered valuable service in the field for which they were 
designed. It was not until the next year, 1838, that 
the State loaned to the University $100,000 with which 


to begin building operations. The Board of Regents at 
this time, to prepare for the opening of the institution, 
appointed Dr. Asa Gray, who later achieved a national 
reputation as a botanist, to the professorship of botany 
and zoology and sent him to Europe empowered to pur 
chase $5,000 worth of books as the nucleus of a library, 
which has since grown to more than three hundred thou 
sand volumes. 

During the legislative session, the members evidently 
felt the need of the Attorney General at the seat of gov 
ernment, and inasmuch as the Attorney General, Daniel 
LeRoy, resided at Pontiac, the Legislature by resolution 
on the 13th of March provided that it should be thence 
forth the duty of the Attorney General to reside at the 
seat of government; and provided further that the office 
should be deemed vacant upon his failure to do so. It 
is quite possible that the $200 salary which was then 
paid to the office was not sufficiently alluring to induce 
the removal of the Attorney General from Pontiac to 
Detroit; at any rate the office was a week later consid 
ered vacant and on the 21st the Governor nominated and 
the Senate confirmed Peter Morey of Tecumseh for the 
position. The salary of the office on the same day was 
increased as was that of the Auditor General to $400 
annually; while that of the treasurer was likewise 
increased to $500, of the Secretary of State to $1,000, 
and of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to $1,500 
per year. 

The three measures passed at this session which more 
than any other enactments became the subjects of gen 
eral discussion, were the banking law, the law providing 
for a system of internal improvements, and intimately 


connected with the latter law, the law authorizing the 
five million dollar loan. These three laws formed the 
basis of a State experience that has been a powerfully 
continuing factor in the history of the State. That the 
experience was disastrous goes without saying; but it is 
equally true that to a great degree the disasters pro 
ceeded quite as much from the inopportuneness of the 
undertaking, as from fundamental defects in the laws 
under which the projects were prosecuted. This is 
especially true of the projected works of internal 

The "wild cat** crisis or panic of 1837 will live long 
in the history of the State, but its causes were rather 
national than local in character; although as would be 
expected the general conditions were either intensified 
or alleviated by incidents that were entirely local. Mich 
igan, perhaps to a greater extent than enighboring States, 
shared both in the delusive prosperity of 1836 and the 
enlightening disasters of 1837 and subsequent years, but 
the causes in both instances were to be found in large 
measure in issues that had to do more with national than 
State concern. 

Since the reehartering of the bank of the United States 
and the commencement of business in 1817, it had grown 
to be one of the richest and most powerful corporations 
in the world. For twenty years it had furnished a cur 
rency that had been freely accepted by the people in 
all parts of the country, and because its own notes were 
good it exerted a marked influence in requiring the 
smaller banks of the various States to maintain their 
currency at the same standard. It had paid annual divi 
dends of from 8 to 10 per cent and could now show a 


surplus of astonishing proportions. Although, of unques 
tioned stability its very strength had brought it enemies 
and matured a sentiment that its tremendous powers 
were inimical to free institutions. A large and growing 
body of citizens were convinced that it was in contraven 
tion of both the Federal Constitution and good policy, 
that the National Government should be in league with 
a corporation that fattened upon the deposits and con 
trolled the currency of the country. The charter of the 
bank would expire in 1837; and President Jackson, fol 
lowing his election in 1833, had made it plain that he 
would withhold his signature from any bill that Con 
gress might pass to renew it, a position he vigorously 
maintained to the end of his political career. 

During the twenty years of peace, prosperity had 
blessed the land to such an extent, that the national debt 
had been cancelled and there was now a surplus of $40,- 
000,000 in the treasury above the needs of government. 
After a bitter contest, this surplus was withdrawn from 
deposit with the Bank of the United States. If this 
action induced tremors in the financial institutions of 
the country, they were not apparent, for the surplus, 
instead of being concentrated in one institution, was now 
deposited in the banks of the various States, which 
because of their selection became known as the "pet 
banks. " As much as $1,895,000 was deposited with the 
banks of Michigan, one and a half million dollars being 
on deposit with the Bank of Michigan and the Farmers' 
and Mechanics' Bank of Detroit. 

With the Bank of the United States forced to retire its 
circulation and to seek a semblance of perpetuity as a 
State bank under the laws of Pennsylvania, as the Penu- 


sylvania Bank of the United States, and its deposits 
including the great deposit of the National Government 
transferred to the various State banks with no national 
institution created to take the place of the great bank 
eliminated, we can now well understand what happened 
even though it could not then be foreseen. State banks, 
left as the exclusive occupants of the field, multiplied 
with great rapidity. Even before the expiration of the 
charter of the Bank of the United States anticipation 
had started the increase. The abnormal deposit in the 
State banks, coupled with inflated issues of bank cur 
rency, at once inflated values far above the normal and 
induced an era of the most extravagant speculation, 
especially in the unimproved public lands. The unprece 
dented immigration to Michigan lent especial emphasis 
to this form of investment. The extent of this invest 
ment is shown when we know that the total land sales 
in all the States and Territories of the Union for 1836 
was a little more than $25,000,000, while the sales in Mich 
igan alone were $5,241,228.70. But the fallacious pros 
perity was soon to end. The national authorities soon 
discovered that the bank notes of the State banks were 
displacing the metallic currency of the country, and that 
the National treasury was accumulating a paper cur 
rency of doubtful value in payment for the public lands. 
With the triple purpose of putting the finances on a safer 
basis, protecting the treasury and putting a stop to the 
wild speculation of the time, the Secretary of the Treas 
ury under the direction of the President on July 11, 1836, 
issued the famous so-called "Specie Circular/ 7 whereby 
government officials were required to accept nothing but 
gold and silver in payment for the public lands. This 


new demand for specie sent the paper currency back 
to the banks of Issue for redemption, entailing a strin 
gency in the money market that forced many banks not 
favored with government deposits into liquidation. 
Another measure well fitted although not intended to 
still further derange the already perturbed financial con 
dition of the country, had after long debate in Congress 
become a law on June 15, 1836, whereby all of the sur 
plus revenue in excess of $5,000,000 then on deposit in 
the so-called "pet banks' 7 was to be divided after Janu 
ary 1, 1837, among the States as a loan, to be recalled 
by direction of Congress. By this act $28,000,000 was 
taken from the banks and distributed among the several 
States. Of this distribution Michigan received $286,- 
751.49, which the Legislature placed to the credit of the 
internal improvement fund as a loan to be returned when 
the contemplated loan for internal improvements was 
obtained or whenever requested by the Legislature. The 
demand upon the banks for this great sum, which in 
many instances had been loaned in the general course of 
business, necessitated the sudden calling in of loans, the 
still further shattering of public confidence and the pre 
cipitation of the panic of 1837, a financial disaster the 
like of which had never before been experienced in Amer 
ica. It was in conflict with such conditions that the Mich 
igan legislators launched the fond-thought enterprises 
of their aspiring State, and to the correction of which 
they sought to apply remedies of their own devising. 

Much has been written in critical and derisive vein 
of Michigan's "wildcat" banking law; but time and con 
ditions considered, nothing was more natural in legisla 
tion than that a State banking law should have been 

First Statt 

JOHN i. 1'iEin'i:. 

i'i'M ni ri;l!i, 

1H1. ZINA 

An n 

t t 1 <C.^. 


enacted. It was in line with the legislation of other 
States, and there was a general feeling that in the devel 
opment of the country there was an insufficiency of cur 
rency with which to transact the volume of business. 
Michigan's disastrous experience with the hanking law 
of 1837 resulted quite as much from the rascality of men 
who ignored and evaded the requirements of the law as 
from defects in the law itself. The salient features 
of the law embraced the following provisions : Any num 
ber of persons residing within a county including twelve 
freeholders among their numbers could organize a bank 
with a capital of not less than $50,000 nor more than 
$300,000. Numerous safeguards were placed around the 
subscribing of the stock; provisions were made insuring 
that at least one-third of the stock should always be 
owned by residents of the county. Before commencing 
business all the stock must be subscribed and thirty 
per cent of the same was to be paid in in specie. Ten 
per cent of the stock was to be paid in each SLS mouths 
thereafter until all the capital was paid in. Before begin 
ning operations the president and directors were 
required to furnish security in the form of bonds and 
mortgages upon real estate within the State or the per 
sonal bonds of resident freeholders, to be approved by 
the county treasurer and the county clerk and filed with 
the Auditor General, which securities were to equal the 
full amount that any association might at any time have 
in circulation or be indebted. Neither the circulation nor 
the loans and discounts were to exceed twice and a half 
the amount of the capital stock paid in. Heavy liabilities 
were placed upon both stockholders and directors. Pro 
vision was made for explicit reports and rigid examin- 


ations by a commissioner to detect and prevent fraud. 
The New York Safety Fund scheme was also incorpo 
rated in the law, whereby it was designed that each bank 
should contribnte semi-annually one-half of one per cent" 
upon capital stock paid in until a fund of three per cent 
was accumulated. Such a fund it was thought would 
be sufficient to make good all deficiencies that might arise 
from the failures of single corporations. A general con 
dition of bankruptcy and failure without assets was not 
within their imaginings. 

In the passage of the bill through the Legislature, it 
received consistent opposition from but one or two mem 
bers. In the House it passed by a vote of 34 to 4; the 
34 including such men as Kinsley S. Bingham, "Warner 
Wing, George W. Wisner and Edwin H. Lothrop, while 
the four in opposition were Jonathan P. King, Alpheus 
Felch, Charles W. Whipple and Robert Purdy, all of 
whom save Alpheus Felch and Robert Purdy had pre 
viously supported the measure at various stages of its 
passage. In the Senate the vote was equally decisive, 
being 15 to 1 for the bill. John McDonell of Detroit was 
the lone Senator in opposition. At the legislative session 
of 1836 provision had been made for the appointment 
of a banking commissioner, and Governor Mason had 
nominated and the Legislature had unanimously con 
firmed Robert McClelland of Monroe in the position. The 
records do not disclose but it is evident that Mr. McClel 
land did not accept and that Marshall J. Bacon was 
appointed ad interim. His first report was laid before 
the Legislature January 5, 1837. Upon the passage of 
the general banking Act of March 15, 1837, the Governor 


nominated and the Legislature confirmed Edwin N. 
Bridges of Cass County to the commissionership, the 
duties of which position were evidently not considered 
of an onerous character as the office carried a salary of 
but three hundred dollars per year. 

One looks in vain in the law itself for the provisions 
that were to be warrant for all the financial mischief that 
followed its enactment. Of the law, one writer has said, 
" There are in these provisions all the elements appar 
ently of safe banking, including the payment of capital 
stock in specie, personal liability of directors and stock 
holders, careful examination by bank commissioners and 
frequent examination and sworn statement by the direc 
tors/ 5 

John J. Knox ? ex-comptroller of the treasury has like 
wise told us how near Michigan came to enacting a good 
banking law. Said he, "The first State to embody this 
principle of requiring banks of circulation to deposit 
securities with the governing power, was Michigan, That 
State in 1837 adopted a general banking law, by wMeh 
the banks were required to deposit bonds and mortgages 
and personal bonds. This was in aacord with the 
views of Albert Gallatm." In practical operation of the 
law, however, the carrying out of its provisions was of 
necessity intrusted in many instances to men entirely 
wanting in the knowledge of even the fundamentals of 
banking, and even had they been disposd conservatively 
to follow and conform to all legal requirements, they 
would not have had experience sufficient to have pro 
moted public confidence, But mistaken guidance and 
honest errors contributed but little to the unwholesome 


memory with which the people later viewed the law, 
for its every precautionary and salutary requirement 
was recklessly and criminally disregarded and it was 
made the excuse or means of the most glaring frauds 
and deceptions. 

In the matter of internal improvements the Legisla 
ture joined the Governor in hearty approval of the 
scheme, even exceeding his enthusiasm by refusing to 
entertain consideration of the conservative restrictions 
his message had suggested. His suggestion that the 
State become a subscriber to the stock of the principle 
works of internal improvements, and thus combine the 
State's resources with the interest and enterprise of the 
individual, seems not to have been considered at all ; and 
his recommendation that no work be undertaken or 
appropriation made until the Legislature had had before 
it the surveys and estimates of competent engineers was 
followed in altogether too limited a degree. The weak 
ness of the scheme was soon apparent. Had the State 
been able to concentrate its resources and energies upon 
one venture of paramount importance, it would have 
accomplished results of a very desirable nature ; but the 
average member of the Legislature could not contemplate 
with satisfaction a scheme of internal improvement 
where his own and his constituents' interests were not 
to receive a benefit of a direct and positive nature until 
years in the future, while in the meantime some other 
section been enjoying the benefits of their contribu 
tions. No satisfactory scheme could be worked out that 
did not embrace the whole State. Petitions from the 
remote places of the State showed that even there the 


lonely pioneer was imbued with the desire for a broad 
scheme of internal improvements. The opposing party 
press even joined in the demand, the Advertiser of Feb 
ruary 2nd, 1837, saying editorially, "From all indications 
of public opinion in the Legislature, and out of it, we 
conclude that the State has determined to prosecute a 
magnificent system of internal improvements. This, if 
judiciously accomplished, will enrich the State immeas 
urably beyond the cost of the work if past and present 
experience is not entirely at fault." 

In a report nearly twenty pages in length, Mr. Elisha 
Ely of Allegan, chairman of the House committee on 
internal improvements, with figures and rhetoric told the 
House of the marvelous transformation that would be 
wrought by the work to be instituted. Says the report, 
"The more the subject is investigated, the wider extends 
the field and the more worthy it appears of attention. 
Its consequences to Michigan are incalculable. Her 
future prosperity is, in the opinion of your committee, 
inseparably interwoven with the progress of internal 
improvement. By it alone, she can attain the political 
importance so necessary to protect her from the want 
of a due weight in the councils of the nation." In another 
burst of eloquence it says, "A few leading routes in 
successful operation will excite the enterprise of every 
section of the country, while it will create and allure 
capital for the more rapid fulfillment of every design." 

On March 20, 1837, the law to provide for the construc 
tion of certain works of internal improvement was 
approved by the Governor. The law provided for the 
survey and establishment of three lines of railroads 


across the State, to be designated as the Central, the 
Northern and the Southern. The Central involved the 
purchase of the Detroit and St. Joseph, then under course 
of construction between Detroit and Dearborn; Detroit 
and the mouth of the St. Joseph river being established 
as its termini; the Southern was to commence at the 
navigable waters of the river Eaisin, pass through the 
village of Monroe in the county of Monroe, and terminate 
at New Buffalo in the county of Berrien; the Northern 
was to commence at either Palmer (St. Clair) or at or 
near the mouth of Black Eiver in the county of St. Clair 
and to terminate either at the navigable waters of the 
Grand Eiver in the county of Kent or on Lake Michigan 
in the county of Ottawa. Five hundred and fifty thou 
sand dollars was appropriated for these works, antici 
pating of course a loan that should later be made for 
the purpose. Of this sum one hundred thousand dollars 
was to be for the Southern, four hundred thousand for 
the Central, and fifty thousand for the Northern. Forty 
thousand dollars was likewise appropriated for the con 
struction of a canal or for a canal part of the way and 
a railroad the remainder of the way commencing near 
Mi Clemens on the Clinton Eiver to terminate at or near 
the mouth of the Kalamazoo Eiver, while fifteen thou 
sand dollars was appropriated for the purpose of a canal 
connecting the waters of the Saginaw and Maple rivers. 
These last two ventures were to be undertaken only in 
the event of the commissioners' being convinced of the 
practicability of "the work. Surveys were also authorized- 
for the St. Joseph, Kalamazoo and Grand rivers with a 
view to their improvement by slack-water navigation; 


and for the purchase of instruments and for the survey 
of canal routes and rivers twenty thousand dollars more 
was appropriated ; while a like sum was provided for the 
purchase of the Havre Branch Bailroad, a railroad 
designed to extend from the village of Havre seven miles 
above Toledo, westward a distance of about thirteen 
miles to the intersection of the Erie and Kalamazoo Bail- 
road then in operation from Toledo to Adrian. One 
detects here an effort to build up a rival on Michigan soil 
to the city on the Maumee thad had preferred to cast 
its lot with Ohio. But Havre, like many another "city" 
of its day, has long since passed from the minds of all 
save those who seek the record of the past. 

WMle there was for a time some difference between 
the House and Senate over the provisions of this bill, the 
differences were ultimately adjusted by a committee of 
conference ; the bill passed the House without a dissent 
ing vote, while in the Senate it passed with a vote of 
13 to 1; the lone opposer was Randolph Manning, and 
he opposed details rather than principles. 

On March 21, executive approval was given to the Act 
appropriating $25,000 for the purposes of the St Mary's 
Canal in case the survey and report of the engineers 
should be favorable to the project, which was to be under 
taken without "any unreasonable delay." On the same 
day acts were approved providing for the appointment 
by the Governor and approval by the Legislature of a 
Board of Commissioners on Internal Improvements, who 
were given broad powers in the construction and opera 
tion of the State works, and authorized the Governor 
to negotiate a loan not exceeding five million dollars with 


interest not exceeding 5% per cent per annum payable 
in New York or elsewhere in the United States and 
redeemable at the pleasure of the State at any time from 
and after twenty-five years from January 1, 1838. The 
bonds were not to be sold at less than par; the proceeds 
were to be credited to the fund for internal improvements 
from which all contingent expenses of the Governor in 
negotiating the loan were to be likewise paid. Into this 
fund were also to go the contemplated earnings of the 
canals and railroads for the eventual repayment of the 
principal and interest of the loan. 

The Governor at once nominated as members of the 
Board of Commissioners of 'Internal Improvements Dan 
iel .LeRoy of Oakland, Hart L. Stewert and John Bar- 
bour of Berrien, David C. McKinstry of Wayne, Levy S. 
Humphrey of Monroe, Gardner D. "Williams of Saginaw 
and Justus Burdick of Kalamazoo. The Legislature in 
joint convention promptly confirmed all the nominations, 
excepting the nomination of Daniel LeRoy, who, the 
Legislature still remembered, had refused to remove to 
the seat of Government as Attorney General. The Gov 
ernor accordingly sent the name of James B, Hunt of 
Oakland County to the Legislature, which was at once 
accepted and confirmed. 

The legislation, aside from the measures mentioned, 
was as f would be presumed of an extensive and varied 
character involving the organization of townships, the 
incorporation of villages, and the creation of corporations 
to engage in all the varied enterprises that were just then 
so fufl of promise. The Legislature adjourned March 22, 
to reconvene the following November 9, by which time 


it was presumed the $5,000,000 loan would be negotiated 
and other matters matured so as to require legislative 
action. Even the organs of the opposition credited the 
Legislature with having enacted " highly important meas 
ures, most of them conceived in a spirit of enlightened 
policy highly creditable to the body;" although two 
weeks before, the same paper had said that if they appro 
priated money to pay the per diem and expenses of the 
"Frost-bitten Convention 7 ' "They will deserve to be 
brow-beaten and pelted with billets by a mob assembled 
around their bar as the French Revolution assembled in 
1790." Such was the contemporary conception of the 
relative merits of the issues considered by the Legisla 
ture of 1837. 

Although the winter had been filled with arduous 
duties, which, from the Governor's letters to the absent 
members of the family it is apparent he fully appreciated 
and zealously labored to discharge, the weeks did not 
pass without the usual round of Detroit's midwinter 
gaiety, in which the dignitaries of State joined with as 
much zest as the more care-free portions of the cominim- 
ity. There were interesting meetings at the Young Men's 
Society, and lectures at the Capitol. There were recep 
tions at the homes of substantial citizens where cultured 
hospitality made all at ease, and there were gatherings 
at " Uncle Ben's,' 7 where the nights were none too long 
for the geniality and goodfellowship that there assem 
bled. On January 20, the announcement was made of the 
arrival of the long-expected locomotive " Adrian," No. 
80, from the Baldwin works at Philadelphia, the first 
one sent to the Northwest, and the third one west of the 


Allegheny Mountains, to supersede horse-power upon the 
Brie and Kalamazoo between Toledo and Adrian. It 
was a month later, on Washington's birthday, February 
22, that the Legislature attended in a body before the 
American Hotel, where in the presence of a large gather 
ing of citizens, Governor Mason in a speech of patriotic 
sentiment, presented to the Brady Guards resplendent 
in their smart uniforms, a standard bearing upon one 
side a portrait of the Governor and on the reverse side 
the picture of a lady, a Brady guardsman, and the Mich 
igan coat of arms ; it being unquestionably the first flag 
upon which was depicted the design of the State seal. 
To the presentation Captain Isaac S. Rowland responded, 
and, with standard flying, the company marched back to 
their quarters to be later congratulated by press and 
public on the grace with which their part in the program 
had been performed. 

It was but a few days later, on March 13, that the 
friends of the Governor, through John Norton, Jr., 
Thomas C. Sheldon and Andrew T. McBeynolds, pre 
sented to the State in the following communication the 
life-sized portrait of the Governor, which from that day 
to this has been the portrait of keenest interest among 
all those which adorn the halls of the State Legislature. 
"To the Hon. 0. W. Whipple, Speaker 
"Of the House of Representatives 
"A number of the citizens of Michigan being desirous 
to preserve the features of their first Chief Magistrate, 
have caused a portrait of their Governor to be executed. 
This portrait they offer for the acceptance of the State, 
through the medium of the representatives of the people, 
with the request that it shaU be placed in the Hall of 


the House of Representatives as an evidence to future 
times of the affection of Ms fellow citizens for the man, 
and their respect for the magistrate, and as a memorial 
of the officer whose virtues have adorned, and whose 
talents have dignified, the opening annals of the common 
wealth of Michigan. 


With these and kindred subjects was the public mind 
occupied as well as with the serious affairs of State and 
National politics. 



FOB some six or seven years party political feeling 
had been growing in intensity and bitterness, as 
grave questions of a governmental nature were now 
beginning to press for solution. The Democratic-Repub 
lican party, the party of Jackson, had governed with a 
vigor and with a violation of precedence, which, while it 
had made loyal adherents, had likewise made bitter ene 
mies. The growing agitation of the Anti-slavery Society 
and the constantly growing influence of the great power 
against which its efforts were directed, and strain of 
adapting government and society to new and untried 
conditions, all tended to create issues which under the 
state of general education then existing aroused personal 
and political antagonism of the most vehement character. 
The feeling of the time not only prompted resort to the 
political methods best calculated to accomplish desired 
ends, but it prompted as well the most ungenerous criti 
cism and unjustified reflections upon the honor and 
character of political opponents as those intrusted with 
the conduct of political affairs. This was especially true 
in Michigan, where national issues had been supple 
mented by considerations of State concern well calculated 
to further divide contending factions. The Whig party 
had been growing vigorously since 1832, and the gather 
ing clouds of financial disaster now gave it an oppor 
tunity for criticism that was to be most telling and effec- 


tive ; as arguments addressed to the pocketbook, whether 
based upon f act, fiction, or sophistry, always are. 

Michigan was now approaching what was to be its 
first vigorously contested political campaign wherein 
State officers and members of the Legislature were to 
be selected. The election of 1835 had been almost with 
out organized opposition to the Democratic-Republican 
ticket, and so could hardly be dignified as a contest, 
There was now likewise a member of Congress to be 
elected. The term of Isaac E. Crary who was not allowed 
to take his seat until January 27, although elected in 
November 1835, expired with the twenty-fourth Con 
gress, March 4, 1837. For some reason, perhaps because 
it was not known how long the State might be kept out 
of the Union, no member of Congress was elected at the 
preceding November election, and so the State found 
itself without a Congressman after March 4. To remedy 
this condition, the Legislature later provided for a con 
gressional election to be held on the 21st and 22nd of 
August 1837 ; the election was called at this time undoubt 
edly so that the State might have representation in the 
Lower House of Congress, at the special session which 
President Van Buren had called to meet on the 4th of 
September following. The politicians of the State were 
early canvassing the situation and making ready for the 
contest. It was soon evident that the Whigs would make 
an eminently respectable showing at the election, for the 
financial affairs of the country, instead of mending, con 
tinued to grow more distressing as the weeks advanced. 
The banks still more severely called in their loans, the 
best paper went to protest, and failures became alarm 
ingly frequent. Even as the Legislature adjourned, pen- 


pie wondered if a suspension of specie payment was to 
be the outcome of the situation. Every traveler and 
newspaper from the East brought doleful tidings of the 
financial outlook, and the people were not surprised when 
on the morning of May 16, a citizen of Detroit returning 
from New York announced that the blow had fallen, that 
the banks of that city had suspended specie payment one 
week before. 

In a few hours hand-bills were on the streets calling a 
citizens' meeting at the City Hall, where a few hours 
later the gentlemen of business interest in the city gath 
ered and listened to a recital of the conditions in the East 
and to the reading of the proceedings that had been 
taken by certain other cities. The meeting at once passed 
resolutions requesting the banks to suspend to save their 
specie, which they did the following day, the officers 
of the banks a little later assuring the public through 
the newspapers that their specie should be held and not 
sold for a premium such as then prevailed. Governor 
Mason was at once importuned by the leading men of 
both parties to call a special session of the Legislature 
to legalize the suspension of specie payment, as was 
being done by the executives of other State. Petitions 
were printed and freely circulated both in Detroit and 
in the interior of the State, receiving the signatures of 
the leading citizens in the banking as well as in the 
business world. 

Convinced there was no alternative for Michigan but 
to follow the lead of the older and stronger States of the 
East, the Governor issued his proclamation convening 
the Legislature in special session on June 12, 1837. At 
the same time he directed the Bank Commissioner to 


mate a careful examination of all the banking institu 
tions in the State, so that a detailed statement of their 
condition could be laid before the Legislature upon its 
assembling. As the Legislature was convened to deal 
exclusively with the financial situation, the Governor's 
message was devoted to the consideration of that one 
subject. On the fundamental phases of the subject the 
message followed his ideas embodied in the message of 
January 2nd and most certainly showed a clear concep 
tion of the principles involved, whether he had well in 
mind all the details essential to making those principles 
effective or not. Said he : 

"The present crisis in the moneyed affairs of the coun 
try is such as should bring us to a pause and induce us 
well to reflect upon the causes that have led to it. It 
should teach us, although we many learn the lesson of 
wisdom by sad experience, to avoid in future, the seduc 
tive career of apparent, but unreal prosperity, which the 
nation has lately pursued and which, has brought us ulti 
mately to the very verge of general bankruptcy. Let us 
seek out the true sources from whence these evils have 
arisen, and henceforth avoid them; bearing in mind, that 
like causes if hereafter sanctioned by the people, must 
again bring about the very like calamitous results which 
we now deplore. 

"By the universal consent of all nations gold and silver 
has been made the currency and standard of value with 
the great commercial world, But the scarcity of these 
metals has compelled most governments of extensive 
trade and commerce to create a representative ourreBey 
to answer the immediate purposes of domestic exchange. 
In the United States this representative is composed of 


the paper issues of authorized banking associations, hav 
ing a metallic basis created and pledged for its redemp 
tion. The notes of these associations are received at 
home in all exchanges, and constitute the far greater por 
tion of the circulating medium of the country. But, as 
a general rule, in the exchange and commercial inter 
course with foreign nations the ordinary bank issues fail 
to answer the demands of trade, and resort must be had 
to gold and silver, or the products of labor through the 
medium of exportation. 

"The debt owed by one nation to another, cannot be 
paid but with real effects, either in coin or commodities ; 
where both these sources fail, pecuniary embarrassments 
must fall upon the nation, against which the balance of 
trade exists, and the debt created can only be cancelled 
by bankruptcy. These are the first principles of com 
mercial relations; are applicable to nearly all nations, 
and are as invariable in their operations as the laws of 

"We may trace, however, in a very great extent, all 
our present pecuniary embarrassment to one fatal error 
into which the country has fallen. The error is to be found 
in our system of over banking. The excess of bank facili 
ties and bank issues has made the representative of 
money too abundant and has consequently brought in its 
train the evil of our over trading and speculation the aug 
mentation of prices already high increased unwarrant 
able investments in unproductive lands, and foreign im 
ports beyond the wants and means of the nation. It is ad 
mitted that the great enterprise of the American people 
demands, in a greater or less degree, a paper currency, 
the precious metals not being sufficiently abundant to 


Owatfd on strap-rail line Iti-nvMi Adrian and Purt i-invrcnce (Tulwlo) 

frniii ISM. 

Regent of the University of Michigan 

1S37-1S41, and President of the Bank of 


answer all the ends of the circulating medium required 
by the multifarious interests of a widely extended and 
constantly increasing country. But this paper medium 
must be limited and should be restricted in its circula 
tion so as not to exceed in too great an amount the 
metallic basis which it is made partly to represent. 

"What are the effects of excessive bank issues upon a 
community, as proclaimed by the simplest principles of 
political economy! They are, the depreciation of bank 
paper, an increase of the price of all commodities, an 
extension of excessive credits, the neglect of productive 
labor, and a country involved in debt. The banks are 
called upon for specie to pay the debt of the country; 
their specie will not meet their outstanding issues; confi 
dence is shaken; runs are made upon them; they are 
compelled to contract their loans and call in their dis 
counts, and a general pressure, if not bankruptcy, are the 
inevitable results that follow. 

"The condition of the United States, at the present 
time, is a perfect illustration of those principles The 
recorded history of the different States show million 
of an increase in bank facilities; money or rather its 
representative, has become abundapt ; credits have been 
unparalleled; our land offices tell of a dead capital of 
millions buried in unproductive lands; our custom 
houses, deducting profits, freight, and difference of valu 
ation, present a balance of trade against us of millions 
by importation; our circulating medium has depreciated, 
or what is the same thing every other exchangeable com 
modity has risen, and Europe has exhibited the strange 
phenomenon of under selling us on our own shores in 
the exportation of her bread stuffs to America. A revul- 


sion now begins. Our debt must be paid to Europe. 
The banks of the Atlantic cities are unable to furnish 
sufficient fold or silver on their issues to meet the 
demands ; runs are made upon them, and the result has 
been a universal pressure and a general suspension of 
specie payments in order to prevent general bank 

After addressing Ms thought to the processes of recup 
eration which he said would come "through a gradual 
diminution and absorption of bank issues; a curtail 
ment of a too extended trade; a cessation from mad 
investments of capital in unproductive lands; a resort 
to frugality and an application to honest industry, " he 
called attention to the crucial question before them, the 
suspension of specie payment, reluctantly suggesting 
that legislative sanction be given to the proceeding, 
because it has been accorded in New York, "a State/' 
as he said, with whom we have "intimate financial and 
commercial relations," arguing that Michigan could 
not withstand the current which was everywhere flowing 
around her. 

"As the only alternative," he concluded, "although a 
deplorable and hazardous one, I would recommend the 
passage of a law exempting all the banks reported as safe 
and solvent by the Bank Commissioner, for one year or 
until the resumption of specie payments in New York 
and other States from the liabilities of a forfeiture of 
charter for declining to pay specie on their notes. A law 
to this effect would avoid the constitutional question of 
impairing the obligation of contract, and would leave the 
billholder his remedy at law against the bank, should he 
choose to adopt it. 


* i Should you deem the passage of such an Act requisite, 
its provisions, however, should be rigidly scrutinized and 
strictly guarded so that the public may feel a perfect con 
fidence in the ultimate redemption of the issues of the 
banks. In the first place, I would suggest, that the law 
should be made applicable to the safety fund banks, and 
such others, as within a limited period come within the 
provisions of the "Act to create a fund for the benefit of 
the creditors of certain moneyed corporations, and for 
other purposes, " and also that the banks be required to 
receive on deposit and in payment of debts due from mdi- 
vidiials, the notes of each other. These provisions if 
adopted, will give uniformity to the circulating medium, 
and prevent any one bank from discrediting the bills 
of another. Each bank should be compelled also, if prac 
ticable, to retain its specie now on hand, and to exhibit 
periodically to the Bank Commissioner the fact that it 
is still continued in their vaults with the exception of 
such sums, as they may voluntarily choose from time to 
time, to pay out in redemption of iheir notes, or for 
other authorized purposes. Hie great object to be 
desired, is to prevent the banks from selling their specie 
at a premium, and you should by your act, visit upon 
such institution thus disposing of its specie, the severest 
penalties together with the forfeiture of charter. 

"It is highly desirable, likewise, that the banks should 
be restricted in their issues to such an amount, as will 
answer the reasonable wants of the public, without suffer 
ing them to expand their circulation to such an extent, 
as would retard the resumption of specie payments, a 
measure highly demanded by the interests and character 
of the country. And in order to secure a rigid enforce- 


ment of the provisions of this law, I would recommend 
such an amendment to your present statute, as will clothe 
the Bank Commissioner and Chancellor with unrestricted 
authority to close by injunction any institution found 
violating the rules and restrictions you may prescribe 
for them." Accompanying the message was the report 
of the Bank Commissioner with detailed statement from 
the thirteen banks of the State which showed combined 
paid-in- capital of $1,697,305, and that unitedly they had 
specie to the amount of $376,306.52, while their combined 
circulation totaled $1,417,337.98. The Commissioner 
prefaced Ms report with the statement that it " fully 
demonstrates that the banks of Michigan were under no 
necessity to suspend specie payments except as a meas 
ure of defense to protect themselves from the conse 
quences that must inevitably result from the suspension 
of the banks in New York and elsewhere. " 

"Whether one took the cheerful view of the situation 
which seems to have imbued the Commissioner or not, 
it would seem that all would have agreed that the State 
was abundantly supplied with banking facilities for the 
time being, especially as their combined deposits 
amounted to but $548,747.25, of which nearly $400,000.00 
was in the banks of Detroit and their branches. Critics 
of the Governor have expressed the opinion that he had 
very little real appreciation of the true situation or he 
would have recommended a repeal of the general banking 
law but it is perhaps more nearly correct to say, that he 
as well as the members of the Legislature did not foresee 
the rascality and criminality to which certain persons 
were to resort to evade the law's plainest mandates and 
most obvious restrictions. On June 22, the Governor 


approved an Act for the suspension of specie payments 
in substantial conformity with the recommendations of 
his message. It provided for a suspension until May 16, 
1838; required banks to accept their own notes in pay 
ment of notes and drafts discounted by them; limited 
the circulation of banks already in operation to from 
about one and one-half times the capital actually paid in, 
for the smaller banks, to an amount equal to the amount 
of the capital stock paid in for the banks of $200,000 or 
more capital; while all banks thereafter organized were 
limited in their circulation to one and one-half times 
the specie actually paid in and contained in the vaults 
of the bank. Banks were prohibited from disposing of 
their specie ; from directly or indirectly purchasing their 
own or the notes of any other bank at a discount, and 
from declaring dividends during suspension. Banks 
were required to make monthly statements and the Bank 
Commissioner given enlarged and ample powers to for 
feit the charter and wind up the concerns of any bank 
he should find to be in a dangerous or insolvent condition. 
This bill was passed by substantial majorities in each 
House of the Legislature ; even Alpheus Felcfa, who had 
been the opponent of the general banking law, giving 
his endorsement to the measure for suspension, as did 
likewise thirty other members out of the forty present 
and voting. Upon approval of the suspension law the 
Legislature adjourned and again the people hoped that 
the worst was over. 

During tUe winter the old home life of the Governor 
was disturbed by the separation of the members of the 
household; but the later days of June found them re 
united, the delicate mother having returned from the 


South, whither she had gone to escape the rigors of the 
Michigan winter, and the girls were again at home from 
their school at Troy. The legislative session over, the 
charm of the old home hospitality mingled with the stern 
cares of state and politics. There were now thirty-seven 
steamboats plying on the lakes, seventeen of which were 
owned in Detroit. There were three arrivals daily, and 
during the early days of the summer not a few visitors 
of prominence visited the city and were guests at the 
Mason home ; among the number was the noted Captain 
Frederick Marryatt. The steamboat service between 
Detroit and Buffalo was now thought to have attained the 
acme of elegance and comfort, and numerous were the 
commendatory resolutions carried by the papers which 
from time to time were adopted by grateful passengers 
testifying to their appreciation of boats and crews. But 
while Detroit was thus favored, the western portion of 
the State was showing the promise of equal enterprise. 
On Wednesday the 14th of June, 1837, the first steamboat 
constructed in western Michigan slid from the ways into 
Grand River at the pioneer village of Grand Rapids. 
She was built by Richard Godfroy and others and was 
fitted with engine and machinery taken from the Don 
Quixote, a steamer that had been wrecked upon the 
western shore some time previously, while bearing the 
press and materials for the first newspaper of the, to be, 
second city of Michigan. The new steamer was chris 
tened "The Governor Mason/ 7 and carried an elegant 
stand of colors, the gift of the Governor in* recognition 
of the honor conferred. The launching of this pioneer 
cralt was a matter of far more than local interest and 


was noted by the press of the State as the forerunner of 
great things that were to follow. Her trial trip was made 
to Grandville on the succeeding Fourth of July. It may 
be of interest to know that this first steamboat of the 
State's interior, bearing the name of the State's first 
executive, ran irregularly to Lyons and to Grand Haven, 
and in May, 1840, was wrecked near Muskegon harbor. 

Political enthusiasm was now much awakened by the 
visit of Daniel Webster to Detroit, his son Daniel F. 
Webster having some time before become a practising 
lawyer of the place ; Mr. Webster arrived on the 8th of 
July and three days later under the auspices of the Whig 
organization of the city, he delivered one of his masterful 
addresses to a large assemblage of citizens in the grove 
on the Cass farm near First Street between Fort and 
Lafayette Streets. The address was political in charac 
ter, and mainly devoted to a discussion of the financial 
conditions of the country and the responsibility of 
the dominant party therefor. At the conclusion of the 
address some five hundred sat down to a dinner with the 
distinguished guest. The meeting was considered a great 
success, bringing encomiums from the Advertiser and 
sarcasm from the Democratic press. The Michigan Argus 
said of his speech, "It should be stereotyped and become 
the pocket companion of office-seeking declaimers in all 
time to cbme ;" and there is a familiar flavor in its further 
comment, as it proceeds to say, "The style, the language 
and the manner, so far as can be judged by the language, 
are most admirable for his purposes. Full of his hearers 
and full of himself; in rapture of the country; and in 
ecstacy with his reception, he talks of his being a plain 


man, and a farmer; of wives and children ; tells how they 
do things 'at the north' and pats his neighbor upon the 
shoulder in exclamation of his own philanthropy. ' ' 

Bnt even before the Whigs called their meeting, prep 
arations were in progress for the holding of a State con 
vention by the Democratic-Bepublicans for the nomina 
tion of State officers and a member of Congress. The 
Convention which assembled at the Court Honse in Ann 
Arbor July 20, 1837, met in pursuance of a call issued 
by the Democratic central corresponding committee, as 
the State organization was then called. Citizens who 
now hesitate at the loss of a day for the purpose of a 
State convention should ponder over the efforts of the 
pioneers who in July 1837, passed weary miles of quag 
mire and corduroy at a liberal expenditure of time and 
money, to be present at the gathering of party chieftains. 
The Convention was called for Thursday, for the week 
would be none too long for the coming and returning of 
the greater portion of the delegates. The delegates who 
assembled were a body of men whom any State at any 
time might well be proud. Although clad in homespun, 
many of them with bronzed faces and toil-stained hands, 
they aptly typified the mental and physical force required 
in the building of a State. The gathering was more than a 
convention, it was a reunion of men whose bond of union 
was both political and fraternal, born of kindred trials 
and privations. The Convention proceeded to business 
on the morning of the 20th by the selection of Fon. James 
Kingsley of Washtenaw as temporary president and 
George A. C. Luce of Oakland as temporary secretary. 
The report of the committee on credentials showed 
twenty-four organized counties of the State as repre- 


sented, each by delegates from among their own citizens, 
except the counties of Chippewa and Michilimackinac 
which were represented by proxies held by the redoubta 
ble George R. Griswold and Conrad Ten Eyck of Wayne 
with two other worthy citizens impressed for the occa 
sion. The report showed one hundred and four delegates 
entitled to seats, nearly all of whom were present, as 
many as ninety-six answering to roll call. In the gather 
ing were men who were destined to be forceful figures 
not only in the political life of the State, but in its busi 
ness and material development as well. There was John 
Ball of far away Kent, Benjamin 0. Williams of Shia- 
wassee and Thos. Fitzgerald of Berrien. There were Gov 
ernors and United States Senators to be, in the persons 
of William Greenly, Kinsley S. Bingham, and Charles 
E. Stuart. There was Randolph Manning, John J. Adam, 
Horace BL Comstoek, Charles C. Hascall, and a score 
of others whose memories still live through their achieve 
ments. From the county of Wayne one finds the names 
of John S. Bagg of the Free Press, Garry Spencer, Ben 
jamin B. Kercheval, Titus Dort and Eli Bradshaw, 
politicians who ranged all the way from the casual to 
the practical and the professional, while from Monroe, 
Lenawee, Macomb, and Washtenaw, and indeed from 
many other counties, one catches an occasional name 
once prominent in their respective localities, but now 
long forgotten except to him who looks into the records 
of the past. 

The work of the committee on credentials accomplished, 
the permanent officers were selected, in the persons of 
James B. Hunt of Genesee as president; Charles C, Has- 
calI 7 Vincent L. Bradford, Oliver Kellog and Samuel 


Axford as vice-presidents; John J. Adam and Kinsley 
Bingham as secretaries, and a committee on resolutions 
was appointed, of which John S. Bagg was chairman; 
the Convention then adjourned until the following day; 
for the companionship was too congenial, the considera 
tions too weighty, and the way both in coming and return 
ing too arduous to permit of undue haste. On the follow 
ing morning the Convention proceeded with due delibera 
tion to the nomination of candidates for Governor, Lieu 
tenant Governor and member of Congress. The Gov 
ernor showed his hold upon the affections of Ms party 
by receiving upon a roll call of the Convention the 
indorsement of the ninety-six delegates who responded 
to the call, and was declared the unanimous nominee of 
the Democratic-Republican party for the office of Gov 
ernor. Informal ballots for nominees for the offices of 
both Lieutenant Governor and member of Congress dis 
closed substantial opposition to the renomination of both 
Lieutenant Governor Edward Mundy and Congressman 
Isaac E. Crary, the ballot for Lieutenant Governor dis 
closing fifty-three votes for Mundy, while Warner Wing 
led the opposition with forty-one. Crary could secure 
but the votes of fifty-one to the forty-two cast for James 
B. Hunt. Unable to mate further progress, the Conven 
tion referred the two nominations to a committee of eight, 
who, after some hours of deliberation, reported to the 
Convention that it was likewise unable to agree, when 
the Convention again took up the question and on the 
first formal ballot nominated Edward Mundy for the 
office of Lieutenant Governor, by a vote of fifty-eight to 
thirty-seven for Warner Wing, and Isaac E. Crary as 


candidate for congress by vote of fifty-nine to thirty- 
four for James B. Hunt. 

The committee on resolutions authorized to issue a 
future address to the people, offered, and had unan 
imously adopted, resolutions pledging loyalty to their 
nominees; felicitating Andrew Jackson with the hope 
that "he might be as* happy in retirement as he had been 
useful in public councils;" resolved their confidence in 
the "ability, energy, and democracy" of Martin Van 
Buren and bespoke for his administration "a broad and 
liberal policy for the advancement of western interests.** 
It stated its position as to the cause of the financial 
embarrassment of the country, by declaring it to have 
sprung "from a spirit of extravagant over trading and 
speculation produced and fostered by the rapid increase 
of banks and the excessive issues of paper money," and 
further declared its conviction "that the best remedy 
against a recurrence of the evil is, to establish a broader 
specie basis for our banking system." It "discorded" 
and "protested" "against the doctrine that the general 
government is incapable of fulfilling the objects of its 
formation without the assistance of incorporated wealth 
in the form of a national bank," and resolved "that the 
substantial prosperity of the United States will be best 
promoted by an entire separation of their fiscal concerns 
from the private concerns of individuals or corporations, 
state or national." Its central corresponding committee 
selected, the Convention adjourned and the campaign 
was on in earnest. 

On August 2 following, the Whigs assembled at Ann 
Arbor for their State convention; although the votes 


in the Convention seemed to indicate quite as full an 
attendance as in the previous Democratic-Republican 
gathering, they were less representative; little more 
than half the counties sent delegates, a correspondingly 
larger number being from the counties of Wayne, Wash- 
tenaw and their contiguous territory. Their proceed 
ings were executed with as much dispatch as their oppon 
ents had taken leisure, and the records of their proceed 
ings seem to be correspondingly meager, their party 
organs giving but little more than the briefest notices. 
Their deliberations resulted in the nomination of Charles 
C. Trowbridge of Detroit for the office of Governor, 
Daniel S. Bacon of Monroe for Lieutenant Governor, and 
HezeMah GK Wells of Kalamazoo for member of Con 

Charles C. Trowbridge was himself a young man at 
this time, but thirty-seven years of age; but he was 
nevertheless one of the solid, substantial, business men 
of Detroit, where he had resided for nearly half his life 
time. Coupled with his good business abilities were 
literary gifts of no mean order, while his popularity had 
already been attested by his election in 1834 to the mayor 
alty of Ms city, in which position he had rendered heroic 
service during the weeks of the cholera scourge, a serv 
ice that was still gratefully remembered by the people. 

Daniel S. Bacon was likewise a man of deserved popu 
larity in his home county, where he had resided since 
about 1822 ; he had served in the Territorial Council, was 
the business partner of Levi S. Humphrey, whom the 
Governor had recently appointed to the Board of Inter 
nal Improvements and was in every way a gentleman of 
rare quality. 


Hezekiah G. Wells was at this time a brilliant young 
lawyer; although but twenty-five years of age he had 
nevertheless been four years a resident of the State, had 
served as a delegate in the Constitutional Convention of 
1835, and had impressed many people beyond the limit 
of his immediate acquaintance with the high order of his 

With such gentlemen upon their ticket and the national 
administration bearing the burden of an unprecedented 
financial depression, there was, every reason for the 
Whigs to look forward with hope of success in the coming 
election. But it was quite evident that they were not 
sanguine of success in the congressional contest, at least 
there remain very few evidences of energetic action to 
that end on the part of either the Whig press or party. 
Ten days following their Convention the committee on 
address of the Democratie-Eepublican party issued its 
authorized address to the people of Michigan, reciting at 
great length the financial condition of the country and the 
causes that had contributed thereto, chief among which 
was gibbeted the Bank of the United States. The virtues 
and abilities of the candidates were generously recorded 
and all Democrats admonished that, if they would pre 
serve and protect the free principles of their party, they 
"must act with the eternal vigilance which is the guar 
antee and the price of liberty." The Whig committee 
replied with an address of like character but of import 
adjusted to its partisan desires, "unveiled democracy " 
and called upon all men who would extricate the govern 
ment from the control of incompetence and impending 
war to vote for Trowbridge, Bacon, and Wells. 

The Democratic papers occasionally reminded the 


Irish and German voters that it was the Democratic- 
Republican party in Michigan that had placed in the 
State Constitution the provisions which insured his 
rights of franchise while the vote of HezeMah G. Wells, 
William Woodbridge and other Whigs had opposed; but 
otherwise the canvass seemed to pass without comment. 

Yet the two days' balloting was spirited beyond evi 
dent expectation, for the canvass of the votes disclosed 
that a total of 21,729 had been cast, of which Isaac B. 
Crary had received 11,430 and Hezekiah G. Wells 10,299, 
giving Crary a majority of 1,131. While this was a 
fairly decisive majority considering the total vote, yet 
as 821 of the majority had been contributed by the coun 
ties of Wayne and Monroe, it gave encouragement to 
the Whigs for the belief that to achieve success at the 
approaching State election they had but to exert the 
effort which was well within their power. 

From this time forward, at least so far as Governor 
Mason was concerned, it was a campaign of the bitterest 
invective and most uncompromising personal character. 
No move in the so-called game of politics seems to have 
been overlooked, and no charge that could be predicated 
upon a semblance of facts seems to have been under 
stated. An effort was made to place a second Whig 
ticket in nomination and a more or less unrepresentative 
gathering named William Woodbridge of Detroit for 
Governor and William H. Welch of Kalamazoo for Lieu 
tenant Governor. The Democrats would have been 
pleased to have had the two gentlemen flattered into 
accepting the nominations and making the canvass, as it 
would have insured the division of the Whig vote, and 
their press consequently referred to both gentlemen in 


respectful terms, especially of Mr. Woodbridge, of whom 
they said that while he was "a Federalist of the old 
school he had always been consistent in the support of its 
doctrine." But the project from whatever source it 
emanated failed, as both gentlemen declined the prof 
fered honors. But if Democratic hopes were frustrated, 
Whig efforts in the same direction were destined to meet 
with more success. At the height of the campaign, hand 
bills on the streets of Detroit announced a meeting at 
the State House for the nomination of candidates for 
the offices of Governor and lieutenant Governor, At 
the time appointed, if we are to believe the Whig organ, 
"a numerous delegation from several counties assem 
bled ; * ? if we are to credit the account of the Free Press, 
the " numerous delegation consisted of just seven self- 
appointed members." But numerous or otherwise, they 
proceeded to nominate Edward D. Ellis of Monroe for 
the office of Governor and John Biddle of Detroit for. 
Lieutenant Governor, as candidates of the Jaffersoniaii 
Democracy- Mr. Ellis had served in the Coustitutiomal 
Convention, in the first Convention of Dissent, and in 
the State Senate since the formation of the State govern 
ment; the editor and publisher of a newspaper at Mon 
roe, he was nominally a supporter of Democratic princi 
ples, yet he was of that peculiar temperament that seem 
ingly put him out of accord with the party with which 
he affiliated, so that his vote in matters of legislation and 
policy was more often against than with them. Mr. 
Biddle, while he had at times occupied equivocal political 
positions, had for more than a year as a delegate to con 
ventions, and as a candidate for the State Senate been 
actively identified with the Whig party. The nonuna- 


tions whether conferred by a gathering of seven or by 
a numerous body, for a time created no small amount of 
anxiety in the camp of the Democratic-Republican party. 
Mr. Ellis at once announced himself as the candidate of 
the "Simon Pure" Democracy and indeed may have 
thought himself such, but the charge was made, and 
there is reason to believe that it was made upon a basis 
of fact, that the campaign of the Jeffersonian Democ 
racy of 1837 was financed from the Whig exchequer. In 
June a weekly newspaper of the more radical variety, 
devoted to the Whig cause and known as The Spy in 
Michigan began publication at Detroit. Its comments 
and criticisms were even more caustic than in those 
papers which had seemingly furnished all that had been 
demanded in that line; and now, upon the nominations 
of Ellis and Biddle, from the same office of publication 
although under different editorship, came the Jefferson- 
ian Democrat, a newspaper which though it did not live 
beyond the campaign, nevertheless during its brief and 
precocious existence zealously attacked the conditions 
that were, and incidentally proclaimed the benefits to be 
derived to the State through the election of Edward D. 
Ellis and John Biddle. 

In the gathering interests of the campaign, the young 
men of the State were called upon to elect delegates to 
a Young Men's Democratic-Republican Convention, 
which they did; the delegates assembled in goodly num 
ber on October 5 at Ann Arbor, where for the day they 
stimulated their enthusiasm with fervid oratory and 
brought forth resolutions commending the principles of 
their party and pledging allegiance to its nominees. In 
the personnel of the Convention were several young men 


of tlu* firs! Stilt** <.V*nstitu- 

olition and iu*M'ii!.M*r of th*' 1 

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i* 4 for *'!>v*T?iur in isr>l. 

<*' in 

Mi'inlwr nf t'.i* Stilts 
From tk? p;rtniit i^y Alv;i.i r.ra!Mi. h 

'pivsi^Uiti^N 1 Hal! in th- 


like Hovey K. Clark, Alpheus Felch and Ebenezer B. 
Harrington, men who were destined to exert more than 
a local influence in public affairs. 

The young men of the Whig party, not to be outdone, 
followed with a like Convention but not being the result 
of as mature plans, it was less numerously attended; 
its appeal to the young men was perhaps as effective 
as if it had proceeded from a more numerous Convention. 
Nearly every county and senatorial Convention now 
issued its high sounding address to the people ; the set 
tlers gathered from distant places, coming either on foot 
or in loads not infrequently drawn by leisurely moving 
ox-teams to attend during an afternoon or to sit in the 
half-dispelled darkness of some candle-lighted room, 
where men like Charles E. Stuart and Jacob M. Howard 
extolled the principles of their party and derided the 
opposition to the infinite delight of their auditors. Like 
wise the anonymous contributor to the weekly newspaper 
over the name of "Civis," "dissatisfied Democrat/* <** 
"Non office-holding Whig," now filled the columns of 
the newspapers with" articles teeming with invectives, 
sarcastic allusions and frequently untruthful statements* 
One contributor says, "Mason came here a boy of about 
nineteen, born and raised in Kentucky with all the attri 
butes of a domineering population. His education was 
Very imperfect and, it is believed that he could not have 
written a page of respectable English. His morals were 
still worse but entirely in southern style.'' The article 
closed with the statement "Ms time has been too much 
devoted to the tavern, the billiard-table, the ball-alley, 
and the theatre to admit of much mental cultivation*** 
Sometimes the opposing editor attempted to refute 


charges with argument and proof, but more often he 
quoted the offending article and closed with the state 
ment to the effect that "a more malicious, malignant, and 
damnable falsehood was never penned by any man." 
Small provocation seemed to excite editorial wrath; and 
when paper, candidate or party was attacked, the editor 
grabbed and hurled back such words as "lies," "knave," 
and "scoundrel," with a license that astonishes the pres 
ent day reader of their time-stained pages. One of the 
charges brought against Governor Mason of course was 
that he had been a "traitor" to the State in that he had 
been instrumental in the relinquishment of the land upon 
the southern border. Another matter, the occasion of 
much comment was the fact that he had been voted the 
sum of five hundred dollars as house rent by the Legisla 
ture; the constitutionality of the act forming the basis 
of the accusation that the money had been wrongfully 
taken. Another story which was given columns of news 
paper space and dignified as a scandal of the first order, 
charged the Governor with vote-buying at the August 
election. G. L. Whitney, a Whig newspaper writer of 
Rochester, New York, being in Detroit at the time of 
the congressional election observed a man who had the 
appearance of a laborer, who proved later to have been 
John Weese, a local butcher, approach the Governor in 
front of the National Hotel and procure from him a 
bank note of some denomination; he at once wrote a 
highly colored account of the Michigan election to Ms 
home paper in which he represented the Governor of the 
State as openly purchasing votes upon the public streets 
of his home city. The paper was received a few days 
later at Detroit, and the story was seized with avidity 


and printed in detail by the local WMg press. It mat 
tered not that the Governor said that Weese asked the 
loan of a dollar on the day mentioned and that he had 
accommodated him; that he offered proof of the fact by 
others standing by and showed by the records that Weese 
had in fact voted the day before the transaction in ques 
tion. The story with all the new embellishments that 
could be locally suggested was reprinted and carried for 
distribution to the distant towns and villages of the 

This charge, and the charge of intemperance brought 
his only published statement of the campaign ; and that, 
too, in strange contrast to the vicious attacks that had 
been made upon him. Eeviewing the charges that had 
been brought against him, he said: "To all this I have 
heretofore opposed nothing and even now my own pride 
of character will not permit me to give such imputations 
the dignity of a serious refutation. That they are unjust, 
those who best know me will give evidence. In private 
life I have endeavored to do no man wrong, and it is 
with regret that I have seen so much personal vindictive- 
ness infused into the present contest. I question no 
man's motive; impeach no man's character and I have 
yet to learn that I commit an act of moral turpitude by 
entertaining political opinions different from those indi 
viduals who have become censors upon the occasion. " 
This dignified statement only brought the reply that he 
was hypersensitive and enjoyed seeing Ms name in the 
papers. In October the personal character of the cam 
paign became such that some seventy-five of the leading 
Democrats of the city of Detroit joined in a lengthy 
address to the people of the State in refutation of tbe 


charges personal and official that had been laid against 
the Governor, prefacing their address by saying, 
"Because of the conrse of ungenerous denunciation pur 
sued by the opponents of Governor Mason, leaving the 
usual path of political discussion and official inquiry, 
and adopting the scheme of destroying reputation by 
misrepresentation and slander, the immediate neighbors 
of the Republican candidate who know the falsehood and 
injustice of the charges urged against him, are called 
upon by an imperious sense of duty to repel them. ? ' 

The vote-buying story and the excitement it and the 
subsequent State election occasioned led a local artist 
of that day, Mr. T. H. 0. P. Burnham, to depict the events 
of the first election upon canvas. Now when three-quar 
ters of a century are past, the actors gone, and the ani 
mosities forgotten, this crude picture which hangs in the 
Detroit Museum of Art is one of the most interesting 
and amusing legacies of that eventful day. 

In one of his message utterances the Governor had 
suggested that in the adoption of a penitentiary system 
of discipline the Legislature should provide the convicts 
with the means of useful employment, rather than keep 
them in solitary confinement, as a means best tending to 
the develompent of a self-reliant member of society. This 
recommendation was now seized upon by a society of 
artisans in Detroit, known as the Mechanics Society who 
made it the basis of a resolution against the Governor 
as the enemy of free labor. The chief interest in the 
event is that it discloses that a problem that is still trou 
blesome had its beginning before the walls of the first 
penitentiary were reared. 
In September, Governor Mason betook himself to New 


York in an effort to negotiate the whole or some portion 
of the five million dollar loan. Surveyors and engineers 
were already upon the surveys gathering data for sub 
mission to the next Legislature through the Board of 
Internal Improvements, and it was evident that if the 
expectations of the people were met, the loan must of 
necessity be in hand. Some effort was made to create 
political sentiment in the matter by persistent inquiry on 
the part of the "Whig papers as to why the loan had 0ot 
been made and insinuation that it never would be made. 
In early October the Governor returned and gladdened 
the hearts of at least his friends with the tidings that 
the loan had in effect been negotiated and only awaited 
certain changes of a minor nature in the law before the 
matter could be finally closed. There was jubilation 
among the Democratic papers when this news was 
announced and no doubt it had a material bearing on 
the outcome of the election. The last appeal was made 
to the settlers who had settled upon the land in the west 
ern parts of the State where the Indian title had been 
but recently extinguished by treaty, and which had either 
not yet been brought into the market, or which under the 
act supplemental to the Act under which the State was 
admitted, would be subject to the State's election for the 
purposes that were in that Act specified. The circulars 
conveying the spurious information of the dire calamity 
that Governor Mason and his friends were about to 
inflict upon the settlers, was hurried across the State 
to the village of Grand Eapids and from there distrib 
uted to the voters in the remote clearings, in the hope 
that the almost solid democratic vote of Kent might 1)e 
reduced if not reversed. The Democratic papers gave 


their last notes of appeal and warning and on election 
day the voters gathered to do battle in more than a 
figurative sense for the candidates and principles to 
which they gave allegiance. 

The election, so far as the city of Detroit was con 
cerned, was a day of great excitement. Never had there 
been a political contest of such a character. The banners 
and processions which the picture above referred to 
attempts to depict were actual incidents of the day. The 
Whig procession, with the ship Constitution commanded 
by Captain Eobert Wagstaff as its central feature, pre 
ceded and followed by the enthusiastic supporters of 
Charles C. Trowbridge, was fully equalled by the proces 
sion which is seen in the right of the picture, led by James 
Stillson the Mayor-domo of the local Democracy. He 
is astride the steed of equal rights; on his hat is inscribed 
"Gold and Silver currency" and by his side is carried 
the banner of the regular Democratic nominee, Stevens 
T. Mason. Behind the gaily caparisoned Stillson, 
although not shown in the picture, came several yoke 
of sleek oxen bedecked with flags and fluttering ribbons 
and a marching column of citizens ready and even anxious 
|or any fray. The central figure in high boots, black 
coat and silk hat is easily recognized as Governor Mason 
who is handing a ticket to a " sovereign " whose com 
panions to all appearances will hardly miss the rye that 
is freely flowing from the black bottle. Near by Colonel 
David C. McKinstry, State chairman of the Democratic- 
Republican committee, leans upon his staff; by Ms side 
Benjamin Kingsbury of the Morning Post, flanked by S. 
H. Harris and John Norvell is in earnest dispute with 
Franklin Sawyer of the Advertiser who is supported by 



George 0. Bates. It is said that the election did not close 
without a fight in which some two hundred engaged ; but 
if the day had crudities that have been forgotten, it had 
amenities that may well be remembered and perhaps 
none more deservedly so than the incident in which the 
genial Governor in passing to the polls espied his oppo 
nent and straightway took him by the arm and said, 
"Come let us go and vote for one another," which arm 
in arm amid the cheering of the multitude they proceeded 
to do. 

The contest resulted in a victory for Mason and 
Mundy. The vote as canvassed by the Legislature in 
joint convention showing 15,314 votes for Stevens T. 
Mason and 14,800 for Charles C. Trowbridge, a plurality 
of 514 for the Democratic-Republican ticket. Governor 
Mason lost the county of Wayne by 68, but carried the 
city of Detroit by 38. Washtenaw County, which Isaac 
E. Crary lost in the congressional election by a majority 
of 159, Mason lost by a plurality of only 27, In Monroe, 
the home of Daniel 8. Bacon, candidate for Lieutenant 
Governor on the Whig ticket and of Edwin D. Ellis, can 
didate for Governor on the Jeffersonian-Democratic ticket, 
and where Crary had received a majority of 357, 
Mason received a plurality of 342. Indeed, the Jefferson 
ian-Democratic ticket made a sorry showing for the 
effort expended in its behalf, as the returns showed but 
311 votes cast for its candidate for Governor. 

A majority favorable to the administration was elected 
to both House and Senate ; but in both Houses there was 
a goodly number of the opposition. William Woodbridge 
among other Whigs was returned to the Senate, and 
Jacob M. Howard, Townsend E. Gidley, Stephen VIckery 


and others of the same political faith were given seats in 
the House. The majority party was represented in the 
Legislature by a number of strong men, John S. Barry, 
Warner Wing, Benjamin B. Kercheval, in the Senate, 
and Kinsley S. Bingham, Robert McClelland, John Ball, 
Alexander W. Buel and Charles Moran being among 
some of the better known of the House. 

The excitement of the campaign and the election were 
still fresh in mind when on November 9, the second Legis 
lature reassembled in pursuance of its adjournment of 
the preceding March. 


/r T A HE third Legislature assembled on the 2nd day of 
-*- January, 1838, only Saturday and Sunday interven 
ing between its commencement and the final adjourn 
ment of its predecessor. Kinsley S. Bingham of the 
Democratic-Republican majority in the House was 
chosen speaker and Alexander W. Buel speaker pro tern. 
In the Senate Edward Mundy presided by virtue of his 
office of Lieutenant Governor, John S. Barry again being 
selected as president pro tern. 

The session was destined to be one beset with many 
difficulties, for not only were there grave and perplexing 
problems to be considered, but they were to be compli 
cated in a measure by the bitter personal and partisan 
feeling that had already been engendered and ihmt was 
to be still further fomented by some of the belligerent 
spirits of the legislative body who become more intent 
upon perplexing those charged with official repsoiisibility 
than upon assisting in the solution of the problems which, 
uncomplicated, would have been sufficiently difficult. 

Complications within the neighboring provinces of 
Upper and Lower Canada were likewise approaching a 
crisis that was to result in open rebellion in the s0-mlled 
Patriot war ; which, while in did not directly involve the 
State government, did enlist the sympathies and to a 
considerable extent the activities of many of its citizens 
at Detroit and in other towns upon the border. Miefai- 


gan's private and official relation to the uprising was of 
such a character as to require treatment in a separate 
chapter than incidentally here in the sequence in which 
the events occurred, as is likewise true of the main phases 
of the State's experience with the same scheme of internal 
improvements and the financial questions which were 
directly connected therewith. 

Upon the opening of the Legislature, before the mem 
bers in joint assembly and a numerous gathering of citi 
zens the Governor appeared, to publicly take his consti 
tutional oath of office; but, before doing so, in keeping 
with the custom of the day, he proceeded with a short 
inaugural address. The address was short, and felicitous 
in character, although there are passages which indicate 
a lively remembrance of the contest which had but 
recently closed. "With the charity of the victor he admon 
ished his fellow officials to remember "that even when 
Ms integrity has been assailed, the vilest and worst of 
motives attributed to his conduct, he has only to await 
the development of time, and trust to the good sense 
and justice of the people who will right the wrong done 
him. ' ' The address was intended as a message of good 
will, and we may well believe that its concluding suppli 
cation for the guidance and protection to the Supreme 
Ruler of nations was honest and sincere. 

The annual message which two days later the Gover 
nor delivered to the two Houses of the Legislature con 
tained little that was new in point of policy, but was 
devoted rather to the emphasizing of propositions and 
policies that had received attention in his former mes 
sages. He called attention to a deficit in the year's 
expenditures for general purposes of $13,353,68 which 


he says "has been brought about by circumstances 
unavoidable and beyond the control of the executive,'* 
the condition being the result of the special and pro 
tracted sessions of the Legislature and the interest pay 
ments upon the State loans, coupled with the fact that 
several of the counties were in arrears with returns of 
State tax to the amount of eighteen thousand dollars* 
This embarrassing situation in the State finances he 
neither sought to palliate nor deny. He pMaly stated 
the facts and recommended the change of the laws in 
such a manner as might be found necessary to insure 
prompt remittance of State taxes, a thing which was to 
be supplemented by "the exercise of the most rigid econ 
omy in our expenditures/' correctly observing that in 
this regard, the people would not be satisfied by "pro 
fession or declamation." 

The question of internal improvements, as would have 
been expected, was extensively treated, the Governor 
being still persuaded that the system of internal improve- 
ments was a matter of great importance "to the eiwtnal 
and permanent prosperity of the State. ** la tMs por 
tion the Governor was in entire aceord with the vote and 
sentiment of Abraliaia Lincoln, then a member of the 
Illinois Legislature and with many other men whosfc 
names have since become known in connection with par 
ticular States and the Nation, who in the earlier days 
were supporters of schemes of internal improvements 
within their respective States upon scales of magnifesei^e 
far beyond anything ever attempted by MicMgiua. 

The Governor was wffiiag to stand for the promm&m 
of the works already undertaken, but there was a B0te of 
caution in the message, that leads one to believe he was 


beginning to feel that the Legislature under the pressure 
of the conflicting local interests was being involved in a 
series of projects beyond both the needs and the financial 
ability of the State. The message disclosed that there 
had already been $438,551.49 placed to the credit of the 
internal improvement fund of which on December 1, 
$322,321.42 had been expended, leaving a balance of $116,- 
237.07. The expenditure included $139,802.79 paid on 
account of the Detroit and St. Joseph Railroad Company 
as well as the surveys which had been prosecuted during 
the summer months upon the Northern, Southern and 
Central Railroads, the Havre Branch road and the Clin 
ton and Kalamazoo, the Saginaw, and the Sault Ste. 
Marie Canals and the reconnaissance of the St. Joseph, 
Grand, and Kalamazoo Rivers, with the design of improv 
ing them for the purposes of navigation. Special atten 
tion was paid to the proposed canal around the Falls of 
St. Mary's River which the report of the engineers said 
could be constructed at a cost not exceeding one hundred 
and fourteen thousand dollars. The Governor recom 
mended that this project be given such an appropriation 
as would insure the completion of the work during the 
year, so that the State might early secure the benefit, as 
he stated, "of the extensive and abundant resources of 
the country on the shores of Lake Superior." Some of 
the enterprises in the State *s scheme of internal improve 
ments were exceedingly ill-considered, yet the Governor's 
zeal for the Canal at the St. Mary's was highly com 
mendable ; although Ms purposes in that regard through 
causes beyond Ms control were doomed to failure. TMs 
is more espedally true inasmuch as years later when the 
effort to construct the canal was. renewed Henry Clay 


opposed the project, as "beyond the remotest settlement 
in the United States/' 

The Governor's recommendations on the subject of 
internal improvements, the temper of the time consid 
ered, were rather conservative than otherwise, "The 
loan already authorized for internal improvements/' 
said he "amounts to the sum of five million dollars, and 
it may be questioned, whether with the most rigid econ 
omy that sum will be equal to the construction of the 
works now undertaken." He therefore advised that no 
more projects be undertaken until the means of the State 
increased and her resources developed. 

He again referred to the subject of education with all 
of the enthusiasm that ever marked his interest in that 
part of the State's activity. These sentiments, while not 
new, are of a character worthy of both the man who 
expressed them and of the system that came into being, 
in large measure, from his efforts. 

Said he, "Every free Government is called on by a 
principle of self-preservation, to afford every facility for 
the education of its people. The liberty of a people can 
not be forced beyond their intelligence." Again he said, 
"If our country is ever to fall from her high position 
before the world, the cause will be found in the ignorance 
of the people ; if she is to remain where she now stands, 
with her glory undimmed, educate every child in the 

The financial condition of the State justly received 
extensive notice. Frequent attention has been called to 
the Governor's statement in this message, relative to the 
general banking law under which the "wild-cat banks" 
were then in the process of organization. Said he, "The 


principles upon which this law is based, are certainly 
correct, destroying as they do the odious features of a 
bank monopoly, and giving equal rights to all classes of 
the community.' 7 This statement was made in relation 
to the power of the Bank of the United States. It is not 
a defense of the law in all its details nor of all the meth 
ods pursued under it. He not only recognized the dan 
gers but plainly stated them. "The dangers to be appre 
hended from the abuse of the system,' 7 he said, "are 
over-issues of bank paper, a dangerous extension of 
credit, fluctuations in our currency, and consequent 
fluctuation in the prices of property and the wages of 
labor. It becomes your duty, then, to guard against these 
evils. " Preceding these statements he had said, "The 
mtrltiplication of banks and bank issues does not produce 
real capital The productive labor of the country is the 
true foundation of all the capital, and banks are the con 
sequence, rather than the cause of a nation's wealth. 
Gold and silver is the only medium of exchange recog 
nized by the commercial world; bank paper was orig 
inally designed as a representative for this metallic 
medium but not as a substitute for it. The attempts 
to substitute paper, by excessive bank issues for real 
capital, disturbs the natural laws of trade, and is always 
attended with fluctuations and revulsions." 

The orthodoxy of these statements will not be ques 
tioned, and they hardly warrant the claim made by his 
later day critics that the financial ills of Michigan in 
1837 came because the executive was unschooled in the 
elementaries of such affairs. 

Others have found in the Governor's recommendations 
for the establishment of a State bank a vagary from 


which, the State escaped by only the utmost good fortune ; 
and yet just such an institution organized at this time 
under the laws of the State of Indiana through the days 
of perilous financial adventure did a good business, main 
tained a safe currency and after several years closed its 
affairs without loss. 

He again urged the abolition of imprisonment for debt, 
commended the scientific and commercial value of the 
geological survey and outlined in a comprehensive way 
the system of punishment and discipline that should 
obtain in the prison about to be established at Jackson, 
His recommendation was that convicts be engaged at 
productive labor to the end that there might be " refor 
mation of the morals of the corrupt and wicked, the 
enlightenment of the ignorant, and the employment of 
the idly disposed; " although, perhaps, remembering the 
opposition of the Mechanics' Society in the election, he 
favored the employment of the convicts as far as possible 
in manufacturing those things "supplied by importation 
from abroad, " 

Shortly after the commencement of the legislative ses 
sion the Governor procured from Henry R Sahoolcraft, 
his warm personal friend, a communication that illus 
trates in an unconspicuous manner the Governor's 
genuine love for and interest in Ms State ; it was a dcen- 
ment prepared at the Governor's request suggesting a 
list of geographical names with their derivation that 
would be suitable for the newly mapped lakes and 
streams and the newly created towns and counties of fee 
State. The list prepared by Mr. Schoolcraft was of gir^at 
interest, being composed largely of aboriginal names, 
which, as he stated, "were both sonorous and signifi- 


cant." But few of the names suggested were later given 
to the geographical subdivisions of the State; among 
such were loseo, diluvial lands ; Tuseola, flat lands ; C$1- 
3mo, honey woods; Oscoda, pebbly plains; Alpena, the 
partridge lands, etc. Such names, had they been more 
extensively applied, in the language of Schoolcraft, would 
have " invested portions of the public domain with his 
toric and poetic associations of a noble-minded but down 
trodden race. 7 ' 

Although the legislative session continued until April 
6, few if any laws were enacted that involved anything 
new in the way of policy. Under the authority of an Act 
of March 22, 1837, the Governor had appointed Jacob 
Beeson, EL P. Cobb and H. Stevens, commissioners, to 
visit such places in the State as in their opinion pre 
sented the greatest advantage for the location of a State 
prison; to receive proposals for a site and for building 
materials and to gather information as to what system 
of discipline was the most humane and -most efficient for 
answering the -ends of such an institution. Early in the 
session the commissioners made their report to the Legis 
lature. WMle the report would come far from express 
ing the ideas of the modern criminologist, it showed that 
the commissioners had carefully investigated the subject 
and from a personal inspection of the prison at Auburn, 
N. T. ? and the one at Philadelphia, Pa. by one of their 
number they recommended that the one at Auburn be 
taken as the copy for the Michigan institution. Per 
haps not the least determining factor was the fact that 
the Commissioners found the prison at Auburn to be 
more than self-supporting, a feature, however, that 

oii, MI, Inu.ii., '!M. -I :u is ... Li in r 



they were tumble to give permanency to in the Michigan 

Several towns made spirited competition for the loca 
tion of the institution, the village of Grand Eapids being 
among the nnmber. Jacksonburg was ultimately selected, 
although for a time the citizens of Sandstone, or Barry 
as it was then called, a village on Sandstone Creek mm 
four miles west of Jackson, believed that they were t 
be the prison town. Half a century later an old resident 
of the competing village who had lingered while almost 
every vestige of the town had passed away, but who still 
remembered the contest, explained that Sandstone lost 
the prison becanse her people made all their offers to 
the State, while the citizens of Jackson made their offers 
to the Commissioners. The Commissioners were author 
ized to begin the immediate construction of one wing of 
the prison, and before the following autumn a plank 
structure enclosed in a palisade of tamarack logs was 
serving as a plaae of detention for the osraafas who irare 
employed m the braiding of wliat is now Hie w^it wag 
of the ymjiB straetea FTOM that ira^ forward * 4 Tia 
Tamaracks" was a term afaiMar nd penal signifi 

Another matter which the Governor approached with 
his characterisiie energy and interest was the develop 
ment of the saline deposits of the State. For many 
years salt springs had been known to exist at vaiwas 
places in the State and wtieu the State WES aAuitted, (to 
National (Jovenmient had gimted along with tfad school 
and other lands, 0ev@Bty4wo sections of Itei to t* 
selected contiguous to its salt springs. A large sum f 


money was being sent annually out of the State for this 
prime necessity; and it was a matter of more than pass 
ing Interest when the Detroit Free Press in July, 1838, 
announced that it had been presented with a sample of 
Bolt manufactured from the watery of a spring situated 
on section 15, township 8 north, range 4 west, on the 
Maple Eiyer, about ten miles from its mouth, and de 
clared its belief that the time was not "far distant when 
Michigan will produce within her own borders all the 
necessaries as well as some of the luxuries of life." 

The location mentioned above was at one of the paper 
cities of that day, in the present township of Lebanon, 
diatom Comity, known as the village of "Clinton Salt 
Works " the site of the incipient operations of the Clin 
ton Salt Works Company, a corporation organized at 
tike legislative session of the same year. 

The State Geologist upon receiving his commission, the 
preceding Spring, had lost no time in effecting the organ 
ization of his corps of assistants and was now returned 
from a reconnaissance of the State with data for a report 
tliat fully justified the creation of Ms office. Governor 
Mason entered with enthusiasm into every recommenda 
tion, and from the verbal reports of the Geologist he felt 
JWified in saying through his message that "The exam- 
iaattoQL 4>f ifee Salime Springs has been carried so far, as 
to m&^ it 0&rfain that we possess an extensive salt 
piI that -with a trifling expenditure we shall be 
to .ipanaf itetare salt in sufficient quantities not 
only for fcoaii ap^ampticoi, but that it must become an 

The Cbv^mor^s eiifeiisiasni led him to enter into cor 
respondence with mm sIBled in the business of well- 


boring Q&d salt manufacture and to urge the passage by 
the Legislature of an Act authorizing the State Geologist 
to commence, as soon as practicable, boring for salt at 
one or more of the State salt springs. This the Legis 
lature did, and appropriated three thousand dollars to 
defray preliminary expenses. When Dr. Houghton made 
his report to the Legislature the foEowing year, ha 
showed that he had been about the work with character 
istic energy; he had transported machinery and equip 
ment through the forests and along the streams and 
had begun drilling operations at two points, one being 
on the bank of Grand Biver three miles below Grand 
Bapids, and the other on the Tittabawassee in Midland 
County near where it receives the waters of Salt Biver. 
These two projects were continued intermittently for the 
next four or five years at an expense aggregating not less 
than thirty thousand dollars, with results which at the 
time appeared of small, value, but which were yet of 
greater value than they seemed. It was experimental 
work which lad a real value, and in the language of 
William L. Webber, one of the men who later developed 
ike salt industry of the Saginaw Valley, ^Tfaey demon 
strated that ibis work was one of a* slight 
It was the pioneer effort in the 

of the leading indf^tries of the State, mm industry tfemt 
has grown from a few hundred barrels m 1859 to more 
than ffiT million barrels annually at the present time. 

Among what may be tenned the cariosities of tie 
lathre session of 1838 "wms ma Ju&t providing a bounty 
two ents a poami eadk pound of dry sugw 
factored from the beat within the limits of the State. 
This Act W&B in substance the duplicate of lawe 


in other States at the time, in an effort to establish an 
industry in America which under the efforts and direc 
tions of Napoleon had already been established in France. 
Of course no bounty was ever paid under the law and it 
is of interest only by reason of the coincidence that in 
Michigan sixty years later, the beet sugar industry 
should have developed such extensive proportions. 

A bill to encourage the manufacture of glass which 
passed both Houses of the Legislature met a different 
fate, it being promptly vetoed by the Q-overnor, although 
he was petitioned by numerous citizens not to do so. 
In his communications returning the bill without his sig 
nature the Governor said, "This bill although purport 
ing to foe a& Act for the encouragement of domestic 
manufacture, yet when stripped of its disguise is noth 
ing more or less than an Act for the relief of Ebenezer 
HaH and Isaac J. Gfrovier, copartners in trade engaged 
in a manufacture of glass." The two- gentlemen 
referred to were residents of the village of Mt. Clem 
ens where the glass business was sought to be estab 
lished, and whose citizens seemingly quite unanimously 
joined in a petition to the Governor to withhold his veto 
from the measure that was to bring their village pros 
perity at the public expense. 

The banking law, the law for the five million dollar 
loan, ike law for internal improvement projects, general 
and particular, became the subjects of acrimonious dis 
cussion and legislative action, hereafter treated in con 
nected detail 

That the eifeens of the State were still expectant of 
an immediate return of prosperity and continuing devel 
opment was evidenced by the Acts of incorporation 


granted to the Port Sheldon and Grand Eapids Railroad 
Company; the Auburn and Lapeer Kailroad Company; 
the Ypsilanti and Tecmnseh Railroad Company; the 
MottvOle and White Pigeon Railroad Company; and the 
Medina and Canandaigua Railroad Company, and to other 
companies organized for more varied efforts. 

National policies likewise came in for a share of con 
sideration in the Legislature all out of proportion to 
the attention they now receive in such bodies. Slavery 
in the District of Columbia; the admission of Texas and 
the sob-treasury scheme all received the political and 
perhaps serious consideration of the Legislature, or at 
least of the Whig members of it. On the question of 
slavery in the District of Columbia, William Woodbridge 
favored a resolution to the effect that it was inexpedient 
for the Legislature to express an opinion on the consti 
tutionality of the power of Congress in the premises; 
Representative Stephen Vickery, later a Whig candidate 
for Governor, desired the Legislature to go on jm$& 
as opposing the annexation of Texas "as unnecessarily 
extending the territory of fie United States aad areat- 
ing discontent wMch might endanger the stability of the 
Union;" while Jacob 1C Howard came forward with a 
resolution ocmdenming the suMreasury plan and oppos 
ing the policy of the Government in demanding gold and 
silver in satisfaction of governmental dues. 

With such the temper of fee legislature, we can weB 
imagine what happened, when on the 30th day of Janu 
ary it was diso0verd that the report of the State 
nrer, Mr. Henry Howard, whidb had been given 
Legislature on the 9th, di&closed that Governor Mason 
bad daring his official serviae as Governor, drawn a 


ter salary in advance of service. That it was an error 
was at once apparent, for it was plainly shown by the 
vouchers which had been issued to the Governor as well 
as by the report of the Treasurer which was now printed 
and subject to public inspection, and no effort had been 
made to cover or distort the fact. The mistake occurred 
through the confusion occasioned by the Governor going 
into- office with the adoption of the Constitution in 
November, 1835, instead of the first of January follow 
ing; Ms salary being paid in quarterly payments begin 
ning with November, 1835. On May 20, 1837, the Treas 
urer, to adjust the payments to the regular quarters of 
the year, issued a voucher for the fractional quarter of 
November and December 1836, and for salary from Janu 
ary 1 to April 1, 1837; as on February 8 the Governor 
had received a voucher for a quarter salary which had 
included the months of November, December and Janu 
ary, the last voucher thus made a quarter payment of 
salary in excess of service. As soon as the printed 
report was submitted to the Treasurer he recognized the 
error, as did the Governor, who at once repaid to the 
treasury the amount of the salary overdrawn. There 
was perhaps no one who did not appreciate that it was 
an error and that if censure was to attach anywhere, it 
w&s to the system that made such errors possible; but 
Jacob M . Howard was the "Whig champion of the Lower 
House ofttte Legislature, and had he allowed the inci 
dent U pass with a presumption favorable to the integ 
rity of a potefeat opponent, he would have been open 
to the elfarge Of violating the political ethics of the time. 
At once up&B the diswvery of the emxr, which one had 
but to read the report to aee/Mr. Howard proceeded *o 


electrify the House with impassioned eloquence on the 
Governor's enlpaMlity in connection with the matter; 
directly charging the Governor with a corrupt purpose 
to obtain money from the Treasury to which he wms not 

On the same day the charge was made, the Governor 
sent a communication to the House requesting the 
appointment of a committee by the House to inquire 
into the correctness of the charges made against Mm. 
After considerable parliamentary sparring, the commit 
tee was appointed and a few days later submitted a 
report entirely absolving the Treasurer and the Gov 
ernor from all intentional or conscious fault in the mat 
ter. The report of the commitee was followed by a most 
remarkable document in the form of a protest signed 
by Jacob M. Howard and nine other members of the 
Whig minority in the House. The substance of the pro 
test was that the Executive was transoemdiiig Ms rigfet 
and authority im asking an inverfigBticm of 
ag&imst foi*** 0m the ioor of the Bfo&se, b$&tug@ in a 
doing he was "atrndgmg lie fre^hm of 
The protest was tesed likewise np the f urther 
that the Governor's ee^aimiiiiicatioii was an 
of despotic power and was not called for in the exemse 
of official duty. 

Needless to say, the Advertiser, the Detroit orgal of 
the WMg party, for many day played the " Assault 4$* 
the Treasury^ as the leading sensation of tb 
joined in vigorous ileauneiatloii of tiie e&isetrfive 
tion of questioning the statement of a it k 

legislative body even when it eo&eeriisd 
honor and integrity. 


Nearly seventy years later, on June 4, 1905, when 
Michigan had grown rich and strong and when the mortal 
remains of Stevens T. Mason were abont to be entombed 
in Michigan soil, Rev. David Cooper, then a man bear 
ing the weight of years to the number of more than 
three score and ten, standing by the side of all that was 
earthly of the Boy Governor, said, "I have but one 
remembrance of Governor Mason. I was but a lad at 
the time, and standing near the old session house on 
Woodward Avenue I saw the lithe figure of the Governor 
approaching. I shall always remember "Ms appearance, 
a shining silk hat upon his head, a shawl such as gentle 
men wore in those days swung across Ms shoulders, with 
cane in hand he was walking rapidly down the street. 
I had been bred a "WMg, and boy-like, I felt that I would 
be doing honor to my political principles if I said some 
thing insulting to the Governor. I waited until he 
approached nearly opposite me and then I shouted, 'Five 
Quarter Mason/ and then fled up the steps of the session 
house. The significance of the epithet I did not know 
then and I do not know now, but it was sometMng I had 
heard from my elders. The Governor turned and fol 
lowed me, I retreating to the farthest corner in fear of 
a just chastisement; but the Governor only sat down 
upon the step and drew me to Ms side and talked to me 
m a gentile, Mndly way. I cannot remember a tiling he 
saicl I think there was a tone of sadness in Ms voice, 
for I know lie left ine feeling that I had done H and 
myself a wrong of wMch I was heartily ashamed, and 
from that day to tMs, there has lingered with me a feel 
ing akin to affection for the memory of Stevens T. 
and turning to the daughter and the aged sister 


of the Governor who sat upon the rostrum beside him, 
the aged clergyman continued, "I am glad that time has 
spared me to bring to you, the daughter and the sister, 
my acknowledgment of contrition for those words which 
even from a child may have brought a wound of sorrow 
to the brother. 7 ' 



so-ealled "Patriot War" or Canadian Rebellion 
-*- of 1837-38, was the culmination of a series of griev 
ances justly entertained by a large body of the people of 
both Upper and Lower Canada. The American Revo 
lution had been the occasion of a considerable emigra 
tion of citizens, still loyal to the British Government, 
from the colonies to Canada; as many as forty thousand 
during and shortly following the war having, as stated 
by some historians, sought an asylum beyond the north- 
em border. These emigrants who, to use a phrase applied 
to them in one of the Orders in Council "had adhered to 
the unity of the empire'* came to be known as the U. E., 
or United Empire Loyalists. The greater number of these 
refugees settled in, what upon the division of Quebec 
became, Upper Canada or Canada West. While resi 
dents of the Colonies, they had been of the aristocratic 
element, being as might be presumed above the average 
in education, possessions, and social and family con 
nections. As many of them Imd had their estates confis 
cated by the colonial authorities, they were from the 
first sbbwB marked consideration by the Imperial (Jov- 
eramemt in tfee form of special honors, liberal to prodigal 
grants of land to themselves and their descendants as 
weH as temporary advances for the alleviation of their 
immediate needs. To this body of citizens there were 
sooia added accretions from the mother country, many 


of them half -pay officers of the armyj the younger and 
impecunious sons of aristocracy and the soldiers of for 
tune who while yet loyal to British institutions, sought 
in the New World what neither their talents nor influence 
would procure for them at home. With these elements 
of the population were quite generally united the mem 
bers of the learned professions and the clergy of the 
established church. These elements, broadly speaHmg, 
soon coalesced into what for many years in Canada was 
known as the " Family Compact, " the precursor of the 
Conservative party. 

Upon the division of Quebec into Upper and Lower 
Canada, each Province was given a Governor and Legis 
lative Council appointed by the King, and each an Assem 
bly to be selected by the voters of the Province. .The 
majority of the people were poor and illiterate, busily 
and laboriously employed in felling the forests and Iraild- 
ing homes. It was but a short time before the * 
Compae*" tad placed ite partistos in ml! tte 
offices of Imtii ilia proviiKies a$d wane bed^Ssg its 
favors with a latifii liancL JCiffiogis 01 temm of 
lands were bestowed HJH>S the 

Bach member of the CJoinim! ^WHS giWB fiw 

acres of land and eaah of Ms children one thousand two 

hundred acres more. The established ehureii ^wm 

endowed with lands in the form of the Clergy Reserre, 

a domain of vast extent The Canada Land 

a huge land monofwlyv ^&s likewise given 

privileges that were out of harmony with ttie sgifcrit df 

"the people. For ftiriy jmrs, the lf F^aitf 

maintained its ascendancy with unvarying 

The districts from wMeh the members of th 


branch of the Legislature were chosen, in Upper Canada 
at least, were so formed as to give the "Family Com 
pact " control of the Assembly through vastly dispropor 
tionate representation. The most reasonable reforms 
sought by the great body of the people were uniformly 
defeated. Even when bills to secure them were passed 
in the Assembly, they were thrown out in the upper 
CounciL Not even courts and juries were free from 
the baneful influence of their unrepublican organization, 
In Lower Canada the evils of the aristocratic control 
were not so grievous, but its place was taken by the racial 
question, which was furnished by the joint occupation 
of the soil by the numerous but uneducated French and 
the less numerous but better educated English, Scotch 
and Iriah. The sons of Britain could not look upon the 
French as other than a conquered race ; and when a con 
stitutional government was provided for the Province, 
the British minority sought through unconstitutional 
methods to keep control of offices and affairs in the inter 
est of what it conceived to be the progress and pros 
perity of the Province, unwilling to concede that the 
Frenchman was by nature endowed t6 promote the same. 
The evils that existed soon brought forward a man in 
each Province to stand as the Champion of reform. Wil 
liam Lyon Mackenzie, the son of a poor Scotch farmer, 
was the editor of a paper known as the Colonial Advo 
cate published at Toronto. As early as 1824, Mackenzie 
had begun to inveigh against the abuses of the Govern 
ment, to agitate for a government that would be respon 
sive and responsible, and consequently to strike terror 
into the " Family Compact" Mackenzie was later 
elected to the Assembly from the County of Tort, and 


under Ms agitation and leadership the Eeform party 
grew in strength and menacing attitnde. Five times from 
first to last, the "Family Compact" majority in the 
Assembly expelled Mackenzie, and each time the con 
stituency of York returned him by an almost unanimous 
vote. In Lower Canada the elements of rebellions dis 
content rallied around Louis Joseph Papineau, a clever 
partisan leader of the French Canadian element P&p- 
inean was a brilliant orator, who appealed to Ms coun 
trymen with irresistible effect. As a member of the 
Assembly, he had been several times elected its speaker, 
had been sent to England to nrge redress of grievances 
and had acquired an inflnence that bronght the great 
body of the French Canadian peasantry into full sym 
pathy with his aspirations. 

Mackenzie, who had contained to expose the corrup 
tion of the administration of affairs and to battle for 
a responsible government, now despaired of ike 
tion of the one or the attainment of the ofiiaor* 
to entertain the ideas of rebeffiop and 
With him were associated other daring spirit by 
the seeds of sedition were widely sown. The 
spondenee of the factions in Upper and Ixwer Canada 
encouraged the belief that the adbiev^nBt of indep^rf- 
ence for their couiftry was a project of easy accomplish 
ment. The military f oroes of tte provinces were so inad 
equate as hardly to merit the name. In Tipper Gaaada 
thirteen hundred troops were scattered from Kingston 
to PenetanguMieiie, while two thousand more were 
soned at Quebec and the other posts of the lower 

Emissaries to the adjoining States found many who were 
still nursing animosities against the Mother Country 


engendered in the memorable contests tliat were still 
* f resh jn the minds of the people, and who were willing 
to vouchsafe assistance of a very extensive and substan 
tial nature which, had it been coolly and critically exam 
ined, would have been found to be based more upon 
enthusiasm than upon things tangible. 

The crisis that precipitated armed rebellion in both 
Upper and Lower Canada came in November 1837 ; it is 
not our purpose here to trace the course of this conflict, 
except in its relation to Michigan, farther than to say 
that it did not end until many lives had been sacrificed 
and the people of Canada had tasted in a small degree 
the ^horrors of civil strife. These overt acts of rebellion 
had no sooner transpired within the adjoining province 
than intense interest in the outcome was manifested by 
the citizens of Detroit and vicinity, where a considerable 
proportion of the population was in hearty sympathy 
with any movement that professed to be for larger polit 
ical rights and liberties for the Canadian; especially 
when, in achieving of those rights and liberties, some 
of the unsettled scores of the War of 1812 could be 
adjusted; at this time, Detroit had many citizens who 
were active participants in that sanguinary conflict. 

As early as December 8, 1837, Governor Mason 
received a communication from the Department of State 
at Washington calling his attention to the fact that a 
contest was on in a "Territory of Great Britain adjoin 
ing the United States between a portion of the population 
and the Government, " and requesting his interference 
by arresting all persons concerned in hostile demonstra 
tions against the British Provinces. 

Not a few people writing on the incidents of the 


"Patriot War 77 have seemingly sought to add interest 
to their story by claiming that Governor Mason was in 
league with the Patriot leaders and openly aided and 
abetted their cause. That many of the Federal and State 
officers in Michigan did entertain a warm interest in the 
Patriot cause was unquestioned, and there is no doubt 
that the Governor felt a deep sympathy for the refugees 
who soon sought shelter in Detroit as well as sympathy 
with the efforts for reform in the abuses in the Govern 
ment under which the Canadians lived; but there is no 
basis for the charge that his sympathies ever controlled 
his official action or left him open to the charge of incon 
sistency in that he did one thing as an individual and a 
private citizen and another thing as a public official. 
His every action in the matter evinced a purpose hon 
estly to maintain the neutrality of the people of Mich 
igan in the contest, and that he accomplished as much 
as a&y & could have accomplished in a community 
where a large proportion of the people were a^feve or 
passive partisan of thie rebellions m&vmmmi* Alter 
a few reverses for $m Patriots about Toronto and Mon 
treal, Mackenzie fled f TOTI tl^e Province and witfe other 
leaders of the disaffe<3fi<, m Iteeesajjer 13, 187 took 
up Ms headquarters upon Navy Mtod, an island ia 
Canadian waters in the Niagara Biver some two mjObi 
above the Falls, Here a gairison of some four hundred 
volunteers soon gathered ami a provisional government 
of Canada was organised witli Mackenzie a$ cfaalnBaa 
of the executive comijaittee. This provisional govern 
ment proceeded to allure reconiite with 
teeing to each recruit three hundred acres 
$100 in silver payable at Toronto the 


while immediate demands were cared for by the issue of 
a shinplaster currency of $1.00 and $10.00 denominations, 
as well as by contributions which were now flowing in 
from the cities of the border States where enthusiasm 
was being created by orators for the Patriot cause. For 
several days the opposing forces watched each other 
from behind fortifications on both the island and the 
shore with occasional exchange of rifle and cannon shots 
across the river, until December 29, when an event took 
plaee that came near leading to international complica 
tions. On the previous day the little steamer Caroline 
had been taken from Buffalo and began making trips 
from Fort Schlosser, a village on the American main 
land, to Navy Island, giving passage for a small fare 
to such as desired to visit the Patriot troops and encamp 
ment and likewise transporting such munitions as the 
Patriots brought for carriage. During the night, as the 
little steamer was chained to the wharf at Schlosser it 
was boarded by a party of about fifty volunteers from 
the British forces across the river under command of 
Captain Drew of the British Navy, and after a short 
hand-to-hand contest in which one American was Trilled, 
the boat's crew was driven ashore, her chains cast off, 
an<I she was fired, burning to the water's edge as she 
floated dojm the river and stranded on the rocks above 
the Fala The Caroline affair aroused great popular 
Indignation ttiroughout the United States and President 
Van Buren 9* once dispatched Q-eneral Winfield Scott 
with large dia^reiionary powers for the protection and 
preservation of ibe peace npon the frontier. 

Even before the Caroline incident, emissaries of the 
Patriot cause had Wen among the people of the Western 

Conrad Ten fyrk, C, ,8, Df ar*ik4 lit ft* 

' for ik WHiwr Cimfrf,fer tiepreW 

. 1 K Mrkt Attortrj, wftMMBM 8aUB*l| N 
Ulltinei witii Ten fcjd KMW fort) or fifty ^ lire akwlr Icn 







Canadian counties and had returned with the inf onna- 
tion that it wanted but a strong Patriot force on the 
Detroit to raise up recruits by the thousands in Essex 
and adjoining counties. Refugees to the number of more 
than three hundred had already swarmed into Detroit 
and many gentlemen of prominence espoused their cause, 
among such being Dr. Edward A. Theller, a gentleman 
prominent in the professional and Business life of Detroit 
where he had lived since 1832, born in Ireland, but 
having resided for eight years in the city of Montreal. 

On December 28, 1837, Governor Mason issued a procla 
mation urging upon the citizens of Michigan the obliga 
tion of observing the neutrality laws of the United States 
and entreating them not to violate the treaty obligations 
existing between their country and Great Britain. E&- 
citement ran high and the wildest rumors were given 
credence. Some one started the story that the colored 
people of the "other side" had perfected a design to 
come ov&r and bum the 4aty aad the Brady teyrda ww 
ordered out to protest the towm, wMle tfee Negroes f 
the city gathered and appointed three of their immber, 
Benjamin WiHougiifey, Jdte J. WilMiis and Madison 
lightf oot, a committee to prepare mm address to the citi 
zens of Detroit protesting their ianoaeBee in omneetloa 
with any sudk design. 

On New Year's Bay the eltkens gathered at MeKia- 
ney's Theater, which stood at the southeast corner of 
Gratiot Avenue and Farrar Street where addresses 
delivered and $134.56 m money and tea rifles were 
tributed to assist tlie Canadian refugees in th Hy aad 
to advance the Patriot cause to the promoting df 
the Morning Post now devoted its eoliamas. 

338 SGffiVENB T, 

IB the meantime the forces in and about Detroit organ 
ized the Patriot Army of the Northwest with Henry S. 
Haacty of Illinois as Commander-in-chief who was given 
authority over the whole of western Canada j James M. 
Wilson was commissioned as Major General, Elijah J. 
Roberts of Detroit was made Brigadier General of the 
first brigade and Edward A. Theller, Brigadier General 
to command the first brigade of French and Irish troops 
to be raised in Canada. Canada West was now ablaze 
with excitement, and General Hugh Brady of Detroit, 
United States department commander, with prompt 
action, sought with the limited forces at his command to 
protect the frontier, sending a detachment of the Brady 
Guards to bring the field pieces, arms and ammunition 
at Fort Gratiot to Detroit that it might not fall into the 
hands of the Patriots. .As a measure of safety, four 
hundred and fifty stand of arms had been stored in the 
jail which was then located near the site of the present 
Detroit public library. Between the hours of two and 
three o'clock on the morning of the 6th of January a 
company of some twenty or thirty men secreted them 
selves near the jail, while one of the number aroused 
David Thompson, the jailer, who as soon as he had 
opened the door, was pushed aside by the company which 
now rushed from the place of concealment into the jail 
and soon had possession of the guns. At about the 
same time, confederates took possession of the schooner 
A?m moored at one of the wharves beside the river, and 
long before day break, three iron cannons, the State's 
arms, a quantity of provisions and* one hundred and 
thirty-two men were laken on board the vessel which 
was headed down stream. Adverse winds made progress 


slow and in the afternoon United States Marshal Ten 
Eyck acting under authority of the District Attorney 
with a force of citizens proceeded to Ecorse, where they 
hailed the vessel and commanded her surrender to the 
United States authorities, a command that was derisively 
refused. Small boats filled with Patriots put off 
the adjoining shore at intervals and their 
were transferred to the Ann which proceeded to Gib 
raltar, where the party was landed that evening, being 
joined by some sixty recruits that had just arrived from 
Cleveland on the steamer Erie and by some three hun 
dred Canadian refugees. Upon the report of the Marshal 
being made that the force in charge of the Ann had 
resisted the process and commands of the Federal author 
ity, the District Attorney at once made a requisition 
upon Governor Mason for troops wherewith to enforce 
the authority that had been resisted. The Governor 
promptly gave orders for the embodying of a ro@ from 
the miliifciflL, which was soon accomplished ; as during the 
day a meeting had been held at the City Hall in response 
to a eatt from the GoiW8ir t ilwise mean to 
neutrality at whi^h *tre dblwred fey a 

ber of prominent citkena of Betemt, in ocmseqwoim 
which much interest WBS created. AKitfmgit it 
o ? doek in the inomiag^ Governor Mason and MB volun 
teer militia at OBTO started for Itopritoraville for arms 
from the United State Areeaal, through ri& mA p&rt 
of the way on fo0t; tine twenty laifes iras eOTW&$y and 
by two o'ciodk 0a the afterawB df tie 8% flit 
and Ms force, two hundred and twenty steag f 
board the Brady and the Erie bound for to 

arrest the Ann and her warlike crow* tlpw lonrvtiag 


at Gibraltar, it was discovered that the Ann and a large 
portion of the Patriot force had crossed to one of the 
islands -outside of American jurisdiction, and the Mich 
igan forces therefore returned to Detroit where they 
arrived a Mtte before midnight. 

Some Canadian partisans have been inclined to charge 
the Michigan authorities with a lack of honest purpose 
in going to Gibraltar at this time, and stories have been 
written to the effect that while there the Governor spent 
Ms time carousing and drinking wine with the Patriot 
leaders; but as Canadian authorities at the time were 
not inclined to credit the authorities of the State with 
any purpose other than to assist the rebels, all such 
stories should be accepted with much discount, as such 
charges were totally at variance with the Governor's con 
duct both before and after the incident in question. 

Meanwhile, great excitement prevailed on the Canadian 
shore. The small military forces of Kent and Essex 
Counties were hurried to Windsor to prevent the threat 
ened invasion. About one hundred strong they were 
placed on board the steamer United, which later started 
in pursuit of the Aim, but they w^re too late to intercept 
that vessel, as they met Governor Mason in the Brady 
^tanamg wfeem near Mgfetoag Island* The United, how 
ever, ^ontiinied to the lime Kilns some fourteen miles 
below wfcere in the moonlight the Aim could be plainly 
seen moored IB front of the dilapidated barracks of Mai 
den (now Amkerstburg). An occasional flash and boom 
from her deck showed that the crew were firing their 
one camion at the defenseless town. The United dis 
charged her force at the Lime Kilns, from whence on 
the coming of morning they marched to Amherstburg, 


and a little later stationed themselves at Elliott's Point 
at the lower end of the town where they took up a 
defensive watch for the day, the Patriots evidently 
awaiting reinforcements that shonld make more certain 
the outcome of their anticipated attack upon the main 
land. A body of such reinforcements under General 
Sutherland, who had come the day before, took up their 
position on a nearby island. The attempt of the Patriots 
at Detroit to send forward further fprces was for the 
time frustrated although at about three o'clock on the 
morning of the 9th, a body of Patriots succeeded in get 
ting possession of the Brady as she lay at her dock; but 
before they were able to get her away, the authorities 
were present in sufficient force to disperse them and take 
possession of the arms they had smuggled aboard. 

These doings, as well may be imagined, were attended 
by the wildest excitement on both sides of the river. 
During the day, four of the magistrates at Sandwich 
addressed a joint mote to Ckweraor Itaaon f 01% 

that an armed venae! f TOI the State of 
already mad an att&^k Bpm ifeeii 00natry, a^ 
inquiry as to whether lie conadbred 0meii m^$mg f wee 
under the protection of the United States and wfcethsr 
he would consider it an invasion of th territorial limits 
of the State if the invaders were followed by the Cana 
dian f oroes and attacked wherever they eould be found. 

To this note the Governor macte an immediate 
extended reply. He called the attention of the Ca 

authorities to tite division of State ad Federal 
in our Government and made pMm to them that 
the power delegated to the Federal Goveraiwut 
powers of peace and war, and that under 


Qongress had enacted laws for the preservation of neu 
trality and guaranteed the faith of treaties between the 
United States and other Governments. The Governor 
further called attention to the fact that these laws were 
enforceable through national anthority and that, as Gov 
ernor, Ms duty in the premises began only when Ms 
intervention was asked to give effect to the process of 
the Federal courts after the same had been resisted. 
In ifais connection the Governor proceeded to say, "You 
will find the constituted authorities of Michigan prompt 
and ready to discharge every duty incumbent upon them 
by the laws of their country;" adverting to the other 
subject of inquiry, he added, "I must state that all per 
sons proceeding from tMs State and found in arms within 
the jurisdiction of the province of Upper Canada have 
lost all claim to the protection of the laws of the United 
States and of tMs State, and whilst all intercourse 
between the United States and foreign powers belongs 
to the Federal Government, I cannot permit without 
resistance any invasion upon the soil of the sovereign 
and independent State over wMeh I preside as chief 

TMs position, wMch every one familiar with the prin- 
di ptes of our Government recognizes as correct, was far 
frasa satisfactory to the Canadian radical mind and 
hasty temper, who could see in the stand of the Governor 
only an effort to protect a body of what he termed 

The day at Jbnherstburg wore away with nothing 
accomplished. The Patriots were too fearful of their 
lack of arms &0d ammunition, to trust a conflict upon 
the mainland, while the Canadian were too limited in 


number to become enthusiastic over the project of boaixl- 
ing the schooner in a hand to hand straggle. As evening 
approached, however, the Canadians crawled doeer to 
the river and from convenient covers began a galling 
fire upon the schooner which offered a fine target in the 
bright moonlight With a purpose to get m a less 
exposed position, the schooner left her moorings at about 
seven o'clock and sought to tack across to Bois Btome 
Island, where a large body of Patriots were posted. As 
the schooner began to move away, the Canadians from 
the gloom of the shore and from behind trees and otter 
obstructions brought every rifle into requisition and 
poured a fusillade of bullets into the large looming balk. 
The Patriots returned an ineffective fire as they slowly 
moved away. The man at the helm was soon shot down; 
several of the crew and Patriot force were suff ering from 
serious wounds, and, to add to their dlemoralmtioii, the 
bullets from the shore by cfeaac eui ite h^lymardSy letting 
the TytaiB sail down. With the schooner thus unman 
ageable and helpless, the whole force sought safety in 
fee hold. Drifting wtfli the eturrratj Ite wgsdl mi 
aground at I31I0tt*& Pdtnt Hei^s CfekOTsl *Hrfter ancE * 
few of Ms companions s&ugfai to bring tWr m$mm Sato 
play upon the enemy lint they wwe $wu wsip^lted to 
surrender to Hie Canadian f oree by whicfa fibey iwro 
boarded. The report of the eapter listed aiaoitg the 
items taken 300 muskets, 299 %ay<mt 9 106 knapsadte, 
10 kegs of gunpowder, 2 fifty pound bags 0f dtet^ 3 sfe- 
pounders and one nine-launder iron guns, half m keg of 
bullets, 60 pounds of lead and a number of sets of 
trenaents. The prisoners taken numbered aboiil 
among whom were several residents of Monroe tad 


Michigan towns. General Sutherland of Bois Blanc is 
said to have watched the capture of the Ann and to have 
at once sought safety on the Michigan side of the bound 
ary much to the chagrin of his officers and troops. 

The Patriots of Detroit, not yet apprised of the fate 
of the Ann, at two o'clock on the morning of the 10th 
again sought to gain possession of a boat to carry further 
supplies and recruits to the Patriot camp. Their efforts 
were more successful than on the night previous, and 
after a short contest with General Brady and a few 
guardsmen, with the help of sympathizing bystanders, 
they had the Erie steaming toward Gibraltar, where, 
arriving, more supplies and recruits were taken on and 
all taken to the main camp at Sugar Island. 

The capture of the Ann and the theft of the Erie now 
raised excitement to a fever heal A story gained cre 
dence upon the Canadian shore to the effect that during 
the night they wer to be invaded and attacked by a 
force of fifteen hundred from Detroit Again the magis 
trates of Sandwich addressed a note to Governor Mason 
detailing their fears and praying Ms intervention to stop 
the threatened invasion. This appeal was seconded by 
the personal representations of certain of the clergymen 
from across the border. In response to their entreaties, 
tke Governor again repaired to Sugar Island and sought 
to persuade the Patriots to relinquish their designs, and 
a he thought, succeeded, as they were induced to break 
camp wA m& returned to Gibraltar where they were 
landed dwmg iBte night of the llth, the Governor return 
ing to Detroit the f olowing day. The Patriots returned 
the steamer Erie aaid on the 13th Governor Mason and 
the mayor of Detroit joined in a proclamation calling a 


meeting of the citizens at the City Hall, which being con 
vened was addressed by Daniel Goodwin district attor 
ney, Peter Morey attorney general, and by many other 
citizens. At the conclusion, resolntions were adopted 
pledging support to the Government in its effort to pre 
serve neutrality. 

On January 27 the Eobert Fulton arrived from 
with three companies of United States troops OB 
under command of Colonel Worth, who had teem detailed 
by General Scott to preserve neutrality on the Detroit 
frontier, and who at the sam time communicated with 
Governor Mason requesting him to furnish from the 
militia to General Brady such troops as he might make 
requisition for ; but so quiet had matters become that on 
the 2nd of February the Governor could write General 
Scott, "that tranquillity is entirely restored to this fron 
tier." But the Patriots had not yet disbanded and there 
were soon indications that tranquillity was to be again 
disturbed 13*0 contest of ths tetter iromld i 
it was about this time that Governor Mason 

cated wiifa Ool^dl Priaee tlbe Canadian iwitis in 
regard to the prisoners taken % Mm upon the mpts 
of the schooner ATMI Tk& letter is important for Ifee 
insight it affords into the sratiiiiemts and efaairMfer nf 
the Governor rather than for any historical bearing it 
may have. It is as follows : 

"My dear sir: 

"As the period approadbes when you may te 
to repair to your post at Toronto, I am isMta$ 
address yon on a subject of mekndboly intere0t to 


and I have no doubt equally so to you, I allude to the 
fate of the unfortunate and deluded individuals who have 
fallen into the hands of the civil authorities of your 
province by the capture of the schooner Arm near Maiden. 

"Sensible as I am that I cannot approach the Governor 
of Upper Canada in behalf of those individuals in my 
official character, my only mode of exerting any influ- 
*enee IB their behalf is as a private citizen through the 
agency of yotir humane and Mnd feelings. I cannot nor 
do I pretend to justify the act for which they may suffer 
the penalty of your laws. But sir, 'To err is human," 
to forgive divine/ Look at the circumstances by which 
they have been surrounded; listen to the tales of woe 
they may have heard from refugees from the alleged 
tyranny of another government; think of the motives 
by which they were actuated, I am sure you will say 
with me they have been deluded, misguided, and blindly 
led into error. Permit me also to refer to your volun 
tary offer to intercede in their behalf, in the event that 
their associates would abandon their unlawful objects 
and deliver their arms to the authorities of this State. I 
have used your declaration with effect, and I am happy 
to say to you that all those who have assembled with 
itoetile intentions against the government or people of 
Canada have dispersed and have placed all their arms in 
my possession. Those arms I have deposited for safe 
keeping in tbe United States Arsenal at Dearbornville. 

4< In t^afcm to Dr. Theller, who although he seems 
(and I most confess deservedly) to have enlisted little 
*of your avw, I still beg leave to intercede in his 

behalf. His donduet no brave man can justify. But 


whatever lie may be to the world, his widowed wife and 
helpless children claim consideration. He is a husband 
and father, and even with the worst those ties are dear 
and tender. If then, Theller can ask nothing for himself, 
let his dependent family speak for him. 

"I would if I eonld consistently address Sir Frauds 
himself, but I need not say to yon, sir, that the dbaraetar 
of the offense with which the persons for whona I inter 
cede stand charged and the drramstatiises attending its 
commission preclude an act which would be most gratify 
ing to me. I must then beg yon to represent me and I am 
sure yon will say all and more than I could say and with 
much more effect. Speak then for these unfortunate 
persons as a man, forgetting the officer. In your own 
language "the brightest Jewel of the British crown is 
mercy ;" and that crown sits on the brow of a virgin 
qneen the glory of whose reign I feel will never be 
dimmed by blood or human tears. 

m for the tremble I may gir y% tout I tti 
wffl appwdmte the mnrm fcy wM A I $ 
and tterf I MA only 
which I am 

"Ycmir oteikat 


"To Goi John Prince, 

One cannot read this fetter without a 
of the ability of the writer and wittiOTt a 
should acquit MM of tie charge rf l 
of Michigan, or in Ms private capacity, gitm 


port to the program involving the invasion of a neighbor 
ing country in violation of law and solemn treaty obliga 

On January 13, 1838, Navy Island was evacuated by 
the Patriot forces who now despaired of entering Canada 
from this quarter, General Donald McLeod, a man of 
education who had seen service in the British Army and 
a Canadian refugee, was now made General-in-chief of 
the Patriot forces. The arms and supplies were secreted, 
and from Buffalo were ultimately transferred to farmers' 
wagons and transported around the southern shore of 
lake Erie. Large bands of men followed the same 
coarse. Secret organizations known as Hunters* 
Lodges were now instituted in all the border towns and 
cities, They were a fraternity whose membership con 
sisted of Canadian refugees and Patriot sympathizers, 
numbering among them many gentlemen of worth and 
standing in the pivil and military affairs of the States, 
as well as a goodly number of adventurous renegades, 
such as are always ready to attach themselves to any 
movement that promises excitement and easy living. 
These lodges were said to exist a&f ar south as Kentucky, 
westward from New England to Chicago, and as far 
north as Port Huron; and in their secret meetings the 
womgs of Canada were eloquently depicted and the 
sinews of revolt collected. 

From the first, the Brady Guards under command of 
old General Hugh Brady had formed the only effective 
body of men for gsard duty on the Michigan shore. A 
detachment of the craap&ny had brought down the arms 
from Fort Gratiot as heretofore stated; another detach 
ment for some months was op guard at the United States 


Arsenal at Dearbornville ; while still another in relays 
guarded the river front and when the Patriots sought to 
gain possession of arms or boats gave the alarm by ring 
ing the bell of the old Presbyterian Church which brought 
the remainder of the company and a considerable portion 
of the population as well, ready for service. 

Mr. George C. Bates, a talented, cultured 
orderly sergeant of the Brady Guards, who for 
years survived the events of 1838, has left us many inter 
esting reminiscences of the time, among which is a pen 
picture of the difficulties under which they performed 
their duties. Said he, "Not unfrequently jeered at, 
sneered at and insulted by crowds of ragged Patriots, 
who, shivering with the cold, gathered like gypsies in 
large bands around their camp fires, and whenever those 
in authority sought to scatter or warn them of danger of 
violation of our neutrality laws, they would turn upon 
them with ribald, jeers, profane objurations, and 
denounce srofa men as Brady and Swtt as *REtoe 
Tories/ *Ictepittles of the Britidi OFOWB/ and 
of the Tories of Ikg^aitd/ " mi fee add tfcai "Tfce <fif- 
fieulty of preaervimg tiia paaa was gr^aHy enhanced hf 
threats a^d denunciations of fib British authorities at 
Sandwich and Maiden," who, he says, "aowtantly vis 
ited the American authorities at Detroit, Wyandotte wA 
Grosse Isle, and in the moat exalted manner threatened 
to burn our houses, destroy our st^m^rs and Teasels and 
slaughter our citizens, unless the Patriots were drwem 
away baek to their homjes*" 

The straggling tends of Patriots wMafe i*0w feg&a f 
arrive, renewed the enthusiasm timt had been 
depressed by the marksmanship of the Ckmadi 
at the capture of the schooner Ann. Oil February 


Governor Mason communicated information as to the 
situation to 'President Van Buren, who had already by 
proclamation and other means sought to preserve the 
neutrality of the United States, saying, "I regret to 
inform yon, that contrary to my most confident expecta 
tions, this frontier is again thrown into a state of confu 
sion by ihe appearance of the force recently disbanded 
and dispersed from Navy Island. I have no idea that 
ihiB assemblage of persons can make an effective impres 
sion on the Canadian shore ; bnt the fact of their appear 
ance is calculated to keep this side of the line in a con 
tinued ferment, and the opposite shore in a constant state 
of alarm and apprehension. ? ' 

The Governor proceeded to inform the President at 
length as to the exact situation and of the necessity for 
a law permitting the seizure of such boxes as the author 
ities had good reason to believe contained arms and mum- 
tions of war, whereby he urged that the forces of disturb 
ance might soon be disarmed and permanent tranquillity 

Even as the Governor penned his letter detailing his 
apprehensions, General Brady under instructions of Gen 
eral Scott made requisition upon the State government 
for a military force wherewith to more effectually pro 
tect ike frontier. Governor Mason accordingly called 
out six companies of the State militia and on the 12th of 
February accompanied them to Gibraltar. The weather 
wMeh theretofore had been unusually mild, now became 
correspondingly severe. Upon the appearance of the 
militia and after conference between the Governor and 
the Patriot leaders, the Patriot forces seemingly dis 
banded, and the militia returned to Detroit But the 


Patriots seemed to have a habit of disbanding in one 
place to gather at once in a new place. Indeed, while 
they were being persuaded to disband at Gibraltar, a de 
tachment of their force was stealing twelve boxes of arms 
that had just been brought from Dearbornville to Detroit 
for the use of the militia. Two days later, before they 
could be taken from the city, they were discovered in a 
garret over a ball alley and returned. On the day fol 
lowing the theft of the arms the Patriots succeeded in 
replenishing their commissary by the theft of one hun 
dred and one barrels of flour from the steamboat General 
Brady as the steamer was lying in the river near the 
city. With wisdom born of this experience, the Brady 
Guards were at once dispatched to convoy provisions 
which it was necessary to transport from Gibraltar for 
troops then stationed at Monroe. 

As the continuing cold weather had now frozen the 
river from shore to shore, the Patriots began prepara 
tions for a concerted rush across the line. As yet they 
were sorely lacking in arms and munitions and at about 
this time had recourse to a piece of strategy, which, had 
it succeeded, might have resulted in the addition of a few 
hundred stand of arms being added to their equipment. 
A story was started in Detroit that a volunteer company 
was being organized in Canada for the purpose of cross 
ing the river and firing the city. The story was told with 
a wealth of detail and confirmation calculated to create 
a great excitement; the intention being that wh6n the 
excitement was at its height to present a petition to the 
Governor and induce him if possible to call for volunteers 
for the emergency ; then the secret friends of the Patriots 
were to come forward in goodly number, be sworn in, 

draw arms and ammunition and be off. The Governor 
was early advised of the scheme and the people were 
warned against unfounded rumor, and as there was no 
excitement there was no basis for the issuance of arms. 

On February 19 the Patriots who had been about 
Detroit in considerable numbers for several days sud 
denly decamped, some going up and some down the 
river on the 22nd the Brady Guards went as far as 
St. Clair to prevent an attack upon Port Sarnia, only 
to learn the next day that Patriot forces were gathering 
at Thomas' Tavern some five miles below Gibraltar. 
Tired and weary the Guards returned to Detroit, only 
to be brought from their beds by the ringing of the bell 
on the night of the 24th, and to find upon reaching head 
quarters that sleighs had been provided and that orders 
had been issued for the guards and United States 
recruits, which had been increased by one more company 
from Buffalo on the 14th, to move down the Detroit 
River until they should meet Patriots advancing or until 
they should come to the position they had taken up'. It 
was known, now the ice had formed, the Patriots were 
rallying all their forces available for a dash across the 
line, the effort to be timed with other efforts upon the 
St Lawrence and from Lake Erie ports. During the 
night of the 23rd the Patriots in threie divisions moved 
up as far as Ecorse, from whence, shortly after noon on 
the 24th, they passed over and established themselves 
upon Fighting Island across the national boundary. The 
Canadian forces immediately gathered opposite the 
island and about 4 P. 1L the Guards and United States 
troops under command of General Brady, were drawn 
up upon the American shore; Hon. Daniel Goodwin 


Detroit Attorney associated with Gov. 
Mason in the $50,000,000 loan. 

First Treasurer of the State of Michigan. 


Detroit attorney and newspaper man. 
Adjutant General of Michigan 1842-44 and 
later in the State Legislature. 


United States District Attorney, Conrad Ten Eyck 
United States Marshal, and Hon. Eoss Wilkins District 
Judge, were present as the representatives of the civil 
authority. General Brady at once stationed his forces 
so as to cut off as far as possible the straggling bands 
that were crossing from above and below to the Patriot 
camp upon the island. The Patriot force presented little 
of the appearance of an army; scantily clad, poorly fed 
and but little more than half armed, they shivered about 
their camp fires presenting a sorry if not dejected spec 
tacle. His camp established and his troops placed, Gen 
eral Brady at once dispatched two officers by sleigh with 
instructions to proceed to Maiden and there inform Col 
onel Basden, commander of the British forces, that the 
United States forces under General Brady assisting the 
United States civil authorities, had taken a position oppo 
site righting Island for the purpose of enforcing the 
neutrality laws of the United States, and that they would 
prevent all armed persons from crossing to Canadian 
territory and would arrest all such as sought to retreat 
therefrom; that they were acting under authority. of the 
President of the United States and were in good faith 
determined to prevent any violation of the laws of the 
United States or the personal or property rights of the 
British people. A little after night-fall the couriers re 
turned and reported a story of rather uncivil treatment 
from Col. Basden as well as a reply to the effect that while 
he had the highest regard for Gen. Brady, he had none 
whatever for the civil authorities of the United States, and 
that he should, regardless of Gen. Brady or his command, 
attack the "damned vagabonds on Fighting Island before 
daylight the next morning; that he would clean them out 


with grape and canister from Ms batteries, and that if 
they retreated to the United States he would follow them 
and kill them wherever he could overtake them/ 7 

The delivery of this reply raised the lion in the old 
general and he at once detailed a detachment to pace off 
and mark the national boundary with flags set in the 
ice about one hundred feet apart ; this done he brought 
Ms forces into line and impressively told them that they 
were there to enforce the laws of the United States and 
to, arrest all offenders against them. Said he, "My 
orders to you are as heretofore, to arrest and prevent 
all armed men from proceeding over to Fighting Island; 
to capture and turn over to the United States Marshal 
as prisoners all men who shall retreat from Fighting 
Island to our shore, " Pointing significantly to the line 
that had been marked upon the river, he proceeded, say 
ing, "Soldiers you see before you clearly marked by 
yonder guides the boundary line between the United 
States and Canada. If a British soldier or officer in arms 
crosses inside our lines, I charge you all to beat them 
back, to capture and to kill them if necessary, to protect 
our sovereignty/' The orders were received with wild 
cheers from the troops who turned in to await the coming 
of the morning. With the first gray of the winter's dawn 
the Patriots attempted to take a gun carriage from the 
Michigan mainland to the island upon which to mount 
their one cannon, which for want of a better carriage had 
been placed upon a platform of logs and rails. Almost 
immediately the* Gana<iian troops began a heavy cannon 
ading of the Patriot camp upon the island. The Patriots 
replied as best they could from their few muskets and 
one cannon wMch at every discharge rolled from its 


unstable platform and had to be picked up and replaced 
for the next shot. As the Canadian troops advanced the 
Patriots retreated across the ice to the mainland where 
they were disarmed and the leaders taken into custody. 
The loyalists advanced to the marked line where they 
saluted and returned, Col. Basden not seeming to desire 
to make good his threat of the night before. There are 
no reliable data as to the casualties upon either side. 
The most authentic reports would seem to indicate that 
none were killed, although the Patriots had five seriously 
wounded who were brought to Detroit for surgical treat 

On the day following, Monday, the 26th, General Scott 
arrived at Detroit to give personal attention and direction 
to the placing and distribution of the troops upon the fron 
tier. In the exasperated and excited state of the public mind 
on the Canadian border we may well imagine that citi 
zens of the United States were not welcome visitors upon 
the Canadian shore even when their mission was peace 
ful and law abiding. Not a few such were arrested and 
thrown into the Sandwich jail. These incidents brought 
prompt although possibly ineffectual protests from Gov 
ernor Mason to the Canadian magistrates and others 
in authority, and requests that unless the charges made 
could be sustained, the person under arrest be discharged 
and allowed to return to the United States. 

While attempts to invade Canada from Michigan 
ceased for the time being with the battle of Fighting 
Island, the feeling of exasperation among the loyal sub 
jects of Upper Canada towards the authorities of Mich 
igan seemingly increased rather than abated. This feel 
ing the Canadians made no attempt to disguise. They 


began military movements across the border which the 
citiz$n& of Detroit could interpret only as preparations 
f or offensive warfare. A pronounced spirit of retaliation 
W&& soon manifested among the citizens of Detroit even 
imong those who were in favor of the preservation of 
neutrality in the first instance. 

Governor Mason was himself suspicious of the designs 
of the British authorities, and on March 6th wrote Presi 
dent Van Buren as to the state of public feeling, the 
activities upon the Canadian shore, and the defenseless 
condition of Michigan in case of rupture. The day fol 
lowing, the citizens of Detroit gathered at the City Hall 
to consult upon the same questions, as well as upon the 
treatment of prisoners which had been taken by the 
Oajiadians, The resist of the meeting was the appoint 
ment of D. E. Hardbaugh, A. D. Fraser, P. Desnoyer, 
C. C. Trowbridge and E, Brooks as a committee to con 
sider the situation and report. On the 12th the people 
again gathered in a large meeting at the City Hall. The 
Committee reported, and the meeting adopted resolutions 
favoring neutrality, and protested against statements 
said to have been made in the Canadian Parliament to 
the effect that the citizens of Detroit were extending 
aid and sympathy to the Patriots. A few days later the 
Legislature unanimously joined in a signed statement 
of the defenseless condition of the frontier, which the 
Governor at once forwarded to the Secretary of "War 
with a personal letter again joining in the representa 
tions made, and calling attention to the activity of the 
Canadian authorities in the concentration of their mili 
tary forces opposite to Detroit and to their securing com 
mand of the best steamers upon the Lakes. 


The apprehension of the Governor and of the people 
of Detroit did no't seem to be shared by the officers of 
the General government, or they were unable to comply 
with the requests made for an additional force, for no 
such force or equipment was forwarded to this frontier 
until the following autumn. 

During the summer, from two to three hundred Patri 
ots were for a time in camp near the eastern limits of 
the city, and with the approach of Fall there were 
renewed evidences of activity among Hunters' Lodges 
and Patriot sympathizers in all the border towns and 
cities. On November 3 the British Minister, Mr. Fox, 
transmitted to the Secretary of State at Washington a 
communication setting forth at considerable length the 
information which the British government through its 
secret service had been able to obtain of the contemplated 
movements, purposes and designs of the Patriots, which 
disclosed a Conspiracy of astonishing proportions if their 
information was to be believed. A copy of the cornfhuni- 
cation was confidentially mailed to Governor Mason and 
his attention directed to its various suggestions. The 
Government at once exerted itself to do all in its power 
to prevent its territory from being used as a base of opr- 
ations against the neighboring province of Canada. Be- 
twen the 14th and 16th of November ten thousand mu- 
kets were forwarded to the arsenal at Dearbornville, and 
the General Government showed in other ways that it 
was determined to stop' the doings of the year before^ 
so far as they could be said to be in violation of the neu 
trality of this Nation. Reports became current that th 
Patriots were gathering at Cleveland and Sandusky. 
General Brady chartered the steamer Illinois, ai^d while 


steaming down the river on November 19th picked up a 
schooner in which were discovered some three hundred 
stand of arms designed for the Patriot troops. These 
were confiscated. Troops were placed at intervals along 
the river to prevent disturbance npon the land and the 
steamer Erie for the same purpose patroled the river. 
On the 21st the Patriots recouped for the loss of the arms 
taken by Gen. Brady two days before by stealing the 
arms of the Brady Guards, which were retaken however 
on the 23rd. 

Although hampered at every turn, the Patriots still 
clung to their purpose with a tenacity that is difSctllt to 
understand. About five hundred refugees had now con 
gregated at the pioneer village of Brest, from whence 
they moved up to what was then Forsyth farm, now 
within the city limits. Here on Sunday, December 2, 
they were surrounded during the night by troops under 
Gen. Brady; twelve boxes of muskets were captured and 
the gathering dispersed. Instead of being discouraged 
by the watchfulness of the United States authorities, 
the refugees and Patriots were seemingly made more 
determined and desperate. On the morning of Decem 
ber 4th, at about 2 A. M., a company of Patriots about 
one hundred and thirty-five strong stealthily marched 
into Detroit to the wharf where the steamboat Cham- 
plain lay. Before the authorities were aroused the 
Patriots had steam up, their troops and equipment on 
board, and were steaming for the Canadian shore, where 
tKey landed some distance above Windsor. They were 
not discovered by the Canadians until the advancing col 
umn was seen through the gloom by the cavalry patrol. 
A few shots only followed before the thoroughly sur- 


prised soldiers at the Windsor Barracks were forced to 
surrender, not over a dozen of the one hundred and 
twenty-five escaping. The Patriots then proceeded to 
fire the Barracks, which burning consumed a couple of 
dwellings near by as well as the steamer Thames which 
lay at a dock nearly opposite. Five soldiers were said to 
have perished in the burning Barracks. The details of 
the "Battle of Windsor," as it has been called, would 
alone make a chapter. With the coming of the dawn a 
force of some four or five hundred Canadian troops were 
closing in on the little body of Patriots, and while they 
stood their ground for a little time they were soon scat 
tered in disorder. Among the casualties in the Canadian 
troops there were said to be four killed and four 
wounded. Among the former was Dr. John J. Hume, 
Assistant Surgeon of the troops, whose grave in the 
Sandwich churchyard may still be seen. It is marked 
with a stone upon which is engraved the following 
epitaph, the same voicing the indignation of its author 
Col. John Prince : 


To the Memoiy of 

John James Hume Esqre. M.D. 

Staff Assistant Surgeon 

who was inhumanely murdered and his body afterwards 
brutally mangled by a ga:ng of armed ruffians from the 
United States 

Styling themselves 


who committed this cowardly and shameful outrage on the 
morning of the 4th of December, 1838 : having intercepted 


deceased while proceeding to render professional 
fiance to her Majestie's gallant Militia engaged at 

Windsor, U. C. in repelling the incursion of this rebel 

crew Biore properly styled 


The rout of the Patriots was disastrous. Accounts 
of the number killed do not agree, but Col. Prince 
reported twenty-one. Sixty-five were said to have been 
taken prisoners, and ten or a dozen more were said to 
have died from exposure the night and day following in the 
adjoining fields and forests. Four of the prisoners 
taken and some of them desperately wounded, were by 
oirder of CoL Prince stood up and riddled with shot. 
Prince seemed to have been governed by the fury of a 
Savage, and would have continued his work of massacre 
had his hand not been stayed by his more humane asso 
ciates. Of the little Patriot army that crossed over, not 
more than thirty returned, and not then until they had' 
been secreted for days by sympathetic Canadian farmers. 

The whole population of Detroit watched the sanguin 
ary conflict from the opposing shore. The excitement 
in the city was beyond description, and^to guard the city 
forty watchmen were appointed to patrol the streets that 
night, the number being increased to one hundred and 
fifty the night following. The battle of Windsor proved 
to be the last important conflict of the Patriot war, 
although a considerable body of troops were maintained 
upon the Canadian shore for a long space of time. Of 
the prisoners taken, a few, and among the number Dr. 
Theller, escaped from prison. He returned to Detroit 
on the- very day of the battle of Windsor. He lived for 


many years thereafter and in 1841 wrote a two-volume 
account of the rebellion and his own reminiscences. For 
months the gallows was kept busy, some twenty-five or 
thirty paying the forfeit of their lives for their heroic 
temerity, while scores of others died or returned after 
long lingering years of banishment in the Bermudas or 
in Van Dieman's Land. 

The rebellion though crushed, and its leaders hanged 
and transported, accomplished its purpose. It was the 
inevitable result of misgovernment, and Canada and the 
mother country profited even by their failure. From the 
Canada of the "Family Compact, " and what Lord Dur 
ham in 1838 described as a government of "Constituted 
Anarchy," there came forth the New Canada, blessed 
with the institutions of liberty, equality and justice. 



passage of the general banking law and the 
causes which led to it have already been detailed. 
The first association to perfect its organization under 
the law was the Fanner's Bank of Homer, located at 
the village of that name, in the county of Calhoun. It 
began business August 19, 1837, with a reported capital 
of $100,000, a sum that must have been ample for the 
needs of the immediate conoanunity in view of the fact 
that the next year it was described as 3, village having 
a store, a sawmill, a postoffice and about two hundred 
inhabitants. Before- the end of the following November 
seven more banks had been organized and had commenced 
business. As yet there seems to have been no local dis 
trust of the associations or of the circulation they were 
handing to the public fresh from the printing press. On 
December 6 Mr. Edwin N. Bridges, the banking commis 
sioner made a report showing the condition of the banks 
according to the November returns. He suggested sev 
eral particulars wherein the general banking law might 
be improved by amendment, but he undoubtedly voiced 
a fair measure of public sentiment when he said, "In 
supplying a circulating medium at home, the want of 
which was already greatly felt, the banks which have 
gone into operation under the general banking law have 
effected a sensible relief, and have thus acquired a not 
unmerited popularity/ 7 and he adds, "The additional 


safeguards with which it is proper to surround them, will 
entitle them to increased confidence and favor." Had 
the Commissioner written his report a few weeks later, 
it is altogether probable that he would have spoken with 
far less optimism, for the month of December witnessed 
the organization of twelve associations and the month 
of January, 1838, still fifteen more, a total of forty hav 
ing completed their organizations by the following May 
20. The number was ultimately raised to forty-nine, with 
twenty-one more in various stages of their organization, 
when the end came through the repeal of the law. That 
in the beginning the great majority of the promoters of 
these banking associations anticipated the evils that were 
to attend these efforts, is not to be presumed. They were 
generally men of standing and reputation, who entered 
the business ignorant of the science of banking and the 
laws of finance, but with honorable purposes. That they 
were to be the instruments of a public calamity was as 
far from their thoughts as from the thoughts of the men 
.who framed the law under which they acted. 

The Legislature which convened in adjourned session 
in November, 1837, addressed itself to the work of per 
fecting the defects which had been disclosed in the bank 
ing law during the 1 brief time it had been in operation. 
On December 30 Governor Mason approved an amend 
ment to the general banking law, which while in the form 
of an amendment, was really a re-draft of the law. It 
retained all of the essential features of the previous law, 
adding a few provisions intended to further safeguard 
the appraisement of the securities to be given for the 
security of bank circulation, and required more frequent 
reports, provided for three banking commissioners 


instead of one, and sought to prevent the issue of circu 
lation by banks in an insolvent condition by providing, 
that before any bill should be issued, it should 'bear the 
indorsement of a commissioner; and that in other ways 
it sought to enlarge the powers of the commissioners and 
the responsibilities of the associations. This amendment 
passed both Houses of the Legislature by a vote quite 
as unanimous as was given to the original statute. 

Contemporaneous with this Act was passed an Act 
providing that no bank going into operation after the 
first day of January 1838, should be permitted to suspend 
specie payment, a measure which it was believed would 
seriously limit, if it did not prohibit, the organisation 
of new banks, and which likewise indicates a dstwning 
distrust of the soundness of the institutions that had 
been permitted to issue currency which the general public 
could n<yt ask to have redeemed in specie; but the full 
realization of the situation was not to come until a few 
weeks later. 

On January 15, 1838, Governor Mason sent to the Sen 
ate the names of Edwin N. Bridges, Charles W. Whipple 
and Thomas Fitzgerald as bank commissioners under the 
Act of December 30. The nomination of Thomas Fitz 
gerald was at once confirmed, and the nominations of 
Messrs. Bridges and Whipple rejected. On February 2 
the Governor, to fill the two remaining places, sent to 
the Senate the names of Alpheus Felch and Kintzing 
Pritchette, the latter having in the meantime been 
rejected as Secretary of State, to which office Randolph 
Manning was nominated and on the 6th of February 
duly confirmed. Both Felch and Pritchette were subse- 


quently confirmed, and at once qualified and proceeded 
with the duties of their office. 

In the larger towns and villages where banks had been 
organized, there was at first a disposition to conduct 
the business as close to proper standards as the limited 
knowledge of the operators would permit; but unfor 
tunately, of the many who essayed to prosecute the busi 
ness a considerable number were not even honest. As 
usual in such cases the trickster and criminal discovered 
the weaknesses of the law and the opportunities it offered 
for schemes of fraud and trickery before they were dis 
covered by the general public. 

The law provided that before any bank should begin 
operations, thirty per cent of its capital stock should 
be paid in in specie. Thus the law provided, in plain 
terms, that before associations issued their promises to 
pay, bona fide capital in gold and silver to the amount of 
thirty per cent of their authorized capital stock, should 
be in their * ' strong box. ' ' A mandate so plain, it would 
seem, would hardly have been evaded, but it was* a require 
ment that in actual operation seems to have been vio 
lated with impunity. In the organization of a number 
of banks, instead of specie a kind of paper that cam 
to be known as " specie certificate " was used. Such 
certificates ~were issued by bank officers, and sometimes 
by individuals and firms in general business, and in form 
acknowledged the receipt of specie held on deposit. 
These spurious substitutes for real coin were plentifully 
issued by certain gentlemen and institutions in Detroit, 
and at other places, and became the basis upon which 
many an institution became a bank of issue. One writer 


has given a list of twenty-four banks that began business 
with these legal evasions as the only items of value in 
their capital. In some cases it was said that specie was 
borrowed for the occasion, was used and immediately 
returfied. Another scheme which must have taxed the 
imagination of the organizers was, to take the individual 
notes of the stock subscribers denominated "stock notes' 7 
and, because payable in coin, were received and counted 
as specie. Hon. Alpheus Felch in later years, writing 
with an intimate knowledge of the tricks and evasions 
that characterized the operations of the "wildcat" 
banks, tells of one bank, the Oakland County Bank, which 
was organized upon a specie certificate for $10,000, and 
$5,000 in actual specie borrowed from another bank, 
which, to make up the required amount, was paid in three 
times and counted as $15,000 was used. The certificate 
was given by an accommodating bank to the individual 
interested in organizing the Lapeer bank without his hav 
ing made a deposit or having anything in the bank to his 
credit. The certificate was cancelled by the check of the 
pretended depositor which was made simultaneously with 
it The Wayne County Bank was said to have been put 
in operation by the checks of stockholders which were 
never presented, acknowledged or paid. The Bank of 
Saline began business on a specie certificate for $15,000 
which was taken away as soon as the bank was in opera 
tion, while the Farmers and Mechanics Bank of Pontiac 
borrowed the necessary specie to be exhibited as capital 
stock paid in. The Bank of Sandstone did not even 
resort to a subterfuge. It put $38,000 of its bills in cir 
culation with no specie either owned or borrowed in its 
possession, while the Exchange Bank of Shiawassee 


floated $22,261 of paper on exactly seven copper coins 
and an exceedingly small amount of paper currency in 
its safe. The Jackson County Bank acquired $70,000 
of indebtedness npon the pompons show of good sized 
boxes filled with nails and glass and with a few layers of 
silver dollars npon the top. Here a director took his 
oath that a certain box of specie was the property of 
the bank and later brought an action against the institu 
tion to recover it as his individual property, so that in 
the end it was found that the $70,000 of circulation 
rested upon less than $5,000 of actual assets. The Farm 
ers and Merchants Bank of St. Joseph at Centerville 
was another institution that dispensed with the legal 
formalities that had been prescribed in the statute, and 
with little more than a stock of " precious paper prom 
ises " had them in the hands of an unsuspecting public 
to the amount of $19,860 before their work could be 
stopped. Of the notes of this institution, the Attorney 
General Peter Morey later said, "They went forth with 
a lie upon their very faces, as they purported to be upon 
a bank which had, in truth, no legal existence and which' 
never possessed, it is believed,, one cent of real capital, 
and which had nothing to sustain it but the sublimated 
effrontery and fraud of its principal founder." 

If the law providing for the specie basis was in many 
instances transgressed and evaded, the provision requir 
ing mortgage security upon unincumbered real estate 
for the ultimate redemption of the bank circulation was 
violated with at least equal impunity. This latter pro 
vision, as would be at once seen, was designed to make 
certain an abundance of security over and above the indi 
vidual liability of stockholders and directors and after 


the safety fund had been exhausted. It was considered 
to be one of the most salutary provisions of the amended 
act, providing as it did that such mortgage security 
should cover the full liabilities of the bank both for its 
notes of issue and general indebtedness, the security 
being upon real estate the value of which was determined 
by an . appraisement made by the Sheriff, Treasurer, 
Clerk, and Associate Judges of the county, or a majority 
of them. But the value of this provision as an added 
dement of safety depended entirely upon the fidelity 
with which the spirit as well as the letter of the law was 
observed, and this under the conditions that then existed 
was well-nigh impossible. Speculative standards had not 
yet wholly passed away. Values had for a considerable 
time been measured in ap inflated currency,, and Etony a 
promoter was $ffll honest in the belief that the "paper 
cities " and new locations only awaited the passing of 
the temporary depression to become thriving marts of 
trade. The county officers whose duty it was to fix the 
appraisal value of the lands upon which the mortgage 
securities were offered, could not entirely resist the influ 
ence of the prevailing sentiment, or their friendship for 
the numerous bank promoters, or in some instances of 
their own personal interests. The result was that in 
some instances security was taken that was almost worth 
less. For instance, the SMawassee Exchange Bank fur 
nished approximately $22,000 of its required security by 
a mortgage upkm a fortieth interest in the city of Ports 
mouth, a city projected by several gentlemen of Detroit, 
among whom was Governor Mason, near the present site 
of Bay City. The Detroit City Bank included among 
its securities mortgages upon lots in the village of Gas- 


Adjutant General of the Territorial mil 
itia in 1831 and first Adjutant General of 
the State of Michigan. Later a member of 
the State Legislature. 


Delegate to Congress in 1819. Judge of the IT. S. Supreme 
CJourt 1828-32. Member of the first State Constitutional 
Convention. State Senator 183S-9. Governor of Michigan 
1840-41, U. S, Senator 1841-47. 


To alhcho shall sw these /*///// Greetm" : 

i'fi'iM in Ifte /taJ,.ie h MI, win, {>(.{< f<t>h and utilities oj 
in l/n'- mow. and /y. {tit aut/'ouly fj Me '///*/ fjific ffiefe cf 

NTAw *, &^^ 

tie dull* 4 


tluctfy c/ttttae and teazle M Officers and #0/*fe unfot, &* wmmit*&&$e vtklttntfo/n* 
to xZ^^^^-r^- t&wl/it it & e/titt tnd jctfew MC/ oic&i* 

<ml dttcciw* /torn time 6 tme $ Mhcmte fcm !& PRESIDENT OF IHE UNITED 

STATES OF AMEmCA*wa* ^ ^ tf&b, * '4 ^ @c*t *t * &m, 


accetdiny Jo Aw, Ef/iio. Commission 4o umlime <n j(>tw dtoiinj. l/te fifmuli\ cj 

e catwet 4&e 



cade in Kent County and also upon lots in White Eock 
City in the county of. Sanilac. The Commercial Bank of 
St. Joseph showed a measure of local patriotism by giv 
ing its security wholly upon St. Joseph real estate, 
twenty-eight lots bearing the burden of the greater por 
tion, of -$60,650 of mortgage obligations. The Millers 
Bank of Washtenaw gave its mortgage security of $48,000 
almost exclusively upon the village lots of an outlying 
addition to the village of Ann Arbor. Among the great 
mass of mortgages given, one finds documents that tell 
him of the villages of Livingston, Kensington, Gibraltar, 
Brest and Singapore and other places long since for 
gotten. In the far greater number of instances, however, 
the securities were upon the unimproved lands but 
recently purchased from the General Government and 
destined during the next few years in a large number of 
cases to be sold for the non-payment of the taxes assessed 
against them. With such frauds and evasions practiced 
in the creation and organization of certain of the banking 
associations, one would expect to find kindred rascali 
ties in their subsequent operations. Such was in fact 
the case, the later examination of the banks disclosing 
that in many cases the taint which had marked their 
inception increased in virulence with their subsequent 
progress. , Through fraudulent design, and incompetency 
that invited like results, the books of the banks were in 
many instances so kept as to give but the most imperfect 
and misleading information as to the particular transac 
tions or the general condition of affairs. The reports of 
the Bank Commissioners disclose that in numerous 
instances there was a wilful purpose on the part of bank 
officials to understate the amount of bills which a bank 


had actually put in circulation. It could have been said 
that it was almost a practice for banks, under the plea 
of facilitating exchange, to put their bills in the hands of 
individuals, frequently without any security therefor 
and in many instances without any record of the trans 
action upon the books of the bank. Speaking of the Bank 
of Manchester, one report says, " Previous to the last 
report of the condition of the bank, it appeared that the 
circulation was $34,000. It was, however, afterwards 
ascertained that there were in the hands of individuals, 
without security, bills of the bank to the amount of $73,- 
334, making a total of bills out of $104,334. ' ' In the case 
of the Lenawee 'County Bank it was discovered that the 
$30,000 which had been originally paid in as capital stock 
was almost immediately after the organization refunded 
and the promissory note of one of the stockholders resid 
ing at Toledo taken for the amount. The books of this 
institution showed a circulation to the amount of $13,210 7 
"but upon strict inquiry and investigation/' says the 
report, "it was ascertained that the sum of six thousand 
two hundred dollars or thereabout, was in the hands of 
two individuals for exchange purposes, which was not 
entered upon the books of the bank among the issues and 
for which no charge of indebtedness was made to any 
individuai nor security taken." Later when the books 
disclosed circulation to the amount of $22,642, outside 
investigation revealed actual circulation to the amount 
of $42,363, with specie on hand to the amount of $34.20. 
The Bank of Brest ultimately disclosed methods that 
have never yet been surpassed in the realm of financial 
chicanery. An exaipination of the bank at one time dis 
closed $9,754.92 in actual gold and silver in its safe, a 


small book showing a memorandum to the effect that 
$7,497 of the amount had been paid in the day previous 
by Lewis Godard, one of the bank's principal promoters. 
A second examination ten days later showed that two 
days following the first examination, Godard had dis 
counted his note at the bank for $7 ,500 and had been paid 
in the bills of the bank, that the bills had at once been ' 
passed to another individual who repassed them over the 
counter and had them redeemed in specie, the specie at 
that time being reduced to $138.89. Among the loans 
of this institution was one for $16,000, secured by two 
bonds executed by the same Lewis G-odard, accompanied 
by a mortgage upon one hundred and eighteen village 
lots in the village of Brest. This mortgage was subse 
quently assigned by the bank to the Brest Company, for 
the reason, as stated in the resolution ordering the 
assignment, that the Brest Company had received no con 
sideration from the bank for the same. While the gen 
eral books of this concern showed circulation to the 
amount of $39,425, the little memorandum book showed 
other bills in Godard ? s hands to the amount of $19,816, 
and $25,000 more in the hands of one Lyman A. Spalding 
of Lockport, New York. 

Numerous other instances alike in character and vary 
ing only in degree could be cited showing the utter aban-, 
don with which the "high financiers 7 ' of 1838 did their 
Work. In speaking of another phase of the frauds prac 
ticed, Hon. Alpheus Felch has said, "The discounted 
paper of the bank was found in many instances to be 
deficient in amount. Some of its was of a character to 
excite grave suspicions as to its genuineness. It was 
largely given by the officers of the bank or*by the indi- 


viduals who had been active in the organization of it, and 
who controlled its action. The same individuals some 
times controlled several banks, some being directors in 
one an,d some in another of them, and their names 
appearing on the discounted paper to large amounts in 
all of them. Many of these individuals were entirely 
irresponsible and their paper worthless. In some 
instances discounted paper had been withdrawn with no 
substitute for it. In the frenzy of the times banks be 
came a subject of repeated sale and transfer, and in 
some cases the retiring stockholders sometimes took to 
themselves the discounted paper of the bank, and the 
new proprietors furnished a substitute therefor. In 
one instance, on such a transfer, promissory notes to the 
amount of nearly $100,000 were withdrawn and new 
paper substituted, the former of which was subsequently 
declared by an investigating committee of the house of 
representatives 'to be good, and the latter worthless, if 
not forged.' " 

Aside from the transactions of dubious character in 
which certain of the banking association were actively 
engaged, their locations were in many instances impeach 
ments of the honesty of their purposes and intentions. 
Detroit with nearly ten thousand population out of a 
total of one hundred and seventy-five thousand in the 
State and, commercially speaking, constituting a far 
larger proportion of the State than even its population 
would indicate, had 'one banking association organized 
under the 'general banking law. It was the Detroit City 
Bank, born December 26, 1837, capitalized at $200,000, 
and although its officers and directors,, as has been said, 
"were the- best known and most influential of Detroit 


citizens, " it too began life under a cloud, for in its $60,000 
of capital paid in there was $20,673 of tlie suspicious 
specie certificate. Of the remaining banks it is perhaps 
safe to say that fully two-thirds of the number were 
located in the villages of less than five hundred people 
each, while a number were located in places of too recent 
settlement and too limited population to find place in 
Blois' Gazetteer of 1838. That the village of Brest, on 
Stony Creek seven miles from Monroe, where broad ave 
nues and shipping facilities had been marked upon an 
attractive plat by the ambitious Brest Company but 
where as yet not twenty families lived, should have been 
selected as the site of a bank of $100,000 capitalization, 
and that it could have prosecuted its organization with : 
out exciting the derision of press and people, goes further 
in disclosing the public temper and the general knowl 
edge of the science of banks and banking than a volume 
of detail could do. But Brest with its bank, its malaria 
and mosquitos could boast all the metropolitan advan 
tages of the village of Barry on Sandstone Creek in 
Jackson County, or of Singapore, the name which desig 
nated the place where the Kalamazoo Eiver enters Lake 
Michigan, of Kensington located in the sylvan recesses 
of southwestern Oakland County, or of Shiawassee or 
whatever name was given to the forest location of the 
Exchange Bank in Shiawassee County when the whole 
county had a population of less than twelve hundred. 
Gibraltar, Sharon, Superior, G-bodrich Mills, Palmyra 
and Auburn were widely scattered villages whose enter 
prising citizens organized banking associations and 
became partakers of the blessings that were .supposed to 
flow from the free competition in their activities. In 


the list might likewise well be included the cities of 
Grand Rapids, Saginaw and many another that long 
siace cast off its village limitations, for in that time 
Grand Rapids had a population of less than one thou 
sand while Saginaw could not yet number four hundred. 
The nominal capital of the forty banking associations 
which perfected their organizations and went into oper 
ation totaled $3,115,000. H^d the law been observed it 
would have required $934,500 in specie distributed in 
their respective vaults to be held for the redemption 
of their circulation. Many of the banking associations 
were under the control of honest me:p, who purposed to 
conduct an honorable business. The general public had 
likewise disposed to look with favor upon their 
when the first few weeks of their 
Iiad brought a perceptible although delusive 
measure of relief through the inflation of the currency 
which for a short time circulated on the basis of public 
confidence. But the frauds that characterized some of 
the associations were soon known and the public began 
to view the new currency with suspicion. The Legisla 
ture, responsive to public sentiment, began the consider 
ation of various measures affecting particular banks as 
well as all banks in general The banks themselves soon 
took notice of the rising tide of disapproval, and as 
those organized and conducted with the most honest 
purpose had discovered certain defects in the law as 
well as in the unfavorable general conditions under 
which they labored, a general meeting of the representa 
tives of the banking associations was called, for the 
discussion of subjects of muttial interest as well as to 
promote unity of action. TMs , gathering, generally 


referred to at the time as "The Currency Meeting or 
Banking Convention," assembled at Detroit the 21st day 
of February, 1838, and continued in session until the 
evening of the 24th. Thirty-six or thirty-seven banking 
associations were represented, being practically the 
whole number in the State at the time. Although their 
deliberations and proceedings were in secret, they gave 
to the public the general results of their meeting in a 
series of resolutions, which were to the effect that they 
would co-operate with the chartered banks of the State 
in the early resumption of specie payment ; their recom 
mendation in that regard was that the time to be fixed 
should be within thirty days after the time fixed in: neigh 
boring States. They recommended that all banks, under 
the general law, contract their issue as speedily as possi 
ble, and declared their conviction that expansion was 
then both unsafe and inexpedient. They sought to per 
fect arrangements whereby the notes of all the associa 
tions represented should be bankable at some one of the 
banking institutions in the city of Detroit. They 
appointed a committee to investigate the actual situa 
tion of the various institutions under the general bank 
ing law and pledged their mutual aid and support to 
all such as should be found solvent. A delegate was 
selected to attend a national convention in New York 
in April. t But perhaps their most important action was 
the adoption of a memorial to the Governor and Legisla- 
lature, to the effect that the banking associations be 
allowed to become the purchasers of the whole or a por 
tion of the bonds of the five million dollar loan, then 
being negotiated for the purposes of internal improve 
ment, upon their furnishing satisfactory security there- 


for, the purpose of the desired purchase being that the 
associations might thereby obtain eastern credit. This 
memorial, signed by the representatives of the various 
banking associations, was published in pamphlet form 
and given extended circulation, in the evident hope of 
creating sentiment in favor of the proposition as being 
in the interest of domestic institutions. 

The press generally spoke in complimentary terms 
of the Convention and its work, the Advertiser saying 
editorially among other things, "In our judgment the 
designs of the meeting were highly honorable and patri 
otic, and so far from wishing to injure or discredit 
any banking institution in the State, it was their ardent 
desire to improve and sustain the whole currency. ' ' The 
Free Press observed that "The Convention was com 
posed of some of the soundest and most intelligent busi 
ness men of the State, and their proceedings were marked 
with a unanimity of sentiment in favor of making every 
practicable exertion to insure a safe currency to the peo 
ple of this State which promises well for the future." 

The Governor on February 27 transmitted the memo 
rial to the Legislature with an accompanying message, 
wherein he took occasion to restate some of the advan 
tages which he believed would accrue from a State bank, 
which he suggested "might by a judicious arrangement 
with the associations for the periodical redemption of 
their bills to be an effectual agent in restoring confidence 
in our currency," The main idea of the memorial how 
ever he adroitly but none the less positively opposed, 
saying, "I should object to a sale of State stock as 
asked by the memorialists; as calculated to affect the 
credit of the State and to depredate the value of the 


stock by bringing it into the market through too many 
different channels. " Needless to say, no results came 
either from the action of the Convention or from, the 
G-overnor's message other than to call attention to a 
question regarding which there was already rapidly 
growing feelings of doubt and distrust 

The Banking Commissioners were now energetically 
prosecuting their duties, and the revelations that were 
soon made through their efforts as well as through 
reports the banks were required to make in pursuance 
of a legislative resolution of February 2, 1838, were 
shaking confidence in every institution that bore the 
name of bank as it had not been shaken before, the weak 
est and the worst in a measure giving character to the 
whole. The suggestive terms of "wild cat," "torn cat," 
"mad cat," and "red dog" now began to be applied 
to the bills of the various banking institutions accord 
ing to the financial solvency of the institution from which 
they emanated. ' Almost in a day the general public that 
for weeks had been parting with the dearly bought 
products of their thrift and toil awoke to a realization, 
that for it all, they held only the dubious promises of 
still more dubious institutions. An Ingham County 
pioneer sojourning at the time in Detroit, on March 15, 
recorded in his diary the following graphic recital of 
conditions: "Since the Canadian question has received 
its quietus', by dispersing the ' Patriots/ nothing is talked 
*ef but the 'wild cat' banks, some of which are showing 
the stuff they are made of, and proving themselves rotten 
to the core. There is scarcely a single one of the whole 
number whose bills will be received at the stores for 
goods, while many a farmer has sold his produce and 


some even their farms for the worthless trash. Most 
of the laborers and mechanics hold all their receipts 
and earnings for the last six months in these worthless 
rags which they cannot use. We hear almost daily of 
the arrest of presidents, directors and cashiers for fraud 
and injunctions placed upon the banks. " 

While the above may in some particulars be overdrawn, 
the banks had nevertheless reached a condition such that 
the Legislature on April 3 passed and two days later the 
Governor approved a law suspending the general bank 
ing law for a period of one year as to such associations 
as had not gone into operation or complied with certain 
requirements which the law specified. Many a man who 
had invested his honest savings in banks operated by 
clever rogues now sought to divest himself of his hold 
ings and to pass his loss to another. Banks became as 
has been already said, "the objects of frequent sale." 
The names of certain gentlemen of Detroit later appeared 
frequently in the reports in connection with certain finan 
cial activities of this character in a relation anything 
but honorable. The bills were at a great discount as 
compared with the issues of eastern banks or with' even 
the chartered banks of the State, while there was like 
wise a wide diversity in the rate of discount as between 
the different associations. Brokers in Detroit and a few 
other places di$ a thriving business in exchanging the 
various kinds 9! money. No one took it without a pur 
pose to pass it on for either property or other bills of 
supposed greater vaine. In the language of Judge 
Thomas M. Cooley, "No emoting medium ever before 
circulated so rapidly." Sometimes the bills were taken 
to the distant places in netghfc^ring States where their 


ill-fame had not preceded them and use as the considera 
tion for whatever the people 'were willing to part with. 
Sometimes the holder hurried to the bank of issue to 
obtain redemption in whatever they had to offer. In 
Jackson County a story became current of a man who 
became possessed of a considerable sum in the bills of 
the bank of Sandstone. After his return from the primi 
tive village of Barry, where the bank was located and 
whither he had gone for the redemption of his currency 
he was said to have replied to the inquiry as to what he 
.received for his money, that for each ten-dollar bill he 
received a millstone; for each five-dollar bill a grind 
stone and for each two-dollar bill a whetstone. Through 
the succeeeding months the Commissioners applied 
themselves to the work of enforcing compliance to the 
law, to the discovery, exposure and prosecution of those 
guilty of frauds, to enjoining the corrupt and insolvent 
from the commission of further mischief, and to securing 
by bonds and mortgages as far as possible the liabilities 
of the various associations. It was during these investi 
gations that the public suspicions were confirmed and 
the thorough rottenness of many an institution was dis 

The summer of 1838 was one of abundant harvest, 
but the deranged condition of the finances had greatly 
reduced the price of the farmers' products when meas 
ured in specie and there began to be real distress 
throughout the State. Several county conventions were 
now called in the more populous counties of the State, 
at which after more or less deliberation tfesotutions 
were adopted and committees appointed as initiatory 
efforts for relief. The action of the Lenawee County 


Convention was fairly typical of the others and here they 
appointed a committee to await upon the Governor and 
request him to call an extra session of the Legislature to 
expedite the incorporation of a State bank, and to divert 
the moneys appropriated for internal improvements, or 
if this could not be done to obtain authority for a three 
million dollar issue of State scrip to be sold in some for 
eign market and the proceeds loaned to the citizens of 
the State. Numerous petitions were circulated in various 
parts of the State and forwarded to the Governor asking 
for similar action. To these appeals the Governor made 
answer through the means afforded by the public press, 
* arguing the impracticability of the measures suggested 
as calculated to afford any immediate relief, and pro 
ceeded at length to point out how the sale of State scrip 
and the loan of the proceeds to the citizens of the State 
"would be the most hazardous measure to the interests 
of the State we could possibly adopt/ 7 He likewise 
called attention to what was a plain but perhaps not alto 
gether welcome truth, by saying, "The debts we have 
contracted can only be liquidated by the slow process of 
productive labor. All expedients for creating additional 
banks, for shifting the debts of particular individuals 
from their shoulders to those of the State, which is the 
aggregate body of the people, will leave our debt still 
unpaid. The hard earnings, and industry of the people 
are -the only sources to which we can look with the hope 
of a certain and permanently beneficial result." 1 

The Bank Commissioners were now Kintzing Pritch- 
ette, Alpheus Felch, and Digby V. Bell, the last named 

1. Niles IntelUffmcer, Aug., 1838. 


gentleman having been appointed by the Governor upon 
thB resignation of Commissioner Fitzgerald who had 
been nominated and was subsequently elected a member 
of the Legislature. For the more systematic discharge 
of their labors, the Commissioners had subdivided the 
State into three divisions ; the first judicial circuit being 
given to Mr. Pritchette, the second to Mr. Felch, and 
the third to Mr. Bell. On January 18, 1839, shortly after 
the convening of the Legislature the Commissioners sub 
mitted to that body extended reports on the condition 
of the banks in their respective districts as well as a 
general report, the latter document in thought and com 
position reflecting the finished style of Kintzing Pritch- 
ette. In the retrospect in which this report indulged, 
a summary of the situation is presented that cannot well 
be improved upon. Says the report : 

"The feature of the Act which authorized banking 
under the suspension law, that is to say, giving the sanc 
tion of the law to the issue of promises to pay, not liable 
to redemption in gold and silver on demand, gave an 
irresistible impulse to their career, by opening the door 
for the debtor to liquidate his liabilities by transferring 
to the public at large his indebtedness to individuals. 
The result is well known, and it is believed, that it is not 
too strong language to assert, that no species of fraud, 
and evasion of law, which the ingenuity of dishonest cor 
porations has ever devised, have not been practiced under 
this Act. 

"The loan of specie from established corporations' 
became an ordinary traffic, and the same money set in 
motion a number of institutions. Specie certificates, veri 
fied by oath, were everywhere exhibited, although these 


very certificates had been cancelled at the moment of 
their creation, by a draft for a similar amount, and yet 
such subterfuges were pertinaciously insisted upon, as 
fair business transactions sanctioned by cutsom and 
precedent, Stock notes were given for subscriptions to 
stock and counted as specie, and thus not a cent of real 
capital actually existed, beyond the small sums paid in 
by the upright and suspecting farmer and mechanic, 
whose little savings and honest name were necessary to 
give confidence and credit. The notes of institutions thus 
constituted, were spread abroad upon the community, 
in every manner, and through every possible channel; 
property, produce, stock, farming implements and every 
thing which the people of the country were tempted by 
advanced prices to dispose of, were purchased and paid 
for in paper, which was known by the utterers to be 
absolutely valueless. Large amounts of notes were 
hypothecated for small advances, or loans of specie, to 
save appearances. Quantities of paper were drawn out 
by exchange checks, that is to say, checked out of the 
bank by individuals who had not a cent in the bank, 
with no security, beyond the verbal understanding, that 
the notes of other banks should be returned at some 
future time. Such are a* few, among the numberless 
frauds, which were in hourly commission. Thus a law 
which was established upon principles well digested and 
approved, and hedged around with so much care, and 
guarded with so many provisions, that few it was sup 
posed, would venture to bank t under it, became by base 
dishonesty and gross cupidity of a few, who had the 
control of the speeie of the country, nothing less than a 
machine of fraud. 


"The singular spectacle was presented by the officers 
of the State, seeking for banks in situations the most 
inaccessible and remote from trade, and finding at every 
step, an increase of labor by the discovery of new and 
unknown organizations. Before they could be arrested 
the mischief was done; large issues were in circulation 
and no adequate remedy for the evil. Gold and silver 
flew about the country with the celerity of magic; its 
sound was heard in the depth of the forest, yet, like the 
wind, one knew not whence it came nor whither it was 
going. Such were a few of the difficulties against which 
the Commissioners had to contend. The vigilance of a 
regiment of them would have been scarcely adequate 
against the host of bank emissaries, which scoured the 
country to anticipate their coming, and the indefatigable 
spies which hung upon their path, to which may be 
added perjuries, familiar as dicer's oaths, to baffle inves 
tigation. Painful and disgusting as the picture appears, 
it is neither colored nor overcharged, and falls far short 
of the reality/ The result of the experiment of free 
banking in Michigan, is, that at a low estimate, nearly a 
million of dollars of the notes of insolvent banks are due 
and unavailable in the hands of individuals. ' J 

To the argument that the banks had furnished the 
means of liquidating a large amount of debt, the report 
answered: "This may be true, but whose debts have 
they liquidated? Those of the crafty and the specula 
tive, and by whom? Let every poor man, from his little 
clearing and log hut in the woods, make the emphatic 
response, by holding up to view, as the rewards of his 
labor, a handful of promises to pay, which for his pur 
poses are "as valueless as a handful of dry leaves at his 


feet." The report proceeds to depict a state of public 
mind, that goes far towards explaining the tolerance 
with which the institutions were enabled to "prosecute 
their nefarious doings, when it says, "When we reflect, 
too, that the laws are ineffective in punishing the suc 
cessful swindler, and that the moral tone of society seems 
so far sunk as to surround and protect the dishonest 
and fraudulent with countenance and support, it impera 
tively demands that some legislative actions should be 
had to enable the prompt and vigorous enforcement of 
the laws, and the making severe examples of the guilty, 
no matter how protected or countenanced." The report 
pointed out many other evils that attended the general 
banking lay, and spoke in just words of praise ef cer 
tain institutions, "which had sustained themselves with 
honor and credit amid so many temptations and exam 
ples of fraud;" it unanimously recommended the repeal 
of the general banking law, and with like unanimity 
joined with the Governor in the recommendation of the 
incorporation of a State bank, under the control of the 
State itself, which they urged should be subject at all 
times to the most rigid scrutiny, and to the strictest 
guard against the tendency of banks to lend too much 
and put too many notes in circulation, which they 
declared to be "the fruitful source of so much evil. ' > 

Some authors, biased by partisan fervor, have sought 
to take sentences from the Governor's message to the 
Legislature of 1839^ and use them as proof that he had 
stood sponsor for a system that had brought the State 
to the verge of bankruptcy and ruin. The message bears 
no such construction. In it the Governor said, "No State 
perhaps, has suffered more from the evils of a deranged 

Kalamazoo lawyer and politician. Mem 
ber of the State Legislature in 1842, later 
in Congress, ana holder of many public 
offices of trust. 

Member of the State Legislature, 1840-41, 

From oil painting in State Capitol. 


currency than our own. A most serious and responsible 
portion of your legislative labors, therefore, consists 
in supplying an effectual remedy against the disastrous 
scenes of the past year. Let your attention be diligently 
directed to this object, for experience has shown that 
neither a regard for the -rights of the people, a sense 
of moral obligation, nor a respect for the injunctions 
of the laws' of the land are sufficient to restrain banks 
in the abuse of public trust." And again he says, "It 
may be a question worthy of serious consideration 
whether the high power of stamping paper as a substi 
tute for the currency recognized by the Federal Consti 
tution should ever have been conferred upon a private 
corporation." The Governor's recommendations in the 
message of 1839 as in the message of 1838 was for a State 
bant modeled on the plan of the State bank of Indiana, 
which, as already stated, during its whole career was an 
efficient agent for the purposes of its organization. A 
bill to incorporate such an institution, to be known as 
the State Bank of Michigan, was introduced in the House 
at this session by Mr. Fitzgerald, late banking commis 
sioner, and after long discussion passed that body by a 
vote of 40 to 6 and the Senate by a vote of 10 to 2. It 
received the approval of the Governor "on the 2nd day 
of April. The Act provided for a bank of two million 
dollars capital with nine branches, which by a sup 
plemental Act were to be located at Detroit, Monroe, 
Adrian, Ann Arbor, Niles, Jackson, Pontiac, Mt. Clemens 
and Marshall. One-half of the capital was to be sub 
scribed by the State and one-half by individuals. The 
bill was carefully drawn and hedged about by every 
provision which the experience of Michigan and neigh- 


States could suggest. The affairs of the central 
were placed tinder control of a Board of Directors 
chosen by the Legislature. The selection of this Board 
precipitated a spirited contest, resulting in the choice of 
John S. Barry, John Biddle, Charles Noble; Eobert H. 
Stuart* G. W. Jermain, B. F. H. Witherell, Zina Pitcher 
and Edward Mundy. Q-overnor Mason and many others 
had high expectations of the success that was to follow 
the work of this institution 2 and indeed the care with 
which the Act was prepared and the high character of 
tie men selected to conduct its affairs were a strong guar 
antee for it; but it was destined never to go into 
operation. The Act contained a provision to the effect 
that if the capital stock was not subscribed and the bank 
organized by February 1, 1840, the Act should be null 
and void. A strenuous effort was made to organize the 
institution, but the financial gloom that had settled upon 
the people and the succeeding change in political con 
trol of the State made the securing of the requisite cap 
ital an impossibility, and the only banking project for 
which the Governor stood committed failed of realization. 
Great as "was the need, the people seemed to have little 
courage to work out new banking experiments. The 
Legislature passed and the Governor approved an Act 
repealing the so-called general banking law and impos 
ing serious penalties upon the perpetration of certain 
frauds in coipiedion with the banking business ; but the 
havoc was akeady wrought. Even as the Legislature 
acted, the report of the Attorney General showed twenty- 
nine banks under injunction, and by the close of the year 

Howe Doo, No. 29, 1830. 


the number had reached forty-two. A few associations 
that had prudently abstained from an over-issue of bills 
and discounted only good paper wound up their affairs 
and paid their obligations in full; but the great mass of 
the bills was a loss to the holders. The last hope of the 
billholders vanished when the Supreme Court of the 
State in 1844 declared the general banking law to be 
unconstitutional. It was a somewhat curious coincidence 
that Charles W. Whipple who was speaker of the House 
of Representatives when the law was enacted should later 
have been the judge to deliver the opinion declaring the 
law unconstitutional and that Hon. Alpheus Felch, late 
Banking Commissioner, should have been one of the 
judges to concur in the decision, and that the attorney 
to present the question before the court should have been 
Mr. Theodore Bomeyn, a Detroit lawyer of exceptional 
ability, but a man nevertheless whose name had been 
connected in no enviable relation as stockholder, direc 
tor and general promoter of some of the wildest of the 
"wild cat" banks of Michigan. 

In the decision of the case, Judge "Whipple took occa 
sion to say, "It is to be lamented that the grave question 
we are now called upon to decide, was not presented to 
this court at an earlier period, and immediately after 
the passage of the obnoxious Act. Our decision would 
have stayed the torrent which has swept over the State 
with effects so desolating and preserved individual and 
State credit from the stigma and reproach which befell 

By the decision, the unconscionable promoter escaped 
liability, and it was this consideration which caused the 


Judge to add, "I regret that the question has now been 
forced upon our notice, satisfied as I am, that the public 
interest under existing circumstances would be best pro 
moted by sustaining the law.'" 

3. Green ^ Graves, I Doug, Midi. 372, see also, Brooks vs. JSUl t 



coming of the spring days of 1837 found the 
commissioners of the Board of Internal Improve 
ment in active preparation for the prosecution of the 
great work entrusted to their care. On the first day of 
May following their nomination and election, they pro 
ceeded to organize by appointing Justus Burdick presi 
dent, John M. Barbour auditor, Kintzing Pritchette sec 
retary, and David C. McKinstry, Levi S. Humphrey and 
James B. Hunt as acting commissioners. The chartered 
rights of the Detroit and St. Joseph Eailroad Company 
and all its equipment was at once purchased and taken 
over by the Commissioners on behalf of the State, while 
they at the same time busied themselves in the purchase 
of instruments, the hiring of engineers and the multi 
farious details incident to the survey of three railroads, 
as many canals, and likewise as many river improvement 
projects. The greater portion of the work was to be 
prosecuted in regions where it was necessary to trans 
port with difficulty even the simplest and most common 
place essentials of the work as well as the means of 
sustenance for both men and beasts, when they were not 
supplied by meadows and forests. 

The various projects were parceled among the three 
acting commissioners, Levi S. Humphrey taking the sur 
vey. of the Southern Railroad, the Havre Branch Eail 
road and the St. Joseph River ; David C. McKinstry was 


given the construction of the Central road from Detroit 
to Ypsilanti, being the work under process of construc 
tion by the Detroit and St. Joseph Company, the survey 
of the remainder of the Central route and of the Kala- 
mazoo and Grand Eivers; while James B. Hunt was 
assigned the survey of the canal or canal and railroad 
from Mt. Clemens to the mouth of the Kalamazoo Eiver, 
the Northern Railroad, and the canal connecting the 
navigable waters of the Saginaw and Maple Eivers. 
Governor Mason, under authority conferred, appointed 
John Almy of Grand Eapids, a trained and capable engi 
neer, to make a survey tpgether with estimates of the 
cost of construction of a canal around the Fall of the 
St. Mary. 

Chief engineers were appointed for each of the major 
enterprises, and in early June each with a company of 
subordinates and assistants with trailing pack horses 
bearing provisions and equipment could have been seen 
wending their diverging ways from Detroit to the State's 
interior where they were to blaze the way for the rail 
ways and canals that were expected as if by magic to 
transform the forests into gardens and fruitful fields. 

Through the summer, autumn and even into the early 
winter the surveying parties pushed on their work with 
occasional visits from the Commissioners who when not 
upon their assigned work were in attendance upon 
monthly meetings or engaged in the discharge of the 
numerous details such projects involved. On the Central 
road the work of actual construction which had been 
begun by the Detroit and St. Joseph Company was taketi 
up and pushed forward with an enerrv that 


speedy opening of traffic between the cities of Detroit 
and Ypsilanti. 

On January 23, 1838, the Board of Commissioners 
of Internal Improvement made its first report to the 
Legislature. It is an exceedingly interesting document, 
containing as it does the reports of the several engi 
neers on the various works committed to them. Not a 
few have commented on the State's projects of internal 
improvement in terms of ridicule; but the report dis 
closes that to men of scientific and technical training 
they appealed with as much persuasion as to the settler 
in the remote clearing or isolated village who was shut 
off from markets and the centers of population by long 
miles of well-nigh impassable roads. It has been said with 
truth that the enterprises were far in advance of the 
economic needs of the State and that their magnitude 
was greatly underestimated; but it should be borne in 
mind that the projects were designed as much to promote 
State growth and development as to serve the purpoaes 
of the people already here. It is likewise true that the 
cost of the various works from lack of experience and 
reliable data in such constructions was much underesti 
mated, still it should be remembered that the estimates 
were made upon the primitive plans of the pioneer and 
not upon the bnes now required to meet the demands of 
a vast and ponderous traffic. Nor with a policy of State 
wide internal improvement determined upon was it 
strange, as we shall see, that canals and river improve 
ments also found favor among the projects proposed. 

Of the works surveyed and projected, the railways per 
haps deserve first mention. The Northern road seems to 


have been located with little trouble, possibly because 
there were very few people along its proposed route 
to raise contention. The Legislature had enacted that 
the eastern terminus should be either Palmer (St. Glair) 
or the mouth of Black River (Port Huron). Palmer 
citizens made a very active campaign for the location, 
but the Commissioners ultimately fixed upon the more 
northern point, for the reason that it afforded better 
harbor facilities and was for the better accommodation 
of the northern tier of counties; another consideration 
and perhaps the most important one was, that by locat 
ing at the mouth of Black River, the eastern terminus 
of the road would be brought in opposition to the western 
terminus of the road from Lake Ontario to Port Sarnia, 
which was then being agitated* in Canada and indeed 
was located from Hamilton to London. The engineers' 
report fully set forth the force of this consideration, 
and shows how little they foresaw that the great city 
of the West which like a magnet was to draw the course 
of commerce to itself was to be at the southern extreme 
of Lake Michigan. Says the report: "It appears obvi 
ous that the road is to be constructed, not only for the 
accommodation of the inhabitants in the immediate vicin 
ity of the route and adjacent district, but also as an 
es^estiai link in the great chain of railroads finished or 
in progress,, from New York and Boston to the valley of 
the Mississippi and the far West. It is in fact almost 
a direct line to pass from Albany on the great thorough 
fare through the principal cities of western New York, 
thence through Canada by the Great Western Railroad 
to the St. Clair River; and thence through the geograph 
ical center of Michigan by the Northern Railroad to L^ke 


Michigan; thence to Milwaukee and Cassville in the cen 
ter of the mining district on the Mississippi." The 
engineers offered further argument in support of the 
-project by saying, "The road when constructed will 
receive a very large share of the constantly increasing 
travel through this State east and west." 

From the mouth of Black River the road was located 
to the. west in the language of the report, "passing 
through, or as near as the interest of the State would 
permit, to the villages of Lapeer, Flint, Owosso or 
Corunna, or to both places ; thence to the mouth of the 
Maple and keeping on the south side of Grand Eiver, to 
the village of Grand Rapids." "Here, says the report, 
"good navigation for steamboats to the mouth of the 
river commences and no necessity at present exists for 
making a railroad by the side of a navigable river." 

The survey and estimate, however, was made to Grand 
Haven, at the mouth of the river. The distance was 
found to be 201 miles and 36 chains, and the cost of con 
struction was estimated at $1,409,015.75, or $6,994.36 per 
mile, of which ^$3,973 per mile was estimated for the 
wooden superstructure or strap-rail construction into 
which the iron-rail plate at $85 per ton went as the most 
expensive single item. These estimates were for a single 
track road without station houses or, equipment. The 
engineers stated as their emphatic belief that the esti 
mates "were amply sufficient with proper economy to 
construct the work on the plans proposed," and they 
were equally confident that by the use of a certain block 
construction, hereinafter described in the construction of 
the Central road, the cost could be still further materially 


In locating the route of the Southern road, the Board 
of Commissioners was beset with difficulties and con 
fronted with rivalries that had been entirely absent at 
the north. No less than four different lines were run 
through the southern tier of counties at the instance 
either of the Commissioners or in response to petitions 
from rival localities. The villages of Tecumseh, Jones- 
ville and Mies were especially insistent for themselves 
if not in opposition to more southern points. After 
listening to many arguments at numerous hearings, the 
Commissioners approved a route, the eastern terminus 
of which in the language, of the report, "commenced on 
the navigable waters of the Eiver Baisin, and running 
through the city of Monroe to the limits of said town." 
It then proceeded westward passing through the villages 
of Adrian, Hillsdale, Coldwater, Mason, Branch, Center- 
viHe, Constantine, Motville,, Adainsville, Edwardsburg, 
Bertrand and terminated at New Buffalo. Several of 
these villages which have long since ceased to exist were 
then thriving places of industry whose ambitious citi 
zens looked forward to the time when wealth would 
come to them and added numbers to their villages with 
the advent of the railroad. The line as projected was 
18& miles in length and its estimated cost was $1,496,- 
37639. *Ebe sain^e survey embraced the Havre Branch 
Eailrcmd, a piec^ of road 12.9 miles in length designed 
to connect the Brie and KaJamazoo Railroad with the 
ephemeral "city" of Havre, a point upon Lake Erie a 
short distant north of the Ohio line. The estimated 
cost of this project, which was designed to create another 
Toledo upon soil that was unquestionably in Michigan, 
was but the modest sum of $82,043. Theje is a certain 


humor in the frank statement of the Commissioners as to 
what they considered the most cogent argument in favor 
of the location of the road as near the State line as 
possible. Says the report: "One of the principal argu 
ments in favor of the Southern road at the time of the 
adoption of our present system of internal improvements 
by the Legislature was, that unless our State was first 
in the field, the States of Ohio and Indiana would probably 
construct a road from Toledo to Michigan City along the 
southern boundary of our State and divert the traveling 
community from our thoroughfare; thus not only com 
pletely isolating us, but compelling a large portion of 
our citizens to find a market for their produce in those 
States/' The report adds, "The Commissioners con 
sider the argument a forcible one in favor of the most 
southern location as well as of the Southern road itself." 
As already stated, the greater energy had been 
expended upon the Central road, undoubtedly because 
at the time the work was undertaken by the State the 
line was already in progress under the Detroit and St. 
Joseph Company. At the time of the sale by the com 
pany to the State, the company had a right of way one 
hundred feet in width cleared through the forest as far 
as Tpsilanti, and from Detroit westward approximately 
thirteen miles of roadbed graded after the fashion of 
the railroads of that period. At the date of the report 
the Commissioners had so far completed their work that 
a depot had been established on the Campus Martius; 
cars were running regularly to Dearborn with a promise 
from the authorities that in early February traffic would 
be opened to Ypsilanti. "While work was in progress 
upon the line from Detroit to Ypsilanti, surveyors were 


also at work from the latter town westward. The line 
which they marked and estimated was practically the 
route npon which the Central road was later constructed, 
except that from Kalamazoo the line was projected 
direct to the month of the St. Joseph. The length of the 
road from Honey Creek, a point near Ypsilanti, to the 
month of the St. Joseph was found to be 153 miles. The 
first thirty miles of the road from Detroit to Ypsilanti 
showed a cost of $298,506.23. The remainder it was esti 
mated would entail a cost of $1,381,040.90, a sum that 
did not seem unreasonable in view of the cost of the com 
pleted portion. 

As thfc line between Detroit and Ypsilanti was for much 
of the way over lands of a damp and springy nature, the 
engineers had recourse to a somewhat novel plan of con 
struction, which :was likewise recommended for use upon 
both the Northern and Southern roads as the "block 
system." The system would hardly be adapted to the 
uses of the modern railroad over which are transported 
fast freight and limited express ; but it was considered 
an engineering achievement of exceptional merit in that 
day, being used not only upon the Central but upon some 
of the roads of western New York as well. The mode 
adopted as described in the report of the engineer was 
as follows : 

"Holes were dug to the solid ground, at distances of 
eight feet from center to center lengthwise, and five feet 
from center to center crosswise of the road; these holes 
were from six inches to two feet deep, between which 
distances is found, with few exceptions either sand, clay 
or gravel. Blocks sawed with parallel ends at right 
angles to their length not less than two feet in diameter, 


and cut in lengths to suit the grade, are set endwise in 
the pits, and well settled in their places by ramming, 
the tops being from eight to ten inches below the grade 
line. Timbers of sixteen, twenty-four, thirty-two and 
forty feet in length, dressed upon one side to line, and 
of such size as to square not less than twelve inches 
are then spotted on to the blocks in such a manner as 
to rest fairly and equally upon them, and having their 
dressed surfaces correspond exactly with the established 
grade. These timbers when placed present two^parallel 
strings, five feet apart from center to center throughout 
the entire length, and with the blocks form the foundation 
of the road. Such portions of the embankment as can 
be made from the side of the road, may now be done, 
although it is not advisable to cover the stringers until 
the ties and rails are laid. In cuts the blocks are dis 
pensed with, and timbers hewed on two sides, or sawed 
timbers from the mills, are bedded in parallel trenches. 
In two places where hard bottom could not be found 
short of from five or six feet, piles have been substituted 
for blocks; and also in one instance where the roadway 
is elevated from twelve to fourteen feet; these places 
will be embanked. 

"The stringers and sills being laid, cross-ties framed 
in the usual way are placed three feet apart from center 
to center, and spiked to the sills at each end with a six- 
inch wrought spike. White oak rails, five by seven 
inches, are placed and firmly wedged in the gains of the 
cross-ties. This being done, the upper surface of the 
rail is dressed to a line in exact parallelism with the 
established grade, and about three-fourth of an inch 
champered off the inside. 


"The timbers are now ready_or-the iron bars, which 
are fastened with 4% inch pressed spikes; connecting 
plates one-fourth of an inch thick, six inches long and 
of the width of the bar are used tinder the joints. The 
iron bars used are 2% x % inch, fifteen feet long. 

"The structure being completed in this way, the 
embankments are finished and carried up within three 
inches of the irons and having a width of fifteen feet 
at top and slopes of 1% base, to one in height. The 
width of the track is four feet 8y 2 inches measured 
between the inner edges of the irons. 

"Upon the graded road, and through cuts, sills sawed 
5 x 12 inches or if dressed out along the line, not less than 
6x10, and of any convenient length have been bedded 
in two parallel trenches with connecting planks 2 x 12 
and not less than three feet long under the ends. The 
ties, rails and irons are then placed and secured to the 
sills and the grading completed as above. 

"Either of the plans above described are believed to 
be as permanent as a timber road can be made and both 
of them possess more than ordinary strength. The block 
road is sufficiently firm to travel on at a moderate rate 
without grading, and when graded the settling of the 
earth around the timbers will not only add very mate 
rially to the strength of .the road but effectually prevents 
any tendency to derangement from the rapid passage of 
heavy trains. " 

Such was. the construction of the old "strap rail" road, 
of short life and unpleasan^ memory. It has been, usual 
to say that the railroads projected by the St^te could 
not have been constructed for five timeg the five million 
dollars appropriated by the ambitious Legislature; yet 


in actual demonstration, as has been said,, the thirty miles 
of road between Detroit and Ypsilanti including depots 
and equipment sufficient for the pioneer demand was at a 
cost of less than ten thousand dollars per mile ; showing 
that, when we consider the abundance of timber and the 
topography of the country, the estimates of the engineers 
on both the Northern and Southern and remaining por 
tion of the Central were not so inadequate as we have 
been led to believe, but woefully inadequate if we apply 
them to the roads which a few years' development 
showed were required to meet the demands of inland 

To many people of a later day the spectacle of a com 
monwealth building railroads where as yet few if any 
people lived and where likewise commercial demands had 
-not arisen therefor, has been taken as something of an 
anomaly; but still more anomalous has it seemed, that 
just as the country was beginning to appreciate the pos 
sibilities of railway transportation they should have 
made substantial appropriations for the digging of 
canals and for making navigable the tortuous channels 
of the Kalamazoo, the St. Joseph and the Grand Eivers. 
These projects have been made the subject of much ridi 
cule by some who have given them written attention; 
but when we consider them in connection with the experi 
ences of the people, they become projects that are neither 
strange nor unreasonable, much less ridiculous; the 
Erie Canal with its 352 miles of length and 568 feet rise 
from Albany to Buffalo had cost $7,600,000, and its prac 
tical benefits had been brought under the personal obser 
vation of more than one-half the people of Michigan, 
Ohio was at this time vigorously prosecuting work upon 


charge its commerce into Lake St. Glair, was planned 
to intersect the Kalamazoo Eiver at Allegan and have a 
total length of two hundred and sixteen miles and 
seventy-eight chains. It is interesting to note that by the 
survey, the summit level of this proposed canal was 
found to be a quarter of a mile west of the city of Pontiac, 
and within thirty miles of Lake St. Clair. From here 
a level of a little more than forty-two miles to the west 
ward was secured that was 344.61 feet above the surface 
of the waters of Lake St. Glair, and 336.11 above the 
waters of Lake Michigan, requiring a lockage of 349.61 
feet on the eastern, and 341.11 on the western declivity. 
The estimates showed 27,313 cubic feet of water per 
minute required to supply the canal, with more than 
98,846 cubic feet per minute available; while upon the 
summit level, 8,915 cubic feet per minute was available, 
to supply a demand of 4,833 cubic feet per minute. Later 
a survey was made from a point on the original line two 
miles west of Howell down the valley of the Cedar and 
Lookingglass Eivers to the Grand at Lyons, a route that 
was thought to offer greater advantages both as to cost 
of construction and extent of country to be served. Both 
surveys were made upon the basis of a canal 32.5 feet 
width of bottom, fifty feet at top water line, with five 
feet depth. Such a canal it was estimated could be con 
structed at from sixteen to eighteen thousand dollars 
per mile. 

The Northern or Saginaw Canal by which it was pro 
posed to connect the waters of the Maple with those of 
Bad Elver and thus make connection with the waters of 
the Grand and Saginaw Eivers, while a far less ambitious 
scheme than the Clinton and Kalamazoo, yet because 


of its seeming practicability was looked upon with 
much fayor at that time and has continued a subject of 
some interest to the present time. The project contem 
plated the improvement of nearly seven miles of the 
channel of Bad River at an estimated cost of $57,829.38, 
and a connecting canal 13 and 65/100 miles long through 
the intervening ridge. This canal was designed to have 
a water-line width of forty-five feet with a depth of four 
feet, to cross the divide with seven locks, and to be 
constructed at a cost of $121,830.24. A more extensive 
improvement was suggested, at an increase of some thirty 
thousand dollars in cost. 

The report upon the St. Mary's Canal, which Governor 
Mason had likewise caused to be surveyed, disclosed 
favorable conditions. Engineer Alma reported a dif 
ference in elevation to be overcome of 18 feet for which 
he recommended a canal 4,560 feet in length, the same to 
have a width of seventy-five feet at the surface, a bottom 
width of 'fifty feet, with a depth of ten feet in the rock 
cuts. Three locks were provided, with dimensions of 
one hundred feet in the clear for length and thirty-two 
feet for width, with average lifts of six feet each. Such 
locks the engineer asserts "will accommodate the largest 
class of sail vessels now used on any of our lakes." This 
work it was the confident assertion of the engineer could 
be executed for $112,544.80 ; the only item of the estimate 
upon wMch he expressed doubt being the cost of labor 
at a point so far removed from the centers of population. 

The third field of effort for works of internal improve 
ment was to be in the improvement of some of the rivers 
of the State, that they might serve jthe purposes of com 
merce for light crafts. This was to' be done by removing 


drift wood and sand bars, "by the construction at certain 
points of side cuts for the passage of rapids and at other 
places by a series of dams with locks to provide for what 
was known as " slack- water navigation." These projects 
were likewise but the evolution of more primitive 
attempts to make these natural highways of use to the 
people. The early settler penetrated to the interior of 
the State, especially upon the western shore, by either 
the Grand, the St. Joseph or the Kalamazoo Eivers. 
These rivers from the first had served as important ave 
nues of commerce. As early as 1831 there had been 
steam navigation to the mouth of the St. Joseph. It 
became regular after 1834, at which time keel-boats,' 
"arks" and flat-boats began the navigation of the river; 
the Antelope, the Constantine and the St. Joseph, crafts 
of from 35 to 40 tons, being among the first. In the year 
mentioned the Constantine brought down the first cargo 
of wheat from Three Eivers. From here likewise came 
the " Kitty Kidango" and the "Three Eivers" a year 
or two later. These boats came down with the current 
and were either sold upon arriving at the river mouth or 
worked back by slow and painful process. Flat-boats 
capable of carrying as much as twenty barrels of flour 
were sometimes floated down, and after the discharge of 
their cargoes were drawn back by wagons. The steamer 
Newburyport reached Berrien Springs as early as 1832. 
Next came the Matilda Barney, a stern-wheeler, followed 
in 1834 by the David Crockett, a vessel of like construc 
tion drawing about three feet of water, wMch was 
wrecked upon a rock seven miles above Berrien Springs 
a year later. This boat was followed by the Patronage 
in 1836 or 1837 and by the Pocahontas in 1838. The 


Kalamazoo was likewise serving as a burden bearer, 
while upon the Grand at this time, through a canal or 
side cut around the rapids constructed as a private enter 
prise by the Kent company, steam crafts were bringing 
to the river mouth cargoes from as far inland as Lyons. 

Nothing could have been more natural than that the 
Legislature should have included these rivers within the 
scheme of internal improvement as projects likely to 
return large benefits for correspondingly small expendi 

The St. Joseph, which from Lake Michigan to Union 
City was found to have a length of one hundred and sixty 
miles, was found likewise to have all but forty-three 
miles of its length within the State of Michigan. The 
engineers' report upon this project comprehended some 
excavations, side cuts, the removal of drift wood and 
the construction of a series of 42 dams varying from two 
and one-half to five feet in height. By these improve 
ments it was estimated that five feet of water could be 
secured from St. Joseph to Three Rivers and three feet 
from Three Rivers to Union City. This work it was 
estimated could be done for $183,433.60 for that portion 
of the river within the State of Michigan, and $93,134.60 
for that portion of the river within the State of Indiana. 
With the details of this improvement the engineer sub 
mitted estimates for a canal four feet in depth and 
twenty-eight feet bottom from Union City to Homer, a 
distance of twenty miles, with a lockage of ninety-eight 
feet, to be constructed at a cost of $144,008.56 ; while a 
reconnoissance was made as far east as Dexter. The 
Kalamazoo was to be likewise improved, by a series of 
twenty-one dams having an aggregate height of seventy- 


five feet between Allegan and Kalamazoo, at a total cost 
of $125,924, and the Grand was to be given a full four- 
foot channel to the mouth of the Maple for $67,309.90; 
$43,751.40 being the estimated cost of passing the " grand 
rapids M at the village of that name. 

One of the secondary inducements held out in support 
of the improvements upon the St. Joseph and the Kala- 
mazoo was the vast amount of water-power that would 
come, thereby into the possession of the State, and which 
the engineers confidently asserted would exceed in value 
the cost of the entire improvemnts upon those rivers. 

The total or gross estimates of all the prospects upon 
which surveys were made showed a prospective cost of 
approximately nine million dollars, a little more than 
one-half being for the three lines of railway, a sum that 
was unquestionably much less than would have been 
required for the-ultimate completion of all the enter 
prises, even upon the meager scale upon which they were 

The scheme of internal improvements was fast disclos 
ing the inherent weaknesses that required pnly time to 
develop. It had started with the Governor recommend 
ing that the State become interested as a stockholder in 
certain of the leading enterprises that might be organ 
ized for the facilitating of transportation within the 
State to the end that the State might both encourage 
their construction and more effectually exert a controll 
ing influence upon them; but it ended by the State becom 
ing the sole proprietor, and prosecuting projects for 
which there was no present economic need in order to 
allay objection and secure support for other projects 
for which there might be said to be present economic 
necessity. As there h^d been contests between sections 


that each and all might partake of the benefits from 
improvements that were to be constructed at the expense 
of all, so now there began to be contests between locali 
ties of the same section for the location of the particular 
improvement that was no longer divisible. No sooner 
did the Board of Commissioners announce its determina 
tion as to the, location of a given improvement than a 
flood of remonstrances and petitions from disappointed 
citizens of other localities were sent to the Board, the 
Governor and the Legislature. The legislative session 
of 1838 had but just begun when petitions from citizens 
of the southwestern counties began to be presented, pray 
ing not only for a change in the location of the Southern 
road but for a legislative investigation of the action of 
the commissioners in the location they had made. Their 
petitions brought heavy remonstrances from Monroe and 
other localities. Resolutions by narrow votes passed the 
Legislature requiring the suspension of work upon the 
Southern road for thirty days, and of the letting of any 
contracts upon the Havre Branch until after the sixteenth 
of the following April,* while like resolutions suspending 
work upon the Northern road failed of passage by only a 
narrow margin. In the meantime, the work upon the 
Central was pushed with unabated vigor. To be ready 
for the inauguration of traffic, the Commissioners had 
before the close of navigation purchased and brought on 
from Messrs. Eaton and Gilbert of Troy, New. York, 
two passenger coaches which were not unlike the old 
stage coaches in outward appearance except they were 
somewhat larger, being designed to carry twenty-four 
passengers each. They were transferred to the State's 
railway yard near the Capitol and the public awaited the 


days when they might enjoy the luxury of travel they 
seemed to promise. Imagine the indignation and disap 
pointment of the people of Detroit when a little later the 
Sheriff of Monroe armed with a writ of replevin 
appeared upon the scene and took the cars into his pos 
session in a suit brought by the agent of the River Raisin 
and Lake Erie Railroad Company who made claim that 
they had been first purchased by that company and pri 
vately marked by it before the sale to the State. We 
may well imagine that there was more chagrin over the 
fact of the loss of the cars by Detroit to Monroe than 
over any inconveniences their removal occasioned. 
Whatever the result of the legal proceeding was, the cars 
were lost for the opening of the road; but undaunted, 
the authorities soon had John G. Hays, a local crafts 
man at work upon a new car which was soon completed, 
as a number of car wheels and other essentials for car- 
building had been purchased of the Detroit and St. 
no manner inferior to the ones of which they had been 
christened the "Governor Mason" had a capacity of 
thirty-six person, and in elegance and equipment was in 
no manner inferior to the ones of which they had been 
deprived by judicial process. 

On Saturday the 3rd day of February, 1838, the first 
passenger train upon the Central Railroad to run be 
tween Detroit and Tpsilanti, made its initial trip. It was 
an event of more than ordinary importance, and prepa 
ration was made to celebrate it with befitting pomp and 
ceremony. On the morning of the day in question the 
population was out in mass to witness the departure 
of a train that would now be in strange contrast to the 
ones that almost hourly through the day are departing 


over, the various lines that enter the metropolis. Then 
the crude little locomotive with the cord-wood piled high 
upon the tender was followed by the "Governor Mason," 
then by three cars of lesser elegance and three rough 
cars that had been improvised for the occasion. The 
Governor and the State officers were granted the distin 
guished honor of passage at the head of the train, after 
them the members of the Legislature, then the Brady 
Guards and distinguished citizens. Slowly this railway 
cavalcade pulled out for Ypsilanti, where it arrived with 
out mishap three hours later, although it was the boast 
of the newspapers afterwards, that when in motion the 
train was able to make as high as fifteen miles an hour. 
At Ypsilanti the village population and the settlers from 
a distance were present in force to give a hearty and 
perhaps a boisterous welcome. A dinner for several 
hundred was served. Gen. John Van Fossen on behalf 
of the citizens of Ypsilanti delivered to the Governor 
an engrossed copy of a congratulatory address phrased 
in the exuberant style of the old days. To this the Gov 
ernor responded, the band played and before the after 
noon was far advanced the train began its homeward 
journey with its load of enthusiastic excursionists, but 
before they were well under way the mechanism of the 
locomotive refused to do its work, causing frequent stops 
and at last when they had reached Ten Eyck's (Dear- 
bomville), the boiler sprang a leak rendering its further 
progress Impossible until repaired. After some consid 
erable delay teams were procured and hitched to the cars 
which were thtts drawn into Detroit where they arrived 
about midnight One team balked onihe way, and by the 
hilarious passengers were voted Federalists, but their 


place was soon supplied by another which proved more 

During the remainder of the winter, snow and ice seri 
ously impeded traffic, but it was nevertheless of such a 
volume as to offer substantial encouragement to those 
who had assumed the burden of the State 's policy. Oppo 
sition to the Board of Commissioners, however, seemed 
to increase rather than to lose in force; petitions and 
remonstrances, questioning not only their judgment and 
discretion but their integrity as well, continued to be 
presented, as did likewise numerously signed representa 
tions in support of their actions and decisions. These 
matters ultimately became the subject of legislative 
investigation and inquiry; which, however, brought few 
tangible results aside from intensifying public feeling 
and an order from the legislature, that the route of the 
Southern road be so curved as to touch Dundee, and that 
a new survey be run from Centerville to Mies. 

At the regular session of the Legislature the law gov 
erning the Board of Commissioners of Internal Improve 
ment was amended so as to provide further safeguards 
to the funds, while appropriations were of a character 
to indicate a determination to renew the improvement 
campaign during the next summer with unabated zeal. 
Appropriations of $350,000 were given to both the South 
ern and the Central roads, $60,000 to the Northern road, 
$250,00 for the Clinton and Kalamazoo Canal, $45,000 
for the Saginaw Canal and $25,000 additional to the 
amount already appropriated, making $50,000 in all, for 
the St. Mary's Canal; $30,000 for the improvement of 
the Grand and Maple Rivers, and $8,000 for the Kala 
mazoo. All moneys appropriated for the Clinton and 


Kalamazoo Canal and for the Central and Southern 
Railroads, it was stipulated should be expended upon 
their eastern sections. 

The Governor, to avoid the contest and recrimination 
which he evidently feared Vouldj follow, delayed, the 
nomination of members of the Board of Commissioners 
of Internal Improvement until near the close of the ses 
sion. As the year before the House and Senate had 
received the nominations in joint session, so now, April 
2, 1838, the Governor sent a message informing the two 
Houses that he was ready to submit nominations to them 
in joint assembly. To this the Senate replied that it 
would act upon the nominations as a separate body. 
Apprehensive that the action of the Senate was designed 
to retain members no longer desired, or to force the 
appointment of gentlemen not in all respects agreeable to 
the administration, there was at once assembled at 
"Republican committee rooms" in Detroit, a very rep 
resentative gathering of citizens from various parts of 
the State which diverse missions had brought to the 
metropolis. The meeting was soon regularly organized 
and after what evidently was a very plain discussion of 
affairs, a committee was appointed to draft resolutions 
expressive of the sense of the meeting. The resolutions 
were prefaced with a preamble expressive of "undimin- 
ished confidence in His Excellency, Governor Mason, his 
purity of character and Ms intention to administer the 
Government of this State with a strict regard to its pros 
perity and the happiness of its people, " and closed with 
the declaration that, " whether right or wrong, " the pol 
icy pursued by the Board of Commissioners had been 


such as to create a "want of confidence" in the very 
system of internal improvements itself. 

The meeting viewed the action of the Senate with 
"astonishment and alarm," and resolved, "that with 
a view to harmonize all difference of opinion, and to put 
an end to an intriguing policy, we respectfully recom 
mend to His Excellency, Governor Mason, regarding the 
various perplexing and harassing petitions, memorials 
and remonstrances presented to him respecting the con 
duct of the present Board of Commissioners, the pro 
priety of nominating an entire new B.oard to consist of 
the most pure, consistent and efficient members of the 
Democratic party whom he can select;" the resolutions 
further urging, "that if any of the old Board were re 
tained, they be of the least exceptionable character." 
From this meeting a committee of thirty gentlemen was 
selected from various parts of the State to wait upon the 
Governor at eight o'clock the same evening with a copy of 
the resolutions adopted and to accompany them with such 
verbal explanations as it should deem necessary. 

The result of this interview does not appear, but on 
the morning of April 4, Governor Mason sent to each 
House of the Legislature in separate session the names 
of Lansing B. Mizner of Wayne ; Levi S. Humphrey of 
Monroe; James B. Hunt of Oakland; William A. Burt 
of Macomb; Edwin H. Lathrop of Kalamazoo; Hiram 
Alden of Branch ; and Bix Eobinson of Kent as members 
of the Board of Commissioners of Internal Improve 
ment. All were promptly confirmed, except the nomina 
tion of Hiram Alden, which was rejected, and a communi 
cation was sent to the Governor requesting that he send 


another nomination. The Governor replied that he had 
no other nominations to submit ; which at once drew from 
the House, and especially rom the Whig members, a 
flood or oratory and a resolution of censure which was 
laid upon the table by only a vote of 16 to 15. The vote 
on the rejection of the nomination of Hiram Alden was 
the next day reconsidered and confirmed by a substantial 

The Legislature adjourned upon the 6th of April, and 
for a time the public mind was engrossed with the increas 
ing stringency in financial affairs of the country in gen 
eral and which, through "wild cat" banks, could be said 
to bear upon Michigan in particular. "With difficulties 
on the Board of Commissioners momentarily quieted, 
that branch of the service seemed for a time destined 
to fulfill public expectations. The citizens of Monroe, 
overjoyed at the appropriation that had been made for 
the Southern road, served a sumptuous dinner at which 
the Governor was the honored guest; and with the activ 
ities of returning spring, the Central road began busi 
ness of a character that seemed to augur great things 
for the future. Two trains a day were running between 
Detroit and Tpsilanti, and on May 19, 1838, the Journal 
and Courier voiced its pleasure by saying, "It is gratify 
ing to know that the freight and travel on this State road 
are increasing rapidly. The average receipts for several 
days^ast have been upwards of three hundred dollars 
per cE>y. On Monday they were $326, on Tuesday $431, 
on Wednesday $310 and on Thursday $372. " A report 
of the 18th of July disclosed that for the week ending 
July 17, the thirty miles of road showed eatings of 


Contracts for the construction of the work upon the 
Clinton and Kalamazoo Canal from Mt. Clemens to 
Utica were let; and Mt. Clemens, not to be outdone by 
more pretentious places, proceeded to fittingly celebrate 
the inauguration of the important event. On July 20, 
the day set for the commencement of work, the people 
gathered from far and near to witness the breaking of 
the ground. Colonel James L. Conger of Belvidere as 
president of the day, lead the procession to the Canal 
right-of-way accompanied by Governor Mason, Judge 
"WilMns and United States Marshal Ten Eyck. Here a 
barrow was provided and with appropriate dignity Col 
onel Conger presented a spade to Governor Mason, who 
while a cannon boomed from a neighboring knoll, and 
while the people cheered and a "buckskin" band dis 
coursed martial airs, stripped his coat and proceeded to 
fill the barrow with soil, which was wheeled away by 
Colonel Conger and dumped upon the embankment. The 
procession reformed and marched back to Mt. Clemens 
where a dinner was served beneath an arbor which had 
to be covered with canvas on account of the showers 
which continued to mar the day. Here the addresses 
of the day were delivered. The principal one, as would 
be expected, was delivered by the Governor, and the 
tenor of his remarks was in keeping with the occasion; 
although the presence of the now venerable Judge Chris 
tian Clemens by Ms side did not fail to induce reminis 
cences of the days of 1831, when in need of friends and 
supporters he had gone to Mt. Clemens and in the person 
of Judge Clemens had found one who had said, "Do 
your duty, boy, and we will stand by you." 

From this time forward during the season work was 


pushed forward with as much vigor as might have been 
expected in view of the disturbed financial condition of 
the State and Nation. In July contracts were let upon 
the Northern road for the clearing of the right-of-way 
from Pqrt Huron to Lyons; for grading upon a "four 
mile section from Flint westward, and upon a ten mile 
section from Lyons eastward, and a considerable force 
of men was soon employed in prosecuting the work. 
Upon the Southern road construction was pushed for 
ward so that by autumn the superstructure was approach 
ing completion to Leroy, a settlement in Palmyra Town 
ship some thirty miles to the westward of Monroe, while 
the right-of-way was being cleared as far west as Hills- 
dale* The Commissioner in charge of the Central road 
had placed it under contract as far as Jackson; but the 
work of actual construction showed little progress, owing 
as it was claimed by the contractor to sickness which had 
incapacitated his laborers. Indeed a form of malarial 
sickness was general over the State in the summer of 
1838 and greatly retarded operations upon all the State 
works. Improvements on the lower portions of the 
Grand and Kalamazoo Eivers were likewise carried 
forward, and a company of some fifty laborers were for 
a time employed upon the Saginaw Canal, to which point 
approximately $5,000 worth of provisions had been f or- 
warded from Detroit by the State for the support of 
the laborers, to be deducted from the contractors' esti 
mates as earned. As the appropriation for the Sault 
Ste. Marie Canal was made with the proviso that it was 
not to be available in case an appropriation for the pur 
pose could be obtained from Congress at the then present 
session, no contracts were let upon the work until Sep- 


tember 7; at which time it appeared that the General 
Government was to render no assistance, and the Com 
missioner in charge let the work upon the upper level 
of the Canal to Messrs. Smith and Driggs, a firm of con 
tractors of the city of Buffalo, who at once began prepa 
rations for active operations in the coming spring. 

At the ensuing legislative session the Board of Com 
missioners, or certain members of it at least, did not 
escape the general denunciation which now seemed to 
flow from .the continuing financial depression of the 
country and the partisan rancor which increased rather 
than lessened in intensity. As an independent policy, 
aside from the inherent defects in the policy itself, there 
was nothing in the progress of the works or in their 
prospective utility, the standards of the day considered, 
that warranted bitter criticism and censure. The real 
trouble and defect seemed not to have yet been discov 
ered. No one made complaint of the policy as such. 
No one yet seemed to see that to satisfy "all the people " 
the State had undertaken projects for which there was 
no economic need and that by so doing it had divided its 
energies and resources so that insufficient remained for 
the energetic prosecution of any project. The fac 
tion of disaffection could see fault only in the individuals 
charged with responsibility. 

* The Governor's message was highly congratulatory 
on the progress that had been made. It disclosed that 
up to that time there had been expended by the Depart 
ment of Internal Improvement the sum of $888,301.0^ 
of which $572,789.69 had been expended upon the dn- 
tral; $216,825.70 upon the Southern; $20,998.69 upo?a the 
Northern; $34,098.84 upon the Clinton and Kalamazoo 


Canal; $17,203.99 upon the Saginaw; $1,946.75 upon the 
Sault Ste. Marie, and $24,139.64 upon the different 
so-called navigable streams. With special felicity did 
the -Governor call attention to the fact that from^the 3rd 
of February 1838 to the 18th of December following, the 
earning on the twenty-eight miles of the Central road 
had been $81,604.54, a sum which exceeded the cost of 
operation by $37,283.74. "When it is borne in mind," 
said he, "that the receipts as above stated, have accrued 
on only twenty-eight miles of the road, it is fair to con- 
cli^Jf, that in progress of time, when the entire work 
is completed, the resources of the State developed and 
the enterprise of our increasing population actively 
employed, it will yield a return of income beyond our 
most sanguine expectations." But with a growing sense 
of caution the Governor added, "But this flattering exhi 
bition must not lead us* to forget the caution and economy 
with which our expenditures should be made. We have 
adopted a system of internal improvements, which will 
for its success demand the exercise of our most rigid 
economy." The necessity for this economy he pro 
ceeded to show, by enlarging upon the works undertaken 
and in progress, the estimates for the construction of 
which, he feared, would fall far .short of their actual 
cost He concluded the subject by abjuring the Legis 
lature to "examine rigidly the expenditures^ the Com 
missioners." Said he, "Let no complaint pass unheeded. 
Direct your committee to investigate fully the proceed 
ings of the present and previous boards of commission 
ers, that it may be distinctly known to the people of 
Michigan, if there has been any profligate expenditures 
or improper use of the pubMc moneys." 

H & 

525 S- 




Hi O 



P 60. 




On January 16, 1839, the Commissioners filed with the 
Legislature their annual report which disclosed no facts 
of interest not heretofore mentioned, but it formed the 
basis for the appointment in the House a few days later 
of a committee of five members to investigate the doings 
of the past and present Commissioners of Internal Im 
provement. For some reason the speaker in appoint 
ing this committee deviated from the general rule in the 
appointment of committees in political bodies, and gave 
to the Whig minority of the House the majority thereon. 
The committee prosecuted its investigations until April 6, 
when it presented to the House a report in which only 
the Whig members of the committee joined. The work 
of the committee had been made sensational in charac 
ter and the report was no less so. One finds difficulty 
in ascertaining the true condition from the report. 
Some matters set forth would, unexplained, seem of a 
questionable character, but they are so combined with 
charges that are clearly of a bitter partisan character 
that it is difficult to separate the one from the other. 
The report criticized Colonel M'Kinstry to some extent, 
but was principally devoted to Commissioners James B. 
Hunt and Levi S. Humphrey, who were specifically 
charged with misdoings of a grave and serious nature. 
General Humphrey was directly charged with being a 
defaulter to the State in the sum of nearly $20,000. The 
report at once drew replies from both the gentlemen 
accused, denying the allegations brought against them, 
and a counter statement from another committee show 
ing that, so far as the charges against General Hum 
phrey were concerned, they resulted from an error made 
by the investigating committee itself. Both James B, 


Hunt and Levi 8. Humphrey survived by many years 
the days of the State's efforts f <MC internal improvements, 
'and perhaps the strongest refutation of the charges that 
were at this time brought against them is to be found in 
the high esteem in which, both were thereafter held and 
the responsible positions to which they were thereafter 
called in the business and political affairs of the country. 
The agitation however was not without results. Towards 
the end of the session there began to be evidences of a 
growing conviction that there were defects in the policy 
as well as cause for criticism of the officials charged 
with the duty of administering the laws. On Aj)ril 11 
Senator Kereheval introduced and sought ineffectualfy 
to have passed a resolution authorizing negotiations 
looking to a reduction of the State loan from five million 
to three million dollars, coupled with a declaration to 
the effect that all appropriations should be limited to 
those works which would be likely to produce income 
approximating the interest upon the money they would 
cost. The Legislature was not yet ready to make the 
confession such a resolution implied; but the increasing 
financial embarrassment of the people made retrench 
ment imperative, and so, without subscribing to the for 
mal declaration, it reduced the appropriations to $100,- 
000 each for the Central and Southern roads; $40,000 
for the Northern road; $60,000 for the Clinton and Kala- 
mazoo Canal; and $25,000 each for the St. Joseph River 
and for a canal around the rapids on the Grand. This 
was about one-third the amount of the appropriation 
the year previous. 

To further decrease expenditures, the Board of Com 
missioners of Internal Improvement was reduced from 


seven to three members, to which positions the Governor 
nominated and the Legislature confirmed Rix Eobinson 
of Kent, Levis S. Humphrey of Monroe and William B. 
Thompson of Washtenaw. During the following sum 
mer despondency was a chronic business condition 
throughout the country and the works upon which Mich 
igan had embarked with so much enthusiasm two years 
before were now prosecuted with a languishing zeal. 
Even had the faith of the people been still full and 
strong, the treasury was without funds to meet in full 
the reduced appropriations. In May the Commissioners, 
persuant to a resolution of the Legislature, advanced 
the sum of $5,000 to the contractors upon the Sault Ste. 
Marie Canal, who with a force of workmen repaired to 
the north to begin operations. In the meantime the War 
Department at Washington had been informed by an 
officer at Fort Brady of the work about to be projected 
by the State, and further advised that the Canal if con 
structed would interfere with certain improvements at 
the place that had been made by the United States Gov 
ernment, among which was a mill race through which 
water was conveyed for the operation for a sawmill. The 
War Department forwarded instructions to the post com 
mander to apprise the contractor that in the execution 
of his contract he would not be allowed in any way to 
interfere with the raceway, although the Government 
would make no objection to the construction of the work 
through the military reservation or grounds, provided it 
did not seriously injure the Government interests. The 
contractor at once upon arrival was informed .of ,tfie 
instructions from the War Department, and although 
there seems to have been abundant room where the con- 


tractor might have prosecuted Ms work pending notice 
to the State authorities and settlement of the difficulty, 
which was later adjusted, he proceeded on the morning 
of May 13 with about fifty laborers to the very point in 
dispute, seemingly to force the issue. Little or nothing 
had been accomplished by the contractor and his men 
when Captain Johnson of Fort Brady with thirty regu 
lars armed with muskets appeared upon the scene and 
ordered a discontinuance of operations. As no attention 
was paid to the order, the regulars acting under com 
mand of their officer proceeded to forcibly remove the 
foreman and his men. This action terminated work 
under the contract and no doubt delayed the construc 
tion of the Canal for many years. It has been usual to 
charge this failure to the unwarranted and illegal inter 
ference of the National Government. Q-overnor Mason 
and Governor Woodbridge later gave the matter 
extended consideration, and even Hon. James V. Camp 
bell has characterized the action of the military as "a 
very gross outrage." And indeed the failure of the War 
Department to call the matter to the "attention of the 
State authorities before marching an armed body of men 
to forcibly drive the laborers from a work of State con 
cern comes very close to Judge Campbell's characteriza 
tion; but there are other facts, it would seem, that should 
absolve the War Department from the whole responsi- 
Mlity. By August 9, 1839, an agreement was reached 
by the State and by the War Department that permitted 
the continuance of work upon the canal. The Board of 
Commissioners thereupon Ordered the contractors to pro 
ceed under their contract. The fact that they refused to 
comply lends color to the intimation in the report of 


Tracy McCracken, the engineer, that the contractors, 
having been advanced $5,000 by the State, were fur 
nished a strong inducement to begin work at the one 
point where they were sure to be stopped, thereby fur 
nishing the basis for an almost undisputable claim for 
damages in being kept from the performance of their 
contract by circumstances not under their control. When 
the end of the season came, the sum total of the advance 
upon the State works could be summarized as a few miles 
of grade and one hundred and ten miles cleared and 
grubbed on the Northern road; the Southern road under 
contract from Monroe to Hillsdale and completed as far 
as Adrian; the Central under contract to Jackson, with 
cars running daily to Ann Arbor, to which point the line 
was opened October 17, 1839. The opening of the line 
to this point was an event that was celebrated by the 
Brady Guards and some eight hundred citizens of Detroit 
in conjunction with the citizens of Ann Arbor. The 
Clinton and Kalamazoo Canal was under contract from 
Mt. Clemens to Eochester and partially completed; five 
miles of the Saginaw Canal had been placed under con 
tract and one mile completed ; the Grand had been made 
navigable to the rapids, and the Kalamazoo put in like 
condition for boats of not over four feet draught 
from its mouth to Allegan; a large number of surveys 
had been made, and the State had expended $1,510,315. 
Looking back from the closing days of his administration 
and reviewing his own official recommendations in the 
matter of internal improvements, Governor Mason could 
say: "The result of the legislation upon these execu 
tive recommendations was, after months of warfare 
between conflicting local interests, a conference between 


the two Houses of tlie Legislature, resulting in the unan 
imous adoption of the present system of internal im 
provements. No party action was brought to bear upon 
the subject, and the error if error there is was the emana 
tion of that false spirit of the age which forced States 
as well as individuals to over-action and extended pro 
jects. If Michigan has overtaxed her energies and 
resources, she stands not alone, but has fallen into that 
fatal policy which has involved in almost unparalleled 
embarrassment st> many of her sister States." 

Thus truthfully did the Boy Governor of Michigan 
diagnose the causes that had contributed to the failure 
of a cherished policy and thus manfully did he share 
the burden of the responsibility for the error, which, 
as he said, had emanated from a false spirit of the age. 




TNTIMATELY connected with tlie State's scheme of 
*- internal improvements, and perhaps more disas 
trous to Governor Mason's political reputation than any 
other connected with his administration were the inci 
dents connected with the negotiation of the five million 
dollar loan authorized "by the Legislature in March, 1837. 
From the very first Governor Mason undertook with 
hesitancy the duties imposed by this Act, for he realized 
better than anyone else the great responsibility incident 
to such an undertaking and his own lack of knowledge 
and experience requisite to its proper discharge. Had 
he foreseen the added difficulties of the task that were 
to be imposed by the financial stress under which the 
country was to labor, it is quite probable that he would 
have refused to assume the duties that were so foreign 
to his office, but these things were as imperfectly fore 
seen by the Governor as by the great body of the people. 
Upon the opening of navigation in the spring of 1837, 
Governor Mason repaired to New York to take up the 
negotiation of the loan. Inasmuch as a loan for $100,000 
authorized by the Legislature of 1835, 1 for the current 
expenses of the State government had been successfully 
negotiated by Mr. John Delafield, a prominent banker of 
New York who was then acting as the agent of the State 

1. Passed Nov. 14, 1835. 


for the payment of the interest on the. loan, Governor 
Mason quite naturally sought the assistance of Mr. Dela 
field in the negotiation of this larger responsibility. 
After some time spent among the capitalists of New 
York, the Governor returned to Michigan satisfied that 
it would be exceedingly difficult if not impossible to effect 
a sale of the State bonds under the then disturbed finan 
cial conditions of the country; but before returning he 
delegated to Mr. Delafield a general agency to correspond 
with capitalists both in this country and in Europe look 
ing to the placing of the loan. The summer passed with 
out the attainment of the desired end, and as political 
capital was being made out of the failure or delay, Gov 
ernor Mason in September again repaired to New York 
to give his personal attention to the matter. He now 
learned from Mr. Delafield that, notwithstanding the 
most persistent effort upon his part, no portion of the 
loan had been placed, and that in his opinion under the 
then present financial conditions it could not be nego 
tiated unless the interest on the bonds was increased to 
six per cent and both interest and principal made pay 
able in Europe. The Governor was assured that, could 
these changes be made, Mr. James King of the highly 
respectable brokerage firm of Prime, Ward and King, 
who was about visiting Europe would take charge of 
the loan and give personal attention to its negotiation, 
and that there would be little or no question as to a 
successful termination. Indeed, so sanguine was Mr. 
Delafield that the bonds would find sale in London, that 
he offered, in the event of the law being changed to con 
form to his suggestion as to interest and place of pay- 


ment, to advance to the State $150,000 in anticipation of 
the amount realized upon the sale. 

Highly elated, the Governor returned to Michigan, and 
in the excitement of the campaign, then raging, his report 
of the prospects of a successful issue was, treated as 
equivalent to a consummation. Almost immediately on 
the reassembling of the Legislature in the adjourned ses 
sion of November 9, 1837, a bill was introduced and 
promptly passed which received approval on the 15th, 
amending the act authorizing the five million dollar loan 
so that the interest might be six instead of five and one- 
half per cent, and providing payment in Europe as well 
as in the United States should the Governor find it 
advantageous to so contract. The amendatory act fur- 
there provided that, in case of the placing of the loan or 
any part of it in Europe, all benefit to be derived from 
difference of exchange should inure to the benefit of 
the State, that the bonds should be redeemable at the 
rate of $4.44 for every pound sterling of Great Britain or 
the guilder of Holland at the rate of forty cents each. 2 
The Governor had determined that the bonds should not 
be negotiated for any considerable amount in advance 
of the need of the funds for the purposes of internal 
improvements and, still believing that there would now 
be little difficulty in selling the bonds as the work pro 
gressed, he caused bonds to the amount of $1,500,000 to 
be prepared and executed in conformity to the amended 
statute. Bonds to the amount of $500,000 were soon sold 
to Mr. Oliver Newberry, the veteran steamship builder 
of Detroit, at a premium of six per cent, while $1,000,000 

2. Act No. 1, Public Acts of 


of the bonds were placed in the hands of Mr. Delafield. 8 
Of the latter bonds $300,000 par value were turned over 
to Messrs. Prime, Ward and King, and by them con- 
sig^d to Baring Bros. Co., London, where together with 
certified copies of the law under which they were issued 
they were received in December/ About the same time, 
in keeping with the understanding with Mr. Delafield and 
to relieve the exchange between Detroit and New York, 
drafts were drawn against him for the sum of $150,000. 
Contrary to the expectations of the Governor, Mr. Dela 
field met this draft not by an advance, but by a draft in 
like amount upon the Baring Bros. Co. of London. 

On February 12 the Legislature, reflecting the public 
interest in the loan, by resolution requested information 
from the Governor, as to the state of the negotiations, 5 
which the Governor supplied a few days later through a 
communication which exhibits the degree of assurance 
which he felt for the successful outcome of the transac 
tion. Mentioning the fact that he had attempted to pro 
cure but $1,500,000, as sufficient for immediate needs, he 
said: "This sum, however, may be certainly calculated 
upon, and the legislature can safely appropriate to that 
amount. If the Legislature of the present session should 
require it, I am confident the whole loan or any additional 
portion of it may readily be negotiated. ' ' Again on April 
6th he communicated to the Legislature the informa 
tion that, he was advised, in the course of sixty days he 
would be able to draw from three to four hundred thou 
sand dollars against the balance of the million of bonds 

3. Home Journal, 1838, p. 188. 

4. Mich. Hist. Colls., VH, p.145, 

5. House Journal, 1838, pp. 165-188, 


then in the hands of Messrs. Prime, Ward and King. 6 
Notwithstanding the optimistic reports that the Gover 
nor was receiving and from time to time transmitting 
to the Legislature, he was unable to free himself from 
a feeling of distrust of his own ability for so exceptional 
a service. A man in the high position of executive of a 
State can hardly refuse to assume the duties that the 
Legislature may see fit to impose upon Trim, even when 
they are of a nature foreign to the office; and for that 
reason the desires of the executive in that regard are 
quite generally respected, although in this instance they 
did not seem to avail. As the Governor has, been made 
to bear the responsibility for all the failures attending 
the subsequent negotiations of the loan, it is perhaps 
just that his efforts to escape the imposing of the respon 
sibility should be given. On March 22 the Governor sent 
to the Senate a message devoted to the subject, in which 
he said: 

"I am constrained by a sense of public duty to call the 
attention of the Legislature to the importance of provid 
ing some proper agency for the management of the State 
loans already x authorized or hereafter to be authorized 
by the State. At present the exclusive and unrestricted 
negotiation and management of loans as well as the sale 
of all exchange derived from that source is left to the 
discretion of the Governor of the State. This is wrong 
in principle as it gives to the control of one individual 
millions of the public money without any corresponding 
check or responsibility. But in addition to this objec 
tion on the ground of principle, it will readily occur to 
you that the public interests demand that this important 

6. Ibid. pp. 472-473. 


branch of our State policy, the management of its 
finances, should receive the undivided attention of a dis 
tinct department organized for that purpose. It is im 
possible for the executive to bestow that attention to 
the subject which its importance demands, without the 
neglect of other imperious duties. But whilst as an 
officer of the State, I am willing to discharge any duty 
imposed upon me by the public, I feel that it is due to 
myself that I should not incur the heavy responsibility 
of controlling the loans of the State when they can receive 
but a limited portion of my time and service. I would 
therefore earnestly recommend the creation of a Board 
of Loan Commissioners, the members to be chosen by the 
Legislature, to whom the negotiation and management 
of all loans shall be entrusted/ 

A bill to provide for such a commission passed the 
House and with some amendments passed thg Senate, 
but was lost through House and Senate failing to agree ; 
thus the Governor was forced to assume a responsibility 
not within the purview of his official duties and from 
which he had respectfully requested of the Legislature 
that he might be relieved. To add to the difficulties of 
the situation, no sooner had the Legislature adjourned 
than the Governor received advice that the negotiations 
which had promised the sale of a million bonds in London 
had been terminated by the Baring Bros. Co. discover 
ing that there were certain ambiguities in the amended 
statute authorizing the loan. Their view of the law was, 
that while it was positive as to the payment of interest 
in Europe, the payment of the principal in Europe was 
to be inferred only by implication; they likewise pro- 

7. Senate Journal, 1888, p. 275. 


f ess.ed to believe that the law in fixing the pound sterling 
at $4.44 had fixed the rate of exchange, so that while a 
premium of ten per cent would yield Michigan $4.88 per 
pound sterling, still the State would only be required to 
repay at the rate of $4.44. In vain the Governor wrote 
them that the valuation of $4.44 upon the pound sterling 
had nothing whatever to do with the rate of exchange, 
but was only intended to stipulate the par value in Amer 
ican money of the pound sterling, the State still being 
chargeable with the exchange incident to the transmis 
sion of funds. In vain likewise were several other 
efforts to satisfy the cautious London bankers. It was 
finally found necessary to bring back the $300,000 of 
bonds and remit $150,000 to Baring Bros. Co., London, 
to cover the draft that had been made upon them for 
the advance in prospect of sale. 8 "While efforts con 
tinued for some months to interest the Eothschilds and 
others, they were to no purpose. The ambitious projects 
of internal improvement in many of the States were 
flooding the money centers of Europe with securities, at 
which, under the disturbed financial conditions of the 
country, financiers looked with anything but eager inter 
est. Of the bonds taken by Oliver Newberry, a portion 
were placed upon the London market where they sold for 
ninety-five and some as low as ninety-three cents on the 
dollar. It was soon evident that he would be unable to 
fulfill his contract. Indeed he was later compelled to 
seek the cancellation of his contract and return $300,000 
of the $500,000 which his contract embraced. 

The Legislature adjourned, on the 6th of April, with 
appropriations for the purposes of internal iniprove- 

8. Souse Docs. 1838, No. 44. 


meats payable from the proceeds of the loan of more 
than $1,000,000, while provision had been made for a 
bond issue of $100,000 for the aid of the Allegan and 
Marshall Railroad Company 10 and a like issue for the 
Tpsilanti and Tecumseh Railroad Company. 11 Contracts 
had been let upon the various projects and contractors 
were busily engaged in the collection of materials and 
forces necessary for the work, while as yet there had 
been realized upon bonds actually sold the sum of $161,- 
000. 12 Another factor in the situation, as has been before 
stated, was to be found in the chaotic condition of the cur 
rency and pervading sense of financial disaster that soon 
possessed everyone from the banker to the settler in the 
new-made clearing. Everyone had his pockets filled with 
the bills of the "wild cat" banks which were of varying 
degrees of badness; specie was in the hands of the 
favored few, so that in the hands of the people generally 
there were hardly any funds that would discharge obli 
gations in the East. Among the farmers, the merchants, 
and in financial and commercial circles there was a gen- 
. eral desire that the loan be negotiated as speedily as 
possible and that the proceeds be allowed to flow out to 
public relief through the channel of internal improve 
ments or from institutions where for the time being it 
might be upon deposit. At the same time the situation 
was rendered more and more difficult by the spirit of par 
tisan polities which infested it, and which impelled Dem 
ocrats to yield to expediency and Whigs to charge every 

a PutUeActs, 1838, pp. 

10. JW,25& 

11. /Md.,259. 

12. JBTotwe Doc* n 1838, No. 44, p. 18. 


show of hesitancy and conservatism to inefficiency and 

That many of these considerations had influence with 
the governor we may well presume; but the fact that 
the appropriations of 'the Legislature had been already 
made and contracts let which would subject the State 
to heavy claims for damages if it was unable to perform 
together with the fact that if the loan was not negotiated 
it meant the disorganization of the whole system of inter 
nal improvements which had been deliberately adopted 
and well nigh universally approved, was the decisive 
consideration with turn. In the late days of April the 
Governor, apprehensive from long delays that the 
European negotiations were to be fruitless, again 
repaired to New York in order if possible to bring mat 
ters in connection with the loan to a successful termina 
tion. Quite naturally again, the Q-overnor took up nego 
tiations with Edward E. Biddle, one of that eminent 
family of which Major John Biddle of Detroit who had 
been the opposing candidate against Governor Mason 
in his first election, and Nicholas Biddle of both the Bank 
of the United States and the later United States Bank 
of Pennsylvania were also members. On May 8 a tenta 
tive contract was entered into between the Governor and 
Mr. Edward E. Biddle, who represented himself and cer 
tain claimed capitalists of Philadelphia, for the entire 
loan at par. The sum of $80,000 was paid at the time 
of the execution of the contract, and the Governor was 
hopeful that the matter was disposed of ;.but after some 
two weeks of waiting it was found necessary to surrender 
the contract in consequence of the inability of the con 
tracting parties to meet the stipulated payments. Gov- 


ernor Mason was now brought into negotiations with 
the Morris Canal and Backing Company, a corporation 
organized tinder the laws of New Jersey with banking 
office in the city of New York of which Edward E. Biddle 
was president. To add piquancy to the story, the Morris 
Canal and Banking Company has been sometimes com 
pared to the "wild cat" banks with which the people of 
Michigan were sadly familiar, but no such comparison is 
warranted by the facts. 13 The Morris Canal and Banking 
Company had been incorporated in 1824 to construct a 
canal between the Passaic and Delaware Eivers which 
was extended later to the Hudson Eiver at Jersey City. 
This canal which was said to have cost the company 
$4r,OQO,000 14 was at the time practically completed. In 
addition to it the company was the owner of many other 
valuable properties consisting of wharves, docks, farm 
ing and mineral lands. 15 As was common with many other 
corporations of this character in that day, it was author 
ized to do a banking business in connection with its 
transportation activities, its additional capital stock for 
banking purposes being limited to $1,000,000. Three 
years before this time the stock of this company had sold 
at a premium of fifty cents upon the dollar; 16 its circula 
tion was practically at pa!r; 1T men of the highest charac 
ter were upon its board of directors, among whom might 
be mentioned Washington Irving, of literary fame ; Sam 
uel L. Southard, twice Secretary of the Navy; Isaac H. 
Williamson, for twelve years Governor of New Jersey; 

13. MicUgw, as Province, Territory <m& State, III, p. 134. 

14. House Doos^ 1841, No. 18, p. 6. 

15. J&td, p. 10. 

16. Encyc. Americam, XVI, "Wall Street" 

17. BickneU's Bank Note List, June 1, 1837. 


and Garrett D. Wall, a 'United States Senator from the 
same State while associated with, these men were such 
men as Edwin Lord, John Moss, James B. Morrey, Henry 
Yates and many others representing the first rank of 
professional, mercantile and banking circles of New 
York and Philadelphia. Its financial operations had been 
of an extensive character, it being then entrusted with 
the negotiation of the internal improvement loan of the 
State of Indiana. 

The negotiations between Governor Mason and the 
Morris Canal and Banking Company finally resulted in 
a contract between the parties under date of June 1, 
1838. By the terms of this contract the company was 
to become the agent of the State for the sale of the 
whole issue. The principal and interest was made pay 
able in New York, to which city the company was t'o 
guarantee the safe delivery of all funds derived from the 
sale of bonds in Europe or elsewhere. It likewise became 
the guarantor to the State that it should receive the par 
value of the aggregate amount of the bonds sold; that 
is, if in the sale of the bonds it was obliged to dispose 
of them at a less price than par, it was to make up to 
the State the deficiency between the price received and 
the par value. The sum of $1,300,000 of bonds was 
to be delivered to the company upon the execution of 
the contract, and it was in turn to pay $250,000 in cash 
to the State and $1,050,000 was to be subject to its order. 
The remainder was to be paid in quarterly installments 
of $250,000 each, beginning with the first day of July 
1839 and to continue until the whole sum was paid, and 
that whether the company had sold the bonds or not. The 
bonds were to be delivered to the company as the install- 


ments became due, so that it would have in hand a million 
dollars of bonds in advance of actual payment, the com 
pany to have the right to take all the bonds and pay 
over the remainder of the five million dollars at any time 
upon a thirty day written notice to the Governor, In 
the event of sales at more than par the contracting parties 
were to divide equally all premiums up to five per cent, 
the company to take in addition all in excess of five per 
cent. For the execution of the contract, which was made 
irrevocable, the company was to receive a commission of 
two and a half per cent on thje proceeds of sales, which 
was to be in lieu of all other expenses. 18 

It will be observed that by the terms of the contract 
$1^050,000 was immediately made subject to the State's 
order, in addition to the $250,000 dollars of present pay 
ment. On June 4 a so-called supplementary agreement 
was made between the contracting parties. 19 It pro 
vided that the company, having passed to the credit of 
the Governor on the Michigan loan the sum of $1,300,000, 
the Governor was to accept in payment of that sum the 
bOls of the Morris Canal and Banking Company and dis 
burse tbyem so far as the exigencies of the State might 
allow. These bills were to be received, $250,000 dollars 
on August 1 next ensuing, $100,000 on September 1, and 
$100,000 on the first of each month thereafter. This has 
been generally treated by the Governor's critic^ as an 
unlawful modification of the original contract which 
involved a material interest loss to the State; 20 in fair- 

is. Home Docs^ 18^9, No. 44, p, 7. 

19. m& t p. 11. 

20. *Hou8t Does., 1841, No. 18, p. 61 ; Mich, a& Prov. Terr, and State, 

III, 185: 


ness to the Governor it should be said that it was his 
contention that it was not a modification or departure 
from the original contract, but was in fact a part of the 
original terms of sale, embraced in a separate memoran 
dum because it related to the first payments which were 
to be made upon the amount passed to the credit of the 
State as fast as they could be prepared and issued. 21 
Unquestionably this contract violated the spirit even 
though it kept within the letter of the law. It had been 
clearly specified that the sale should be for at least par, 
while a commission of two and one-half per cent was in 
effect a sale at ninety-seven and a half cents, although 
the Governor hoped and no doubt was given encourage 
ment to believe that the bonds would be sold so that the 
State's share of the premiums would make up this defi 
ciency. The justification for a sale at this figure 
and upon these conditions was, of course, the exigencies 
of the situation arising from the peculiar circumstances 
in which the State was placed and the then distressed 
condition of the money market, the details of which the 
Govenor subsequently submitted to the Legislature. 

On the 8th of June Governor Mason being about to 
start for Michigan, bills of the Morris Canal and Banking 
Company to the amount of $110,397.70, the same being 
$10,397.70 of a balance due on the first payment of $250,- 
000 and $100,000 as the August installment, were brought 
over from the company's banking house at Jersey City 
to the branch in New York City. Theodore Romeyn 
of Detroit having been in the city during the Governor's 
negotiations with the company, although not under 

21. Mason Romeyn pamphlets (Burton Historical Colls.) 


employment, had nevertheless interested himself in the 
"business, to the extent of giving the Governor his friendly 
counsel and advice. Now that the bills of the bank were 
ready for transfer, Mr. Bomeyn at the request of the 
Governor procured for "Mm a small trunk for the pur 
pose; and the trunk and its contents were the occasion 
of a mystery that supplied gossip for a generation, it 
is correspondingly proper that the facts surrounding the 
mystery be fully stated. 

The money as it was being prepared for shipment was 
not counted by the Governor but was several times 
counted by the bank clerks, who stamped each bill 
upon the back in red as a protection against robbery on 
the journey to Detroit The bills were then done into 
packages, with the amount of fach package marked upon 
the band of the paper around it ; and the various packages 
were then placed within the trunk, which was ,then 
locked and the key delivered to the Governor who con 
veyed it to the Astor House where it was put in charge 
of the bookkeeper during the evening meal. Mr. Bomeyn, 
having signified his intention to remain in his room for 
the evening, at the request of the Governor consented to 
take charge of the trunk until the Governor, who was 
going out, should return. Returning about midnight the 
Governor found the trunk safe in Mr. Komeyn ? s posses 
sion it was then opened and several articles of Mr. 
Bomeyn placed therein, after which it was removed to 
the room of the Governor where several more articles 
were included and the trunk locked. Its subsequent 
journey is illustrative of travel in the olden days, and 
may well be given in the language of the Governor him- 


self, as detailed to a subsequent legislative committee of 
investigation. 22 

"On the next morning after receiving the trunk, I left 
New York in the six o'clock boat; the trunk was not out 
of my sight more than ten minutes, and then under the 
lock of my room until it was placed on board the Albany 
boat; when on the boat, I requested Mr. Romeyn to 
have it placed in the captain's office, having attached 
his name to the trunk. My reason for identifying the 
trunk with Mr. Romeyn, as well as my reason for request 
ing him to purchase it, was, that as it was generally 
known I was negotiating a loan in New York, I might 
be followed for the purpose of stealing it on the road 
home. At Albany the trunk was kept in my room, and 
when I was out I had the key of my room in my pos 
session. I was in Albany one evening, between that 
place and Utica, when it was under the lock of the bag 
gage car. From Utica to Syracuse it was in front of 
the stage under the driver's seat. We left TTtica about 4 
o'clock in the afternoon and reached Syracuse at about 
one or two o'clock in the morning. At Syracuse it was 
not out of my keeping. From Syracuse to Oswego it 
was on the deck of the canal boat for about half a day. 
At Oswego for one afternoon it was under lock in my 
room. From Oswego to Niagara it was in the office of 
the captain of the boat for one night. From Niagara 
to Buffalo it was on the top of the railroad car and I 
rode on the outside in the night with it. At Buffalo it 
remained in my room under lock. On Lake Erie it was 
placed in the captain's office and delivered to me at 

22. House Docs., 1839, No, 44, p. 27. 


Detroit. When I arrived home I took from the trunk 
the articles belonging to Mr. Eomeyn and myself and 
delivered it to the treasurer. At no time on the journey 
was the trunk opened by me, nor could I at any time 
observe that the overcoat on the top had been moved. 
On opening the trunk at home, everything seemed to 
me as I had placed them. The package of ten thousand 
and three hundred and ninety-seven dollars was on top, 
as I had placed it, and was immediately delivered to the 
treasurer as part of the cash payment, counted by him 
and found to be correct. " 

The trunk and its contents were then deposited in the 
vault of the Michigan State Bank. Here a few days later 
the $100,000 of the August installment was counted and 
then the discovery was made that from the packages of 
fives, tens, and twenties, bills had been extracted to the 
amount of $4,630. The bills were all replaced and a com 
munication of the theft at once sent to the Morris Canal 
and Banking Company. On the same day that the com 
pany received the governor's letter apprising it of the 
loss of the money, it received through the New York 
postoffice a package which enclosed all the abstracted 
bills save fifty dollars, the same being returned as mys- 
teriou&ly as it had been taken. The company subse 
quently remitted the bills returned atid the Governor 
paid the fifty dollars so that the theft resulted in no 
loss to the State. The incident soon became known and 
for many weeks furnished the newspapers and the gen 
eral public with a topic of conversation. Suspicions and 
speculations were rife and many an apocryphal tale in 
explanation of the various phases of the mystery became 
current, to be repeated in the recollections of the occa- 


sional pioneer after the lapse of half a century. The 
Governor entertained suspicions as to who abstracted 
the bills, but to the committee of investigation of the 
succeeding Legislature he refused to express them, say 
ing, "I am unwilling to express my opinions or suspi 
cions where no positive testimony exists." 

The whole subject of the loan now presented an added 
question for political agitation. The opposition press 
was loudly clamorous that all the details of the negotia 
tions be given to the people; growing sarcastic and 
vituperative when the Governor remained silent or said 
he would report his doings to the Legislature when it 
should convene. 

The Governor, made apprehensive for the safe deliv 
ery of the subsequent installments by his experience in 
guarding the first remittance from New York to Detroit 
and the theft of a large sum notwithstanding his vigil 
ance, after counseling with his friends dispatched John 
Norton Jr., cashier of the Michigan State Bank and fiscal 
agent of the Legislature, to New York to effect a change 
in the method of remitting the various installments as 
they should fall due. The Morris Canal and Banking 
Company considered that it was a valuable advantage 
to have its bills placed in circulation, but on July 14 a 
contract was entered into between the company and Mr. 
Norton whereby it was agreed that Mr. Norton should 
draw bills from Detroit upon the company payable at 
an average of not less than ninety days after the install 
ments severally became due and payable. This conteact 
was subsequently .the occasion of much comment. It 
was claimed that it entailed a considerable loss to the 
State, although it was the assertion of the Governor that 


"the installments and every draft was credited to the 
State at par* on the very day each became due." Under 
this arrangement the various installments were remitted, 
giving to the Detroit banks the benefit of eastern 
exchange and eliminating the hazard incident to the ship 
ment of the currency. It is evident from the Governor's 
correspondence that he had full confidence that the Morris 
Canal and Banking Company, in the discharge of its 
agency, would seek in every way to promote the interests 
of the State. He had faith that it would dispose of the 
bonds as was necessary to meet the various installments 
and that by such sales it would be able to realize suf 
ficient premium to repay the two and one-half per cent 
commission and thus make the bonds net par to the State. 
The Governor seemed not to consider that the company 
would be principally desirous of making such disposi 
tion of its trust as would enable it to claim the two and 
one-half per cent, or $125,000 commission in the shortest 
possible time, and that too with a disregard of the inter 
ests of the State, and yet this was the situation he was 
soon called upon to face. 

On the 10th of November, Edward E. Biddle of the 
Morris Canal and Banking Company communicated to 
the Governor a gloomy prospect for Michigan securities, 
together with the information that it was now possible 
for the company to pass the whole amount of the loan 
to the credit of the State at par less, of course, the 
two and one-half per cent commission provided there 
was an immediate delivery of the residue of the bonds, 
the obligation of the Bank of the United States in Penn 
sylvania to be taken for three fourths and the Morris 
Canal and Banking Company for one-fourth of the aggre- 


gate amount of the bonds and for the payment upon 
the seveial installments when by the original contract 
they should become due. The Governor's reply to this 
communication shows his keen disappointment. "It is 
with regret," said he, "I perceive that the state of the 
European market is such as to render the sale of Mich 
igan bonds a matter of hazard and doubt. My expecta 
tion under the contract with you institution was, to 
realize at least par for the stock, and it is with extreme 
disappointment that I have presented to me the prob 
ability of losing the two and one-half per cent commis 
sion which covers your charges. I still cling to the hope 
that an immediate sale may not be imperatively neces 
sary." And then, evidently more because he was unde 
cided as to the proper course to pursue than because 
he wished to shirk responsibility, he added, "But as 
the negotiation of this loan has been a most thankless 
and perplexing undertaking on my part, I feel unwilling 
to advise you in the premises." 

The company required no further intimation or advice 
to clearly see its duty to the State. Almost the return 
mail brought intelligence that the sale had been consum 
mated; the Governor being, at the same time, felicitated 
upon the advantageous deal that had been closed, while 
he was solemnly assured that "no small inducement for 
closing the sale" was that they thereby brought to the 
aid of the State all the security that could bo derived, 
from the capital of i the Bank of the United States and 
the benefit that would accrue to it in its future financial 
transactions, the aid which in fact did come to tHe State 
was confined almost wholly to .the lessons of loss and 
disaster that resulted from the association. 


The Legislature assembled on January 8, 1839, and 
the Governor's message, as he had promised, went fully 
into the details of the loan and the various transactions 
incident to it. While the message seeks to justify the 
various transactions incident to the business, one reads 
in it a vein of disappointment and regret that he was 
unable to report a more satisfactory result from his 
efforts ; but, knowing the rectitude of his own purposes 
and the fidelity with which he had striven to perform 
the duty intrusted to him, he asked of the Legislature 
the appointment- of a committee to investigate "all such 
matters as present an unfavorable aspect " to any por 
tion of the legislative body; demanding for his own con 
duct the most rigid inquiry. In accordance with this 
recommendation a joint committee was appointed, con 
sisting of seven from the House and seven from the 
Senate. In the main the gentlemen selected were the 
stronger members of their respective bodies. The House 
members were comprised of five Whigs and two Demo 
crats, while the Senate membership was made up of four 
Democrats and three Whigs. The Governor's political 
opponents were thus given a free hand in the investiga 
tion, with Daniel S. Bacon, the late Whig candidate for 
Lieutenant Governor as chairman of the joint commit 
tee, and William Woodbridge and James Wright Gordon, 
who a year later became respectively Governor and Lieu 
tenant Governor on the Whig ticket, ;among the members. 
On April 10 Hon. Damiel S. Bacon presented the report 
of the committee. It was an eminently fair and temper 
ate statement of all the facts connected with the loan 
and its negotiation. The law providing for the loan had 
said that it should be negotiated for at least par. The 


committee very properly said, "Your committee does 
not enquire if the compensation stipulated to be paid 
to the Morris Canal and Banking Company was exorbi 
tant, nor whether a sale of the bonds could have been 
made on more advantageous terms ; they refer to the act 
of the Legislature as their only rule of action." On the 
question of the substitution of drafts for the notes of the 
Morris Canal and Banking Company they were likewise 
correct in reporting that they could not "discover the 
necessity or authority for such action." In relation to 
the abstraction of the bills the committee reported that it 
had called many witnesses and accumulated a large mass 
of testimony but 'that there was nothing in it "which 
would tend to identify the person guilty of the foul trans 
action before a judicial tribunal. It sleeps in the bosom 
of him who perpetrated the crime. It is due to G-ov. 
Mason and to the public to say, that no imputation what 
ever rests upon him." 

Theodore Eomeyn was called as a witness before the 
committee, and in view of subsequent charges that grew 
out of the transaction, two statements of Mr. Eomeyn 
became material. One was that he had read the Gov 
ernor's statement of the transaction and that it was 
true ; and the second was, "I have never directly or indi 
rectly drawn any money from the State for my own pur 
poses neither have I received from Governor Mason any 
accommodation or advances." This last statement has 
especial significance when read in connection with state 
ments from the same gentleman made a little more than 
a year later when the exigencies of politics seemed to 
demand that the Governor be ruthlessly assailed and Ms 
reputation blackened. 


"With, the full facts before the public, there were few 
who did not understand that the requirements of the 
law authorizing the loan had been exceeded ; but the feel 
ing was also quite as general that the terms obtained 
were perhaps as favorable as could have been expected 
under the circumstances. Not all members of the Legis 
lature coincided with the various steps that had been 
taken in the matter, but no one wished to assume the 
responsibility of rejecting what had been attempted or 
suggesting means of improvement so, by silence and 
inaction, they gave assent to what had been done. 

As the subsequent incidents in connection with the 
five million dollar loan followed the political revolution 
which turned the state and the administration of its 
affairs to Whig control, they may be better left to be told 
in connection with that event. 



TN" the four preceding chapters extended notice has 
x been given to the incidents of the Canadian Rebellion, 
the State banks, internal improvements and the five mil 
lion dollar loan, becanse they were all matters of far- 
reaching importance and in the relation of their incidents 
could be best told with continuity of detail; but it must 
not be inferred that at the time they absorbed public 
attention to the exclusion of all other matters of social 
and political interest. Even as "Patriot" bands were 
being dispersed and "wild cat" banks were collapsing, 
Whigs and Democrats were lining up their forces for 
the spring election, preparatory for the legislative and 
congressional campaign of the following November. The 
Detroit election for the spring of 1838 was looked for 
ward to with more than usual interest, and there is some 
reason to believe that its near approach may in some 
measure have tempered the severity with which under 
other circumstances the neutrality of the United States 
might have been maintained by the citizens of Michigan 
at Detroit. 

At the previous State election the Whigs had charged 
the Governor with having sought to influence a voter 
at the- preceding congressional election by the payment 
of a dollar; they had extolled political virtue and con 
demned corruption with most vigorous rhetoric. That 
their standards in this regard were subject to some varia- 


tions is evidenced by the following notice* which appeared 
in the Advertiser of March 30, 1838 : 

"To the Poor The Whigs will distribute one hundred 
dollars in bread and pork among the city poor to-morrow 
evening. Due notice of the hour and place will be given 
in the morning paper. ' ' 

The Whigs had timed their philanthropy for the Satur 
day preceding the city election, leaving the Democrats 
to appeal through the less satisfying means of glare and 
tinsel on the election day. The scenes that were enacted 
at the distribution of provisions can not be better 
described than in the language of Silas Beebe, an eye 
witness, who entered in his diaxy the following interest 
ing not^s : 

" April 2nd. Election cjLay for ejiarter officers of the 
city of Detroit, and such a fuss, a rumpus, and a rioting 
I never witnessed in a State election. The hand bills, 
flags, processions, and a band of music, with a marshal 
mounted on a richly caparisoned horse with gilt trap 
pings, were only equaled the Saturday before by the 
opposite party (Whigs) getting up a farce of distribut 
ing to the poor, evidently for political effect and elec 
tioneering purposes. It is difficult to describe the scene 
to one who never wittnessed it. Fish, pork' and bread 
were the only articles handed out by the committee to 
the 'hungry' applicants as they presented themselves on 
all sides of the stand. Many of them were Canadian 
women and children who had come across the river on 
the invitation, and some were well fed farmers who lived 
out of the city; but they were chiefly French and Irish 
who would crowd up again and again, get their baskets 
filled, go and empty them and hurry back for more. 


Most of the WMgs were sufficiently disgusted before the 
farce was ended. I left before the election waxed hottest, 
but learned that there was fighting, broken heads and 
bloody noses and that the Whigs were the successful 
party. " 

This result was the occasion of considerable Whig ela 
tion and corresponding chagrin in the Democratic camp. 
As the summer advanced events seemed to bring increas 
ing encouragement to the Whigs, who were promptly out 
with a call for the meeting of their congressional con 
vention and let no opportunity pass that served to de 
nounce their political adversaries or to stimulate the 
enthusiasm of their partisans. The Democratic-Bepublic- 
' ans on the contrary, with the approach of the campaign 
began to show certain evidences of incipient disorganiza 
tion. The financial disorders of the country in general 
and of the State in particular, were placing the domi 
nant party upon the defensive; immigration that short 
time before had been almost phenomenal had now almost 
ceased, and such as had become established upon the 
new farms had not yet been able through productive 
labor to maintain the prosperity in the community which 
it first felt from the expenditure of the money they 
brought with them from Eastern homes. As heretofore 
detailed the five million dollar loan was proving most 
difficult to negotiate and the grand scheme of internal 
improvements from which great results had been 
expected, was for the same reason moving with lagard 
steps. All of these elements were contributing to the 
feeling of reaction which while not yet pronoimeed was 
none the less apparent. To add to these factors of dis 
organization in the body of the party there began to be a 


lack of harmony among the leaders of the party as well. 
From the beginning Senator Lyon had found that he was 
not in full accord with his colleague, Senator Norvell, nor 
with the member of Congress, Mr. Crary, they being 
generally united in opposition to him. This lack of accord 
related to appointments rather than to public questions 
and while not a matter of press comment, as time passed 
became known to an ever widening circle of friends who 
likewise became partisans in the strife. This division 
was not so much because of loyalty to any one of the 
gentlemen at Washington as because of the attainment 
or defeat of individual ambitions ; for with many a man 
that statesman is the most sagacious and profound who 
is most influential in providing a place for the particular 
admirer in the public service. 

The Whig Convention assembled at Ann Arbor on the 
5th day of September 1838. It was a representative 
gathering from the several counties of the State. Dis 
tance was no deterring factor at this time, and it was 
one of the noteworthy incidents of the Convention that 
"one old veteran walked in over sixty miles to carry the 
wishes of his fellow citizens," The preliminary organ 
ization and the preparation and adoption of resolu 
tions consumed the greater part of the time of the 
Convention for the nomination was jnade upon the 
first roll call. Hezekiah G. Wells of Kalamazoo, 
the defeated candidate of the year before was nomi 
nated, receivng 131 votes out of a total of 164 cast. 
The remainder of the vote was divided between James 
L. Conger, William Draper, Edward L. Fuller, Daniel 
S. Bacon, Norman Little, Jacob M. Howard and John 
Renwick. Many of these men subsequently developed 


more than ordinary influence in both their party and the 
State at large. 

The resolutions, from the committee of which Jacob 
M. Howard was chairman, were more denunciatory than 
constructive in tone. The sub-treasury scheme was de 
nounced as designed to "give gold to the office holder 
and rags to the people;" the Senators were condemned 
for having helped to build up "executive power;' 1 while 
Isaac E. Crary was said to have proved himself "the 
pliant tool of power and the betrayer of his country's 
best interests/' and was further characterized as "not 
possessed of the ability or honesty requisite to form an 
enlightened statesman or distinguished legislator, ' ' The 
loss of the Toledo strip again formed the basis for much 
rhetorical flourish, that event being charged to "the 
feebleness of our State administration, pardonable only 
on the ground of juvenile indiscretion. The five million 
dollar loan together with the theft of the $4,500, was 
set forth as showing the incapacity of the Governor, and 
an article in the Detroit Free Press of the year previous, 
to the effect that the loan had been negotiated, was made 
the basis of a declaration that the Governor had "con 
nived" at the publication. The resolutions made this 
charge the basis for a demand that the Legislature inves 
tigate the Governor's "deception." 

The Democratic-Eepublican Convention assembled at 
Ann Arbor the following Tuesday, September 11. It was 
likewise well attended; but its proceedings evidenced that 
the delegates were in quite a different frame 
from that of the delegates who formed the 

week previous. That there wa& the pdssibHtf 'of 


o| harmonious action on the part of the Convention 
was a thing whispered among 9 the faithful for weeks 
before it in fact convened. The resnlt was a large attend 
ance of gentlemen of official station who were present not 
as delegates but as friends anxious that the machinery 
of organization be subjected to no strain and that it 
receive no jolts or jars that might loosen their hold upon 
its levers. The temporary and permanent organization 
of the Convention was effected without show of hostility 
from any quarter; but the first ballot for candidate 
brought forward the names of twelve gentlemen for the 
nomination. Kinsley S. Bingham headed the list with 
35 votes, Isaac E. Crary followed with 24 votes, Thomas 
Fitzgerald 18, Alpheus Felch 14, Henry Smith' 12^ and 
Warner Wing 9. Thirty more votes were cast either 
as blanks or divided among the half-dozen remaining 
candidates. At this juncture an adjournment was taken 
until the following day, and during the interval the Crary 
partisans used their persuasive powers to such good 
advantage that upon the fourth ballot that gentleman was 
accorded a nomination by a few more than a majority 
vote, with Warner Wing a close and somewhat disap 
pointed second. The resolutions adopted were as com 
mendatory as those of the Whigs had been denunciatory. 
They expressed confidence in the National and State 
admin^tm&on, supported the sub-treasury scheme, com- 
m&Bcied tbe passage of the pre-emption law; resolved 
for tk& spf edy completion of the works of internal im- 
provemepit^ f or the organization of a State bank and 
closed with a plea for vigorous and harmonious action. 
The resolutions as originally reported contained a brief 
and seemingly guarded references to the administration 


and as to the State bank project; amendments to both 
subjects in strong and forceful language were offered 
and adopted by almost unanimous vote, but the few votes 
recorded in opposition were evidence of a certain defec 
tion that was destined to increase rather than diminish. 
The Young Men's Democratic Association assembled in 
convention at Ann Arbor on September 19, and sought 
through contact and resolutions to aid the cause. A 
series of " Union Clubs'' were organized throughout the 
State to give support to the Democratic candidate which 
brought from the Whigs unmeasured condemnation as 
"offshoots of Tammany." Legislative and county tick 
ets were soon in the field and for two months press and 
public revelled in the vituperation and slander of an old- 
time campaign. 

For several days preceding the election, which occurred 
upon the 5th and 6th of November, the papers published 
formidable lists of party vigilance committees. These 
committees in some instances numbered as many as sixty 
to a voting precinct andj indicate to the present-day 
reader preparations sufficient to cope with riot and civil 
war rather than aids as at lawful election. 

The contest resulted in the re-election of Isaac E. 
Crary as the member of Congress but by a majority of 
204 as against a majority of more than a thousand the 
year before. Both Houses of th Legislature were like 
wise of the Democratic-Republican majority, the Whigs 
however having elected 6 of the 17 members of the State 
Senate and 21 of the 50 members of the House of Repre 

There was one figure of State proipinence whose pres 
ence had been lacking in the campaign and that was the 


figure of the Governor himself. Shortly following the 
convention of his party at Ann Arbor the Governor had 
quietly taken his departure for the East, leaving affairs 
of State to the care of Lieutenant Governor Mundy. If 
the negotiation of the five million dollar loan had brought 
a burden of perplexities and cares, the Governor could say 
that it had brought to him a large measure of compensa 
tion. The Governor's mission had thrown him in con 
tact with many gentlemen in the financial circles of New 
York. Among the number was Mr. Thaddeus Phelps, a 
moderately wealthy leather merchant and financial oper 
ator of that city. As a guest at his home the Governor 
met his charming daughter, Julia, and proceeded at once 
to lose his heart. Whatever criticism could be visited 
upon the Governor's financial negotiations none could be 
offered for the zeal or ardor with which he pressed to 
a successful issue the negotiations for the young lady's 
hand. To the repository of all his secrets, his sister 
Emily, he confessed Ms tender passion, and claimed for 
the object of his affection the possession of all the charms 
that were ever bestowed upon the daughters of Eve. ' ' In 
sweetness of character and real worth, " he wrote his 
sister, "she surpasses every other woman I have ever 
known. " As early as the month of May the public had 
been taken into the Governor's secret by a two or three 
line newspaper item conveying the rumored information 
the "the Governor was about to become a Benedict," 
and so we may beEeve that when in the days of early 
autumn the Governor took his departure for New York 
to attend to matters of State concern there were those 
who knew that his quest embraced more than stocks 


and bonds and that his interest would be in an affair 
quite aside from statecraft and politics. 

Governor Mason and Julia Elizabeth Phelps were 
quite unostentatiously married at New York on Novem 
ber 1, 1838. With a reasonable allowance for a lover's 
enthusiasm, we may well believe that Miss Julia in grace 
of form and feature, in strength of character and tran- 
quility of temper was all that her lover claimed for her. 
The Governor at this time was but four days past his 
twenty-seventh birthday and the bride almost seven years 
his junior. For nearly one-third of his life Stevens T. 
Mason had lived in the white glare of public scrutiny; 
he had learned something of the insincerity of the praise 
that sometimes follows success, and the injustice of the 
blame that sometimes follows failure. He was to know 
more of trial and care ; more of the sting of ingratitude 
and more of the hurt that follows slander than he had 
ever known before ; but all were to be more easily borne 
because of the loyalty and serene faith of the wife who 
for a few short years was to share every trial as eagerly 
as she shared each joy. 

For a few weeks the Governor remained in New York, 
during which time as the correspondence shows he was 
busy with certain phases of the five million dollar loap. 
and other matters intrusted to his care. With the early 
days of December the Governor and his bride began the 
long and tedious journey through New York and Upper 
Canada for Detroit where they arrived two weeks later. 
Their arrival was signalized by a welcome that was both 
gracious and unaffected, being a social event of mtjch 
interest in an especially brilliant season. 


The fourth, legislature of the State assembled at 
Detroit on Monday, the 7th day of January, 1839. On 
the day following the House organized. By a strict party 
vote Kinsley S. Bingham was re-elected speaker, the 
Whig vote being cast for Daniel S. Bacon of Monroe. 
By the same vote Elijah J. Boberts was chosen clerk, 
As Mr. Roberts was a leader among the " Patriots'' it is 
quite probable that his selection was not entirely dis 
associated from that fact, although he was a man of 
talent and well fitted for the position. On the same day 
the Senate effected its organizations. The two Houses 
thereupon convened in joint session and the Governor 
submitted his message. The opening paragraph of the 
message evinced the Governor's determination not to 
again be a candidate for the governorship. Aside from 
reference to the reports from the various departments 
of the State government, the greater portion of the mes 
sage was devoted to the consideration of the problems 
presented by the banking situation, by the projects of 
internal improvement and the five million dollar loan. 
As in previous messages although at less length, the 
Governor again emphasized his deep interest in the cause 
of general education. He cautioned the careful hus 
bandry of the endowment which the General Government 
had bestowed upon the State for the purposes of educa 
tion, and the exercise of care in the amendment of the 
school law until time had developed positive defects. 
He voiced his enthusiasm for the work of the Geological 
Survey, and with the vision of young years was pro 
phetic of the great development which time has made a 
reality. The Governor found in the practical working 
of the judicial system, so far as it related to the Supreme 


and Circuit Courts, much to be desired. Said he, "At the 
organization of our State government the judicial power 
was vested alone in one Supreme Court, the Judges of 
which were to perform the duties of Circuit Judges. 
That system exists at the present day; but from the 
increase of business in the different counties and from 
original defects, it is rendered inadequate to the accom 
plishment of the ends designed by its institution. One 
objection to the present organization is, that as the 
Judges of the Supreme Court are required to review 
their own decisions made as Presiding Judges of the Cir 
cuit Courts, the very natural and almost inevitable 
result must be, -that it tends to less the public confidence 
in the administration of justice. The Judges of the court 
of last resort, whose decisions in the law and in equity 
are final upon matters of the greatest moment to indi 
viduals and the whole community, ought, so far as the 
law is concerned, to be placed beyond the liability of all 
suspicion or imputation. " Wise as this observation was, 
it was many years before the reform was made effective. 
In connection with the reform of the judicial systenj, the 
message called attention to the administration of the 
criminal law, which because of the inadequate compen 
sation paid prosecuting attorneys, he asserted had "be 
come almost inoperative." This condition the Governor 
suggested might be remedied by a law providing for 
district prosecuting officers, who from the larger terri 
tory they might serve could be paid adequate compensa 

From the Territorial government the State had inher 
ited many statutes requiring fees and licenses to be paid 
for the carrying on of certain lines of business. To the 


whole system the Governor was opposed. Adverting to 
the broad subject he said, "The only method of raising 
the revenue of a republic should be by drawing them 
openly and directly from the people. Then they know 
and feel what their burdens are. It need not ever be 
apprehended that they will not render freely what is 
necessary for the support of the government, according 
to a just and equal system of taxation. To suppose 
the contrary is to contend that the people are incapable 
of self gpvernment. With such views I am against all 
restraints and impositions upon the ordinary pursuits of 
the citizen. " 

The question of slavery, although foreign to any con 
trol by the Legislature, was yet a question agitating the 
public mind and as such was given more than passing 
notice. Like thousands of the public men of the day, 
the Governor conceded that the institution of slavery 
was "pernicious" in its relation "to advancement and 
permanent prosperity" of the communities in which it 
existed; but he argued that it was an institution recog 
nized by the Federal Constitution, and urged that, but 
for the recognition, a Federal Union could not have been 
formed. With these views he characterized those of the 
North who were agitating the question of abolition as 
actuated "by misdirected philanthropy," which if suc 
cessful, he proceeded to say, "must not only subvert the 
domestic institution of their southern neighbors but 
endanger the union of the States as well. 9 ' 

In positive language the Governor deprecated the zeal 
which had led a portion of the citizens of the State to 
disregard the laws of the country and show contempt 


for national faith by joining in armed incursions against 
the British territory adjacent to us. 

As the Legislature of 1838 had authorized the Gover 
nor to consult some eminent jurist of the country as to 
the State's legal claim to the Toledo strip, the Governor 
now laid before the Legislature an opinion which he had 
procured from Chancellor James Kent and David B. 
Ogden of New York. The opinion was of course against 
the right of the State to review the question and marked 
the last attempt of the State authorities in the matter. 

This message has not escaped the criticism of later- 
day writers, who think they find in it a degree of optim 
ism not warranted by the then existing conditions; but 
by the average citizen of the time both in Michigan and 
at Washington it was accorded high commendation. 

The Legislature was soon at work upon a mass of 
bills of general character and unworthy of special men 
tion. The new compilation of the laws of the State was 
now in printed form as The Revised Statutes of 1838. 
A more critical examination of the work disclosed that 
it required many amendments to make it conform to what 
the Legislature had intended and directed should be 
included in it. Imprisonment for debt, which had been 
so many times the subject of the Governor's condemna 
tion was now abolished. As a state prison was now in 
course of construction a law was enacted for the govern 
ment and discipline of its officers and inmates. It pro 
vided a set of regulations which insured humane treat 
ment of the prisoners, but made small provision for any 
of the privileges and amenities now considered a part 
of prison discipline. The financial stringency had not 


yet taken hope of immediate betterment from the people 
and there were still many seeking charters for varied 
and pretentious enterprises. Incorporation was granted 
to the Genesee and Saginaw Navigation Company, whose 
amMtioTis purpose was to connect the Flint and Cass 
Rivers by a canal and thus provide the means pi naviga 
tion between Flint and Saginaw. Samuel W. Dexter, 
wl\ose memory still continues as a sound, conservative 
business man, headed a company that was given corpo 
rate powers to construct the Dexter Branch Canal, which 
was to extend up the valley of the Huron and intersect 
the Clinton and Kalamazoo Canal in the county of Liv 
ingston. Many charters were given to educational insti 
tutions. In view of the fact that three-quarters of a cen 
tury later the beet sugar industry became one of the lead 
ing industries of the State, there' is more than passing 
interest in an Act of this session which authorized a 
loan of $5,000 to the White Pigeon Beet Sugar Company, 
which was said to be the first institution of its kind in 
the United States. 

The punctilious attention which the legislative com 
mittees paid to the petitions and other matters, some 
times trivial, that were referred to them was quite at 
variance with present-day legislative practice, when peti 
tions and bills are more often referred to committee for 
burial than for attention. To a petition praying that no 
trains be allowed to run upon the State roads upon Sun 
day, the committed responded, "The moral sentiment 
which it breathes is pure, and it is entitled to the unquali 
fied respect of the Legislature," although the Legisla 
ture found no way to comply with the request. Certain 
citizens of Wayne County petitioned for authority to 


construct and operate a race track. This petition was 
referred to the committee upon agriculture and received 
the eminently practical reply that, "The universal em 
barrassment of the country calls for industry and not idle 
ness, for sobriety and not dissipation ;" "and it seems," 
continued the report, "much more desirable that the citi 
zens of Michigan should be engaged in running the plow, 
than running horses for sport." Petitions signed by 
1,354 citizens asking the prohibition of the sale of intoxi 
cating liquors were referred to the committee on State 
affairs. This committee faced the issue in a lengthy 
report wherein it accorded to the motives of the peti 
tioners its unqualified respect, but was none the less 
firmly opposed to any legislation which. might go to the 
extent of prescribing "the length of our coats, the 
fashion of our whiskers or the temper of our drinks." 

The measure of greatest public and legislative interest 
was as would be expected, the bill for the creation of 
the State bank. This bill was before the Legislature 
for many days and was finally passed by a vote of 10 to 2 
in the Senate and 40 to 6 in the House. Interest in this 
measure was unquestionably much increased by the fact 
that while it was under discussion, on the 25th of Febru 
ary, 1839, The Michigan State Bank, of Detroit, sus 
pended. This bank had been incorporated in 1835, and 
its organization perfected with $200,000 capital. Its 
cashier, Mr. John Norton Jr., had been constituted "Fis 
cal Agent" of the State and the bank became the deposi 
tory of the State funds which at the time of suspension 
amounted to more than $500,000, $350,000 being above 
all offset claimed by the bank. It subsequently developed 
that the Governor, in January, learning of the precarious 


condition of the bant had obtained from its board of 
directors a bond for $500,000 for the protection of the 
State's deposit. The State was ultimately, as were all 
other creditors, paid in full, but the jeopardy of so large 
a sum was necessarily the occasion of much well-founded 
apprehension while it furnished the theme for a consider 
able political agitation against the administration of 
State affairs. 

For the first few weeks of the session the Democratic- 
Republican majority in both Houses proceeded without 
any open rupture but was soon apparent that there was 
anything but harmonious relations between certain of 
the members. This became stiE more manifest as the 
time approached for the election of "United States Sen 
ator to succeed Hon. Lucius Lyon w!j.ose term of office 
expired on the 4th of March 1839. Senator Lyon had 
rendered service to his State that clearly entitled him to 
a re-election; but in his official life he had been more 
inclined to follow his convictions of what he believed to 
be right than what * he might have been persuaded was 
politic, and moreover he was entirely lacking in the arts 
of political intrigue. The result was that from the very 
beginning there was danger that he would fall between , 
those who opposed him for his independence of character 
on the one hand and those who were ambitious for his 
place upon the 6ther. The Hon. Warner Wing who, 
upon failure to be nominated for the office of member 
of Congress had been nominated and elected to the State 
Senate, was among the latter. It was upon the 5th of 
February that the two Houses proceeded to ballot for a 
United States Senator. In the House the Whig minority 
stood compactly for Augustus S. Porter of Detroit, while 


the majority was split among a half -dozen candidates. 
In the Senate the vote disclosed even more candidates, 
with Warner Wing heading the list with five votes to his 
credit. For two days the balloting continued with vary 
ing but undecisive result. On the 8th after many fruit 
less ballots in which from 3 to 5 Democrats had voted 
for Mr. John Biddle, the 12th ballot was taken and suf 
ficient Whigs joined with the Democrats to give Mr. 
Biddle 26 votes to 18 for Warner Wing with 7 for as 
many more candidates. Mr. Biddle thus stood as the 
nominee of the House. The prospect of a Whig Senator 
elected by a Democratic Legislature filled many Demo 
crats with chagrin and apprehension. That the warring 
Democratic members might adjust their differences with 
some semblance of privacy, a Democratic caucus was 
called, and at this gathering Warner Wing was given 
the majority indorsement. The Free Press, the party 
organ, demanded that all Democrats abide by the party 
caucus; pressure was applied from many sources^ but 
there was a number of Democrats who refused to be 
bound by the caucus or to obey the dictates of party 
leaders. Upon the 13th a ballot in the Senate gave War 
ner Wing a majority in the body, but not without the 
assistance of three Whig votes. This action on the part 
of the Senate brought forth a protest from three Demo 
cratic Senators, duly entered upon the journal of that 
body, and, the day following, a published address to the 
people of the State signed by 15 Democratic members 
of the House and Senate setting forth their opposition 
to the election of Mr, Wing as a member of the National 
Senate. They based their opposition to the gentleman 
upon the ground that being a member of the State Steoate 


he was ineligible under the State Constitution, that 
instrument providing that no member of the Legislature 
should be eligible to any civil appointment within the 
gilt of the Legislature of the State. The two Houses, 
having made nominations, met in joint session on the 
14th and proceeded to ballot for a candidate, but after 
six ballots the joint convention was obliged to adjourn 
as neither candidate was able to obtain a majority of 
the joint body. On the 16th of April the Democrats of 
the House, who were now somewhat chagrined at the 
senatorial situation, were able to get together and by a 
vote of 26 to 17 passed a resolution appointing Hon. 
Alpheus Felch Senator in the Congress of the United 
States to fill the vacancy occasioned by the expiration 
of the term of Mr. Lyon. This resolution went to the 
State Senate where it was promptly amended by a vote 
of 8 to 7 substituting the name of Warner Wing for that 
of Alpheus Felch. Upon the resolution being returned to 
the House its further consideration was indefinitely post 
poned. This proceeding the party organ now heartily 
commended, agreeing that if Mr. Wing was to be elected 
by Whigs he could not be trusted by Democrats. 

While the senatorial contest was in progress, a bill 
was passed the ostensible object of which ^as to allow 
settlers who had located upon lands that were subse 
quently selected for State and University purposes to 
purchase the same at the regulation price of $1.25 per 
acre. There is a tradition well verified, to the effect 
that the real purpose of the bill was to enable a combina 
tion of schemers to gain possession and ownership of 
some of the most valuable lands in the State at a nom 
inal figure. The Governor, ever watchful of the educa- 


tional interests of the State, at once discovered the sus 
picious character of the measure and after an investi 
gation interposed a veto. His message fully justified 
his action and unquestionably saved to the University 
a large portion of its endowment as well as other lands 
that were dedicated to the State for certain specified 

The report of John D. Pierce as Superintendent of 
Public Instruction had again shown TIITYI to be a most 
efficient officer, imbued with the highest ideals and 
endowed with the clearest pf mental vision. To the joint 
convention of House and Senate assembled to elect a 
Superintendent of Public Instruction the Governor again 
sent the name of John D. Pierce and the Convention did' 
him the honor of a well-nigh unanimous vote for re-elec 
tion. Peter Morey, whose nomination had been rejected 
by the Senate a year before had nevertheless been kept 
in office and had rendered good service; his nomination 
was now sent to the Senate and after a time was con 
firmed. The new compilation of the laws had made pro 
vision for a fourth judicial circuit, and to the judge- 
ship the Governor nominated and the (Senate confirmed 
Charles W. Whipple. The Senate had seemingly shown 
a disposition to reject a large number of the Governor/s 
appointments without apparently good reason, confirma 
tion being refused in a number of instances to notaries 
public, masters in chancery, auctioneers and many other 
minor offices which under the Constitution of 1835 were 
filled by appointment of the Governor. It may have been 
because of this temper of the Senate that John Schwarz, 
who was serving as Adjutant General and Eobert Abbott, 
the Auditor General, who desired to retire from office, 


held the same until after the adjournment of the Legis 
lature and then resigned, giving the Governor the oppor 
tunity to fill the vacancy. On the 16th of April the Gov 
ernor appointed, Isaac S. Rowland, Captain of the Brady 
Guards, to the office of Adjutant General. April 27 
Peter Desnoyers of Detroit was made State Treasurer, 
and four days later the late State Treasurer Henry How 
ard was made Auditor General. The selection of Peter 
Desnoyers as Treasurer was a highly commendable one 
as he had demonstrated his fitness and capacity in many 
positions of trust and honor and had the confidence of 
all the elements of the Detroit population whose servant 
he had been. 

The Legislature adjourned Saturday, April 20, having 
by several days exceeded the length of "any previous ses 
sion. Some people, and among them the editor of a 
denominational paper called The Michigan Observer were 
much scandalized by the fact that upon the last night 
of the session the members indulged themselves in hilar 
ity unbecoming statesmen and actually prolonged their 
session, while waiting for the enrollment of bills, into the 
early hours of the Sabbath morning, Much legislation 
of a minor but at the same time desirable character 
had been enacted, but the length of the session, the lack 
of harmonious action and more than all the failure to 
"choose a United States Senator increased rather than 
weakened the spirit of disaffection already well devel 
oped in the majority party. 


Legislature of 1839 had hardly become a reminis- 
cence when the political forces of the State began 
maneuvering for the third gubernatorial campaign. The 
financial troubles of the country increased rather than 
lessened. The people looked to the General Government 
for relief through the enactment of laws, and were far 
from satisfied with the statement that the period of dis 
aster which they were passing was the inevitable result 
of the period of speculation, over-confidence and over 
trading that had preceded it. The conditions that were 
to result in_ the defeat of Van Buren and the election 
of Harrison to the Presidency were being felt to the 
remotest corner of the Nation and were being effectively 
urged against the men and policies of the majority party 

The Whig press of Michigan was not slow in discover 
ing the weak places in the opposition armor; "wild cat" 
banks, the five million dollar loan, and the general admin 
istration of State affairs was now made to bear all the 
burden of the "hard times " and other disturbances that 
were national in character. The Loco Foco was depicted 
as a partisan whose only zeal was for the destruction 
of his country and the ruin of his State. The Democratic 
press replied with invective, retold the story of "the Whig 
party's Federalist^ parentage and aristocratic sympa 
thies, and laid the country's ills to the machinations of 


the WMgs through the United States Bank, asserting 
that through the power of wealth they had designed to 
destroy what they could not rule. The position of the 
parties made Democrats the defendants, arid in politics 
the,ca|ji}86 of a defendant is seldom popular even when 
the, defense is complete. 

Jameii Wright Gordon of Marshall had been a popular 
Whig mwber of the last succeeding State Senate, and 
no doubt if as the controlling influence with his -party 
organisation in the selection of his home town as the 
meeting place at the Whig State Convention, . although 
the town itself was attracting much attention because 
of its then rapid growth and bright prospects. What 
ever the considerations were, the pioneer Whig politi 
cians-demonstrated their loyalty by traveling one hun 
dred and ten strong, to the distant village to participate 
in their Convention which assembled on the 28th day 
of August, 1839. The first ballot of the Convention for 
the nominee for Governor showed 51 votes for William 
Woodbridge of Detroit, with 59 votes distributed between 
Augustus S. Porter, Zina Pitcher and John Biddle. 
Woodbridge had the united support of the delegates from 
the northern and western portions of the State, and, 
after the third ballot, was declared the unanimous choice 
of the Convention. One ballot was all that was required 
for th,e selection of James Wright Gordon as the candi 
date for Lieutenant Governor. George C. Bates, Thomas 
J. Drake and .Daniel S. Bacon were selected as delegates 
to the Whig JS^tion&l Convention which had already been 
called to meet at Harrisburg, Pa., for the following De 
cember 4. The resolutions put the English language to 
the test in conveying their disapprobation of opposing 


men and measures : " We abominate the sub-treasury sys 
tem in all its details, " was the unique phraseology of one 
resolution, while another resolution proclaimed that the 
effort to establish this institution was an attempt to 
" rivet the chains of despotism upon the American peo 
ple/' which, it was further declared, " cannot and must 
not be tolerated. " The State administration was de 
nounced in the most vigorous style, and most caustic 
exception was taken to the assumption of the name 
"Democratic-Republican" by the party of the opposi 
tion. "We will not," say the resolutions, "directly or 
indirectly acquiesce in the assumption by our opponents 
of a name as dear to us as it is inapplicable to them." 
Eulogistic reference was made to both candidates named, 
and Henry Clay was declared to be the great champion 
of Whig principles and the "favorite of the real Democ 
racy of Michigan," although the party support was 
pledged to ^hom ever might be nominated at the Harris- 
burg Convention. A State organization was effected and 
the Convention adjourned,.the delegates seeking their dis 
tant homes by the slow medium of stage-coach and pri 
vate conveyance. 

The Democratic State Convention assembled at Ann 
Arbor, September 11, 1839, with 145 delegates in attend 
ance. Scenting danger from Whig harmony and activ 
ity, the delegates set about the work of the Convention 
with a unanimity that had for some time been lacking 
in their councils. The first ballot showed 104 votes for 
Hon. Elon Farnsworth as the nominee for Governor, 
while the first ballot for Lieutenant Governor was nearly 
as decisive for Thomas Fitzgerald, and both were accorded 
with unanimous indorsement of the Convention. Alpheus 


Felch, Kinsley S. Bingham and Elijah B. Mitchell were 
selected as delegates to the National Convention, which 
subsequently assembled at Baltimore, May 5, 1840. The 
resolutions of the Convention, which came from a commit 
tee of which Senator Norvell was chairman, disclose the 
facile style of that cultured gentleman. In language free 
from offense they extolled the principles of the old time 
Democratic faith, declared for a strict construction of 
the Federal Constitution, for the independent treasury, 
for the restoration of a sound constitutional currency to 
the country and for a reduction of the public revenue 
to the wants of the public service. They voiced their 
party opposition to the National Bank and to the 
National Government's engaging in schemes of internal 
improvement. There were well-phrased references to 
the desirability of light taxation, caution in the creation 
of public debts and rigid accountability in public office. 
An appeal was made for "conciliation" and " zealous 
effort" and a committee instructed to issue an address, 
to the people of Michigan "repelling the misrepresenta 
tions and Calumnies cast upon Democratic men and meas 
ures by the party which acts upon no other principle 
in common than that of uncompromising hostility to 
them." The most important feature of the resolutions 
was their silence on matters of State concern. Neither 
the Governor nor the State administration received men 
tion, although a majority of the committee who reported 
the resolutions were at that time or had been members 
of the State Legislature and as such had participated 
in the State 7 s legislative program. 

The campaign which followed was lacking in some of 
the more striking details of the campaign of two years 


before ; but it was not lacking in many elements of absorb 
ing public interest or devoid of those bitter personalities 
so characteristic of the time. In the nomination of Hon. 
Elon Fame-worth for Governor, the Democrats had 
selected a gentleman of the very highest character and 
best abilities and consequently very little of a personal 
nature was urged against him, although the fact that 
he was filling an important position on the State judici 
ary, a position which he retained during the campaign, 
was made the subject of extended discussion. Thomas 
Fitzgerald was a gentleman of equal character, but he 
had served in the capacity of Banking Commissioner, 
and this gave the opposition the suggestion for the epi 
thet "The Nurse of the Wild Cats," which they were 
not slow in applying to him. Neither side escaped the 
strictures applied both to party principles and to the 
character of their leaders. The Whigs referred to Gov 
ernor Mason as a worthy successor to Benedict Arnold 
and Democrats referred to Woodbridge as "A blue light 
Connecticut Federalist; a filcher from the U. S. Treas 
ury; a disfranchiser of foreigners and the poor, a tyrant 
judge and an office seeker in his dotage." But as a 
practical political asset, the rallying cry of the Whigs 
was far more effective with the voters of the State than 
the mutual "compliments" that were bandied between 
the partisan press and which were unquestionably much 
discounted by the people at large. From their Conven 
tion to the day of election, from the press and from the 
stump, the Whigs shouted, "Woodbridge, Gordon and 
Eeform." This phrase became the campaign shibbo 
leth of the party and more than a generation later the 
lingering pioneer recalled these watchwords as the most 


distinguishing and magical feature of the canvass. It 
was a time when for reasons that were logical and for 
reasons that were fallacious there was potency in the 
word " Reform." Aside from the considerations that 
have been mentioned there were other factors that were 
influential for the popularity of the cry. The temper 
ance question was now beginning one of its periods of 
ebulition. A petition bearing more than 1,300 names ask 
ing the prohibition of the liquor traffic had been pre 
sented to the previous Legislature, and on the 26th of 
September a large and representative convention of tem 
perance workers gathered at Jackson to give stimulus 
to the cause. Another factor of influence was to be foiind 
in the disbanded "Patriots," who could find little to 
evoke their enthusiasm in either State or National 
authority. As the campaign progressed, bankruptcy and 
ruin grew more threatening in proportion as public and 
private enterprise faltered under the stagnating influ 
ence of the continuing financial disturbance. Prices were 
falling precipitately; wheat that had been selling the 
previous winter at $1.20 per bushel was now selling at 
75 cents and other produce had fallen in proportion. 
Men who a few months before had yielded to the spell of 
speculation and who had lent their influence to f atuitous 
schemes and projects were now awake to real conditions 
and seeking relief from their own folly. 

The Democrats made an active but spiritless campaign 
and the election resulted, as was not unforeseen, in the 
choice of William Woodbridge for Governor, by a vote 
of 19,070 to 17,782 for Elon Farnsworth; and James 
Wright Gordon for Lieutenant Governor by a vote of 
18,871 to 17,512 for Thomas Fitzgerald. The State ticket 


likewise carried witli it a safe Whig majority in both 
Houses of the State Legislature and insured a free hand 
for the mending of conditions and the correction of 
alleged abuses. 

Governor Mason, while taking a keen interest in the 
outcome of the canvass, was hardly an active partici 
pator in it. Following the adjournment of the Legis 
lature, accompanied by his wife he had gone to New 
York, where, leaving her he had returned to take up 
the duties of the State Government in an especially try 
ing time. In July he again returned to New York, and 
in the early days of August communicated to the mother 
and friends at home the joyous intelligence of the arrival 
of a lusty baby son who was a few days later christened 
as Stevens Thomson Mason, the first of the fourth gener 
ation to bear the name. 

A short time later the Governor reluctantly bid loved 
ones adieu and retraced his steps to Detroit where impor 
tant duties awaited his coming. The protracted financial 
stress upon the country had begun to Occasion the Gover 
nor some uneasiness as to the institutions to which the five 
million of bonds of the State had been intrusted and 
upon the solvency of which depended the prompt pay 
ment of the future installments of the loan. His appre 
hensions were in a measure confirmed by intimations 
from high officials in the institutions with Which the State 
had contracted; and shortly following Ms return he 
placed such information as he had received as well as the 
substance of his fears before the proper State officers 
and a select few of the gentlemen of Detroil of financial 
reputation, and sought their counsel as to the course 
that should be pursued to best serve the inte-ttest of the 


State. The result was that Mr. Kintzing Pritchette, 
who was about to visit Philadelphia was commissioned 
hy the Governor to treat with The Morris Canal and 
Banking Company and The Bank of the United States 
of Pennsylvania for the abrogation of the terms of the 
contract by which they had become possessed of the 
bonds of the State -so that the State might obtain a 
return of the bonds which were to be paid for by the 
installments falling due after January 1, 1840, the State 
and the two banking institutions to be thereby placed in 
their original positions so far as about two and one-half 
million of bonds was concerned. 

In the details of the transactions connected with the 
five million dollar loan no action of Governor Mason 
evinces a more zealous regard for 'the interests of the 
State than his effort at* this time to obtain the return, 
without loss to the State, of the obligations for which 
she had not yet received consideration. Had the Gov 
ernor's efforts been supplement by wise legislative action 
instead of a program of partisan politics there is good 
reason to believe that the State would have been the 
gainer by many thousands of dollars, and the story of the 
five million dollar loan would have had a very different 
sequel than was given by the sequence of events. 

It was at this time, while the Governor was facing the 
most perplexing problems and bearing the most trying 
burdens of his administration, that he was visited with 
the most pungent sorrow of his life. The father had for 
long months been absent on one of his numerous jour 
neys to Mexico and Texas and was expected soon to 
return. In early Autumn the mother had repaired to 
New York, to welcome him and accompany him to Mich- 


igan. It was while here on the 24th of November almost 
without warning that she was stricken in death. She 
had ever been her son's most loyal counselor and truest 
friend, and he had repaid her with the deepest affection 
of his ardent nature. Her death was to him a deep and 
lasting sorrow. 

The fifth Legislature assembled on the 6th day of Janu 
ary, 1840, with a Whig majority of twenty-one in the 
House and four in the Senate. On the first day of the 
session as Lieutenant Governor Mundy was leaving the 
capitol at the noon recess he was viciously assaulted by 
Col. Edward Brooks of Detroit, whom the Democratic 
press referred to as a "Whig leader. " This incident 
while universally condemned was the occasion of 
extended comment and gave the Democratic papers the 
opportunity of prefacing the announcement of the open 
ing of the new administration as the commencement of 
"The Reign of Terror." 

The House organized by the election of Henry Acker 
of Jackson as speaker and M#rk Howard of Washtenaw 
as clerk. The Democratic vote was cast for Robert 
McClelland for speaker and for Elijah J. Roberts for 
clerk. In the Senate Daniel W. Kellogg of Washtenaw 
was chosen secretary over Samuel Yorke At Lee of Kala- 
mazoo, the Democratic candidate. 

As it was then, as now, the custom in many States for 
the outgoing Governor to send a retiring or exaugural 
message to the Legislature, Governor-elect Woodbridge 
expressed to Governor Mason the propriety of his send 
ing such a message to the Michigan Legislature, a propo 
sition with which Governor Mason after some reflection 
fully agreed. He at once prepared a message, unccm- 


scions that it was to be the occasion of his own humilia 
tion. ' 

The message disclosed the Governor's clear compre 
hensive grasp of State affairs; it did not seek to min 
imize the conditions of distress under which public and 
private enterprise was laboring, nor did he seek through 
it to absolve himself from his just share in whatever 
criticism might be placed upon the mistakes and failures 
of the preceding years. It breathed the most kindly and 
tolerant spirit and conveyed information and suggestions 
of much practical value. The question of taxation and 
the necessity of retrenchment in both appropriations and 
general expenditures were extensively treated. The pub 
lic temper which led to the inauguration of the extensive 
system of internal improvements was clearly set forth; 
the progress and expenditures they had entailed were 
reviewed and the necessity for suspension of work upon 
some s of the projects was clearly foreshadowed. The 
Geological Survey, the State Penitentiary, the State 
Militia and the questions involved in the currency, the 
suspension of specie payment and the banks were all 
carefully considered. His enthusiasm kindled in the cause 
qf education; and in the university he saw an institution 
in which was to be " realized their highest expectations" 
and which was in time to "prove an honor and blessing 
to the State." "While the message could not tender con 
gratulations for prosperity then enjoyed it had in it 
the ring of hope and courage. "If there is one duty 
fronf us, higher than another," said he, "it is to assert 
and defend' the youthful fame of our rising common 
wealth. When she is charged with want of resources, 
point to her fertile fields and abundant harvests; when 


she is thought to be broken in spirt, look to the energy 
of her army of husbandmen, and when she is said to be 
burdened with taxation, refer to your statute books, and 
ask how limited is her taxation compared to that of 
neighboring and sister States.' 7 In the concluding para 
graph of the message there was a touch of pathos and 
kindly reference to his successor that is worthy of repe 
tition, as it should have insured for his communication 
at least the generous courtesy of its reception. Said he, 
"My official relations with you, fellow citizens, now ter 
minate, and it only remains for me to take my respectful 
leave.- On reviewing the period of my connection with 
the executive branch of the government of Michigan I 
find much both of pleasure and of pain, pleasure 
derived from the recollection of the generous confidence 
reposed in me by my fellow citizens and pain for the 
many unkind emotions to which my position has given 
rise. But seeking in private life that tranquility and 
good will heretofore denied me, I part from official' sta 
tion without one sigh of regret. I shall cling t6 every 
recollection making a claim upon my gratitude or service, 
and endeavor to forget the painful occurrences of the 
past. I cannot be insensible to the many errors I may have 
committed. But I derive consolation from the reflection 
that they will be amply repaired by the service of one 
whose experience is acknowledged, whose ability is 
known and whose patriotism is unquestioned. Identified 
with the early history of Michigan as a State, she shall 
have, wheresoever the vicissitudes of life may place me, 
my earnest and continued desire for her prosperity and 
welfare, and my anxious and fervent prayer that he who 
holds in his hands the fate of nations and the destinies 


of men will bestow upon her every blessing a free and 
enlightened people can desire. ' ? 

It was hardly to be expected that a communication so 
void of all that might be occasion for offense would bo 
received with contumely or disrespect, but the virus of 
bitter partisanship was still active and the Whig major 
ity was still exultant if not arrogant in their victory. 
The message had been given to the papers for publica 
tion in anticipation of its delivery at the opening of the 
session, but upon presentation to the Legislature it was 
denied acceptance, treated with resolutions of ridicule 
and sarcasm and denied a place in the records of the 

On the 7th Governor Woodbridge delivered a short 
inaugural, and on the day following sent in his message. 
It was a document conservative in tone but advancing 
very few specific recommendations. Attention was called 
to the State ? s inadequate representation in the National 
House of Representatives, and legislation recommended 
which would make provision for the election of a United 
States Senator to fill the vacancy that then existed. 
Economy and retrenchment were urged in general terms. 
The system of internal improvement was given extended 
notice, although the gist of both discussion and conclu 
sion upon the subject was contained in almost the opening 
paragraph, in which he said: "This scheme, so bold in 
its conception, so splendid in its design, so captivating 
to a fervid imagination, but yet so disproportionate to 
our present local wants, and so utterly beyond our pres 
ent means, must, I fear, as a whole at least, be given 
up." The currency and banking situation was likewise 
extendedly discussed, but more in retrospect than in 


prospect, the only direct recommendation upon the sub 
ject being, that representation of the views of the legis 
lature be made to the National Congress, who had brought 
about the whole difficulty "by not letting well enough 
alone." A hint was given that State relief might be 
obtained by hypothecating the accruing installments of 
the five million dollar loan and using the proceeds as the 
basis for an increase in the issue of one or both of the 
remaining Detroit banks (The Bank of Michigan and The 
Farmers' and Mechanics' Bank). 

The action of the Legislature in refusing to receive 
the message of the retiring Governor at once became a 
political incident of the first magnitude. The Whig press 
promptly characterized the action of Governor Mason 
as one of gross impropriety, while the Democratic press 
published the message in full, and in Michigan and 
adjoining States used the fact of its rejection as an 
example of Whig intolerance. 

It was very soon apparent that Governor Woodbridge 
much preferred that his predecessor should suffer the hu 
miliation of the position than to- take any embarrassment 
to himself and others by a generous avowal of his own 
part in the transaction. As a statement had been published 
in the Detroit Advertiser to the effect that in sending a 
message to the Legislature Governor Mason did not have 
the concurrence of Governor Woodbridge, Governor 
Mason addressed a letter to that gentleman requesting 
a statement from him as to the truth or falsity of the 
newspaper item. Interviews and much correspondence 
followed which finally reached the public prints to still 
further increase the public interest and discussion^ but 
Governor Woodbridge never came much nearer to a 


direct answer of the question propounded to Mm by 
Governor Mason than to say to Mm, "I am incapable of 
the intention to do yon injustice or to evince towards 
you other than that courtesy which I have ever received 
from you.' 7 

The first law to be passed by the Legislature was one 
to provide for the election of a United States Senator. 
Two days following the approval of the bill, Augustus 
S. Porter of Detroit was given the united WMg vote in 
both House and Senate, and in joint convention was later 
declared elected to the Senate of the United States! 
Thomas Eowland was likewise elected Secretary of State, 
Bobert Stuart State Treasurer, Eurotas P. Hastings 
Auditor General, the State Treasurer aiid Auditor Gen 
eral .being elected to fill vacancies wMch .the Governor 
by /a .rather * abstruse course jof reasoning l^ad found to 

The most of the legislation of the session was of a 
minor character. The most important action taken was 
the reorganization of the Board of Internal Improvement 
and the passage of the resolution suspending the letting 
of any new contracts or the reletting of any old contracts 
on any of the works of internal improvement. Another 
measure well calculated to create a considerable public 
discussion was a law authorizing the Auditor General to 
sell to the Bank of Michigan and the Farmers' and 
Mechanics' Bank, certain of the installments of the five 
million dollar loan. The law was enacted by practically 
a unanimous party vote and must have been designed 
to give assistance to the banks as well as advantage to 
the public. The advantage to the banks came through 
the fourth section of the law, 'which provided that no 


proceeding should be brought to forfeit the charter or 
wind up the affairs of either bank until the first Monday 
of February following, nor during the same time could 
they be required to pay their notes in specie. As Mr. 
Charles C. Trowbridge was president of the Bank of 
Michigan and Levi Co.ok was president of the the Farm 
ers' and Mechanics', and both influential in Whig poli 
tics, the things that were said by Democrats about the 
law can be well imagined; but as the Morris Canal and 
Banking Company and the Bank of the United States of 
Pennsylvania soon thereafter suspended payment upon 
accruing installments there was little left to protest 

At this session thirty-two counties in the northern 
portion of the Lower Peninsula were organized, twenty- 
nine of them were given the sonorous Indian names 
taken from the language of the tribes who had once 
roamed within their limits. In 1843 some sixteen of 
these were changed to names drawn largely from the 
Emerald Isle, so that Kaykakee, Negwegon, Wabassee, 
Anamickee, Meegisee and many other beautiful and 
appropriate names were lost to the nomenclature of 
Michigan. This session likewise marked the incorpora 
tion of the Lake Superior Fishing and Mining Company, 
the pioneer company in the development of the wonder 
ful region of the Upper Peninsula, The session 
adjourned April 1, the majority of the Legislature having 
demonstrated that it was much easier to criticize evils 
than to cure them through constructive legislation. 

What was intended to be the political sensation 0f 
the session was the report of a committee in the Sepate 
of which Mr. DeGarmo Jones was chairman pretending 


to find most suspicious circumstances connected with the 
efforts of Governor Mason and Kintzing Pritchette for 
the return of a portion of the bonds of the five minion 
dollar loan, to which attention has been already called, 
Upon the return of Mr. Pritchette from New York with 
copies of the correspondence that had passed between 
himself and the parties representing The Morris Canal 
and Banking Company and The United States Bank of 
Pennsylvania, ex-Governor Mason at once wrote to Mr. 
Hastings, the Auditor General, apprising Tiim of the, fact 
that in the later days of his administration, to use the 
language of his letter, " feeling a deep apprehension that 
loss might occur to the State from its sale of five mil 
lion of bonds to the Bank of the United States and the 
Morris Canal ajid Banking Company in consequence of 
the unprecedented depression in the money market, " 
which, he adds, "these institutions have felt severely, " 
he had intrusted a negotiation to Kintzing Pritchette 
to obtain the return to the State of two and one-half 
million of bonds. The letter further expressed regret 
that the correspondence had not been at hand so that it 
could have been placed before the Legislature at the com 
mencement of the session. Governor Woodbridge, as 
soon as the communication was called to his attention 
by the Auditor General, sent a message to the Legisla 
ture asking the appointment of a committee to treat with 
the Morris Canal and Banking Company for the modifi 
cation or abrogation of its contract. He ignored Gov 
ernor Mason in the matter and treated the information 
as having been received direct from the Morris Canal 
and Banking Company. The committee which was 
appointed, instead of taking up and endeavoring to bring 


to a successful issue the negotiations which Mr. Pritch- 
ette had instituted and carried to a point where there 
was reasonable prospect that success might be attained, 
proceeded to search for something that would support 
the charge that both Governor Mason and Mr. Pritchette 
had been actuated in their negotiations by some sinister 
and ulterior purpose. On March 10 the majority report of 
the committee was submitted to the Senate. ATI effort to 
have twice the usual number of the report printed failed, 
but it disclosed the real purpose. The report instead of 
disclosing that the whole matter had been brought to 
the attention of the Senate through a communication 
from Q-overnor Mason and that all the correspondence 
had been turned over as a part of the communication, 
gave rather the impression that the whole matter had 
been unearthed through the. diligence and astuteness of 
the committee. Needless to say the majority of the com 
mittee in a long and labored document were able to 
report among other things that, "had the Act been con 
summated at the time and in the manner proposed it must 
have been entirely illegal, a daring fraud upon the inter 
ests of the State, highly discreditable to all parties con 
cerned," and also, "had the Act been completed, the 
stigma of violated faith, must ere this, have been indeli 
bly fixed upon our escutcheon and the credit of the State 
irretrievably gone." There is % certain humor in this 
language when taken in connection with the fact, that 
in less than thirty days the institutions holding the bonds 
defaulted in their payment and the bonds upon which 
they had made no payments were gone beyond the possi 
bility of recovery by the State. Samuel Etheridge of 
Coldwater was the minority of the committee and was 


well capable of setting forth his Views of the matter, but 
thre is reason to believe from some of the language 
employed, that the minority report which he filed had at 
least been seen by Governor Mason. It too was a lengthy 
document, intended in a measure for political consump 
tion. Two paragraphs of it are worthy of reproduction, 
for they disclose the motive which prompted Governor 
Mason's efforts, and his views of the motives of those 
who were now traducing him* 

Said the minority report: "Should the purchasers 
of the State bonds fail to meet their engagements with 
the State, it is difficult to imagine an occurrence fraught 
with the consequences more fatal to the future prosper 
ity of Michigan. Burdened w^th the i&terst on five ipil- 
Hoik qf c(oE&rg for twenty yeaxs a^id the principal at tl^e 
expiration of that period, without having received but 
little more than two million of that amount, is a picture 
calculated to startle the boldest. Had such a catastrophe 
occurred, as there was every prospect, without any 
effort to prevent it, when would the sound of the clamor 
have ceased against the Executive for his culpable remiss- 
ness in neglecting the most vigorous measures to save 
the State. " The catastrophe which the Governor feared 
in fact happened, fortunately less direful in its results 
than feared ; but the sound of clamor against the Execu 
tive who made the only effort to avert it that was made, 
did not cease until another generation was active in the 
affairs of Michigan. On the second proposition the 
report said: "No effort has been spared to place the 
monetary affairs of our State before the world in their 
worst possible form. These constant and clamorous 
assertions of the absolutely desperate condition of Mich 
igan, is everywhere producing the most disastrous 


effects, and in the end, these predictions of ruin will 
bring about their own fulfillment. No motive appears 
strong enough to prevent every thing from being dragged 
into the political arena. Every good custom and well 
established principle vanishes before the demand for 
political capital. No art is too low, no tongue too base to 
be used in trumpeting to the world everything which 
seems calculated to ruin the credit of the State abroad 
and depress her interests at home, provided that a polit 
ical object can be obtained." 

The Whig press exhausted its vocabulary in its effort 
to show the " degradation" from which the State had 
been saved with many an assurance that it had been 
rescued none too soon. To the mock sensation and the 
bitter personal attacks upon him Governor Mason made 
no reply, although Mr. Pritchette who was later made 
the subject of a second report because he had called atten 
tion to the fact that a material part of his correspond 
ence had been omitted from the first report, answered his 
accusers through the medium of a formal address to the 
people of the State. 

With the adjournment of the Legislature Governor 
Mason was given a respite from political attack; for 
political forces were already marshaled for the memor 
able campaign of "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" which 
for a season was to absorb attention as never did any 
other political campaign in the history of the State. 



HP HE lesson of the defeat administered to the, Demo- 
*- cratic-Republican party at the election of 1839 was 
not lost upon its leaders. The superior organization and 
activity of the Whigs had shown Democrats that these 
factors could not be compensated by confidence in their 
own party strength. The warring factions were very 
soon conscious that actual defeat and divorce from official 
station which each had planned for the other, was a very 
different matter when the plans of both had succeeded. 
The Whig National Convention had nominated William 
Henry Harrison for the presidency, John Tyler, a Cal- 
houn Democrat for the Vice Presidency and adjourned 
without adopting a platform so that every divergent 
political element might be combined against the Demo 
cratic opposition. Harrison had always enjoyed a high 
degree of popularity in Michigan, for his official stations 
as Governor of Indiana and commanding general of the 
northwestern army in the War of 1812 had brought Mm 
into close relations and personal acquaintance with many 
of the older inhabitants. His candidacy increased the 
possibilities of the Whigs again carrying Michigan, 
which meant the election of a Whig member of Congress, 
and a Whig successor of Senator John Norvell by the 
Legislature of 1841. These possibilities, not to mention 
the loss of county offices and other positions, were most 
efficient factors in the promotion of Democratic harmony. 


The Legislature of 1840 was hardly tinder way before 
means were being taken for the gathering of the conven 
tion of the Democratic-Bepublican party at Detroit for 
the sole and only purpose of bringing the leaders together 
and promoting the enthusiasm of the members. The Con 
vention was called for the 22nd of February, and on that 
day convened with a large and representative delegatiton 
in attendance. Hon. Lucius Lyon was honored by beijig 
selected to preside, and the usual quota of "Resolves" 
were soon prepared and adopted. The resolutions cov 
ered the whole range of State and National issues, but 
perhaps the one most expressive of hope was the one 
which affirmed that "we have no reason to believe that 
3ur State has deserted her Eepublican creed and gone 
Dver permanently to our Federal opponents, " a convic 
tion being likewise expressed to the effect that "the 
sober second thought will the ensuing fall marshal her 
again side by side with her sister, States in the rank of 
Democracy." The afternoon and evening were devoted 
to speech making by the old-time Democratic orators, 
upon the fervor of whose utterances their partisans hung 
with never tiring interest. Governor Mason was among 
the number who were paid especial honor. , 

On the same day the Whigs assembled in convention 
at Ann Arbor for the purpose of putting in nomination 
candidates for presidential electors. Thomas J. Drake, 
John VanFossen and HezeMah G. Wells were duly nomi 
nated and the proprieties and festivities of the occasion 
duly observed. This gathering was succeeded by one a 
week later at "Uncle Ben" Woodworth's Hotel where 
in wine and eloquence they ratified the nomination of 
Gen. Harrison, as well as that of Dr. Zina Pitcher f 01 


Mayor of the city, the commonalty having first been 
served with resolutions at the City Hall. This was an 
event given public designation as a " grand fete," its 
primary purpose being to stimulate enthusiasm for the 
city election of the following Monday, March 3, an event 
that was looked upon as second only to the State elec 
tion. The throng that attended, the grandiloquent toasts 
that were proposed and drunk left little to be desired 
for the occasion, but the oratory must have lacked in 
efficacy, for the day following the election, hand bills were 
upon the streets announcing a " Great Democratic Jubi 
lee" for the evening, the Democrats having carried the 
city, the Mayor excepted, Dr. Pitcher being elected by 
a majority of eight votes. 

Stevens T. Mason was still the beau ideal of the young 
Democracy. The criticism that had been visited upon 
him by political antagonists had not served to lessen 
the loyalty of his many friends, for in the frank and 
unaffected democracy of his nature, the spirit with which 
he resisted attack and the natural urbanity of his manner 
there was that which typified the sentiment of his time. 
Following his retirement from office he had formed a 
copartnership with Kintzing Pritchette and opened an 
office for the practice of his profession under the firm 
name of Mason* & Pritchette. This step was taken by the 
governor with a determined purpose to apply himself 
to the mastery of legal principles and with no design to 
continue a factor in the official politics of the State; 
but he had been too long and too intimately connected 
with its history to easily resist the importunities of 
those who had been his supporters and defenders. On 
fhe evening of the "Democratic Jubilee" a vociferous 


crowd filled the City Hall to overflowing. The meeting 
was no sooner organized than there was a shout of 
* ' Mason ! Mason ! Mason ! ' 9 The ovation which greeted 
his arrival and subsequent address showed that he still 
had a place in the hearts of the people. Filled with 
enthusiasm the partisans of the meeting were inclined 
to continue their exultations, and adjourned the meeting 
to the following Saturday evening when Governor Mason 
was again forced to become the principal speaker of the 
evening. The campaign of "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" 
was now on, and Governor Mason whether he willed it 
or not was to be a conspicuous figure on the hustings. 

The Democrats had been quite universally successful 
at the April elections and looked forward with rising 
hopes for the Autumn contest. Writing to a Kentucky 
friend Governor Mason said: "Tell Judge Hickey he 
shall hear a good account from Michigan in November, 
that we have beaten the Federalists at all the April elec 
tions, and that even the potent charms of 'Log Cabin 
and hard eider,' 'gingerbread generals and small bekr' 
cannot redeem their sinking cause ;" but events were to 
prove that the Governor had under estimated the potency 
of log cabins and hard cider. By the Fourth of July there 
was scarce a town where a log cabin had not been erected 
to serve as the Whig headquarters. The one at Detroit 
was located at the northeast corner of Jefferson Avenue 
and Randolph Street. For days the Whig patriots 
assisted in drawing the logs from the adjacent forest and 
fitting them for the building. On April 15 a large crowd 
assembled for the "raising" and before nightfall they 
had reared a structure forty by fifty feet in dimensions, 
a bottle of hard cider having been placed beneath each of 


its four corners as one of the important parts of the 
ceremony. The cabin was profusely decorated with arti 
cles tacked to its sides or suspended from the rafters 
suggestive of pioneer life. A live bear and a few stuffed 
owls, wild cats and raccoons were added by way of attrac 
tions, and a crude chandelier formed from the roots of 
a small tree bearing many tallow candles was suspended 
from the roof and in the evening furnished the principal 
illumination of the room. The dedication, which was 
set for the 21st of April, was a very important affair. 
Due notice of the event had been given in the Advertiser, 
and the ladies had been called upon to furnish for the 
occasion "cornbread and such other log c^bin fare as 
their Mnd hearts and ingenuity may dictate." Needess 
to say they responded liberally to the call and at the 
appointed hour had loaded the tables about the cabin 
sides with johnny-cake, pork and beans and the substan 
tial fare of pioneer Michigan. A large crowd gathered 
and in the fitful glare of the tallow dip listened to the 
oration of the occasion, dispatched the provisions pro 
vided and concluded the festivities with many a toast 
drunk with hard cider. From this time forward to elec 
tion the political rally was the order of the day, the 
Whigs meeting regularly at the Cabin and the Democrats 
at the City Hall. At the meeting of the "Democratic 
Association " as the city club of the Democratic party 
was called, Governor Mason was upon many occasions 
the speaker pressed into service, the newspapers having 
preserved the records that he was " greeted with that 
heartfelt and peculiar enthusiasm which always attends 
his appeara#ce. ' ' 
A letter from Governor Mason to his sister Laura at 


this time is expressive of the Governor's activities, of 
public conditions and affords a glimpse of some of the 
personal qualities that were distinguishing features of 
his nature. 

"For the winter," reads the letter, "I have endeavored 
to confine myself to the quiet routine of an attorney's 
life, but as might have been expected, all my efforts have 
failed, I had hoped when retiring from public life, I 
might have some respite from the toils * of politics, but 
find myself as deep in the game as ever; so, that with 
the divided allegiance, between law office and political 
speech making I am more occupied than ever." Advert 
ing to public conditions he proceeded to say, "You will 
find Detroit sadly changed. The bubble of false pros 
perity has burst from under us and we are down again 
to the realities of earth. The streets every day look like 
Sunday, and in every direction you hear nothing but 
the croakings of hard times ; but we may extract a jewel 
from the uses of adversity, and will learn wisdom enough, 
to last us in after life." He proceeds to more intimate 
personal matters and does not omit to sing a proud fath 
er's praise of a baby son. Says he, "You have yet to see 
your nephew whose praises have been so often recorded. 
He may be considered the greatest prodigy of the age; 
and although I say it, he is the most beautiful and intelli 
gent youngster in the Eepublic. In a few days he mounts 
his short dresses the first great epoch in his onward 
march to manhood. I shall turn him over to you and 
Emily, when you arrive, and rest assured, youTl have 
your hands full, for he is already the very personifica 
tion of mischief." The sister Kate had now become Mrs. 
Isaac S. Rowland, and there is much of human interest in 


the brief statement of the Governor that her home "is 
on Woodward Avenue, and although not very extensive, 
is all sufficient to answer her wants." "In fact," he 
concludes, "a peasant's cot has to her all the charms 
of a palace." 

It is quite evident that the Sunday aspect of Detroit 
of which the letter makes mention was subject to some 
very marked exceptions, although be it said, they were 
mostly political in character. On June 11, 1840, an im 
mense gathering of Whigs was convened at Fort Meigs 
on the rapids of the Maumee, the scene of one of Harri 
son 's military exploits in the War of 1812. General Har 
rison and other gentlemen of national prominence were 
present. * Speeches were made by the leaders of the Whig 
party; a sham battle was fought and the "ocfcagion made 
in every respect the most important political gathering 
that had ever assembled in the West. Delegations to the 
celebration from Michigan came to Detroit frotia every 
part of the State. They were entertained with free lunch 
at the Cabin ; the people were out in mass, and with flying 
banners and beating drums they marched to the wharf 
where five steamboats were loaded with the enthusiastic 
political pilgrims. 

Two weeks later, on June 24, the Democratic-Bepub- 
licans journeyed to Marshall to participate in a State 
Convention to nominate presidential electors and a can 
didate for member of Congress. Jonathan Kearsley of 
Detroit was made president of the Convention, which 
promptly set about its labors. The balloting showed that 
Hon. Isaac E. Crary still had a very respectable follow 
ing; but on the fourth ballot the nomination for member 
of Congress went to Alpheus Felch, then of Monroe. 


Charles Moran of Wayne, Kinsley S. Biugham of Liv 
ingston and Charles E. Stuart of Kalamazoo were named 
as electors. The National Democratic-Republican Con 
vention which had assembled at Baltimore, Md. May 5, 
had renominated Martin Van Buren for the Presidency, 
but had referred the nomination for Vice President to 
the several States. The Marshall Convention was there 
fore unique, in that it was the only one in the history 
of the State to participate as such in the nomination of 
a candidate upon the national ticket, which it did by the 
unanimous adoption of the following resolution : 

"Resolved, that reposing full and undiminished confi 
dence in the talents, integrity and Democratic principles 
of Eichard M. Johnson, we do hereby nominate Trim for 
a re-election on the part of the Democracy of the State 
of Michigan. 77 

Various committee were selected, the two most impor 
tant being a State Central Committee of seven and a com 
mittee of like number charged with issuing an address 
to the people of the State. Q-overnor Mason was made 
a member of each committee. The dedication of Whig 
log cabins and counted Democratic demonstrations were 
now the chief diversion of the people. The Whig Con 
vention for the nomination of a candidate for member 
of Congress was convened at Jackson on September 10, 
1840 ; John Biddle was chosen to preside, and four ballots 
taken before a majority was secured for Jacob M. How 
ard who was then declared the nominee. The resolutions 
referred almost exclusively to national affairs, with apt 
quotations from Thomas Jefferson, designed no doubt to 
show that they were the true followers of his creed. 

During the campaign Vice President Johnson made a 


tour of several of the States and Detroit was included in 
the itinerary. For weeks before, Democrats looked for 
ward to the event, and elaborate preparations were made 
for the entertainment of the old hero who nearly twenty- 
six years before had been the most prominent figure in 
the battle of the Thames. The celebration was planned for 
the 28th of September, and on that day an immense 
throng gathered at Detroit to welcome the distinguished 
guest. Just before noon the steamer Gen. Scott arrived 
with Col. Johnson and his suite aboard. From the wharf 
the party were escorted to a stand erected for the occa 
sion before the National Hotel. Here Governor Mason 
delivered an address of welcome on behalf of the Democ 
racy of the State, to which responses were made by vari 
ous members of the party. On the Cass farm a barbecue 
of extensive proportions was served to the assembled 
multitude, and there in the afternoon the addresses or 
the day were delivered, the principal speeches being 
mad'e by Col. Johnson and Congressman Steenrod of Vir 
ginia. The Vice-Presidential party took its departure 
for Ann Arbor the day following and later for Adrian, 
holding a large meeting at each of these places as well as 
at some of the points intervening. While Democrats were 
thus exulting, the Whigs were planning a counter demon 
stration to be held at Detroit two days later. Stimulated 
by the success of the Johnson meeting, couriers scattered 
hand bills through the adjacent counties urging every 
Whig to action. The meeting had been previously adver 
tised and with the early dawn of September 30 the whole 
country-side was journeying toward Detroit. One hun 
dred and three wagons bearing a delegation of six hun 
dred came from Farmington alone. The Dearborn 


gation arrived in a mounted log cabin drawn by twenty 
yoke of oxen. Plymouth, Livonia and other nearby ham- 
lets sent in monster companies in unique and nondescript 
conveyances. It was estimated that fifteen thousand peo 
ple were in attendance before evening. Every delega 
tion brought additions to the food supply, which was 
deposited upon long tables in Williams & Wilson's ware 
house to be later doled out to every applicant. An 
immense procession was the feature of the day and in 
the evening large meetings were addressed at the Capitol, 
City Hall, log cabin and a large warehouse hastily made 
ready for the occasion. 

The Democrats made a spirited campaign, but there 
was that in the times and in the magic of "Old Tip/' 
log cabins, coon skins and hard cider that appealed to 
the pioneer enthusiasm of the West and that could not 
be overcome. The election was a victory for Harrison 
and Tyler in both State and Nation. They carried the 
State by a vote of 22,933 to 21,096 the greater portion of 
the Whig majority being furnished by the counties of 
Washtenaw, Jackson, Lenawee and Kalamazoo. Har 
rison's vote likewise insured the election of Jacob M* 
Howard as member of Congress, but by the reduced 
vote of 22,759 to 21,464. The Legislature which the year 
before had been overwhelmingly Whig was now danger 
ously near a tie. This result seems to have been antici 
pated, for at the conclusion of the voting in Hamtr&mck 
Township where Democratic majorities of from 126 to 
130 were given to all other candidates, the Democratic 
guardian of the ballot box containing the ballots cast for 
members of the Legislature, was filled with strong ctrink 
through the hospitality of a Whig friend, and when h$ 


recovered consciousness it was without knowledge of 
wb&t had become of the ballot box or its contents. With 
out the vote of Hamtramck, six Whig members of the 
legislature were elected from Wayne county, with the 
vote of Hamtramck there was every reason to believe 
that six Democrats had been elected. The canvassers 
gave certificates to neither set of candidates but returned 
the fact to the Legislature. The Democrats sought upon 
the assembling of the Legislature for the immediate 
passage of a law calling a new and immediate elec- 
tioai for Wayne County, but the Whigs did not propose 
to exchange a certainty for an -uncertainty, and by a vote 
of 22 to 21 seated the Whig claimants, ihuR insuring a 
free hand in their legislative program. The Democrats 
entered solemn? protest, the press fulminated and crim 
inal proceedings were pressed; but the Whigs held their 
seats and the only man to suffer was the poor custodian 
of the ballot box who had partaken of Whig hospitality. 
The Legislature assembled at Detroit for the com 
mencement of the sixth Legislative session on January 4, 
1841. Owing to the contest in the House that body did 
not proceed to organize by the election of a speaker until 
January 6, at which time Philo C. Fuller of Adrian was 
selected, he having teen elected pro tempore on the first 
assembling of the Legislature. On January 7 Governor 
Woodbridge delivered his message, a lengthy document 
which- entered into the details of many matters of minor 
importance and into others that were wholly of national 
concern. The report of the Commissioners of Internal 
Improvement disclosed that on November 23 previous, 
cars had commenced running upon the Southern road 
from Monroe to Adrian and the Central had progressed 
to within four iniles of Dexter, with a considerable 


amount of construction done between that point and Jack 
son. An effort to remove a quantity of railroad iron 
from Monroe for the completion of the line into Dexter 
had been met with open hostility upon the part of the 
"Independent State," as Monroe came to be designated, 
and the commissioners were forced to retreat or become 
parties to a breach of the peace. The Clinton and Kala- 
mazoo Canal was reported as approaching completion 
between Frederick and Rochester, and both the Grand 
and St. Joseph Rivers were mentioned as worthy of 
further appropriations. While the reports in no place 
recommend that any particular work be cast off, there 
was plain intimation that the condition of the State's 
finances made it imperative that some one or more of 
the projects be selected to receive such aid as the State 
in its crippled condition would be able to bestow. The 
Legislature, however, found it quite as difficult to let go, 
as their predecessors had to limit the objects of State 
aid, although there were evidences that the Central and 
Southern roads wo-qjld be the final projects to which the 
State would confine its efforts. Construction upon the 
first was authorized to Kaianmzoo and upon the second 
to Hillsdale. The Northern road was given an appro 
priation of $30,000 for the purpose of converting it into 
a wagon road. The appropriation to the Saginaw Canal 
was withdrawn, and $5,000 ordered to be expended upon 
the Saginaw turnpike. Twenty-five thousand dollars was 
given to the Clinton and Kalamazoo Canal and some 
small unexpended appropriations ordered spent upon the 
Kalamazoo and St. Joseph Rivers. The Legislature was 
still willing to assist in the development of the salt indus 
try, and for the first time in the history of the St&te 


gave attention to the possible production of copper, 
through a resolution looking to congressional action 
encouraging the collection and dissemination of knowl 
edge relating to mining and smelting of copper ores. 

The finances of the State were still in a chaotic condi 
tion ; taxes were unpaid and the only source of payment 
for a considerable portion of the general expenses of the 
State as well as interest upon the loans was by dis 
counting the dubious prospects on the five million dollar 
loan. Again the Legislature provided for the suspension 
of specie payment as well as special protection to the 
Bank of Michigan and the Farmers' and Mechanics 
Bank, an Act that was far from popular with the people, 
who were beginning to say, "It is time for the banks 
to pay up or wind up. 9 ' 

In the senatorial contest the Democrats demonstrated 
that they could unite much better in defeat than in victory. 
The great majority of the Whigs in both House and 
Senate were loyal supporters of James Wright Gordon, 
the Lieutenant Governor, for the senatorship. There is 
a tradition, attested by the reminiscence of many an old 
politician that James Wright Gordon was the clear choice 
of the senatorial caucus of his party, and that in the late 
hours of night as in wine and flow of soul he celebrated 
his prospective honors with his loyal friends, the Demo 
crats sealed a compact for his defeat with a half dozen 
Whig malcontents. Gordon was promptly nominated in 
the Senate by the unanimous Whig vote of .eleven. But 
in the House he could never command the vote of more 
than twenty. On February 3> the two Houses met in joint 
session and the Democrats cast their united support for 
their old enemy Governor William Woodbridge, who 


elected by the help of the few "Whigs who had deserted 
their own party choice. The generous encomium which 
the Free Press passed upon Governor Woodbridge after 
his election was in marked contrast to the expressed sen 
timents of former days and tended more to exasperate 
the Whigs than the defeat of their candidate. The 
Advertiser undoubtedly diagnosed the situation correctly 
when it observed that "the motive of the minority is 
sufficiently obvious, first to excite personal heartburnings 
and secondly to excite the westerly portion of the State 
against the easterly portion by concentrating all the 
important offices at Detroit. 

It certainly amounted to a concentration, for Governor 
Woodbridge continued to exercise the duties of the gov 
ernorship until about the time he took up the duties of 
United States Senator, March 4. Upon the retirement of 
Governor Woodbridge, James Wright Gordon by virtue ' 
of his office as Lieutenant Governor became the Acting 
Governor of the State, a position he continued to hold 
until the expiration of the term. The Whigs, however, 
were not to let the session pass without an effort at the 
accomplishment of something that would serve the pur 
pose of political capital. The five million dollar loan 
which had served so long the purposes of political " thun 
der " Was to be the third time investigated and made to 
furnish a sensation of most astounding character. The 
Legislature of 1840, refusing to avail itself of the nego 
tiations introduced by Governor Mason and conducted by 
Mr. Pritchette, had sought rather to grant new powers 
to Eobert Stuart, the new State Treasurer, to open nego 
tiations for security for the unpaid installments upon 
the loan. On January 14, 1841, Governor Woodbridge 


submitted a message to the Legislature accompanied by 
th,e report of the treasurer, to which was appended an 
extended document in the form of a bill in chancery on 
the part of the State of Michigan against The Morris 
Canal and Banking Company and addressed to the Chan 
cellor of the State of New Jersey. No case of the nature 
indicated by the bill seems to have been instituted in 
the Chancellor's Court of New Jersey and just the pur 
pose of the document is not clear. If designed to blacken 
the character of Governor Mason, it was most skillfully 
adapted to the purpose. The message and accompany 
ing documents, upon being referred to the finance com 
mittee of the Senate, of which DeGarmo Jones of Detroit 
and James M. Edmonds of Ypsilanti were the controll 
ing members, was at once made the subject of a most 
-mysterious investigation. Governor Mason was at the 
time in the East, his time being occupied in the cities 
of Washington, Baltimore and New York. As it was 
known that he was not to return until after the opening 
of navigation in the Spring, some of his friends sought 
to protect his interests before the committee >ut were 
refused the privilege. Berg. F. H. "Witherell, a promi 
nent attorney of Detroit and at that time a member of 
the State Senate, at once volunteered Ms services in 
Governor Mason's behalf, and upon being refused the 
right of producing or cross-examining witnesses before 
the committee he took the matter to the floor of the Senate, 
where by a party vote he was again refused and Gov 
ernor Mason, although his reputation was to be blackened 
and his character aspersed was refused the privilege of 
a hearing or defense. The malicious product of this 
"investigation" was in keeping with the spirit that had 


been exhibited by the committee and the majority 'that 
had supported it. The report was filed on the 27th of 
March 1841. Upon the testimony of Theodore Eomeyn, 
who seems to have been willing to admit his own want 
of honor that he might assist in besmirching the reputa 
tion of Governor Mason, the committee based their 
charges and insinuations against the Governor of pecu 
lation and corruption. Before the committee of 1839, 
Mr. Eomeyn had testified "I have never directly or indi 
rectly drawn any money from the State for my own pur 
poses, neither have I received from Governor Mason any 
accommodations or advances." This solemn statement 
seems to have in no manner interfered with his making 
claim before the committee of 1841 to the effect that he 
and Governor Mason had sought and had derived finan 
cial profit from the State's loan. 

Governor Mason and family returned to Detroit in the 
early spring, but not before he had received a letter from 
Mr. Eomeyn saying among other things, "I think if I 
could see you in person that we could arrange answers 
that would be more satisfactory than if published with 
out consultation. " This letter brought from the Gover 
nor a most stinging rebuke. As soon as possible after 
his return the governor set about the preparation of his 
defense to the slander which the committee had under 
cover of its official position passed against him. On 
May 11 he issued an address to The People of Michigan,, 
in the form of a pamphlet of some forty pages. Against 
the men who had so persistently and maliciously pursued 
him it was a forceful and bitter arraignment. He speaks 
of them as "Assassins of private character " who had 
found encouragement to do their office upon his name 


before he could return among them. The story of Robert 
Stuart as contained in the bill of complain he dismissed 
with t^ie statement that "nothing could be more false." 
Of DeG-armo Jones and James M. Edmonds of the Sen 
ate committee he speaks as "my violent personal and 
political enemies" as searching for "pliant instruments 
to aid their work of infamy" and as having found them 
in "the one a starveling refugee from abroad and the 
other an unacquitted felon of this city. " " Such, * ' he con- 
eluded, "were the instruments chosen by the committee 
to blacken my reputation during my absence from the 

The charges themselves were answered in a patient, 
clear and explicit manner. In nearly every instance he 
fortified his own claim by reference to unquestioned doc 
umentary proof. In the conclusion of this somewhat 
unusual document the Governor said: "I have thus, 
fellow citizens, endeavored to place before you a full 
answer to all the accusations preferred against me by 
the committee. Whilst I am free to acknowledge that 
there is no external reward so dear to me as the good 
opinion of my fellow citizens, even to secure that reward 
I would not mistake the grounds of my defense. I act 
as a private citizen unjustly and ruthlessly assailed. 
Circumstances render it probable that I shall never again 
be a candidate for your suffrages. I have therefore no 
political purpose to effect. I strike in defense of my 
name and all that is dear to me. I have left your service 
poorer than I entered it ; and if I have any earthly boast, 
it is that T have never intentionally wronged the public. 
That I have felt the imputations cast against me I do not 
pretend to deny; but the consciousness -of my own integ- 


rity of purpose, has afforded me an inward pride and 
satisfaction that the world can not rob me of. To the 
people of Michigan I owe many obligations, and with 
the last pulsations of life I shall acknowledge and remem 
ber their kindness." 

There is a certain pathos in the concluding sentence 
when we remember that life's "last pulsation " for him 
was only a -short time away. 

The address was answered by one from Theodore 
Bomeyn in which he sought to show their joint wrong 
and to argue that the Governor was guilty of still other 
official wrong doing. This the Governor answered with 
a single sheet of documentary refutation, which closed 
the controversy so far as formal documentary charges 
were concerned. 

It has never been contended that the verdict of the 
people sustained the charges made, but unfortunately 
their judgment could not be entered as was the slander 
in the annals of the State. 

As the term of John D. Pierce as Superintendent of 
Public Instruction was about to expire, the two Houses 
on April 6 in joint session elected Franklin Sawyer Jr. 
to the position. Mr. Sawyer was a gentleman well quali 
fied for the place, a graduate of Harvard University 
he had come to Michigan about 1830, had acquired a legal 
education and practiced for a time in company with 
Jacob M. Howard. Later he took up newspaper work, 
first as editor of the Courier and then as editor and 
one of the proprietors of the Daily Advertiser, a 
work much more suited to his taste, which was decid 
edly literary in character. On April 13 the Legisla 
ture adjourned, the last Whig Legislature to assemble 


in the State. The administration that had been heralded 
with great promise of reform had in many important 
particulars -failed to meet the expectations of the people; 
there had been more of promise than performance. So 
many of the conditions for which a remedy was being 
demanded were the result of causes general and national 
in character that only the slow recuperative processes of 
constructive labor in development and production could 
mend; While the Whig administration at its close could 
show little or no betterment in the conditions against 
which it had directed its most bitter denunciation, it was 
nevertheless a most helpful interregnum, for it made it 
much more easy for the succeeding administration to 
place the affairs of state in harmony with the abilities and 
conditions of the people. 

The national administration was to prove even more 
of a disappointment than had the administration within 
the State. On April 4 President Harrison died. Vice 
President Tyler was thus elevated to the Presidency 
within a month of the inauguration. He retained Har 
rison's Cabinet and promised to carry out his policy, a 
thing that by reason of training and conviction he was 
not able to do. A special session of Congress had already 
been called to assemble May 31. It met and continued 
its labors until September 13th. The most distinguish 
ing feature of the session was the bitter quarrel that 
developed between flie Whig majority and the President, 
resulting in the resignation of all the members of the 
Cabinet except one 1 and in a manifesto from the Whig 
m'embers to the effect that all political relation between 
them and John Tyler was at an end. The cry of "Tippe- 

1. Daniel Webster Sec. of State. 


canoe and Tyler too" had lost its charm; there was 
no longer interest in log cabins or potency in hard cider. 
In Michigan the Whigs were facing a State campaign 
with dejection and . dissension where twelve months 
before all had been enthusiasm and confidence. 



Governor Mason's retirement from office in 
January, 1840, came the necessity of engaging in 
some occupation which would secure for himself and his 
growing family a respectable livelihood. The ceasing 
of his official salary compelled retrenchment and econ 
omies. The business outlook in general was dark, and 
the personal antagonisms arising and continued from 
the heated political strifes of the years covering the 
governorship were many and bitter. Mason's own cour 
teous manner and thorough kindness even to his polit 
ical opponents took away much of the sting of personal 
animosity to him, but it was not easy to forget or forgive 
all that was said. 

Detroit had a population of 9,000, and, as the entry 
port of the State, transacted a large amount of business 
with consequent litigation; so that with his prestige of 
high official position and large personal acquaintance, 
the opportunity offered to him in Detroit for entry into 
the practice of the profession to which he had been 
admitted might seem attractive. The bitter personali 
ties, however, and the attacks through the Legislature 
in consequence of the five million dollar loan all com 
bined to turn the thought of the young man now 28 

to other fields. 

The natural bent of young Mason's mind had been 
toward the law, and in the intervals of his duties as Sec- 


retary of the Territory, he had found time to read suf 
ficient law to enable him to pass without difficulty the 
examination required of applicants for admission to the 
bar; on Dec. 6, 1833, he had been admitted to practice 
in the Wayne County Circuit Court, and on the 23rd 
of July following was admitted to the Supreme Court. 

In anticipation of his retiring from office he had 
arranged to take up the practice of his profession. He 
began with a short-lived partnership with E. B. Har- 
rmgton, a capable young lawyer who had come to Detroit 
in 1838 from Port Huron, where he had established a 
newspaper ; the Lake Huron Observer, edited it and prac 
ticed law, had been appointed Master in Chancery by 
his future partner, who had also appointed him together 
with E. J. Roberts in January, 1838, to oversee the pub 
lication of the laws of the State compiled by Hon. W. 
A. Fletcher. He was also appointed in 1839 first 
Eeporter of the Chancery Court of Michigan, and died 
in 1844 a young man of 35 years. After the termination 
of this partnership in the summer of 1840, the firm of 
Mason & Pritchette was established, and lasted till Mason 
removed to New York. The junior member of this firm, 
the senior in age, had come to the Territory in 1831 
with Governor Porter, and had rapidly established a 
close friendship with the young Secretary; and when 
the latter became Governor of the State, his first appoint 
ment to office was to make his friend Secretary of State. 
The law business of this firm was not extensive. An 
occasional suit at law or in chancery or the foreclosure 
of a mortgage are all that the records disclose. His 
wife's connections lived in New York City, and they no 
doubt urged the opportunities the large city presented to 


the talented young man of such unusual experience and 
acquaintance. After a year spent in the nominal prac 
tice of his profession he determined to remove to New 
York. In January of 1841 he was in the latter city for 
some time, and upon his return sold his household goods 
and in the Fall of the year, after the election campaign 
was over, he left Detroit forever. 

Upon his arrival in New York he arranged for board 
ing at a house on Leonard Street, near Broadway, and 
at oiice plunged into the hard work of a law student. 
He was determined to succeed, and it was necessary not 
only to familiarize himself with the laws of New York 
State, but to deepen and broaden his legal foundations. 
He had some old friends and rapidly made new ones. 
His father suggested that Baltimoffe inight be an even 
more advantageous location than New York, but in April, 
1842, the young lawyer wrote that he had already formed 
an extensive acquaintance, had obtained admission to all 
the courts and already had about ten cases, and that he 
had no fear of the ultimate results. 

In the same month of April, with a view both to econ 
omy and health for himself and family, he moved over 
to Staten Island. He confessed that he had formed but 
a limited idea of the difficulties of his undertaking in 
coming to New York, that his absolutely necessary living 
expenses were $1,500 a year, and that his only capital 
consisted of hope, energy and perseverance. These quali 
ties however he had in abundance and he needed them 
alL His family increased in March, 1842, by the birth 
of a boy, thus giving him three young children besides 
himself and his wife to support. The business conditions 
were very bad ; his father-in-law, Mr. Phelps, who seems 


to have been very pessimistic over the future, had retired 
from business and prophesied a long period of financial 

Mason not only had optimistic qualities, but also dis 
cernment and judgment. In July, 1842, he wrote to his 
father that in New York humility and modesty were not 
appreciated, that a man to succeed must keep up appear 
ances and seek the society of those who could benefit Mm 
in his profession, otherwise he would starve to death. 

It is not probable that he needed to apply much of the 
worldly wisdom to his own actions. He was of the stamp 
who would make friends everywhere through following 
his natural inclination and habits. During the summer 
and fall of 1842 enough business, some small part crim 
inal cases, came to him so that he was able to pay his 
way and to feel that he had "a very respectable docket 
for a new beginner. ' ' 

A ready speaker, he was glad to extend his acquain 
tance and influence by public addresses, and the last 
public act if his life was to deliver a lecture about two 
weeks before his death to the Richmond Lyceum on 
Staten Island. The subject was "The History of the 
Northwest, " and we may well imagine that his audience 
had an unusual treat in having this subject presented by 
a man who had helped so greatly in making the history 
of an important part of that very Territory. 

When cold weather came on he brought his family back 
from Staten Island to New York and entered the winter 
with good prospects, certainty of hard work, and high 
hopes of a happy and prosperous future, with dreams 
no doubt of a time when he should have attained fame 
and success in the metropolis o? the country, won by his 


own efforts and ability, and when he would return, a 
visitor, to the scene of his youthful official career, justify 
ing the hopes and expectations of his friends and bring 
ing derision to the scoffs and criticisms of his old enemies. 

These prospects, these hopes, these dreams all went 
for naught. As a sudden frost destroys the buds and 
opening blooms, Death interposed its hand and the 
earthly career of Stevens T. Mason came to a sudden 
and most unexpected termination. No language could 
better describe the event than the letter from the heart 
broken father to the young and beloved sister at Detroit. 
It is dated at New York, Jan. 5, 1843 : 

"I attempted to write you last night but found myisili 
unequal to the task, and am now little better prepatecl 
to "announce to you a most heartrending event. Our 
fight siffictions for the last year we bore not without 
repining, but they were temporary and susceptible of 
aleviation. Now we have to summon to our aid the 
strength we possess and to call to our relief the only 
power that is capable of it, the power of religion, the 
trust in rod that all His ways are best. Your beloved 
brother is no more I cannot yet realize the awful truth, 
but it is nevertheless so. He now lies a corpse in this 
house. His sickness was not considered dangerous till 
two hours before his death, and it was so sudden, so calm 
and free from pain, that to look on him this moment 'the 
serenity of his countenance cheats you into the belief that 
he still lives. Yes! he does, but in another world, the 
destined abode of us all. He was taken on the night of 
the first with a vomiting, on the second complained of 
a sick headache and did not go out, on the third sent for 
Dr. Boyd who pronounced his disease an inflammatory 


sore throat, applied leaches and gave Mm medicine. On 
the fourth I became alarmed and called Dr. Grayson, who 
saw him in consultation with Boyd, and hoth considered 
his case not dangerous. Accidentally Dr. Mott came on a 
visit, ten minutes after his physicians left, and told me 
he was dangerously ill, and feared he could not live, 
and unless relief came immediately two hours would ter 
minate his existence, and said his case was a suppressed 
scarlet fever. His predictions were alas ! too true, and 
at 3 o'clock he expired without a groan, and in such 
entire absence of pain, that he seemed to fall into a com 
posing sleep. Little did we apprehend that it was the 
sleep of death, from which he can only awake at the 
resurrection, such is the will of God, and we must sub-* 
mit ; and in true faith believe that this decree is accord 
ing to His wisdom and goodness, for the best, hard as 
it is for us to bear the- infliction. 

" Julia is in a state of distraction and I can hardly tell 
the character of my own mind. I shall write to you again 
in a day or two but it is impossible for me to afford 
consolation other than your own minds will present: a 
submission to the will of God, to whom I commend you, 
and pray that He may give you strength to sustain you 
under the heartrending calamity which it has been His 
pleasure to award us. 

' * Your affectionate father, 


The body was placed in the vault of Ma'son's father- 
in-law in Marble Cemetery in New York City, a small 
cemetery in the block bounded by the Bowery and Sec 
ond Avenue, Second and Third Streets, and there it 


remained for sixty-two years, when it was brought to 
Detroit, the place where in spirit he had hoped fondly 
to return; and here his remains now lie, covered by a 
monument erected by the great State whose early career 
he had so deeply influenced. 

The news o his death reached Detroit January 12, 
and the unanimity of sorrow and grief felt and expressed 
by all from all ages, classes and political parties was 
most remarkable. The bitter partisan antagonism which 
had been so rampant completely disappeared, and with 
one voice his old friends and his former political enemies 
joined, in tributes to his memory. The Free Press came 
out with heavy mourning lines between its columns and 
in a long editorial the writer spoke feelingly of his many 
virtue, his endearing qualities, and his sterling merits. 
14 aftecl J4m ^ifce BK>st honored citken and universally 
beloved friend of Michigan, the gifted orator, the tal 
ented statesman, the high souled patriot, the warm 
hearted, frank, generous, noble and magnanimous 

The Gazette, whose editor, Sheldon McKnight, had 
long been a warm friend and admirer of Mason, spoke 
of him in high terms. "He was an excellent son, and a 
devoted husband and father. His abilities were of a Mgh 
order, his information general and extensive, his elo 
quence ardent and impressive. If he had political ene 
mies they were fewer than ever fell to the lot of any 
other public man. If he had defects they too were slight 
and unobserved amidst the good qualities which excited 
admiration. ' ' 

The Advertiser, the organ of Gov. Mason's political 
enemies, added its voice to the universal chorus. "We 


cannot forbear to mingle our tears in the general sorrow. 
His career here was indeed an uninterrupted political 
struggle and yet few men have left behind them more 
personal friends among all parties, and now when the 
hand of death has laid him low we cannot but count our 
selves happy to have been permitted to be of that number. 
Vale, amice, valel 

The Legislature was in session. In the Senate, on the 
15th Wm. L. Greenly, Democratic Senator from Adrian 
and later Governor of the State, arose and made the 
following announcement: 

"Mr. President Since our adjournment on yesterday, 
the mournful intelligence has been received of the death 
of the Honorable STEVENS T. MASON, the former 
and first Governor of our State. 

"The first political relations of his life were with us, 
and as soon as he had attained his majority he was by the 
almost unanimous suffrages of our people elected to the 
chief magistracy of our State. 

"In all his relations with us both as a ^citizen and a 
magistrate, he was courteous, generous and liberal; 
deeply imbued with all those noble qualities which were 
the governing principles of his life, and created strong 
attachments which existed between the deceased and the 
citizens of Michigan. 

"After our political relations were terminated by his 
voluntary withdrawal from political life, he removed to 
the city of New York to follow the profession of . the law 
and enjoy the quiet of domestic life. But his earthly 
happiness was destined to be of short duration. In the 
midst of his usefulness and in the pride of Ms manhood, 
by the interposition of an overruling Providence he has 


been called to that ' bourne from whence no traveler 
returns 9 and while our tears of sympathy flow freely 
with those who are personally afflicted by this dispensa 
tion, let us invoke the Father of All Mercies to smile 
upon and console his bereaved family and relations. 

"THEBEFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That we deeply sympa 
thize with the relations of the late STEVENS T. MASON 
in their sudden and afflictive bereavement, and in this 
public manner would tender our heartfelt tribute to the 
memory of the deceased, as an individual who was deeply 
imbued with all the sterling virtues of public, social and 
private life." 

In the House on the same day similar resolutions were 
offered by Edwin H. Lothrop of Kalamazoo County, a 
prominent Democratic member, and promptly adopted. 
A joint committee from both Houses was appointed to 
prepare public funeral services for the late Governor. 
These were held on Sunday, January 15, at the Episcopal 
Church. The gathering was the largest that had ever 
been seen on such an occasion in Detroit; a procession 
was formed in front of the Capitol, headed by the Scott 
and Brady Guards, followed by the officers of the United 
States Army who were stationed at Detroit, the Gover 
nor, Lieutenant Governor, heads of the State Depart 
ments, Judges of the Supreme Court, members and 
officers of the Senate and House of Representatives, the 
Mayor and Aldermen of the city, members of the Bar, 
the Detroit Young Men's Society, the Detroit Typo- 
' graphical Society, and citizens. 

The procession marched to St. Paul's Episcopal 
Church, then located on Woodward Avenue near Con- 


gress Street, where Bishop Samuel A. McCroskrey 
preached the funeral sermon. 

To the sorrowing family in New York and Detroit 
poured in from all directions evidence of sympathy and 
regret. The Bar of New York City and of Detroit, the 
Common Council and Board of Education and other 
bodies and societies adopted resolutions testifying to 
their regard and respect for the departed, and their 
appreciation of his character and abilities. Such solace 
as words can give was furnished in abundance, and it 
must have been a source of satisfaction and pri<Je^to 
see how unanimous and strong was the voice of sorrow. 
It was evident that the eleven years spent by him within 
the confines of the Territory and State had not only 
gained for him respect and admiration for his ability, 
but in even greater degree had brought him friendly 
feeling and affection. 

And so the name of Stevens .T. Mason became a mem 
ory in Michigan. His portrait painted by Alvin Smith, 
and presented fay his friends to the Legislature in ,1837 
was hung on the ( walls of the old Capitol BuikMmg in 
Detroit, moved to Lansing in 1847 with the removal of 
the Capitol, took its place in the new State House and 
when the present building was completed it was placed 
in the Governor's room where it now hangs and gazes 
down on the throngs of visitors who stop and admire 
the youthful and attractive countenance. 

Years passed on. The wife and two of the children, 
the boy, young Tom, and the girl on whom their fothsr 
had spent so much pride and affection died. The fofeer 
John T. Mason passed away in 1850, and the 


child, Dorothy, married Col. Edward H. Wright of New 
ark, N. J.; their children are numerous enough to bid 
fair *to carry the blood of the Boy Governor down through 
the ages. The beloved younger sister, Emily, who 
returned to Virginia and took an active and prominent 
part during the Civil War on the part of the Confederacy, 
had always desired to have the mortal remains of her 
brother brought back for their final resting place to 
Detroit, the scene of his youthful prominence. 

February 18, 1891, Representative John Minor of 
Detroit, introduced in the Michigan House of Represent 
atives a concurrent resolution reciting the fact of the 
burial of Governor Mason in New York City, and con 
tinued, " Whereas, Gov. Mason's patriotic services i 
the State, his tireless energy im behalf of her interests, 
and notably his great service in the establishment and 
in defending the interests of the State of University in 
its infancy, and in projecting the development of her 
mineral wealth, and in the maintenance of the integrity 
of her territory, are inseparably connected with the his 
tory of the State of Michigan, and are a part of the 
foundations of her prosperity," followed by a resolution 
that the family be invited to permit his body to be 
interred in the grounds of the Capitol. This resolution 
was favorably reported out on May 14, passed the House 
unanimously May 22, and the Senate by a like vote five 
days later. 

It appears from the resolution that the Trustees of 
the Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit had also tendered a 
lot for the interment of the body, but notMng was done 
to bring the reippns to Michigan. 

Fourteen more years passed away. In the winter of 


1904, Hugo A. Gilmartin, representing the Detroit 
Press in Washington, met Miss Emily Mason and learned 
of the desire of the Mason family that the body of their 
relative be moved from its resting place in the New York 
Cemetery, and correspondence was had with Hon. Law- 
ton T. Hemans and Gov. Warner. The result was the 
sending of a communication on May 18, 1905, by the Gov 
ernor to the Senate enclosing correspondence with Hon. 
George P. Codd, Mayor of Detroit, showing that the 
Common Council had offered Capitol Park as a suitable 
place for the final placing of the remains, and recom 
mending that arrangements be made for the removal of 
the remain from New York City and their interment in 

On reading of the communication Mr. Charles Smith 
from Hancock, offered a concurrent resolution which was 
unanimously adopted, using much of the same language 
found in the resolution of 1891, and. concluding : "That 
the Legislature of the State of Michigan deems it emi 
nently fitting that the mortal remains of Governor 3ta&on 
should rest in the soil of the State he loved and served 
so well," and that committees of the House and Senate 
be appointed to act with the Committee of the Common 
Council of Detroit in preparing suitable ceremonies, and 
that representatives of the family of the former Gov 
ernor be invited to attend the ceremonies. It also pro 
vided for the appointment of three commissioners Sy ibe 
Governor to arrange for the transfer and burial of the 


This resolution was transmitted to the House - 
adopted there unanimously on May 22. The 
appointed as the Commission, Daniel 


Bapids, Lawton T. Hemans of Mason, and Arthur L. 
Holmes of Detroit. A subsequent resolution, passed at 
the same session authorized the Committee to procure 
designs and plans for a suitable monument, -with esti 
mates of cost. 

The Commission went to New York, arranged for the 
examination of the Phelps Vault and found the remains 
encased in a mahogany coffin upon which was a silver 
nameplate bearing the inscription: " Stevens T. Mason, 
Died Jan. 4th, 1843. " Invitations were issued to the 
family and the descendants of Governor Mason to accom 
pany the Commission to Michigan for participation in 
the re-interment ceremonies as guests of the State. In 
response to the invitation there came with the Cowitnis- 
sion, arriving at Detroit June 4 y 1905, .Miss Emily V. 
Mason, the sister, Mrs, Dorothy Wright, the daughter 
and only surviving child, Capt. William Wright and 
Edward H. Wright, Jr., grandsons and Stevens T. Mason, 
a grand-nephew. Upon arrival at Detroit they were met 
by Gov. Warner and staff, Mayor George P. Codd, a 
Committee of the Common Council and Committees of 
the Senate and House of the State Legislature. Com 
pany A of the Detroit Light Guard, representing the 
military body of which Governor Mason was once a mem 
ber, was in attendance, and together with a platoon of 
police, escorted the Basket to the Light Guard Armory. 
In the afternoon at the same place, before an audience 
of 2,000 persons, impressive ceremonies were held. Rev. 
D. M. Cooper, who had a vivid recollection of a meeting 
with Gov. Mason offered a prayer followed by short 
addresses by the Mayor and Gov. Warner. The principal 
address was delivered by Mr. Clarence M. Burton^ at the 


time President of the Michigan Pioneer and Historical 
Society, which was replete with information and interest 
about his subject. Mr. Lawton T. Hemans followed with 
a thoughtful and eloquent tribute and then a procession 
was formed, marching on Jefferson Avenue to Wood 
ward Avenue, up Woodward to Michigan Avenue, on 
Michigan Avenue to Rowland Street, on Rowland to Cap 
itol Square, then with simple services the casket was low 
ered to rest under the foundations of the old Capitol 
building which had witnessed seventy years before the 
installation of the young "man as the first Governor of 
the new State. 

The next session of the Legislature met in January, 
1907, and on the 16th of that month the Commission 
which had been appointed by the Governor made its 
report, and on the same day Senator Smith of Houghton 
County introduced a resolution providing for tlte pro 
curing arid placing of a statue of Stevens T. Mason,, first 
Governor of Michigan, at the place of his interment in 
Capitol park in the City of Detroit. February 19 -the 
resolution was passed unanimously and ordered to take 
immediate effect. The House acted promptly with like 
result. The resolution appropriated ten thousand dollars 
for the erection of a suitable monument, and as the coin- 
mission had reported the donation to the State by ihe 
Government through the kind offices of United States 
Senator Russel A. Alger, of sufficient bronze, the main 
duty of the commission which was continued was the 
selection of the design and sculptor. * 

Albert Weinert of New York was selected as the scnli>~ 
tor and on Decoration Day, : 1908, the monument erected 
in Capitol Square Park was unveiled. Hon. Thomas W, 


Pafaner presided, and Emily V. Mason, then 91 years of 
age, was present and performed the ceremony of unveil 
ing the statue. The address of. the occasion was delivered 
by Rev. Walter Elliott, C. S. P., of "Washington, D. C. y 
who was born in Detroit and came of a family of his 
torical abilities. His choice was probably due to his per 
sonal acquaintance with Miss Mason, but the address was 
worthy of the occasion. It was followed by remarks from 
Hon. Lawton T. Hemans, Mayor W. B. Thompson and 
Governor Warner, and a few final words from Dr. James 
B. Angell, President of the University of Michigan 
who drew attention to the valuable services of Gov. Mason, 
in protecting the interests of the University, and which 
have been recognized by keeping his picture hung upon 
fee wall of the Memorial Building and by naming the 
north wing of the University Building, Mason Hall. 

And there the statue of Stevens T. Mason stands today, 
and we trust will stand forever, an enduring monument 
to a young man of fine abilities, high ideals, lovable 
character, a fitting first magistrate of a new Common 
wealth in. the young and vigorous West. 



Abbott, Robert, first Auditor General, 212 ; resignation, 463 

Acker, Henry, elected speaker of House, 473 

Adam, John J., in Constitutional Convention of 1825, 159; chosen Secre 
tary of Senate, 187; member of Democratic State convention in 
1837, 297 

Anti-Masonic party, William Woodbridge for Territorial delegate to 
Congress in 1833, 91-93 

Anti-slavery, organization of Michigan Anti-slavery Society, 251; see 
also Slavery 

Asiatic cholera, see Cholera 

Bacon, Daniel S., brief biographical sketch, 300 ; report of investigation 
of five million dollar loan, 442-443 

Banks and banking, Governor Mason on, 205-206, 260-261; situation in 
1837, 269-272 ; Michigan's "wild cat" banking law, 272-276 ; in Gov 
ernor Mason's message to special session of Legislature in 1837, 
287-292; Governor Mason on "wild cat" banking system, 317-318; 
situation under the general banking law, 362-384 ; State bank recom 
mended by Governor Mason in annual message of 1839, 385; bill to 
provide for State bank passed, 385-386, 459; repeal of general 
banking law, 386 ; Michigan State Bank suspended, 459-460 ; see also 
Money ; Panics 

Barry, John S., Senator in 1835, 188, 216 ; Senator in 1838, 312, 313 

Bates, George C., on Brady Guards, 349 

Beebe, Silas, on spring election in Detroit in 1838, 446-447. 

Biblography, TJie Revised Statutes of 1838, compiled, 457 

Biddje, Edward R,, contract with for five million dollar loan, 431 

Buddie, John, vote for in 1835, 176 ; for Lieutenant Governor in 1837, 303 

Biographical sketches, Bacon, Daniel S., 300; Fletcher, William Asa, 
232-234; Mason, George, 12-14; Mor&ll, George, 235-236; Ransom, 
Bpaphroditus, 236-238; Trowbridge, Charles C., 300; Wells, Heze- 
kiah G., 301 

Blackburn, Thornton, trial as fugitive slave, 95-97 

Black Hawk, visit to Detroit, 99-100 

Black Hawk war, see War 

Boundaries, Michigan-Ohio boundary dispute, 107-151, 164-166; last 
"campaign" ot the Toledo .war, 170-173 ; Michigan-Ohio . boundary 
question before Congress, 192-200; opinion of jurists on right of 
State to Toledo strip, 457; see also Michigan Territory; Ohio 

Brady Guards, work during Canadian Rebellion, 348-349, 352-354 

Brest* Bank of, financial chicanery of, 370-371 

Bridges, Edwin N., report on condition of banks in 1837, 362-363 

Brown, General Joseph, in Black Hawk, war, 75-77; commander of 
Michigan troops in "Toledo War," 140, 143, 170-172 

Campbell, James V., quoted on Constitution of 1835, 162 T 163 

Canadian Rebellion, see War , . / 

Canals, see Internal Improvements; St Mary's Falls ship canal 

Cass, Lewis, seal of State presented to Constitutional Convention of : 
1835, 160; on Michigan-Ohio boundary dispute, 167, 187 ' 

522 INDEX 

Census, see Population 

Chilton, Laura Mason, in school, 50; activities of Governor Mason and 
public conditions in 1840 revealed in letter to, 489 

Cholera, Asiatic, in Michigan Territory, 78-84 ; return in 1834, 119-121 

Cities, in Michigan Territory, 41-44 

Constitution of 1835, provisions of, lgl-162 ; vote on adoption, 175 

Constitutional Convention of 1835, Act to provide for, 137-138 : work of. 

Cooper, Rev. DaviS, remembrance of Governor Mason, 328-329 

Counties, in 1830,' 39-40 ; organization of, 479 

Counts, see Judicial system 

Crary, Isaac B., vote for in 1837, 302 ; re-elected Congressman, 450-451 

Currency, see Money 

Delafield, John, aids in placing five million dollar loan, 424 

Democratic-Republican party, convention in 1833, 90-91; organization 
of, 155; strength in Constitutional Convention of 1835, 157; State 
Convention in 1835, 166-168 ; State Convention in 1837, 296-299 ; elec 
tion campaign in 1837, 301-312 ; lack of harmony in party in 1838, 
447-448; State Convention in 1838, 449-451; split over election of 
United States Senator ifc 1839, 460-462; State Convention in 1839, 
467-468 ; meeting at Detroit in 1840, 485, 486-487 ; State Convention 
in 1840, 490-491; campaign of 1840, 491-493 

Detroit, in 1830, 42-44; cholera in, 79-83; Negro riot of 1833, 95-97; 
Fourth of July celebration in 1833, 97-99; !BlacJ$; ECawk's visit, 
99-100; immigration through, 100-101; ordinance to restrict sale of 
liquor, 119 ; return of Asiatic cholera in 1834, 119-121 ; social life in 
1835-36, 189-191 ; growth of in thirties, 225-223 ; young men's society, 
223; events of winter of 1837-38, 281-282; steamboat service at* 
294; election day in 1837, 310-311; sympathetic interest of people! 
in Canadian Rebellion, 334-335, 337 ; organization of Patriot Arniy: 
of the Northwest, 338 ; case of schooner Ann, 338-344 ; arrival of* 
United States troops to preserve neutrality, 345 ; meeting of citizens 
to consider defense of frontier, 356 ; banking convention, February, 
18S8, 375-3f6 ; spring election in 1838, 446 ; conditions in 1840, 489 ; 
Governor Mason's remains removed to, 515-518 

Detfr, James D., part in Michigan-Ohio boundary dispute, 134-135 

Edmunds, James M., member of finance committee investigating five 
million dollar loan in 1841, 498 ; Governor Mason's opinion of, 500 

Education, in Michigan Territory, 45-46; views in Governor Mason's 
message, February, 1836, 206-207; lands granted by Congress for 
schools, 226-227; work of John D. Pierce, 258-259; Governor Mason 
on school system in message, 1837, 259 ; legislation for organization 1 
and support of school system, 266-268; Governor Mason's annual 
message, 1S38, 317; John D. Pierce re-elected Superintendent of 
Pufepe Instruction, 463 

Elections, Territorial delegate, 90-93; vote on Constitution of 1835, 175; 

btate election in 1835, 175-176 ; yote on Oongressman in 1837 302 

vote in State election in 1837, 311 ; spring election in Detroit, 1838/ 

446-447; -Congressional election in 1838, 451; United States Senator 

in 1839, 460-462; State campaign in 1839, 469-470; results In 1839 

470-471; results in April, 1840, 487; presidential campaign of 

487-493; results in 1840,^3-494; United Stages' 

496-497- " " 

Elective franchise; "see Suffrage 

Ellis, Edward D,, for Governor in 1837, 303 

INDEX 52& 

Factions, see Politics 

Farnsworth, Elon, for Governor in 1839, 467 ; vote for in 1839, 470 

Fees, see Licenses 

Felch, Alpheus, on "wild cat" banks, 366, 371-372: for Congressman in 
1840, 400 

Finances, see State finances 

Fitzgerald, Thomas, for Lieutenant Governor, 467 ; vote for in 1839, 470 

Five million dollar loan, authorized, 279-280; negotiation undertaken, 
309," 423-424; interest increased and bonds issued, 425-426; sale of 
bonds terminated in London, 428-429; arrangements with "Morris 
Canal and Banking Company, 432-435; theft of bills for Morris 
Canal and Banking Company, 435-439; arrangements for payments 
subsequent to theft, 439-440; sale of Michigan securities consum 
mated, 440-441; transaction investigated by legislative committee, 
442-444 ; Governor Mason's attempt to save State from loss, 471-472 ; 
investigated by Legislature of 1840, 480-483 ; investigation of in 1841, 

Fletcher, William Asa, biographical sketch, 232-234 

Fort Meigs, Whig gathering in 1840, 490 

Franchise, see Suffrage 

French, in Michigan Territory, 42 

Fugitive slaves, see Negroes ; Slavery 

Fuller, Philo C., elected Speaker of House in 1841, 494 

Fulton, John A., surveys southern boundary line of Michigan, 112 

Genealogy, Mason family, 12-17 

Geological survey, recommendation of Governor Mason in 1837, 258; 
legislative appropriation for", 264; Schoolcraft's communication to 
Governor Mason in 1838, 319-320 

Gidley, Townsend E., in Constitutional Convention of 1835, 157, 160; 
elected to House in 1837, 311 

Gordon, James Wright, for Lieutenant Governor in 1839, 466 ; vote for 
in 1839, 470; for United States Senator in 1841, 496 

Governor, see Mason, Stevens Thomson 

Great Lakes, see Lakes, Great 

Greenly, William L., announcement on death of Governor Mason, 511 

Handy, Henry S. commander-im-chief of Patriot Army of the North 
west, 338 

Harris, William, survey of soittMern boundary line of Michigan, 111-112 

Harrison, William Henry, vote for in Michigan, 493 

Hastings, Burotas P,, elected Auditor General, 478 

Kfealth, measures to preserve during cholera epidemic, 78-80 

Highways, see Internal improvements; Roads 

Hinsdale, Dr. Burke Aaron, on slavery provision in Ordinance of 1787, 

Horner, John Scott, appointed Secretary of Michigan Territory, 172; 
'difficulties as Secretary, 178-183 

Houghton, Douglass, first State Geologist, 258 ; reports, 322, 323 

Howard, Benjamin C., mediator in Michigan-Ohio boundary dispute, 

Howard, Henry, discloses overdrawing of- Governor Mason's salary 

- 32^-326 , , , - , * , - .,/>.' i,- <;"< .if ,l, ; 

Howard, Jacob Wt., on overdrawing of Governor M$s@n'& sajaajy^ 326- 
327 ; for Congressman m 1840, 491; yete 'tor fa 1840, 493 ., .. ., ,,, M 

Immigration, to Michigan in 1837, 21^-^19 , , , , : , i 

Indians, Black Hawk war, 73-78; extinguishment of title to lands in 
Michigan, 251-253. 

524 INDEX 

Internal improvements, railroads chartered in Michigan Territory, 
116-118 ; Governor Mason's message, February, 1836, 202-205 ; roads 
and railroads authorized by Legislature in 1836, 214-215; Gov 
ernor Mason quoted on in 1837, 262-263; plan of Legislature of 
1837, 276-280; Governor Mason's annual message, 1838, 315-317; 
railroads incorporated in 1838, 325 ; organization of Board in 1837, 
389-390; railroads surveyed and projected in 1837, 392-399; canals 
projected in 1837, 399-402 ; improvement of rivers planned in 1837, 
' 402-405; contests between sections and between communities, 406; 
' first train on central railroad, 406-409 ; appropriations for in 1838, 
409 ; selection of members of Board in 1838, 410-412 ; situation in 

1839, 417-422; charters granted in 1339, 458; situation in 1841, 
494-495 ; see also Roads ; St. Mary's Falls ship canal 

Jackson,' Andrew, letter of Stevens T. Mason on opposition to his 
appointment as Secretary of the Michigan Territory, 59-62,; hand in 
Michigan-Ohio boundary dispute, 143-144 

Jeffersonian Democratic ticket, in 1837, 303-304 

Johnson, Vice President, visit to Detroit during election campaign of 

1840, 492 

Jonesi De Garmo, chairman of committee to investigate Mason's effort 

for return of part of five million loan bonds, 479 
Jones, George W., elected Territorial delegate, 176-177 
Judicial system, creation of court system in Michigan, 210-211; changes 

recommended by Governor Mason, 455 

Knox, John J., quoted on Michigan's general banking law, 275 
Kundig, Father Martin, work during cholera in 1834, 120-121 ; paid for 
'* ^care of poor during cholera, 265-266 
Lafayette, guest of Lexington, Ky., 30 
Lakes, Great, steamboats on in thirties, 294-295 
Land, valuable in Upper Peninsula, 212-213; granted by Congress to 

Michigan, 226-227 ; extinguishment of Indian title, 251-253 ; selected 

under grant of Congress, 253-254 ; veto of bill fixing price of State 

and University lands, 462-463 

Laws, The Revised Statutes of 1838, compiled, 457 
Legislature, * see Banks ancl banking ; Education ; Internal improve- f 

ments; Mason, Stevens Thomson; Prisons 
Lenawee County Bank, condition of, 370 
LeRoy, Daniel, first Attorney General of Michigan, 232 
Licenses, Governor Mason on, 456 
Liquor, ordinance in Detroit to restrict sale of, 119 
Lucas, Governor Kobert, part in Michigan-Ohio boundary dispute; 139, 

142, 145, 146-150 
Lyon, Lucius, elected Territorial delegate in J.833, 90, 92-93 ; credit for" 

obtaining Upper Peninsular due to, 195-197; disagreement with 
-' colleagues in Congress, 197-198 ; quoted on value of Upper Peninsula, 

212-213; quoted on boundary question, 216-217; character, 460" 
McClelland, Robert, member of Constitutional Convention of 1835, 157; 

offered, appointment as Bank Commissioner, 274; elected member 

in 1837, 312; candidate for speaker of House in 1840, 473 
Mackenzie, William Lyon ; champion of reform in Canada, 332-333 
Martineau, Harriet, visit to Michigan, 129-130 ; on scenes and conditions 

on Chicago Road, 219-222 

Mason, Emily, school work, 30; quoted on social life iii Detroit, 49-50 
Mason, George, career, 12-14 

INDEX 525 

Mason, General John T., education, 16; law practice, 17; interest in the 
West, 19; removal to Kentucky, 21-32; misfortune, 33-34; appoint 
ment and service as Secretary of the Territory of Michigan, 36, 
47-50; mission to Mexico, 53-54; letter to Stevens T. Mason quoted, 
153-154 ; letter on death of Stevens T. Mason, 508-509 

Mason, Stevens Thomson, ancestors, 12-17; birth, 17; early life in 
Kentucky, 21-24; education, 24, 28; becomes grocer's clerk, 34; 
removal to Michigan Territory, 37 ; experience in government affairs, 
48-49; appointed Secretary of Michigan Territory, 55; opposition 
to appointment, 57-64; Acting Governor, 64-65; youthfulness cause 
of newspaper comment, 65-66 ; social life, 66-69, 88-89, 101, 189-192 ; 
message to Legislative Council in 1832, 70-72; orders to militia in 
Black Hawk war, 75-78 ; nomination as Secretary of Michigan Ter 
ritory confirmed, 85-86 ; quoted on election of Territorial delegate, 
90-92 ; eastern trip in 1833, 93-94 ; admission to the bar, 104-105 ; 
Acting Governor on death of Governor Porter, 119 ; admission of 
Michigan and boundary dispute, 123-124, 126-129, 131-137, 140-141, 
143, 144-145, 146, 149, 228-231, 244-246, suggested franchise clause 
in Constitution of 1835, 159 ; acceptance of nomination for Governor 
in 1835, 168-169; removed from office of Secretary of Territory by 
President Jackson, 169-170; removal increases popularity, 173-174; 
vote for in 1835, 175; personal description of, 184; inaugural 
address, 184-186 ; message in February, 1836, 201-208 ; Virginia and 
slavery clause in Ordinance of 1787, 224-225; on extinguishment 
of Indian titles to land, 252; recommendation to Legislature of 
1837, 257-263 ; life-sized portrait of presented to State, 282-283 ; mes 
sage to special session of Legislature in 1837 'on financial crisis, 
287-292 ; vote for in 1837, 311 ; recommendations in annual messagfe 
of 1839, 314-319; charged with overdrawing salary, 325-329; Cana 
dian Rebellion, 335, 337, 339, 341-342, 344-347, 350; on State bank, 
376-377, 385; answer to appeals for financial relief in 1838, 380; on 
progress of work on internal improvements, 415-416 ; five million dol 
lar loan, 309, 423-425, 426-428, 431-442 ; five million dollar loan investi 
gated by Legislature of 1839, 442-444 ; trip east and marriage, 452- 
453 ; message to fourth Legislature, 454-457 ; attempt to save State 
from loss through five million dollar loan, 471-472 ; retiring message, 
473-476 ; efforts for return of portion of five million loan bonds inves 
tigated by Whigs, 480-483 ; popularity in 1840 illustrated, 486-487; on 
election of 1840, 487; legislative investigation in 1841 of five million 
dollar loan, 497-501; law partnership, 505; removal to New York 
City, 505-508 ; death and burial, 508-510 ; expressions of sorrow in 
Michigan, 510-513; surviving t members of family, 513-514; legisla 
tive action in 181 to remove remains to Michigan, 514; removal of 
remains to Michigan, 515-517 ; status at place of interment, 517-518 

Mason, Thomas, career, 14 

Messages, Governor's, see Mason, Stevens Thomson 

Michigan State Bank, see Banks and banking 

Michigan Territory, government, of, 38-39; question of statehood before 
people, 86-87; boundary dispute with Ohio, 107-151; population in 
1834, 131; Constitutional Convention of 1835, 157-161; question of 
admission as State before Congress, 192-200; admission consum 
mated, 239-250; see also Boundaries ; Cholera; Counties; Elections; 
French ; | ason, General John T. ; Mason, Stevens Thomson ; Militia ; 


Militia, Territarial, reorganization in 1833, 103-104; 'see also War 

Mi&es-and minerals, interest in salt industry in thirties, 321-323 

Money, Governor Mason's views om, 206, 287-292; Act to suspend specie 
payments, 293 ; <k wild cat'* bank bills, 378-379 ; report of bank com 
missioners quoted, 381-384; situation in 1838, 430; see also Banks 
and banking; Panics 

Monroe, President James, tour through Lexington, Kentucky, 26-27 

Mdrell^ George, biographical sketch, 235-236 

Morey, Attorney General Peter, on notes of Farmers and Merchants 
Bank of St. Joseph, 367 

Morris Canal and Banking Company, Governor Mason's arrangements 
with, 432-435; sale of five million dollar loan bonds consummated, 

Mtindy, Edward<, nominated for Lieutenant Governor, -166-167; elected 

r lieutenant Governor, 175 ; renominated in 1837, 298 
'Negroes, number in Michigan in 1830, 94 ; riot in 1833, 95-97 ; again occa- ' 
s %sion of -uneasiness, 102; see also Slavery 

*Kewspapers, in Michigan Territory, 45 ; comment on youthf ulness of 
Mason, 65-67 ; on dinner to Judges Woodbridge, Sibley and Chipman, 
67r68; comment of The Miohi&m Argus on Webtser's speech in 
Detroit, 295-296 ; expressions of sorrow on death of Governor Mason, 

Moxthwest Territory, plan of Congress for division into' states, 108409; 
see also Boundaries; Michigan Territory; Mason, Stevens Thom 
son-; Ohio 

^orvell, John, postmaster at Detroit, 84; elected* United States Sen 
ator, 188 

Ohio, State created and admitted, 109-110; bill to establish northern 

- m boundary on "Harris line," 115 ; measures to hold northern boundary 

against Michigan's claims, 138-139; action of assembly to exercise 
jurisdiction over disputed territory, 149-150 ; see also Boundaries ; 
Michigan Territory; Population 
Ordinance of 1787, boundary provisions, 108 

Panics, in 1837, Governor Mason on, 261; effect of crisis of 1837, 269- 
275, 285-286; legislative measures to lessen effect, 286-293; mone 
tary situation in 1838, 430 ; see also Banks and banking : Monev 
Patriot War, see War . 

Petitions, consideration by legislative committees, 458-459 
Phelps, Julia Elizabeth, marriage to Governor Mason, 453 
Pierce, John D., report on school system, 258-259; reelected Superin- 

tendent of Public Instruction, 463 

Pitcher, Dr. Zina, letter of Lucius Lyon to, 216 ; appointed member of 
Board of Regents of University, 267 ; member of Board of Directors 
B of State Bank, 386 ; elected mayor of Detroit, 486 

Politics, partisan action on appointment of Stevens T. Mason as Secre 
tary of Michigan Territory, 57-59; factional quarrel over executive 
appointments, 69; organization of parties in Michigan Territory 

" r^Z ' fa settlement of Michigan-<0hio boundary question, 193-194 
lack of harmony in Michigan delegation in Congress in 1836 306- 
IWj'j see also Anti-Masonic party; Constitutional Convention of 
1&S5; Demo^atie-Reptiblican party ; Elections; Whig party 
eare -of during cholera by father Martin Kundig, 265-266 
te&oa, Negroes im Michigan Territory in 1830, 94 ; in -eastern half of 
Northwest Territory in 1800, 109; in Michigan Territory in 1834 
lol; see also Immigration; Michigan Territory 

INDEX 527 

Porter, Augustus S., elected United States Senator, 478 

Porter, George B., appointed Governor of Michigan Territory, 64 ; quoted 
on construction of railroads, 117; death, 118 

Prison, State, provision for, 265 ; recommendation in Governor Mason's 
message, 1838, 319 ; location of decided, 320-321 ; law for government 
and discipline, 457 

Pritchette, Kintzing, private secretary to Governor Porter, 85 ; report in 
1839 as bank commissioner quoted, 381-384 ; effort for return of por 
tion of five million loan bonds investigated by Whigs, 480-483 

Prohibtion, see Liquor " 

Public Instruction, Superintendent of, see Education ; Pierce, John D. 

Railroads, see Internal improvements ; Roads 

Ransom, Epaphroditus, biographical sketch, 236-238 

Reed, Ebenezer, on judges of Supreme Court of Michigan Territory, 

Richard, Father Gabriel, work during cholera pestilence, 83-84 

Rivers, see Internal improvements 

Roads, in Michigan Territory in 1830, 40 ; appropriation for in 1841, 495 ; 
see also Internal improvements 

Roberts, Elijah J., Brigadier General of first brigade of Patriot Army 
of the Northwest, 338 ; clerk of House in 1839, 454 ; candidate for 
clerk of House in 1840, 473 ; selected to help oversee publication of 
compiled laws, 505 

Romeyn, Theodore, testimony on five million dollar loan, 443, 499 

Rowland, Thomas, elected Secretary of State, 478 

Rush, Richard, mediator in Michigan-Ohio boundary dispute, 144-148 

St. Mary's Falls ship canal, construction of recommended by Governor 
Mason, 263 ; appropriation for in 1837, 279 ; contract let for construc 
tion of, 414-415; trouble with War Department, 419-421; see also 
Internal improvements 

Salt industry, see Mines and minerals 

Sawyer, Franklin, Jr., elected Superintendent of Public Instruction, 501 

Schoolcraft, Henry R., treaty with Ottawas and Ohippewas, 252-253 

Schools, see Education 

Schwarz, John B., on committee to learn facts concerning Mason's age, 
57; Adjutant General of Michigan, 463 

Slavery, Governor Mason's message, February, 1836, 207-208; origin of 
provision in Ordinance of 1787, 224-225; Governor Mason on in 
1839, 456; see also Anti-slavery; Negroes 

Social life, in Detroit in 1835-36, 189-191 

State finances, condition in 1838, 314-315 ; in 1841, 496 ; see also Banks 
and banking; Money; Panics 

Steamboats, see Transportation 

Stuart, Charles E., presidential elector in 1840, 491 

Stuart, Robert, elected State Treasurer, 478 

Suffrage, issue in Constitutional Convention of 1835, 158-160 

Superintendent of Public Instruction, see Education ; Pierce, John D. 

Supreme Court, dinner to retiring judges, 66-68 

Territory of Michigan, see Michigan Territory 

Theller, Dr. Edward A., espoused cause of Canadian Rebellion, 337 

Toledo strip, jurists on Michigan's claim to, 457; see also Boundaries; 
Michigan Territory 

Towns, see Cities 

Transportation, means of to Michigan Territory, 44-45 ; on Great Lakes 
in thirties, 294-295; steam navigation on rivers in thirties, 403-404; 
see also Internal improvements; Roads 


Trowbridge, diaries ., quoted on !Fat|ier ^Cai^i Kundig, 120-121 ; brief 
.,; ^graphical skesfceji ^f, 3@0 ; vote f * IB 18W* 311 
Tyler, Jota, vote lor to Mlt^am ;fe 18^0^^i| ;,A S , 

f Michigan, see jatahqpott : ; ''S'VvL "^ < ' , ' L 
stila, attached to I&vrer F&i$&$]|$k fcy < Gwgre^ 
, Stepben, eiectd to House in 1837, 311 ; o^P^tton 1* 
<, .rn oC Texas, 325 ,< - ' - ' ^ 

itr y Blacfc Haiwk war, T3-T8 ; last "campaigji" of tke Toledo / 

1*73; ^alWolfe war, 330-361 ; 
Wayme, Conixty of, organization, 108-109; dissatisfaction of citizens 

e^^iaigtpjL from State of Obio, 109 
We&ster, f)anlel, visit to Detroit in 1837, 295 

Wells, ^ezekiab G., brief biograpnical sketch, 301; vote for in 1837, 
^ 3 302; for Congressman in 1838, 448 

%Mg party, organization of, 156 ; on Constitution of 1835, 163 ; State con- 
c' /I venktlom^in 1837, 299-330; election campaign in 1837, 301-312; spring 
election in Detroit in 1838, 445-447 ; State convention in 1838, 448- 
presidential campaign in 1840, 485-493 ; see also Democratic-Repub 
lican party ; Politics 
Wbipple, Judge Charles W., on unconstitutionally of general banking 

law, 387 

Wliite Pigeon Beet Sugar Company, loan to in 1839, 458 
"Wild-cat" banks, see Banks and banking ; Panics 
Williams, John R., in command of militia during Black Hawk war, 

75-77 * - ' < .- / 1 

, Wing, Austin E., for Territorial delegate to Congress in 1833, 90-93 
Wing, Warner, for United States Senator in 1839, 460-462 
Wisconsin, Territorial delegate elected, 176-177 

Woodbridge, William, enmity of Reed and Sheldon, ,67-68; for Terri 
torial delegate to Congress on Anti-Masonic ticket in 1833, 91-93; 
for Territorial delegate in 1835, 176-177 ; for Governor in 1839, 466 ; 
vote for in 1839, 470 ; first annual message, 476-477 ; elected United 
States Senator in 1841, 496-497 

1 02 884