1836 : Michigan Township Act Signed, Creating Political Units
Mar 11 all-day

On March 11, 1836, Gov. Stevens T. Mason signed the Township Act, under which 6-mile square sections of land that had been delineated by the United States surveyors were organized into political units. This same sort of “cooperative county-township” system was adopted by other states, but Michigan has generally been considered the defining example.

Source: History – Do You Know

More about Townships in Michigan courtesy of the Michigan Township Association.

Find a Township courtesy of the Michigan Township Association provides a map and contact information for any township in Michigan. Data provided for each township include elected officials, address and contact information, MTA survey and U.S. Census data. Information on elected officials is updated on a daily basis.

1861 : Keweenaw County Organized
Mar 11 all-day

March 11, 1861

In the 1840s hundreds of people flocked to the Keweenaw Peninsula — a slender, rugged protrusion jutting sixty miles into Lake Superior. They came for copper. Eastern investors, speculators, adventurers and miners journeyed to the isolated region of the western Upper Peninsula in what became the nation’s first mineral rush. The copper rush led to the organization of Keweenaw County; Eagle River was chosen the county seat.

Source : Michigan is Amazing.

1912 : Governor Chase Osborn Calls For Prohibition of Brewery-Owned Saloons
Mar 11 all-day

On Mar. 11, 1912, Gov. Chase Osborn asked an “extraordinary session” of the Michigan Legislature to pass legislation to outlaw breweries from owning a saloon, of which there were 4,366 in Michigan at the time. He estimated that two-thirds of the saloons in Detroit and more than half of those in the state were brewery-owned.

Osborn called the “excessive use of alcohol” a “curse, and one of the gravest dangers that confront mankind” and that saloons “notoriously vicious and lawless” should not exist.

“There are those who argue and sincerely believe that the saloon is the poor man’s club,” Osborn wrote. “But they have no defense for the vile saloon which is a combination grogshop, den of prostitution, resort of robbers and a gambling hell.”

Source: Osborn’s special message as archived by the University of Michigan and digitized by Google.

A Special Message of Governor Chase S. Osborn to the Forty-sixth Legislature … By Chase Salmon Osborn

1970 : University of Michigan Holds Environmental Teach-In
Mar 11 all-day

March 11-14, 1970

The original Teach-in against the Vietnam War inspired subsequent events, like this 1970 gathering on behalf of the environment in 1970. (Image courtesy of U-M’s Bentley Historical Library.)

Photo of Teach-In on the Environment at the University of Michigan in 1970.

Before the internet, one of the main ways to mobilize public opinion on campuses was to have teach-ins. The University of Michigan pioneered the way back in 1965 with the first teach-in against the Vietnam War. But they would go on to have many more teach-ins on other topics as well, including the environment.

The environmental movement had taken root as far back as the nineteenth century, but it wasn’t until the middle of the twentieth that it truly began to flower. Environmental awareness built slowly but steadily throughout the fifties and sixties, and then all at once exploded in 1969 following a series of high-profile environmental disasters – a huge oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, Lake Erie being proclaimed “dead,” and Ohio’s Cuyahoga River catching fire (again), among others. Ecologists who had for years been fighting to get their concerns about the environment into the national spotlight suddenly found their voices being heard.

One of the most powerful of those voices was that of U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. In September 1969 Nelson announced his idea for a nationwide protest against the degradation of the environment. Following the lead of the anti-war movement, he proposed a massive series of teach-ins to take place on college campuses the following spring, intended to make Americans more aware of the deadly seriousness of the multitude of threats then facing the environment. (The majority of which, sad to say, are still with us nearly forty years later.)

Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin was hoping to encourage colleges and university across the country to mobilize for the Environment on April 22, 1970 (later to become Earth Day) across the country, largely because that date fell optimally between spring break and final exams for most American colleges. But the University of Michigan operated then as now on a trimester system, with April 22 falling right in the middle of finals. As a result, student groups such as Environmental Action for Survival, or ENACT, and other interested parties decided to move up the event to mid-March (March 11-14).

The “ENACT Teach-In on the Environment,” as it was officially titled, was a staggering success, attracting more people and attention than anyone could have imagined. An estimated 50,000 attendees were drawn to the more than 125 seminars, speeches, workshops, panels, symposia, debates, forums, rallies, demonstrations, films, field trips, concerts, and colloquia that unfolded over five days at locations on campus and all around town. “There’d never been anything like this,” says John Russell, a teacher at Pioneer High who sat on the ENACT steering committee. “We had sessions where we were shutting the doors and turning people away.”

A popular button made by U-M student activists to promote their March 1970 teach-in and its tie-in to Earth Day. (Courtesy of John Russell) (Image courtesy of Ann Arbor Chronicle article.)

Events ran from the early morning until well after midnight, on topics such as overpopulation – “Sock It to Motherhood: Make Love, Not Babies” – the future of the Great Lakes, the root causes of the ecological crisis, and the effect of war on the environment. More than sixty major media outlets covered the action, including all three American television networks and a film crew from Japan. It was the biggest such event that had yet been seen in Ann Arbor – and coming as it did at the tail end of the sixties, it would be one of the last.

At the kickoff rally around 14,000 people paid fifty cents to crowd into Crisler Arena and listen to speeches by Senator Gaylord Nelson, Michigan governor William Milliken, radio personality Arthur Godfrey, and ecologist Barry Commoner, and groove to the music of Hair and Gordon Lightfoot. Another 3,000 who couldn’t get in listened on loudspeakers that were hastily set up in the parking lot.

Other events from the teach-in which stand out today include the driving of an all-electric car by Godfrey from Detroit to Ann Arbor at posted speeds on I-94; a panel at Pioneer High attended by 4,000 in which Dow Chemical president Ted Doan was mercilessly heckled but stood his ground, earning a measure of grudging respect from the crowd; the demolition of a broken-down old car on the U-M Diag by a crowd of sledgehammer-wielding students; and provocative speeches by Ralph Nader, environmental lawyer Victor “Sue the Bastards!” Yannacone, and radical ecologist Murray Bookchin, among others.

And then, after five days of almost non-stop activity and little sleep, it was over. Organizers were left feeling both elated and mournful. “A couple of us were clearing out the office when Luther Carter from Science magazine walked in,” remembers Doug Scott. “He remarked, almost in passing, that neither of us would ever again organize anything reaching that scale. For some reason, that really struck home.”

2013 : Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Convicted on Corruption Charges
Mar 11 all-day

Jurors in a city buffeted by financial crisis convicted former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on corruption charges Monday, capping a five-month trial that exposed a brazen pay-to-play culture during his years in office while the distressed city lost jobs and people and veered toward insolvency.

Kilpatrick could face more than 10 years in prison for two dozen convictions, from racketeering conspiracy to bribery to tax crimes. Once hailed as a hip, young big-city leader, he was portrayed at trial as an unscrupulous politician who took kickbacks, rigged contracts and lived far beyond his means.

Kwame Kilpatrick was the youngest mayor in Detroit history. He also was the first to be charged with a felony while in office.

He went from fawning magazine profiles to late-night TV punch line, from the Manoogian Mansion to a 6-by-9-foot prison cell, from chatting with then-President Bill Clinton on Air Force One to pleading with judges not to take away his freedom.

Sources :

Ed White, “Ex-Detroit Mayor Convicted, Jailed Until Sentence”, AP, March 11, 2013.

Francis X. Donnelly, “Kwame Kilpatrick’s rise and fall filled with drama; Once symbol of hope, he heads to prison in disgrace”, Detroit News, March 12, 2013.

Dan Austin, “Meet the 5 worst mayors in Detroit history“, Detroit Free Press, August 29, 2014.   When it comes to bad mayors, Kwame Kilpatrick ranks #1.

2020 : Universities Discontinue Face-To-Face Classes
Mar 11 all-day

In response to the first two confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged schools, community groups and businesses to consider cancelling gatherings or events with more than 100 people.

Michigan State University moves to online classes only due to coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak


In response, MSU was the first school to suspend face-to-face instruction including lectures and  seminars in classroom settings, moving coursework to virtual instruction. This suspension of in-person classes will last until Monday, April 20 and we will reevaluate this decision on an ongoing basis, sharing additional updates or modifications as more information becomes available. Please continue visiting for information. The website is updated frequently. We also have added a toll-free hotline to help address questions from our students, faculty, staff and parents: 888-353-1294. 

Other schools followed suit including the University of Michigan, Wayne State, Michigan Tech, Oakland University, Central Michigan, and so on. 


1859 : Frederick Douglass and John Brown Meet With Detroit Abolitionists
Mar 12 – Mar 13 all-day

Frederick Douglas - John Brown Meeting Historical Marker

On the night of March 12, 1859, Frederick Douglass and John Brown met with Detroit abolitionists at the home of William Webb (historical marker on University of Detroit Mercy campus) to discuss the best means for ending slavery. Earlier in the day Frederick Douglas gave a speech at City Hall. John Brown had just arrived, excorting runaway slaves from Missouri on their way to Windsor. John Brown was also on tour trying to raise recruits and support for a strike on Harpers Ferry in July. John Brown’s attempt to incite slaves to rebel would fail, and he was executed for murder, conspiring to incite slave rebellion and treason against Virginia on December 2, 1859.

Sources :

Frederick Douglass, John Brown and George DeBaptiste, The Night Train, June 8, 2010.

Frederick Douglass and John Brown Meeting Place Informational Site 633 East Congress Street near Greektown in downtown Detroit

This Is Detroit: 1701-2001 by Arthur M. Woodford google snippet.

1861 : Detroit Police Department Born
Mar 12 – Mar 13 all-day

According to the Detroit Historical Society, a four-member Police Commission appointed by Michigan’s governor formed the Detroit Police Department on March 12, 1861. However, the first 40 uniformed officers did not take to the streets until May 15, 1865, possibly because of Civil War deployments.

Source : Detroit Historical Society Facebook Page

1926 : One reason we might be called “Wolverines”
Mar 12 – Mar 13 all-day

Conrad Ten Eyck built a tavern along the old Chicago Road in 1826. In that time, it was about a day’s journey from Detroit. (When General Palmer was writing, the trolley had shortened the trip to a speedy 40 minutes.)

The tavern was a wild success. We meet our jovial bar-keep at sunset, as a train of roughed-up wagons bang over the corduroy road and come piling into the bar.

Emerging at nightfall as the sun cast its setting rays upon the broad facade of the substantial old tavern, and greeted by the genial beams of its famous proprietor, “Old Coon” Ten Eyck, as he was affectionately called, the weary pilgrims began to feel something of the glow of that fellow feeling which makes us wondrous kind.

“Sally, have some more wolf-steak put on,” Old Coon would call out in a cheery voice as each new load of hungry pilgrims would drive up.

Conrad Ten Eyck, Palmer goes on to explain, had a little inside joke with his wife about wolf-steaks that, while esoteric, seems to be one way people used to explain the mystery of the Michigan “wolverine”:

Once a particularly pretty and jolly girl emigrant, coming out of the tavern dining room with the taste of the juicy Ten Eyck lamb chops still in her mouth, asked, “And have I really eaten wolf steak?”

“Surely, my pretty miss,” replied Old Coon.

“Then I suppose I am a wolverine,” exclaimed the fair traveler.

“That you are,” said Mr. Ten Eyck, “And will be from this on !”

And then, Palmer relates, all the men in the tavern were like, “Hey, we’re wolverines too!” Because they wanted to impress the girl. Isn’t that how history ALWAYS WORKS?

Palmer admits that the story may not be true — even if Old Coon Ten Eyck did have a little joke about wolf steaks, who knows if his prank was responsible for the not-so flattering nickname?

“I do not know for a certainty,” wrote General Palmer, “but Clarence Burton does.”

For the full article, see Amy Elliott Bragg, “One reason we might be called “Wolverines”, Night Train, March 12, 2012.

Also see The Ten Eyck Tavern Historical Marker. Conrad Ten Eyck (1782-1847) built a famous tavern in 1826 about 300 feet west of this marker–the first resting place of travelers, one day’s trip west of Detroit. It stood on the River Rouge at a point where the Chicago Road forked. The northerly branch, called the Ann Arbor Trail, led toward Lansing, the westerly branch to Ypsilanti. The inn burned down in 1869, its stables in 1906. Ten Eyck’s humor may have given Michigan the nickname “Wolverine.”

1947 : Mitt Romney Born in Michigan
Mar 12 – Mar 13 all-day

On March 12, 1947, future Gov. George Romney celebrated the birth of son Willard Mitt Romney. The young Romney grew up in Bloomfield Hills when his father served as Governor, attending the local Cranbrook School. He attended Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School.

Source : Mitt Romney Wikipedia Entry.