The Michigan-Ohio football rivalry is well known and stretches back many years. But far fewer may be aware that Michigan and Ohio were engaged in a different kind of battle more than a century earlier - one that began before Michigan became a state.It was a fight over a narrow wedge of land called the Toledo Strip. Disagreement over ownership of the Strip dated to the early nineteenth century. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which created the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, described an east-west boundary line between the northern and southern states in the Northwest Territory. That line began at the southernmost tip of Lake Michigan and ran eastward to where it intersected Lake Erie, thus placing the mouth of the Maumee River in the Territory of Michigan.But maps in those days weren't precise, and there was considerable doubt as to the exact location of Lake Michigan's southernmost point. Adding to the uncertainty was the absence of a good survey. When Ohio became a state in 1803, the importance of a harbor on Lake Erie became evident.
To provide for this need, the state's constitution included a provision that claimed the mouth of the Maumee River for Ohio, disregarding the boundary line placed by the Northwest Ordinance.Today the fight over Toledo in 1835 puts a grin on most people's faces - on Ohioans because they won, and on Michiganians because Ohio won Toledo while Michigan ended up with the Upper Peninsula. But passions about rightful ownership ran high, and it would be many years - and involve a colorful cast of characters all the way up to presidents - before the dispute was settled. "The Toledo War: The First Michigan-Ohio Rivalry" gives a well-researched and fascinating account of the famous war.
Publisher: The University of Michigan Press