Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Toledo War and Cabinet counties

This will be a short one, but I wanted to expand a little on the names of counties in my fair state of Michigan. Let's go back to the late 1820's. Michigan was just a territory in the untamed west, but they had their fair share of people, enough to be considered for statehood. On top of wanting to be considered for statehood, Michigan was in dispute with Ohio over the Toledo strip. The Toledo strip was prime real estate, and both Michigan and Ohio were willing to do whatever it took to seize it for themselves. Well, everything but fight each other. Yes, it was a completely bloodless war, though it didn't technically happen until 1835. One of the first things Michigan did to try and curry favor with the federal government to side with them in this dispute was to name a bunch of their land in honor of the current president and his cabinet. The current president just happened to be Andrew Jackson, whose first term started in 1829. The Territorial legislature of Michigan didn't waste any time and already agreed to name ten counties after the battle-hardened general turned POTUS and his cabinet. Here is the list of the counties and who they are named after.


  • Jackson County- Named for President Andrew Jackson himself
  • Calhoun County- Named for John C. Calhoun, Jackson's first Vice-President
  • Van Buren County- Named for Martin Van Buren, Jackson's first Secretary of State and second Vice-President (and future President...duh)
  • Livingston County- Named for Edward Livingston, Jackson's second Secretary of State
  • Eaton County- Named for John Eaton, Jackson's first Secretary of War
  • Cass County- Named for Lewis Cass, Jackson's second Secretary of War (though he was Michigan's Territorial Governor at the time of the naming)
  • Ingham County- Named for Samuel D. Ingham, Secretary of the Treasury
  • Berrien County- Named for John M. Berrien, Attorney General
  • Branch County- Named for John Branch, Secretary of the Navy
  • Barry County- Named for William T. Barry, Postmaster General
If you take a good look at the map, you can see that most of the counties are located in the very Southern point of Michigan, and South-West Michigan. The ploy honestly didn't work that well. I'm sure Jackson and the others were flattered, but it was for other reasons that Michigan became a state. The Toledo War eventually was won by Ohio when Michigan was given the choice to keep fighting or be given statehood and three-quarters of the Upper Peninsula. Michigan disagreed at first, seeing as the U.P. was mainly Indian territory, but financial strain forced them to give in. Turns out it was the right choice. Not only did Michigan become a state because of it giving up on the Toledo strip, but they ended up gaining valuable resources in copper, iron, and timber. Take that, Ohio! 

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