Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Game, The War, and the Hatred

The connection to college hockey here is relatively slim but here's my attempt at a justification. Mike Emrick, the legendary hockey announcer, and a graduate of both Miami(Ohio) and Bowling Green, hosted a daily radio series called "Off Mike" in which he discussed the NHL for 12 years. Every year, on Super Bowl Sunday, Emrick would take the day off from hockey, and tell a story of how the Chicago Bears were once forced to play the Super Bowl in old Chicago Stadium due to weather conditions. I figure that if Doc was able to take the day off from professional hockey for the pinnacle of US professional sports, I should be allowed to take the day off from college hockey, for what is arguably the pinnacle of college sports.

In recent years, fans have taken to calling the annual tilt between Michigan and Ohio State "The Game," with a heavy emphasis on the word "the". This title makes sense in some ways. Afterall, it is the one game that each team's season seems to be measured by, and it is always the most important game of the season for each team. But calling it a game implies that there's an amusing, childish feeling to it and seems to betray the nature of the hatred in this rivlary. The University of Michigan isn't sending down their campus police to protect visiting fans for just a game. Liquor stores in Columbus aren't stopping the sale of domestic beer in bottles in the city for just a game. No, this isn't just a game. It's as close to interstate warfare as you're going to get.

Most everyone knows that the gasoline was poured onto the fire of this rivalry in the late 60's when Bo Schembechler's Michigan teams began challenging Woody Hayes' Ohio State teams for the Big Ten title nearly every season. But the hatred between Michigan and Ohio goes back much further, to a time when Michigan wasn't yet a state in the union, and these two rivals almost did go to war.

There was a tension between settlers of Michigan and Ohio ever since the first white settlers moved onto the land. Ohio was mostly farmland and drew settlers looking to create a life by growing crops. Michigan was more wilderness, and inhabited with hunters and trappers. It wasn't an easy life to live, and it took a rough, and rugged character to survive. Ohioans looked down on these hunters and trappers and started referring to them as "wolverines" as a way to make fun of their rough, aggressive lifestyle.

In 1803, Ohio drew up it's state constitution, and made the northern border of their state the southern tip of Lake Michigan. Two years later, the territory of Michigan was created, and their surveyors found that Lake Michigan actually extended further south, and included an area at the mouth of Maumee River that would go on to become Toledo. After that, each state sent their own surveyors out to inspect the land and see who held claim to that land. Each side came back saying that they had rightful claim to that land. Eventually each side cooled down, and the territory of Michigan governed over the area.

But when Michigan applied for statehood in 1833, the issue became heated again. Ohio's congressman used their influence to make sure that Michigan would not be allowed into the Union unless they ceded that strip of land to Ohio. President Andrew Jackson's attorney general backed up Michigan's claim to the land, but Jackson supported Ohio because he didn't want to risk losing votes in Ohio in the 1836 presidential race. Ohio's Governor, Robert Lucas, took control of the area, by making it an Ohio county(that area is still Lucas County to this day), and appointing officials to posts.

Michigan's young governor, Stevens T. Mason(for whom the University of Michigan's Mason Hall is named), rounded up a militia and led them into the disputed area to protect their land. The battle had begun. Ohio's state government approved $300,000 for use in a fight with Michigan. Michigan countered by approving $315,000 for us in a fight against Ohio. The fight lost a little bit of momentum when both sides got lost in the swamplands of Ohio. Eventually, Mason's militia ended up capturing and arresting 9 surveyors who were trying to mark the state line for Ohio, and firing shots over the head of many others who ran away, but there was no bloodshed. The only casualty of the war came in a tavern fight when an Ohioan named Two Stickney(his older brother was named, and I'm not kidding about this, One) stabbed a Michigan sheriff.

Eventually, President Jackson stepped in and tried to end the dispute. Partially because he was still a few months away from being re-elected Jackson declared that Michigan would be admitted into the Union if they gave up their claim to the Toledo Strip, and in return, accepted to the western three-quarters of the Upper Peninsula. This proposal was met with outrage by both Michiganders and Yoopers. Michigan had no use for a land they viewed as nothing but snow, bears, and Indians, and settlers in the UP had made overtures to Washington D.C. about possibly becoming their own state. But Michigan reluctantly accepted the offer and became a member of the Union.

Of course the irony of this is that even though Michigan lost Toledo(By the way, Ohio, we *love* what you've done with the place), they gained the resource-rich upper peninsula which has long served as a vital part of Michigan's economy. Meanwhile, the Canal Era died out in the US, and Toledo never became the booming shipping metropolis between the Mississippi River and the St. Lawrence River that people thought it would be.

So while the war between these two states may have faded out before it really got started, it's still a unique piece of history when two states mobilized for war against other. The dispute between the two states is long settled and mostly forgotten, but the underlying hatred still remains. That hatred may never have been played out on the battlefield, but this Saturday, just like every year on the third Saturday in November, it gets played out on the football field.

12 comments:

siouxnami said...

damn you, I'm smarter for having read this...

Anonymous said...

Great Story !!!!


But Its Lake Erie not Lake Michigan

But still a great story

Anonymous said...

dude, how about some frick'in recruiting news? Were is Nash and the other unsigned studs heading?

Chris said...

Here's the exact quote from the Northwest Ordinance of 1787:

"...and it is further understood and declared, that the boundaries of these three States shall be subject so far to be altered, that, if Congress shall hereafter find it expedient, they shall have authority to form one or two States in that part of the said territory which lies north of an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan."

The line went from the south end of Lake Michigan to Lake Erie, but it was the location of Lake Michigan that was disputed.

Anonymous said...

The original east-west state line between Ohio and Michigan was known as the Ordinance Line and was later altered by the Fulton Line and Talcott Line that ran a straight course due east of the southernmost tip of Lake Michigan to the southwestern shore of Lake Erie. (In western Lucas County there is Old State Line Rd. serving as a reminder of the Toledo War.) The state of Ohio had surveyed its' own northern border upon admission to statehood that generally followed the current Ohio/Michigan border.

The various surveys resulted in a 50-year dispute over the Toledo Strip, which was only five miles wide at the Indiana border and eight miles wide at Lake Erie. Although it has been reported that no shots were fired, Ohio and Michigan militia units were sent to the Toledo Strip between 1835 and 1837. But luck was on Ohio's side. At the time, the Compromise of 1820 allowed the admission of one slave state for one free state. Michigan and Missouri were to be admitted as states, but only when Michigan surrendered the Toledo Strip to Ohio. The reason? Probably because a Presidential election was coming up. State of Ohio residents could vote, while Michigan Territory residents could not.

While the Michigan Territory originally vowed to fight the surrender, it realized the hopelessness of the contest, and on December 14, 1836, officially conceded the Toledo Strip to Ohio. In return, the new state of Michigan was given the remainder of the unorganized Upper Peninsula by Congress. Toledo became Toledo, Ohio, and victorious Ohio governor Robert Lucas was honored with the name Lucas County, the eastern portion of the Toledo Strip



I believe this is the correct info

Anonymous said...

The original east-west state line between Ohio and Michigan was known as the Ordinance Line and was later altered by the Fulton Line and Talcott Line that ran a straight course due east of the southernmost tip of Lake Michigan to the southwestern shore of Lake Erie. (In western Lucas County there is Old State Line Rd. serving as a reminder of the Toledo War.) The state of Ohio had surveyed its' own northern border upon admission to statehood that generally followed the current Ohio/Michigan border.

The various surveys resulted in a 50-year dispute over the Toledo Strip, which was only five miles wide at the Indiana border and eight miles wide at Lake Erie. Although it has been reported that no shots were fired, Ohio and Michigan militia units were sent to the Toledo Strip between 1835 and 1837. But luck was on Ohio's side. At the time, the Compromise of 1820 allowed the admission of one slave state for one free state. Michigan and Missouri were to be admitted as states, but only when Michigan surrendered the Toledo Strip to Ohio. The reason? Probably because a Presidential election was coming up. State of Ohio residents could vote, while Michigan Territory residents could not.

While the Michigan Territory originally vowed to fight the surrender, it realized the hopelessness of the contest, and on December 14, 1836, officially conceded the Toledo Strip to Ohio. In return, the new state of Michigan was given the remainder of the unorganized Upper Peninsula by Congress. Toledo became Toledo, Ohio, and victorious Ohio governor Robert Lucas was honored with the name Lucas County, the eastern portion of the Toledo Strip



I believe this is the correct info

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous with the (accidental) double post:

How could it be a War (referencing the Toledo War) when no casualties were made and it featured a "battle" where no one aimed at each other (just over their heads) and it took part between the Michigan militia and the Ohio Surveyors? Not really a war. More like a skirmish at best.

Hmmm Come to think of it, wouldn't it kinda cool if, for this game alone, UMich changed its name to the Militia and tOSU's name to "The Surveyors?" :D

Anonymous said...

Boooooo! Give us college hockey news! Boooooo! (;

Anonymous said...

Who cares about a couple of loser states that couldn't even find their way through a stinking swamp!!!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that Toledo residents still get in state tuition at Eastern Michigan University and Monroe County residents get in state tuition at The University of Toledo.

Anonymous said...

RIP, Bo.

Anonymous said...

Someone tell Mike Emrick there was no SuperBowl in 1932 and even then, the NFL championship game was an unofficial championship.