Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Toledo War of 1835-36

This Saturday undefeated football teams from the University of Michigan and Ohio State University play their annual grudge game. The winner will play for the NCAA National Division I Football title. As can be expected, excitement and tension is running high in both states.

Conflict between Ohio and Michigan is not new. However, back in the 19th century, the two states actually went to war with each other over the status of the modern city of Toledo, Ohio. (Although, at the time, Michigan was a territory.)

I grew up in a suburb of Toledo in Northwest Ohio. I heard about the war many times. My Dad used to say that Ohio lost the war because we got stuck with Toledo. I later heard many others crack this same joke so I know it is not original to my Dad.

Michigan began trying to be admitted as a state in 1833. Ohio blocked every attempt refusing to allow Michigan into the Union unless it gave up control of the disputed Toledo Strip. Michigan refused and after years of frustration sent the Michigan militia in to occupy the city of Toledo. Ohio militia responded by massing in Perrysburg, Ohio with the intent of marching on Toledo.

The Toledo War from the State of Michigan describes what happened, "The War involved more saber-rattling and one-upmanship than it did shooting and blood-letting. For instance, after the Ohio legislature voted to approve a $300,000 military budget, Michigan upped the ante by approving one with $315,000. Michigan's militia did end up arresting some Ohio officials, capturing nine surveyors, and firing a few shots over the heads of others as they ran out of the area. But only Ohio inflicted any casualties, when a buckeye named Two Stickney stabbed a Michigan Sheriff during a tavern brawl."

President Andrew Jackson was not amused. He removed the Michigan territorial governor from office and disbanded the Michigan militia camping in Toledo. Ohio won the war and Toledo remains a part of Ohio to this day. Michigan was awarded the Upper Peninsula in compensation which actually was a pretty good deal for Michigan.

So, emotions may run high this Saturday as Ohio State and the University of Michigan play football. There may even be violence between some fans. But at least this time we can be assured that the Ohio and Michigan militias will not be facing off against each other across the Maumee River.


Jennie W said...

Just the Oletangy! I have to go to Columbus on Saturday and I'm seriously worried about getting ANYWHERE in that town with all the crazed football fans!

Geoff Elliott said...

Thank you very much for this article about the Toledo War. Indeed, we got Toledo, but Michigan still remains stuck with Detroit.