As anyone in who grew up in Illinois (especially around Chicago) know, today is the day for celebrating the founder of the American Calvary, Polish hero, Casmir Pulaski. For the second year in a row, we are celebrating with Casmir Pulaski as an honorary US Citizen.
The story of Casmir Pulaski is an interesting one. A founder of the Bar Confederation, the first Polish Uprising, he was forced to flee Poland after being accused of organizing an attempt to kidnap the King of Poland. Ben Franklin recruited him to America. He then wrote General Washington that he came to America “…where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it.”. He was involved with battles for over two years, from his first battle at the Battle of Brandywine, where his is credited with saving the life of General Washington to the Second Battle of Savannah where he was mortally wounded, he trained the horseman, even recruiting many of them himself. In 1929, Congress declared October 11 of Pulaski Day for his efforts. Two years ago they went a step further, naming him the seventh Honorary Citizen.
When ever I’m asked why I don’t think english needs to be the national language, I think of the fact that Casmir Pulaski did everything he did, without ever learning english. Na zdrowie.
For five years of my life I lived in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. During that time (and since then) the question that I’ve most often faced is why is the U.P. a part of Michigan? (The second most common question I faced is Where?) The answer to that is that this was the settlement to the Toledo War.
The Toledo War was an almost casualty free conflict between the state of Ohio and the Territory of Michigan over the area of present-day Ohio near Toledo. When creating the Northwest Territory, which included Ohio and Michigan along with Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin , it was decided that the northern border of three of these states would be:
…an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan
This of course would have the effect of puting Toledo in Michigan. However due to mapping errors, Toledo was a part of the already formed state of Ohio before Michigan had the population for statehood. Once the error was found, Michigan wanted they considered their territory. With Ohio already having statehood and thus the ability to better lobby for Congress to support it, Michigan’s Governor Stevens T. Mason mobilized a 250 person militia that invaded and seized the disputed territory. Ohio responded with a militia of its own.
After a tense eight months that featured a failed compromise convention in Ann Arbor, a compromise was drawn up that would allow for Ohio to retain the area around Toledo, but in return Michigan would receive the area that is now known as the Upper Peninsula, which makes a bit of sense since Michigan already had claims on about one-fourth of the U.P. and the only people screwed were the citizens of what would become Wisconsin. While it didn’t at first seem like this compromise would be accepted, a change happened when:
…Suddenly it became apparent that the Federal Government was about to distribute the surplus in the United States Treasury among the states, and that Michigan would not get her share of nearly $400,000 unless she officially entered the Union. On December 14, another convention known as the “Frostbitten Convention” assembled at Ann Arbor, under the leadership of Democratic politicians. It was not called by the Legislature, but met as a result of informal personal calls, petitions, and public meetings calling for reconsideration. It agreed to accept the proposal of Congress. Jackson reported the event to Congress, and that body engaged in another discussion of the legality of the second convention…and on January 26, 1837, Congress formally admitted Michigan to the Union.
Well today marks the 173rd anniversary of that Frostbitten Convention and now you know what brings the Yoopers and the Trolls together in a single state. So the moral to the Story? If you make an error in mapping, screw Wisconsin to fix it.