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The first European explorer in Michigan was Etienne Brule, who was sent from Quebec by Champlain around 1620. The area was further explored by subsequent French expeditions, but the French were more interested in fur trading than settlement, and the European population increased only slowly. Fort Detroit was 1701, but the fort at Michilimackinac was the most important trading post.
The British fought the French for control of the area and were given all of the French possessions in North America in 1763. The British also were more interested in trade than settlement. During the War for Independence, they used Detroit as a central military point for their regional operations, and conducted raids into Kentucky. General George Rogers Clark led an expedition that captured strong points in Illinois and Indiana, but did not have the forces to attack Detroit.
After the Revolutionary War, the British maintained control until Jay's Treaty was ratified in 1796, when they finally permitted Americans to take charge of Detroit. Michigan was initially included in the Northwest Territory, later in Indiana territory, and finally on its own in 1805. During the War of 1812, the British recaptured Detroit and held it until 1813.
The population began to climb rapidly after the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, and by 1834, the state had achieved enough population to warrant statehood. However, a dispute with Ohio over a small triangle of land bordering Lake Erie held up the process until 1837, when through a compromise, Ohio got the disputed land and Michigan got the entire Upper Peninsula, including an area that had previously been assigned to Wisconsin.
In an 1854 meeting in Jackson, a national party was formed which adopted the name Republican. Its candidate for president in 1860 was Abraham Lincoln, whose victory resulted in the secession of Southern states and the outbreak of the Civil War. The Republican Party dominated Michigan for the next 80 years. At the turn of the century, such industrialists as Henry Ford and Ransom Olds made Detroit the center of automobile manufacturing in the United States. During World War II, much of Detroit's manufacturing capacity was converted to war needs, such as the Ford plant at Willow Run, which produced bombers.
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Chevrolet: 1911-1960 by Michael W.R. Davis.
The Chevrolet car and truck business traces its roots back to Michiganís lumber industry in the middle of the 19th century. Lumber mills gave way to c...