1835 : Michigan Legislature Convenes for First Time
Nov 2 all-day

The first session of the state Legislature met Nov. 2, 1835, in Detroit.

During that noon meeting, officials chose a secretary of state, a speaker of the House and Michigan’s two U.S. senators.

The date was set when the state constitution was written six months earlier.

It would be another 12 years before what was then Lansing Township replaced Detroit as the seat of state government. (“Township” was dropped from the municipality’s name in 1848.)

The first Michigan Legislature was comprised of 48 representatives and 16 senators, according to Michigan History Magazine.

Today, the state House has 110 members, the state Senate 38.

Source : Zlati Meyer, This Week in Michigan History, Detroit Free Press, November 2, 2008, B.4.

1917 : Lansing Butcher Tarred and Feathered
Nov 2 all-day

William Saier was tarred and feathered on the first tee of a Lansing golf course because he committed what The State Journal called “an unprintable crime against the Star Spangled Banner.”

It was Nov. 2, 1917, more than three years after a Serbian nationalist’s bullet sparked the First World War and seven months since the United States had joined it. In Belgium, a months-long horror of death and mud known as the Third Battle of Ypres was breaking in favor of the British and their allies. In Lansing, patriotic and anti-German feelings ran high.

Saier, a butcher, was grabbed from the corner of Capital Avenue and Kalamazoo Street. At the golf course, surrounded by men in white sheets, “he apologized with all the emotion of his terrified heart for the insult to the flag and for cursing the government which had given him freedom and protection all the years of his life,” the Journal wrote.

They covered him with hot tar and feathers until he “looked like a goose.”

An echo of Saier’s story appears in the pages of “Foreign Born,” a novel written by Lansing-born author John Herrmann in the mid-1920s but never published until this year.

Source : Matthew Miller, “A man was tarred and feathered on a Lansing golf course. It became part of this novel”, Lansing State Journal, November 9, 2018.

1920 : First Woman Elected to Michigan Legislature
Nov 2 all-day

Eva McCall Hamilton

Eva M. Hamilton of Grand Rapids was the first woman elected to the Michigan legislature, winning a seat in the Senate in 1920.

Like so many other pioneer female lawmakers, Eva McCall Hamilton was a teacher. Born in the town of Memphis in St. Clair County, her Scottish/English parents saw that she was well educated for her era, and she graduated from “normal school,” as teaching-training institutions then were called.

She also was an activist for women’s right to vote, and according to archives in the Michigan Senate, the governor wrote her in 1912, “I think no one has done better work for the cause than you.” She had an uncle in the Michigan Senate, Thomas McCall, which helped her to network. She did not profit from using his name, however, as she called herself “Eva M. Hamilton.”

The political skills she learned in lobbying for the vote served her well four years later, when Michigan women won the vote and she began to prepare for her 1920 campaign. A Republican elected from Grand Rapids, she championed legal reforms for women and children – but a Republican man defeated Hamilton for the party’s nomination at the next election cycle. She served only from 1921-23.

She continued to be active in Grand Rapids civic life, however, until dying on January 28, 1948. Hamilton also demonstrated a progressive attitude in death: she was cremated, an unusual decision to make at the time.

Source : Historical Society of Michigan

Women Wielding Power : Pioneer Female State Legislators

Jim Harger, “Grand Rapids women led suffrage movement, helped elect first female to the State Senate”, MLive, November 6, 2011.

1924: Cora Reynolds Anderson, First Woman and Only Native American Woman Elected to House
Nov 2 all-day
 1 person, closeup

Cora Reynolds Anderson, born on April 10, 1882,  was the first woman elected to the Michigan House of Representatives, serving one term from 1925 to 1926. She is also believed to be the only Native American woman elected to the Michigan House or Senate.

While in the House of Representatives, Anderson concentrated on public welfare issues and chaired the Industrial Home for Girls Committee. She was particularly interested in public health issues, especially the fight against alcoholism and tuberculosis. Prior to her term, she had organized the first public health service in Baraga County and was instrumental in securing the county’s first public health nurse. She also became actively involved in the Michigan Grange and served as the Upper Peninsula officer.

Anderson was educated as a teacher at the Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas, which is known today as the Haskell Indian Nations University. She taught school in the Upper Peninsula for several years. At a time when minorities, including Native Americans, were subjected to considerable economic and social discrimination, Anderson’s determination to attend college and return the benefits of her education to her community was notable. Her role as educator, legislator, and public health reform leader aided the Native American community as well as the whole of society.

Both the Anderson House Office Building in downtown Lansing and the recently opened Cora’s Cafe inside are named after her.

Sources :

Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.

Rep. Dianda Honors Cora Anderson, Michigan’s First Female State Rep, Michigan House Democrats Blog, December 8, 2016.

“Women’s History Month: Cora Anderson, first in state house”, Lansing State Journal, March 23, 2014.

Photo source : Michigan Historical Review Facebook Page, April 10, 2017.

1954 : Michigan’s First African-American Elected to Congress, Early Civil Rights Champion
Nov 2 all-day

Charles Diggs, Michigan's first African-American congressman

On November 2, 1954 Charles Diggs Jr.,  a Detroit mortician and former state senator, was elected to the U.S. Congress, becoming Michigan’s first African-American congressman.

The same year that he was sworn into congress, Diggs received national attention as the only congressman to attend and monitor the trial of the accused killers of Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago who was murdered during a trip to the state. The outrage generated by the case gave a tremendous momentum to the emerging civil rights movement. Although he was a member of Congress, the sheriff did not exempt him from Jim Crow treatment. Diggs had to sit at a small table along with black reporters. Following the trial, he continued the fight for justice, calling upon President Eisenhower to call a special session of congress to consider civil rights.

In 1969, Diggs was appointed to the post of Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, where he strongly advocated ending Apartheid in South Africa. He was a committed publicist for the liberation cause in South Africa, and his ‘Action Manifesto’ (1972) displayed his support for the armed struggle against Apartheid. In it, Diggs criticized the United States government for decrying the use of such violence when it failed to condemn measures used by the South African government to subjugate the majority of its own people.[ Diggs also argued that American corporations were propping up the apartheid government through their investments, and he was banned from South Africa for these positions.

Diggs was additionally a founding member and the first chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, a group of African American representatives and senators working to address the needs and rights of black constituents. While chairman, Diggs successfully led a caucus boycott of President Nixon’s State of the Union Address, following Nixon’s refusal to meet to discuss issues relevant to African Americans. This and similar work contributed to Diggs being named on the Master list of Nixon political opponents.

Founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Charles Diggs is seated front and center, to Shirley Chisholm’s right.

In 1978 he was convicted of 11 counts of mail fraud and filing false payroll forms, but was re-elected while awaiting sentencing. He resigned from Congress in 1980 and served 7 months of a three-year prison sentence.

Source : Historical Society of Michigan

For more information, see Black Americans in Congress.

1973 : First Ice Hockey Home Game at Yost Ice Arena
Nov 2 all-day

Yost Ice Arena in 1973

Ice Hockey Gets a New Home

In the summer of 1973, following the suggestion of U-M baseball coach Don Lund, the University of Michigan began a renovation project to convert Yost Field House into Yost Ice Arena. With the men’s basketball team six years removed from calling Yost its home after the construction of Crisler Arena in 1967, and with football having moved to Oosterbaan Field House in 1970, the time was right for ice hockey to make the move from Weinberg Coliseum. The hockey team had played at Weinberg, on the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Hill Street, since its inception as a program in 1923, but the building’s life span as an ice rink had run its course. Michigan hired Charles R. Beltz and Co., a mechanical firm from Detroit and one of the largest builders of ice-making equipment in the world, to create the ice rink, which was completed shortly before the start of the 1973-74 season. Michigan played its first home game at Yost Ice Arena on Nov. 2, 1973, defeating Waterloo Lutheran, 6-2, with Gary Morrison scoring twice to lead the Wolverines.

Source : 150 Years of University of Michigan Athletics

1976 : Michigan Voters Approve 10-Cent Can Deposit Fee
Nov 2 all-day

Despite staunch opposition from retailers and beverage manufacturers, voters approved a 10-cent deposit on cans and bottles on this day. Governor William Milliken and his wife were instrumental in starting a petition to put the measure on the ballot, which passed by a 2-to-1 margin.

Michigan has the highest beverage container deposit in the nation.

Michigan has the highest beverage container deposit in the nation. It’s credited with giving Michigan the highest beverage container recycling rate in the country.

Sources :

Michigan Every Day.

#MIHistory – Nov. 2: The Michigan 10-Cent Bottle Law, the Official Blog of the Michigan House Democrats

1982 : Michigan’s First Woman Lieutenant Governor Elected
Nov 2 all-day

Martha Griffiths, 57th Lt. Governor of Michigan, from Wikipedia

Martha Griffiths became the first woman to be elected Michigan lieutenant governor.

Source : Historical Society of Michigan

Martha Griffiths wikipedia entry

Martha Griffiths and the Equal Rights Amendment

1983 : Rep. John Conyers Jr.’s Campaign to Establish Martin Luther King Day Bears Fruit
Nov 2 all-day

Rep. John Conyers Jr., from Wikipedia

MLK Day support: U.S. Rep John Conyers Jr., D-Detroit, helped establish the national holiday commemorating MLK. Conyers introduced legislation four days after King’s assassination in 1968 for a federal holiday honoring King. The bill, however, did not move. In the following decade, Conyers reintroduced the bill several times. Supporters of the holiday worked to gather support, from gathering petitions to asking states and cities to pass similar designations. The bill was reintroduced in 1983. It passed the House 338-90 and the Senate 78-22. President Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law on Nov 2, 1983.

More About the Struggle to Commemorate MLK With a Holiday

2011 : Inventor of Highway Centerline Receives International Honor
Nov 2 all-day

The late Edward N. Hines, a Michigan resident who invented the highway centerline, was honored today with the first Paul Mijksenaar Design for Function Award in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Widely recognized as one of the great innovators in highway development, Hines was a charter member of the Wayne County Road Commission in 1906 and served until his death in 1938. In 1911, Hines conceived the idea of painting a centerline on roads to separate traffic. The idea came to him after watching a leaky milk wagon leave a white trail down a road.

Painted centerlines were first used in 1911 on Trenton’s River Road in Wayne County. In 1917, the nation’s first centerline on a rural state highway was painted on what is now County Road 492 in Marquette County.

In 1972, Hines was inducted posthumously into the Michigan Transportation Hall of Honor in Lansing. State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle accepted today’s design award on behalf of Hines via a videotaped message.

“On behalf of the Hines family and the Michigan Department of Transportation, we thank Foundation Paul Mijksenaar for this tremendous honor,” Steudle said. “The highway centerline has been called the single most important traffic safety device in the history of automobile transportation, and Edward Hines originated it right here in Michigan.”

The Paul Mijksenaar Design for Function Award is an initiative of Foundation Paul Mijksenaar, a global multi-disciplinary center for research and debate in the field of information design and architecture in the modern world. Paul Mijksenaar is a designer of visual information systems, and the founder and director of the international design bureau Mijksenaar.

Source : Michigan Newswire, November 2, 2011.