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The Toledo War - Lesson Plan
The land dispute concerning the border between Michigan and Ohio was an old one, which stretched back to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. This ordinance provided for dividing the Northwest Territory into states by extending "an east and west line drawn through the southerly or extreme end of Lake Michigan." The problem developed because Michigan and Ohio interpreted that line differently. Michigan citizens believed that Toledo belonged in their state; Ohioans believed Toledo was theirs.
The bloodless battle over the disputed "Toledo Strip" began in April 1835. Raids continued through the summer of 1835. Eventually, in December 1836, a compromise was accepted by Michigan, which gave Toledo and the disputed territory to Ohio and the western Upper Peninsula to Michigan. Acceptance of this compromise was necessary before Michigan could enter the Union.
On January 26, 1837, President Andrew Jackson signed the legislation that made Michigan a state.
- Given information describing the Toledo War, the student will list three gains and three losses for Michigan from the compromise that ended the disturbance.
- Students will be able to describe how Michigan became a state.
Michigan Social Studies Curriculum Content Standards
This lesson presents an opportunity to address, in part, these standards:
- SOC.II.3. Location, Movement, and Connections. All students will describe, compare, and explain the locations and characteristics of economic activities, trade, political activities, migration, information flow, and the interrelationships among them.
- SOC.II.4. Regions, Patterns, and Processes. All students will describe and compare characteristics of ecosystems, states, regions, countries, major world regions, and patterns and explain the processes that created them.
- SOC.IV.5. Trade. All students will describe how trade generates economic development and interdependence and analyze the resulting challenges and benefits for individuals, producers, and government.
Map: Michigan Boundary Changes after the "Toledo War" [PDF]; pencil, and paper.
Present the above material about the Toledo War to your class. Following the presentation, lead a discussion of the pros and cons of the compromise that ended the disturbance. Ask each student to list three gains and three losses for Michigan.
Questions for Discussion or Research
- What were some of the natural resources gained by adding the western Upper Peninsula to the state of Michigan? Were people aware of these resources in 1837?
- Find Toledo on a map of Ohio. For which Great Lake, bay and river is it a port? (Lake Erie, Maumee Bay, Maumee River) How would having Toledo have helped Michigan's trade with states south of the city?
- How would Ohio have fared if Michigan had been given the Toledo strip?
- Without the "Toledo War," do you think Michigan would have received the western Upper Peninsula? Why or why not?
- Read the lyrics to The Toledo War Song. How did the composer feel about the land trade?
At the Michigan Historical Museum
- Compromise: The settlement of an argument by mutual concessions
- Dispute: An argument
- Legislation: Law
- Ordinance: Law
- Baker, Patricia J. (1986). Stevens Thomson Mason. Great Lakes Informant, Series 1, Number 5. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of State, History Division.
- George, Sister Mary Karl (n.d.). The Rise and Fall of Toledo, Michigan. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of State, History Division.
- Grimm, Joe, Editor (1987). Michigan Voices, Our State's History in the Words of the People Who Lived It. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press (pages 44-47).
- Stapler, Harry (1985). Pioneers of Forest and City, A History of Michigan for Young People. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of State, Bureau of History (pages 79-80).
Contact the Michigan Historical Museum.