1798 : First Election Held in What Would Later Become the State of Michigan

December 17, 2021 all-day

On December 17, 1798 the first American election was held in the Northwest Territory. Wayne County included all of Michigan. Solomon Sibley won but opponents charged that his friends supplied liquor to those who voted for him. The election, between rival James May, a former British subject who received strong support from British residents, and Solomon Sibley, the preferred candidate of the Americans, spanned three days and consisted of each voter publicly announcing the candidate of his choice for the territorial council. After losing the election, May claimed that Sibley distributed liquor to voters and intimidated them by having armed soldiers stand guard with clubs, threatening to beat voters who cast ballots in May’s favor.

Source : Historical Society of Michigan and Andrea Farmer, This Week in Michigan History, Detroit Free Press, December 17, 2006, B.3.

For more information, see Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State by Willis F. Dunbar

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