One of the most influential cities in Michigan is the state’s capital city of Lansing. Strangely, when Michigan first became a state in 1837, Lansing was not much more than swampland. Michigan’s constitution required the state have a permanent capital ten years after it acquired statehood. The temporary capital was in Detroit, but many representatives wanted somewhere more central in the state. Several cities including Jackson, Marshall, and Ann Arbor lobbied hard to be the new home of the capital.
James Seymour, a land speculator with a mill in what is now North Lansing, campaigned for Lansing Township. He argued that it is equidistant from Detroit, Monroe, Mt. Clemens, and the mouths of the Grand and Kalamazoo rivers. In 1847, after voting fifty one times, out of frustration they finally agreed the permanent capital would be in Lansing township. The densely wooded and marshy township had less than one hundred residents when it was chosen.
The citizens of Michigan were highly skeptical of the new plan, many even though it was a joke. In the beginning, the city did not even have a name. The location was simply known as the “Town of Michigan” when it was first platted. A wooden two-story building was quickly erected to serve as the state capital. Many of the legislators and representatives had to sleep on the upper floor of the new capital or in people’s private homes while governing the young state. In April the state legislature considered naming the capital Pewanogowink, Swedenborg, or El Dorado, but chose Lansing.
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