Ever since Detroit was founded in 1701 great leaders have made significant marks in our state. In my opinion the five most important individuals are Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, Henry Ford, Coleman A. Young, Hazen Pingree, and Mennen Williams. These five men have developed Michigan into what it is today. If it was not for them Michigan and the most well known city in the United States, Detroit, would not be as successful as it is today.
Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac is my first significant person in Michigan history because he was the founder of Detroit in 1701. In 1694 Frontenac set Cadillac to take command at Michilimackinac. Cadillac was one of Frontenac's protÃÂ©gÃÂ©. Cadillac was born to middle class parents and was a native of Gascony. In 1658 he came to what is now Nova Scotia and served as a privateer. He came back to America in 1690 and became lieutenant in the colonial troops, and later became captain.
At Michilimackinac he served as commander for three years. He also supervised forts nearby in Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin. In Michilimackinac there were thousands of Indians and hundred of fur traders migrating to this settlement. Cadillac made enemies with the Jesuits because they were trying to convert the Indians to Christianity and Cadillac was selling brandy to them.
In 1699 Cadillac influence France to take control of Detroit and settle there. Here soldiers, traders, and missionaries would be assigned and French families would live here, Indians also settled there. Cadillac would receive rights of a landlord and collect money from the French settlers. He also made a large profit from the fur trade business by buying out the Company of the Colonies of Canada.
On July 24, 1701 Cadillac landed in Detroit with 50 men and 50 soldiers. That fall Cadillac's wife came to Detroit from to France to live there. He also provided land grants in Detroit known as the French Ribbon Farms. People moved in on these lands and paid Cadillac annual fees. After Detroit was established about 2,000 Indians moved to the area and established villages there. While in command of Detroit for nine years, Cadillac had three main enemies, they were the Indians, the Jesuits, and the settlers because of his greed for money. Cadillac was appointed governor of Louisiana in 1710 and returned to France in 1717 where he died in 1730.
Henry Ford is the second most significant person in Michigan history. This is because he brought so many influenced ideas. Ford was born in what is now known as the City of Dearborn on July 30, 1863. The first time that Ford knew he wanted to do something that would change the world forever was in 1876 when Ford would see a self propelled steam threshing machine. Ford felt that this event had changed his life.
Ford Motor Company did not come up until 1902. Alexander Malcomson, a Detroit coal dealer, had Ford sign an agreement with him to work on a passenger car. Malcomson then convinced his family, friends, and employees to invest money to form Ford Motor Company in 1903. Ford was to be the Vice President. A building was rented in Detroit and parts were ordered from suppliers for the first Ford Model A car. Ford was not sure of the Model A car and did not want to sell it until some flaws in the car were fixed. Most of the investors had there house mortgaged and borrowed money for the investment. They could not afford to wait any longer. So the Model A was sold at a price of $850. Ford Motor Company investors were worried that the company might go bankrupt, but by 1903 there were no more worries. In 1908 Ford had introduced the Model T car. It was a simplified design and the design did not change for nearly 20 years. The Model T was intended to be an inexpensive car and for the common people. The price of the Model T was to be at $850 but over the years the price would be dropped to $360. The Model T sold over 15 million models in its time.
Malcomson had favored big cars over the inexpensive cars that Ford was making. He withdrew from the Ford Motor Company in 1906. Ford bought all of Malcomson's stocks gaining control of Ford Motor Company for the next 80 years. Ford also became the president in 1906. Now that Ford had control over the company he would decide to open a second company in Highland Park in 1914. The company would hire 13,000 workers and would have 15,000 machines. The results of the Highland Park Plant were to have a reasonable budget and a great assembly line.
Ford came up with really good plans such as "Fordism", which was a strategy brought up by Ford which would raise employee wages and decrease the price of cars. Ford believed that if you could get a price low enough you could sell millions. Ford also came up with the Five Dollar Day, after 6 months if an employee was the "perfect worker" he would get five dollars a day. Ford at one point designed a plant which would have no middle man, he wanted to supply himself. This plant was the Rouge. Ford failed in supplying himself though. After Ford's death his son took over the plants and they downsized ever since.
The third most important person in Michigan history is Coleman A. Young this is because he was the first black mayor and made many changes in Detroit. Young was born in 1919 in Tuskalussa, Alabama. His parents moved to Detroit in 1923, near Hasting Street. His father owned a dry cleaning business. He was very dedicated to school work. Young converted to Catholicism so that he could attend a Catholic School. In Detroit he ran into discrimination. From this discrimination he became very strong.
Young joined the Army in 1942 he was then transferred from the Infantry to the Tuskegee Airmen, which is the army air force. After, Young was promoted to Bombardier Second Lieutenant. In 1946 Young was named head organizer for the CIO. He was then expelled from his position in 1948 by Walter Ruther. Young then helped establish the National Negro Labor Council in 1951. During the 1950's Young had many jobs. He ran for Detroit Common Council and lost in 1960. He was elected to the State Constitutional Convention in 1962.
Young ran for the Mayoral Election of 1973 for the City of Detroit against Mel Rabitez and lost. The second election of 1974 he ran against John Nickels and won. The vote for Young was 224,000, 92% being African American. The votes for Nickels were 210,000 votes, 91% being whites.
The first thing that Young did as mayor was got rid of STRESS.
The fourth most significant person is Hazen Pingree. This is because he is the mayor that had the most reforms and helped the city and state develop. Pingree started his career in Detroit in 1866 as a shoe salesman. He had made nearly $500,000 in shoes a year. In 1887 the business burned to the ground. After Pingree became a member of the Michigan Club. They asked him if he would run for mayor and he agreed. Pingree won the election and became a major reformer. Pingree would hold his position as mayor for three terms.
Pingree attacked streetcar companies, such as the Detroit Citizens Railway in April 1891 for over charging citizens for their fares. Pingree made the Detroit Railway Company and would charge three cents a fare for 60 miles of track. Pingree also made the Detroit Lighting Department in 1893. The department was to give electricity to street lights, schools, police stations, and other public buildings run by the city. This also created a competitive system for the electric company. Another important reform that Pingree had done was "Pingree's Potatoe Patches". The unemployment rate was 35% in 1893. Pingree gave jobs for planting seeds, hoes, horsests, and plows. By 1896 1,701 families were enrolled in "Pingree's Potatoe Patches". Pingree then ran for governor in 1897, and won. Pingree did not accomplish what he had hoped to as governor. Pingree wanted to have railroad corporations pay tax on the value of their property. Although Pingree did have three bills passed in the time that he was governor he made a much better mayor.