The Rise and Development of the Automobile in Michigan’s History

Settlement of Michigan

Just as in other U.S. states, indigenous people of the North American continent - the Indians lived on the territory of modern state of Michigan for many centuries before the arrival of Europeans (McGinnis 184). On the peninsulas of Michigan, lived different Indian tribes, including Potawatomi, Ojibwa, Odawa (these three peoples formed an alliance, known as the Council of three fires), Menominee, and others (McGinnis 185). In the book Michigan Genealogy, it is written that “the three major groups of Native people in Michigan were the Chippewa (Ojibwa), Ottawa (Odawa), and Potawatomi, who had ‘a loose association known as the three fires’” (McGinnis 184). The first European explorer came to the lands of Michigan back in 1620. He was a Frenchman, Etienne Brule, who studied the Great Lakes region and visited the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

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The first permanent settlement in Michigan was founded by the French Jesuit missionary Jacques Marquette in 1668. It was the mission called Sault Ste-Marie in the Upper Peninsula. Jacques Marquette is considered as one of the most prominent and famous researchers in North America. In his honor, people named districts, cities, an island, a university, schools, and many other facilities not only in Michigan, but also in other states and countries. Sault Ste Marie still exists today. It is the oldest city in the US Midwest.
At the end of the XVII century, several small communities in Michigan were founded. In 1701, a French officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit on the Lower Peninsula (McGinnis 190). In a while, it grew into one of the largest U.S. cities – Detroit. The new settlement quickly became the main place for trade with furs on the territory of modern Michigan. In honor of Antoine de la Mothe, a city in Michigan and the famous American brand of cars were named. The lands of Michigan were a part of the province of Louisiana of the French North American colony of New France. Until the middle of the XVIII century, French interests in the region were limited to hunting and trading with the Indians and missionary activities. By 1760, only a few hundred Europeans lived on the territory of Michigan. However, an increasing number of Europeans began to settle on these lands with time. After the war between France and Britain, the territory was passed to the possession of the British. However, after the war for the independence of the United States, Michigan lands were owned by the United States of America. In the forties of the XIX century, large deposits of iron and copper were found in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Thus, the rapid development of the mining industry began. It became a reason that many people from different countries moved to the territory of Michigan in a search of a better life.

Culture of Michigan

Detroit is the largest city in the Michigan state. It is also the cultural and economic capital of the state. Despite the fact that Detroit is known as a major industrial city, it is annually visited by a great number of travelers from all over the world. The city is represented by a large number of attractions, including the outstanding historical and contemporary architectural monuments, museums, and art galleries. A large part of the city tour facilities are associated with the name of Henry Ford. Tourists want to get into the unique automobile museum and visit the house where Ford lived. Furnishing of the house is preserved as accurately as possible, so this museum is unique in its kind (Nawrocki 54). In the city, there is a large number of monuments. For example, in the central part of the city, there are many interesting attractions, including the skyscrapers Fisher Building and Penobscot Building. It is notable that these skyscrapers are among the oldest ones in the city.

This unusual town has become a Mecca for creative and spiritual people. Detroit is a home to a musical direction techno, which was born among the middle-class black youths (Johansson and Bell 261). Detroit is the capital of this musical direction. Techno of this area is not just a musical direction. It is a mood and a lifestyle inherent in the city, where this music was born. Youth of the city did not want to be like everyone else. They were rich, young, self-centered, had a black skin color, and created unusual music.
In addition to the direction of techno, Detroit is also regarded as the world’s center of the rock culture. A special kind of music developed there, which became known as rhythm and blues (Johansson and Bell 263). Outstanding musicians of this direction are Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and many others. In addition to the automotive industry and music, Michigan is famous for sporting achievements. Detroit is one of the few cities in the United States where there are professional teams in all significant kinds of sport for Americans, such as football, hockey, baseball, and basketball.

Economy of Michigan

Michigan’s economy is highly diverse. However, it initially was mainly based on natural resources. In the book Michigan: Past and Present, it is stated “that changed in the late 1800s, when Michigan became a manufacturing state with the automobile industry as the center of manufacturing” (Levy 24). These days, there are numerous industries that are well-developed, such as agricultural, mining, food industry, wood processing, tourism, and other industries. Nevertheless, with no doubts, the main area in Michigan’s economy is the automotive industry. In Detroit, which is considered the automotive capital of the world, there are headquarters of three big U.S. car manufacturers – General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler. The staff includes more than four thousand companies, from very small ones to giant. One way or another, they are connected with automotive industry. About five hundred seventy thousand people in the state are employed in high-tech industries. Michigan occupies the fourth place in the United States on this indicator. More than seventy thousand of these workers are employed precisely at car factories. The automotive industry is directly associated with research and development expenditures in Michigan. Thus, for example, there is the creation of electric vehicles and lithium-ion batteries for them commissioned by the U.S. federal government in Michigan.

Michigan plants produce not only cars. Among the well-known engineering companies of the state, there are plants that are known as manufacturers of industrial lasers – ROFIN-SINAR Technologies, one of the world’s leading suppliers of military and aerospace equipment – General Dynamics, the largest manufacturer of home appliances Whirlpool, and others (Levy 34). In Michigan, especially in the Detroit area, many organizations of the information industry successfully operate. Here are the headquarters or regional offices of such companies as Verizon Compuware, ProQuest, Google, IBM, HP Enterprise Services, Comcast, and others.
In Michigan, especially in the Upper Peninsula, minerals are mined. Although Michigan is no longer a world leader in the extraction of copper ore, as it was in the second half of the 19th century, copper, nickel, and silver are still being produced. Besides, many old mines are now converted into museums that attract tourists. Taking into account that Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, it is not surprising that a watercraft plays an extremely important role in the state economy. Detroit is one of the largest U.S. ports. In Michigan, there are 38 ports that ensure navigation on the Great Lakes and the yield to the Atlantic Ocean.

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Legacy of Michigan

No one will doubt that the state of Michigan is associated with the name of great Henry Ford. In the history of the automotive industry, American engineer and inventor Henry Ford entered as the creator of the first industrial assembly line. Therefore, he introduced scientific organization of labor. His conveyor on the moving chassis stretched for 300 meters and the workers sequentially mounted respective parts. From the factory gate, ready cars went one by one. They quickly conquered the United States and, subsequently, the whole world. In such a way, Henry Ford is revered as the father of the U.S. auto industry, which formed the American way of life.

At that time, cars were sold in America for $1,000 and above. However, Henry Ford wanted to create his cars not for the rich and, therefore, cared little about the interior upholstery and the prestige of the brand. He wanted to ensure that the price of his car was less than $1,000. He loved his cars and wanted all Americans to love them as well. Ford began producing the model in alphabetical order. He came from the Model A to the model T. Its issue started in 1908. Ford T was the first model of the company, in the production of which the conveyor was first applied (York 34). Every worker on this line production conducted one single operation but very quickly. A car appeared from the conveyor every ten seconds. It was a landmark event in the Industrial Revolution.

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